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Philosophy Workshop: The Stoic Art of Living (Part 1) — The Ethics of Freedom

April 4 @ 10:00 am - 12:30 pm


The Stoic philosopher Epictetus (50–135 CE) spent the first half of his life literally as a slave—the property of other humans—in and around the city of Rome.  After purchasing his release from slavery, he went on to become a famous and highly-regarded teacher, promising to explain what freedom really means. 

This workshop represents part 1 of a 2-part series on the Stoic art of living and will introduce us to Stoic ethics, understood in the very broad, and traditional sense of “how to act effectively in the world.” More specifically, it will focus on the Stoic perspective on the ethics of freedom.

Grounded in the work of the later Greek and Roman Stoics (including Epictetus and Seneca), we will explore:

•      meanings of “freedom,” and different ways of talking about “free will.” Is freedom a starting point for our actions, or is it an achievement that comes after diligent effort?

•      What sorts of things are “up to us” in life, and what things are not? This is one of the most fundamental questions in Stoic ethics, and we will see why it’s so important.

•      Where does human suffering come from? How can changing the ways we perceive and think about the world help us to suffer less?  Here, we’ll find some illuminating comparisons and contrasts with traditional Buddhist thinking.

•      How have modern Stoics, in the 20th and 21st centuries, adopted or adapted traditional Stoic teachings and arguments, to find guidance, consolation, and courage in the modern world?

We’ll leave the workshop with:

•      A deeper understanding of the traditions and arguments

•      New, richer questions to ponder and explore; and

•      Suggestions for further reading, listening, and study

Workshop leader:  David Nowakowski.  No background in philosophy is required to participate in this workshop.  All ages welcome. FREE.  $15-$30 suggested donation (if you are of the means to do so).  Donations help to cover workshop leader honorariums and community “workshop scholarships” for those in need.  

Light snacks & hot tea provided. Space is limited.  Learn more about the workshop leader & reserve your spot here! 


Reeder’s Alley Interpretive & Convention Center
101 Reeder's Alley
Helena, MT 59601 United States
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Marisa Diaz-Waian
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