The ancient Stoics famously—even notoriously—taught that a truly wise person must be entirely free from the passions, including pleasure, desire, fear, and distress in all their many forms. We hear in echo of this even today, when we describe someone enduring their trials “stoically.” Even in the ancient world, this was a tall order, and philosophers of other traditions fiercely contested the Stoic doctrine. And it might seem even more out of place, or out of touch, in a contemporary society that places a high value on getting in touch with our feelings.
During our conversation, we’ll try to make sense of what the ancient Stoics had in mind when they advocated becoming free from the passions, and see why this was important to their overall vision of the meaning and value of human life. Then, drawing on the work of some contemporary interpreters of Stoic thought, including Martha Nussbaum and Richard Sorabji, we’ll see what lessons the Stoics might have for us about agency and moral responsibility, care and compassion for other people, and overall human flourishing.
Philosophy Walk: Passion
w/ David Nowakowski
When & Where
This walk led by philosopher David Nowakowski will take place on Sunday, August 20th.
Date:Sunday, August 20th Time: 9am – 12pm MT Trail Location: Mt. Helena Trailhead
RSVP: RSVP here! Cost: Free (Donations Welcome) Other: Bring comfortable walking shoes, water & a snack
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 & West, Asian 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.
You will receive a confirmation of your RSVP shortly after you register via e-mail. As the walk date approaches, we will contact you with any additional relevant information. If you do NOT receive an e-mail shortly after registering, please contact [email protected].
For those who have not been on our walks before, you can get a feel for our walks and what they’re all about by visiting our walk archive page. In the meantime, here is a logistical snapshot.
Here is a general overview of what you can expect on our Philosophy Walks:
Free to the Public (donations welcome/appreciated)
3 hour walks (opportunities for rest along the way)
Casual, positive & supportive experience
1-2 walk guides
Small group sizes (generally 7-15 people; may be larger for special occasion walks)
Ample opportunity to enjoy nature
To get the most out of your experience with us and enjoy a healthy & safe walk, please bring with you on the day of the walk/hike:
Our philosophy walks 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. If you’d like to make a donation you can do so here (or the button above) anytime or in person on the day of the walk.