Philosophy Workshop: The Life of Virtue — Lessons from Greek Philosophy
July 13, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
In this 3.5-hour “philosophy as a way of life”-inspired workshop led by special guest scholar & Philosophical Advisor for Merlin CCC, David Nowakowski, PhD we’ll look at what it might mean to live a life of virtue. Select readings and activities inspired by numerous ancient (and some contemporary) thinkers will be examined and applied with the aim of introducing participants to a variety of philosophical perspectives on virtuous living and practical tools for living well.
For the ancient Greeks, “virtue” was centrally connected to living the best possible life, making the most of our human existence. In this workshop, we will examine what exactly that meant, how it was supposed to work, and in what ways it might still be relevant to us today as we choose how to direct our own lives.
We will spend a good portion of our time in ancient Athens, with Aristotle’s classic discussions of virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics, as well as Plato and the Platonic tradition, on how virtue applies both to individuals and to human communities. We’ll then take a look at how Greek theories of virtue were adapted to new philosophical and religious contexts in the Roman Empire and in Europe, before being handed on to us today.
By looking at virtue from all these perspectives, we will appreciate the foundations for modern thinking about virtue, in ways we may not fully have realized. This will give us a better sense of what options are available as we plan the course for our own lives, and why we might (or might not!) want to choose certain ones. Some of the big questions addressed throughout the morning may include:
What are virtues? What do we mean in general when we talk about “virtue,” and what specific things count as virtues?
Why do we care about having virtue, practicing it, “being virtuous,” etc.? Is this connected to morality, or not? (Hint: it depends, but maybe not.)
Is virtue a requirement, or even a goal, for everyone, or just certain people?
Is virtue something we achieve through our own effort, or something we receive or are given?
Is living a virtuous life something we can do on our own, or does it require friends, neighbors, community?