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Philosophy Workshop Series: “What is Philosophy?” (Responding to the World)

January 23, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 12:30 pm MST

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Workshop #2: Responding to the World

For philosophers in many times and cultures, philosophy has involved specific, practical guidance for how best to respond to the world that we find ourselves in.  This practical, applied branch of philosophy—“ethics,” in the broadest sense of the word—will answer questions like:

  • When have we behaved well? When have we lived well?
  • How can we flourish as human beings? How might we make the most of our lives, with all their capacity and potential?
  • What are the optimal approaches to human life, both as individuals, and in communities?

Our goal in this workshop is not to present some single, definitive answer to these questions.  Rather, we’re going to explore the terrain: How have philosophers (over the millennia, in various corners of the globe) approached the problems of ethics, and what kinds of answers have they proposed?  By focusing in this way, we’ll expand our sense of just how rich and varied philosophical approaches to ethics can be.

As we make this map together, one central issue will be: Where are we even looking, when we talk about what is right or good?  Are we looking at external outcomes, consequences, or results?  At individual choices or decisions?  At habits and character?  Or in some other direction altogether?

As we consider that major question, we’ll be able to define and classify some of the major approaches to ethics: views like consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theories.  This will help us to make sense of the vast array of proposed options, and will provide a foundation for future discussions of specific views, in the depth and detail they deserve.

We’ll also reflect on the account of ethics many of us were given as young people: a set of rules which we need to obey.  From the perspective of human flourishing, are concepts like duty, obedience, and rule-following helpful?  Or can they sometimes get in the way of living well, as full, thriving, mature human beings?

While we may leave with more questions than answers, we will also come away with the tools, vocabulary, and concepts to ask those questions more precisely, and to access a wealth of deep and meaningful answers.

Workshop Synopsis

When & Where

This workshop represents the second of four workshops in our “What is Philosophy?” series.  Each workshop is structured to stand on its own and will take place via ZOOM every other Saturday through February 20th.  No prior background in philosophy is required to participate.

Workshop Details

Date: Saturday, January 23rd
Time: 10am – 12:30pm MST

Registration Info

Zoom Registration: See Below…
Cost: Free (Donations Welcome)

Workshop Leader

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.

Register Here

Once you register, you will receive an e-mail & personal log-in info to join the workshop.

For those who have not used Zoom before on your computer, click here to do a test run and ensure your system is working properly: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-Joining-a-test-meeting.

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy workshops 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 workshop leader honorariums, implementation, and resource archiving, as well as community workshop scholarships for those in need.  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. 


Marisa Diaz-Waian
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