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Short Reads: What’s Up to Us?

April 27, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm MDT

The Handbook of useful ethical advice from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus famously opens with the distinction between “what’s up to us” and what isn’t. But this foundational distinction is not unique to the Stoics. In this evening’s discussion, we’ll begin with a general look at Epictetus’ statement, and then step back to consider why this might be an accurate account of human life. We’ll consider arguments for the distinction drawn from Epictetus’ Platonic commentator Simplicius, based on the nature of the human being (and so, the Delphic maxim “know thyself,” which was central to the Hellenic philosophical tradition from Socrates onward). And we’ll conclude with some reflections on how this account of “what’s up to us” might shape our participation in the civic life of our communities.

About Our Short Reads

Our “Short Reads” evenings explore a focused philosophical argument or theme, by way of a short (4–6 page) paper.  During the evening, we’ll step through the paper together, using it as the focal point for a lively and interactive conversation.  Papers are short and compact, and we’ll read many of the longer quotes aloud together as we go.

Themes vary, and are announced (along with sharing the paper) about two weeks prior to each session. View & download this month’s paper by clicking on the image.

Participants are encouraged, but not required, to read through the paper in advance, to begin thinking about the topic before you arrive.  


When & Where

This short reads session led by David Nowakowski will take place in the Conference Center in Reeder’s Alley on Thursday, April 27th from 6pm-8pm.

Workshop Details

Dates: Thursday, April 27th
Time: 6pm – 8pm MT
Where: 101 Reeder’s Alley (Conference Center)

Registration Info

RSVP: Click here!
Cost: Free (Donations Welcome)
Other: Hot tea provided 

Read-In Facilitator

David Nowakowski is a philosopher and educator in the Helena area whose professional work is dedicated to helping people of all ages and backgrounds access, understand, and apply the traditions of ancient philosophy to their own lives.  David began studying ancient philosophies and classical languages in 2001, and has continued ever since.  A scholar of the philosophical traditions of the ancient Mediterranean (Greece, Rome, and North Africa) and of the Indian subcontinent, reading Sanskrit, Latin, and classical Greek, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 2014.  His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including Philosophy East & WestAsian Philosophy, and the Journal of Indian Philosophy, as well as in presentations to academic audiences at Harvard, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and elsewhere. 

After half a decade teaching at liberal arts colleges in the northeast, David chose to leave the academy in order to focus his energies on the transformative value of these ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions in his own life and practice, and on building new systems of education and community learning that will make this rich heritage alive and available to others.


Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy shorts and other activities are FREE to the community. While donations are never expected, they are always appreciated and help to keep programs like these going. Your tax-deductible donations help to cover honorariums, logistics, materials, implementation, resource archiving, and more! For those facing more challenging financial circumstances, we ask that you please try to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness for your neighbors and community.


April 27, 2023
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm MDT
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Reeder’s Alley Interpretive & Convention Center
101 Reeder's Alley
Helena, MT 59601 United States
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Marisa Diaz-Waian
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