Philosophy Workshop Series: “What is Philosophy?” (Thinking About Thinking)

In the final installment of our “What is Philosophy?” series, we’ll step back even farther, to some of the most fundamental issues in philosophy: knowledge, reasoning, and what makes an effective argument. 

We’ll explore different styles and strategies of reasoning, from Aristotle’s gold standard of the demonstrative syllogism,  to the destructive critic without any viewpoint of his own, who is focused exclusively on tearing his opponent down.   (Yeah, we’re all met that last one.)

We’ll classify different kinds of debates and arguments, based the participants and their goals, and consider what methods will be appropriate and legitimate in each case.  We’ll see that successful argumentation is not at all a one-size-fits-all affair, but that different approaches and methods will be effective for different people and circumstances.  

All this will set us up to reflect on a variety of theoretical and practical questions, including:

  • What is the difference between knowing, thinking, and believing?
  • Is knowledge something eternal, timeless, and abstract, or something more deeply particular, contextual, and personal?
  • What is the relationship between knowing something, and being able to explain what we know?
  • What is the difference between being able to teach others who are eager to learn, and being able to persuade an unfriendly audience?
  • In our own lives, what place can we make for doubt & uncertainty?
  • When should we be ready to revise, think, or reconsider our opinions and beliefs? And how can we do that with integrity?


(Workshop Introduction & Session Recording)


About the Workshop Leader...

David is as a philosopher and educator 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.  A lover of philosophy and the great outdoors, David is currently building his own consulting practice and serves as a Philosophical Advisor and Consultant for Merlin CCC & Senior Mentor for scholars in the Merlin Fellowship Program.

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. 

A hermit by nature and by committed choice, he balances contemplative solitude with his active work in teaching, counseling, and the healing arts. We are elated to be collaborating with David on our philosophy in the community activities, fellowships, and other Merlin projects.

Thank You’s

Thank you to Humanities Montana and P.L.A.T.O. (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) for helping support our philosophy in the community programs and making events like this possible!  This workshop was part of our “Thinking as a Community” project.

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