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Philosophy Walk: On Regret

June 1 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT


Walk Details

We’ve all had the experience of regretting a choice, an action, or a missed opportunity.  Most of us have done things that we knew we’d regret, but we did them anyway.

In this walk, we’ll be doing some conceptual analysis of the notion of regret.  At the most general level, we’ll return frequently to the questions:

  • What do we mean by “regret”?  Is regret more of a judgment or intellectual activity, or is it more of an emotion, feeling, or passion?
  • What is the role of regret in human life?  We can examine how regret is part of the process of everyday living — being motivated by regret, or inhibited in our activities by the fear of regret, etc.  And we can also consider the role of regret in the ways that we look back on and evaluate a human life — whether our own, or someone else’s.

To explore these problems, we’ll draw on Aristotle and the Stoic philosopher Seneca for some insightful and provocative arguments, and on some of the leading lights of the English literary and poetic tradition, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Frank Sinatra, for some striking illustrations, a bit closer to home.

After we make a few clarifying distinctions, we’ll explore three specific sets of issues related to regret:

  1. What’s going on when we act against our considered judgment, in ways that we know we’ll regret later? This is the problem that’s sometimes known as “weakness of will” or “incontinence”, or, if you’re writing in Greek like Aristotle, akrasia.
  2. We’re often tempted to reverse a previous judgment, promise, or intention, after the fact, in ways that we might describe as “regretting” it. What’s going on in cases where we second-guess ourselves? And how is regretting our own choices like this different from the regret of wishing that external circumstances, or other people’s actions, were different?
  3. What difference does regret make, in terms of assigning praise or blame for people’s actions? Is regret a sign of maturity and taking responsibility? An indication of culpability?  A sign that we should have known better, or should have acted differently, all along?


When & Where

This philosophy walk will be led by philosopher David Nowakowski.


Date: Saturday, June 1st 
Time: 9am – 12pm
Where: Beattie Street Trailhead

Registration Info

RSVP: Click here to RSVP!
Cost: Free (Donations Welcome)
Other: Wear weather appropriate attire & comfortable shoes

Walk Leader

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 activities are FREE to the community.  While donations are never expected, they are always appreciated and help to keep programs like these going. Donations help to cover activity leader honorariums, implementation, and resource archiving, and more!   If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution you can do so by clicking here or on the button above.  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. 


June 1
9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT
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Marisa Diaz-Waian


Beattie Street Trailhead
Beattie Street Trailhead
Mount Ascension Park, MT 59601 United States
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