Aristotle tells us that every virtue is both a midpoint between a pair of opposed vices, and also a pinnacle of excellence. In this walk, we’ll explore this particular account of virtue: first to understand it, and then to see what it can teach us about virtue in contemporary life and thought.
We’ll start with some virtues that are easy—or at least, fairly straightforward. At our first stop, we’ll examine virtues like courage, where contemporary thinking lines up pretty closely with Aristotle’s view of virtue. Here, our goal is to use familiar examples to “think ourselves into” Aristotle’s worldview.
With that foundation in place, at the next two stops, we’ll look at some virtues that are harder to make sense of.
At our second stop, we’ll think about virtues that Aristotle takes for granted, but which might sound odd to modern ears: things like magnanimity or “great souledness,” which Aristotle defines as “thinking that you are worthy of great things, when you really are worthy of them.” How on earth is that a balanced midpoint, or a praiseworthy sort of character? We’ll use these unfamiliar examples as tools to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of Aristotle’s theory, and of how that theory might challenge or present an alternative to contemporary beliefs and attitudes.
Finally, at our third stop, we’ll take just the opposite approach. We’ll look at things which modern people might think of as obvious virtues, but which Aristotle might have a hard time fitting into his account. Examples could include humility, obedience, or whatever else we come up with as a group. As we try to figure out what Aristotle could say about examples which are never addressed in his writings, we’ll develop our own ability to “think along with” ancient philosophers, as part of a living conversation.
When & Where
This walk led by philosopher David Nowakowski will take place on Saturday, October 23rd 2021. No prior background in philosophy is required to participate.
Date:Saturday, October 23rd Time: 9am – 12pm MT Trail Location: Meet at Mt. Helena Trailhead (Parking Lot Kiosk)
RSVP: Click Here! Cost: Free (Donations Welcome) Other: Bring comfortable walking shoes, water & a snack
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 & 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 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:
Our philosophy walks are FREE. That said, for those who still have the steady income to do so in these trying times, we could really use your financial support right now. Donations help to cover walk guide honorariums, implementation, resource archiving, and more!You can make a donation 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.