Philosophy Walks

Merlin | Philosophy WalksThere are numerous reasons why getting out & about can help you live a healthier, happier, and more meaningful (deeply satisfying) life. Most people are aware of the physical benefits of being in nature, but there are also mental benefits.  Peripatetic philosophers such as the Ancient Greeks, for example, felt that there was a deep & intuitive connection between walking (in nature) & critical thought, so much so that they literally walked the earth & philosophized (hence the “prone to roam” moniker ‘peripatetic’). We enthusiastically agree and feel that “getting your feet dirty” & “sittin’ in trees” is a critical part of philosophy. With this in mind, our philosophy walks aim to help you kick off your shoes, exercise your body & mind, and reconnect with nature in ways that help to promote health and happiness.

We offer philosophy walks for adults & elders, as well as children! To view pictures from our philosophy walk outings, please visit our Merlin Meanderings Archive page.

 Our Merlin Meanderings

We offer free guided philosophy walks (a.k.a. ‘Merlin Meanderings’) on Merlin Nature Preserve (and other local areas) throughout the year.  The purpose of these fun meanderings are threefold — they allow an opportunity to: (1) exercise your body & mind, (2)  reconnect with nature, and (3) philosophically think about & discuss ideas and concerns that are important to you.  We will provide sign-up information and announce the date & location of our philosophy walks here.  You may also join our ‘Merlin Meanderings’  list to receive updates and/or contact us directly.

Fall-Winter Philosophy Walk Series

Fall Series Walk 3

“The Environment, Ethics & Stewardship” (Part 3)

Ten Mile Creek Park Trail (1505 Williams Street, Helena MT  59602)

Sunday, 3/03/19 (10am-1pm)
  • The third in our Fall-Winter philosophy walk series in conjunction with our Fall-Winter Philosophy Symposium Series about the environment, ethics & conservation stewardship.  This walk will explore the topic of current & future environmental and conservation challenges.  

Guest Speakers/Co-Philosophers-on-Trail

  • Thomas Baumeister, PhD – Conservationist, Educator & President, Orion – The Hunter’s Institute and Adjunct Professor, Carroll College & Arizona State University
  • Mark Smillie, PhD — Professor of Philosophy, Carroll College
  • Tyrrell Hibbard — Rancher, Land Steward, Business Owner, Gulch Distillery & Sieben Live Stock Co. Ranch

About Our March 2019 Guest Speakers/Co-Philosophers on Trail

Thomas Baumeister co-founded and currently runs Access WILD, a business devoted to introducing people to the wilds of the West. As Faculty Associate at Carroll College and Arizona State University, he teaches courses on ​The Science, Ethics, and Practice of Animal Welfare​; Wild Animals & Society; The Human-Nature Connection​; and ​The Biomimicry Ethos—A Pathway from Practice to Philosophy​.  While serving as Conservation Education Bureau Chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Thomas facilitated the establishment of Montana WILD, wrote the state’s hunter education manual, and chaired the committee for the International Hunter Education Association to develop U.S. hunter education standards.  In addition to serving as Board President for Orion – The Hunter’s Institute, he also serves on the board of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association and is chair of the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame.  Thomas has been recognized as “Professional of the Year” by the International Hunter Education Association and is a three-time recipient of the Montana Governor’s Award for “Excellence in Performance.” He holds two M.S. degrees and a Ph.D. in Biology and Wildlife Biology from Universities in Germany and Montana.

Mark Smillie is a professor in the Philosophy Department at Carroll College. He received a B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College, and a Ph.D. in 1992, from the University of Notre Dame. He specializes in medieval philosophy, the Philosophy of Human Being, and teaches applied ethics courses in Bioethics, Business Ethics, and Environmental Ethics.  He recently co-edited the book, Augustine and the Environment. He has given papers/presentations on Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Identity, End of Life Decision-Making, Artificial Intelligence, and other issues.

Tyrrell Hibbard is a rancher, business owner, and Helena native who enjoyed an agricultural upbringing in a generational ranch family where work and recreation often coincided. Montana’s rich character, natural bounty, and historic working landscapes inspired Tyrrell to expand on his background and pursue conservation on a scale larger than his family’s ranch. In 2009 he joined Western Sustainability Exchange where he has worked in market-based conservation and sustainable agriculture, and subsequently, in 2013, joined the board of Prickly Pear Land Trust. In 2015 Tyrrell began adding value to Montana agriculture commodities by distilling award-winning spirits, as a proprietor of Gulch Distillers. When not ranching, distilling, or developing markets for farmers and ranchers, Tyrrell chooses to enjoy the outdoors with his wife and two daughters, usually skiing, hunting, mountain biking, or fishing. He has every intention to preserve these opportunities for his community, his daughters, and the generations after them.


