In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?”, we considered the idea of “species,” from Plato and Aristotle, through the Middle Ages, to Charles Darwin (of course!), and down to the present. We looked at what questions each thinker was trying to answer using “species,” and why Darwin’s famous title came as such a shock to his contemporaries — why before him, few educated people would ever have thought that a species could have an origin.
Along the way, we gained some useful insights into the role of ideas and abstraction in western scientific thought. We reflected on the search for stability in a changing world, as a unifying thread from Plato to Darwin, and beyond. And we cultivated a deeper appreciation for the ways that we, and our predecessors, strived to classify and categorize — both in the natural world, and in human society and culture.
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.
Thank you to David Nowakowski, the Carroll College Philosophy department, and the Helena community for helping to make this event such a success! Thank you also to the Helena Area Community Foundation for grant funds helping to support activities like these in our community…as well as our sustaining donors!!