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Dance Parties, or, The Role of Human Flourishing in Philosophy (Guest Post: Eric Evans A’14)

By Eric Evans and Johnnie Chair Staff

Eric Evans was the Archon of the Waltz Committee on campus. He graduated in 2014, but, much to our delight, lives close to campus and frequently visits his old alma mater.

The Question: Is it our duty to pursue the truth at any cost?

The Text: Swing dance St. John’s College

Homecoming! Johnnie alums of all shapes, sizes, and life stories are flooding the quad. I’ve enjoyed seeing old friends and also eyeing the new Johnnies with suspicion, because I’m an alum and that’s what we do. But what I’m most excited about is dancing with my friend Sophie at the Homecoming Waltz.

“Waltz” is a bit of a misnomer. Our school dances tend toward swing dance. But waltz is not dead: one of the most humbling, beautiful experiences of my life was when Sophie and I waltzed at midnight to the overture of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion during a midwinter masquerade. What’s more, dancing at St. John’s is itself a philosophical practice. Let me explain:

The graduating class above us was really intense. To my young eyes, they were demigods, astonishing and alluring all at once. And it became clear that their fiercest principle was to pursue truth at any cost. The truth was the truth, consequences be damned, even those that might kill your well-being. They read Plato and Sophocles, Genesis and John, with a wild self-abandonment to the eventuality that one day they could learn a truth that would cut them to pieces. And I was at once horrified and thrilled.

I think my graduating class never really found a response to this. For myself, it was only halfway through my junior year when I realized that as a dancer a rebuttal had been staring me in the face the whole time:

If something makes us flourish, perhaps there’s something true about it. Rather than anticipating our own destruction, perhaps we can at least begin our inquiry with trust in what makes us flourish.

Dancing at St. John’s has always been a testament to this voice. It is the direct practice of flourishing. It is truth-seeking from the other side, philosophy in the direction indicated by faith in ourselves and in those who surround us. And I would have realized that sooner if it hadn’t taken me so long to see that swing dance is part of the program too.

The adventure continues…  @its.philosophy.time on Instagram

The student writing staff of the johnnie chair blog

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