Many of us take for granted a clear divide between the animate and inanimate. For instance: I am alive, but the chair I sit in is not. My dog is probably alive, as is the oak tree just outside my window. I am somewhat less certain about grass. Or viruses. What does this distinction between the living and nonliving mean to us? Why do we care so deeply about finding a firm line between the two? What might we discover about our world, our own assumptions, and our own ethical action if we are willing to question these categories? Many cultures and peoples throughout the world have never bothered to make such clean distinctions, and even in our contemporary western culture, a movement of philosophers has been challenging this divide from within. In this ZOOM workshop led by philosophers Henry Kramer & David Nowakowski, we explored the philosophy of animism – an orientation toward the world where everything is encountered as meaningfully alive. Access the video and other resources here!
In these two 2½-hour ZOOM workshops led by philosopher David Nowakowski we investigated Stoic ethics, providence and the world. These two workshops represented our first ZOOM workshops of the year (or ever for that matter — ZOOM was new to us as we typically hold in-person workshops). However, we were grateful to have so many workshop attendees join us and participate in the conversation! See what sorts of things we discussed and access the workshop handouts, activities, and reading recommendations here!
Have you ever wondered about wonder? What exactly is the experience of wondering? Why do we feel it? When do we feel it? Why might it be valuable? And, most pressingly: how can wonder be cultivated to assist us in dealing with modern problems, both on a large scale and in our individual, personal lives? In this 2½-hour workshop led by 2019-2020 Student Scholar Fellow Henry Kramer we investigated the connections between wonder, nature, imagination, and play through lecture, discussion, and exercises. Access resources and photos here!
In this 2½-hour workshop David Nowakowski led us through a tour of the Buddhist philosophies of India and Tibet. After a brief historical overview, we began with some of the key philosophical claims—and the arguments for those claims—made by the historical Buddha. Then we went on to see how later Buddhist thinkers in India expanded and elaborated on these basic insights and concluded by looking head-on at some interpretive questions, for the place of Buddhist thought in the modern world. Access resources and photos here!
In this 2½-hour workshop led by David Nowakowski, we explored some classic arguments about friendship offered by Aristotle, the Stoic philosophers Epictetus and Seneca, and the traditions of ancient commentaries on these philosophers’ work. We examined the what’s and why’s of friendship, in order to find guidance on how to navigate the difficult, challenging, and perplexing situations that all-too-often arise among friends. Access resources & photos here!
This 2½-hour workshop introduced key concepts and arguments from the philosophical traditions of India. Our goals were to dispel some common misconceptions about Indian philosophy and religion, to distinguish different Indian philosophical schools from one another, and to develop a deeper understanding of these rich and varied traditions.
Access resources & photos here!
For many philosophers, scientists, and ordinary people, “species” are not only descriptive categories of how things are, but ideal models for how things should be. In this workshop, led by David Nowakowski, we took a whirlwind tour of “species” from antiquity to the present, in order to better understand the hidden assumptions behind our own thinking today…and what thinking ecologically might tell us about virtue & value. Access resources & photos here!
In this 3.5-hour “philosophy as a way of life”-inspired workshop led by special guest scholar & Philosophical Advisor for Merlin CCC, David Nowakowski, PhD we looked at what it might mean to live a life of virtue. Select readings and activities inspired by numerous ancient (and some contemporary) thinkers were examined and applied with the aim of introducing participants to a variety of philosophical perspectives on virtuous living and practical tools for living well. Access resources & photos here!