2019 Spring, Summer & Fall Schedule

Please find below a tentative schedule for our 2019 Spring, Summer and Fall Philosophy Walks.  We will update each accordingly as dates, times and walk locations are finalized.

  • May 2019Urban Environmentalism & Aesthetics (Dennis McCahon & Michael Chapman) – Sunday, May 19th (10am – 12pm) at Reeder’s Alley
  • June 2019Technology & Environment (Christopher Preston & Patrick Kelly) — Saturday, June 29th (9am – 12pm) at TBD
  • July 2019Virtue Ethics in Ancient Philosophy (Part 1) — Examining ‘Hope’/Philosophy as a Way of Life (David Nowakowski – TBD)
  • August 2019Pragmatism, Eco-Pragmatism (Ryan Aikin & Henry Kramer) — Saturday, August 10th or Sunday August 11th (9am-12pm) at TBD.
  • September 2019Virtue Ethics in Ancient Philosophy (Part 2)/Philosophy as a Way of Life (David Nowakowski & Barry Ferst — TBD) — Sunday, September 8th (10am-1pm) at TBD
  • October 2019Story & Imagination Across Cultures, Phenomenology of Story & Imagination, Nature, Environmental Ethics (Shane Doyle & Henry Kramer) — Sunday, October 13th (10am-1pm) at Merlin Nature Preserve
  • October 2019Halloween Hayride-Philosophy Walk for Kids (Martin Richard & Michael Chapman) — Sunday, October 27th (10am-1pm) at Merlin Nature Preserve (See more info below)
  • November 2019Nature & the Humanities  (Henry Kramer & Ed Glowienka) — Saturday, November 9th (10am-1pm) at TBD


2019 Halloween Hayride-Philosophy Walk for Kids

Sunday, October 27th

On Merlin Nature Preserve (10am-1pm)

Wear your Halloween costumes & get ready for fun!  This philosophy walk will be geared specifically for kids and will have a Halloween & philosophy-based theme. 

  • Topic TBD.  Special guest speaker/storytellers Martin Richard & Michael Chapman.  Plus…a hayride, hot apple cider, baked goodies & more! 

Bring a sack lunch and/or snack and wear weather-appropriate gear (along with your costumes!).  Attendance by adults/parents/grandparents/siblings etc. is encouraged/welcome.   $10 suggested donation.  Space is limited.  Due to nature preserve logistics, registration and/or confirmation of attendance is required.  Our group will meet in the Silver City Saloon parking lot & caravan via our hayride wagon to Merlin Nature Preserve. 

What to Expect on Our Philosophy Walks

Here is  a general overview of what you can expect on our Merlin Meanderings:

  • Free to the Public (donations welcome/appreciated)
  • 2-3 hour walks (opportunities for rest along the way)
  • Casual, positive & supportive experience
  • 1-2 philosophy guides; guest/volunteer nature guides (as available)
  • Small group sizes (generally 1-12 people; may be larger for special occasion walks)
  • Ample opportunity to enjoy nature

To get the most out of your experience with us and enjoy a healthy & safe walk, please bring with you on the day of the walk/hike:

  • Water & Snack
  • Weather appropriate attire & sun protection
  • A walking stick/Trekking poles
  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please e-mail [email protected], call our office at #406-204-0064, or our executive director & philosophy walk guide (Marisa) at #406-439-5788

Directions to Merlin Nature Preserve:  Our group will meeting in the Silver City Saloon parking lot located at 6042 Lincoln Road West.  From there we will take a hayride to Merlin Nature Preserve (approx. 3.5 miles from the SCS parking lot).  To reach the Silver City Saloon parking lot from Helena, take either the 15, N. Montana Ave. or Green Meadow Drive to Lincoln Rd.  Turn left onto Lincoln Road & head west (toward Marysville/Canyon Creek).  Drive roughly 6.5 miles.  Silver City Saloon will be on your right hand side.  Click here for google maps directions. For walks on the preserve, please plan on arriving approx. 15 minutes before hike/walk start time. For more information about the meandering, please contact our executive director & philosophy walk guide (Marisa) at #406-439-5788 or e-mail [email protected] 

Thank you to Humanities Montana and P.L.A.T.O. (and Helena community donors & supporters) for helping us to provide these activities to the Helena community!

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