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Philosophy Walk: “The Pursuit of Excellence”

June 18, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT

Walk Details

No matter what we do with our lives—in our family life, our career, our hobbies and passions—very few people want to settle for mediocrity.  So what does it mean for us to strive for excellence in our own lives, and to appreciate the excellence of others?

In the first two stops of this walk, we’ll think about the elements of excellence in particular areas of human endeavour, from the arts and athletics, to craft and the skilled trades.  We’ll consider the role of risk-taking, failure, and standards of perfection, when we judge someone or something to be excellent.  We’ll think about the ways that technology can help us in our pursuit of excellence, and how it might sometimes get in the way.  And we’ll consider some notions that are adjacent to being excellent, like being a master (a master craftsman, a master musician) or a star (a star athlete, a star pupil).

As we meander through all these different aspects of excellence, in all these different areas of life, we’ll ask, “What bigger picture, of excellence in general, emerges out of all these?”

Then in the final stop, we’ll step back to consider the pursuit of excellence, not just in special domains like basketball or jazz, but in human life as a whole.  What do the lessons we’ve learned about excellence in these smaller domains teach us about a life well-lived?

So come for the hand-crafted artistic masterpieces, stay for the vision of ethics that goes way beyond utilitarianism.

When & Where

This walk led by David Nowakowski will take place on Saturday, June 18th 2022. No prior background in philosophy is required.

Walk Details

Date: Saturday, June 18th
Time: 9am – 12pm MT
Meeting Spot: Mt. Helena Trailhead (in the parking lot kiosk)

Registration Info

RSVP: Scroll down to register…
Cost: Free (Donations Welcome)
Other:  Bring comfortable walking shoes & water

Walk Guide

David Nowakowski is as 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.


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 philosophy 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:

  • Water & Snack
  • Weather appropriate attire & sun protection
  • A walking stick/Trekking poles
  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy walks 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. Donations help to cover walk leader honorariums, implementation, 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 18, 2022
9:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT
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Mount Helena Trailhead
Helena, MT 59601 United States + Google Map
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Marisa Diaz-Waian
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