Debates about “free will” crop up in a wide, wide variety of areas: In discussing law and punishment, we ask whether the defendant acted “of his own free will.” In physics and metaphysics, we wonder whether the future is fully deterministic, or whether our choices might affect the course of things. Theologians of various religious traditions ponder a variety of problems over how to reconcile human freedom with divine providence. And researchers in neuroscience and the philosophy of mind worry over the legacy bequeathed to them from Descartes: how, if at all, can the mind even be connected to the body? What, if anything, do these widely varied conversations in divergent fields have in common, besides the name “free will”? Access more here!
We often take “labor” and “work” as synonyms, describing an often-difficult process that’s required to “get by” in life, or even to “make our living.” Yet there’s also a strong contrast between the demanding-yet-fulfilling “work” and drudgery, as well as other complicated dances between labor and leisure, work and recreation, action and contemplation, “liberal” and “servile” pursuits. These complications have been viewed very differently across the centuries. In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?” we explored this and then some! Access resources here!
In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?” with philosopher Ed Glowienka we considered something we all want, but can’t agree on how to get: freedom. We explored the shift between classical and Enlightenment notions of political freedom and looked at how reactions to this shift inform modern conservative and liberal values. Along the way, we did a bunch of other stuff, too, and hopefully gained a deeper appreciation of why we value freedom and of the philosophical positions underlying contemporary debates. Access photos & more here!
In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?”, we considered the intellectual history of “planet” with mathematician, physicist, and astrophysicist Kelly Cline. We started with the ancient Greeks, moved to Copernicus, and then sashayed into the 20th century. Along the way we learned about how scientific words and their definitions serve as a specific lens through which we can view the world. By scientifically defining words so that they most closely match real categories that exist in physical reality, this makes it easier for us to understand, investigate, and make sense of the universe. As such, this installment of HDWGH and the evolution of how we understand and use the word planet gave us important insights into the nature of science and the foundations of our modern civilization. Access photos & more here.
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. Along the way, we gained some insights into the role of ideas and abstraction in western scientific thought, reflect on the search for stability in a changing world, and cultivated a deeper appreciation for the ways that we, and our predecessors, strive to classify and categorize — both in the natural world, and in human society and culture. Access resources & photos here.
For many philosophers, scientists, and ordinary people, “species” are not only descriptive categories of how things are, but ideal models for how things should be. In this workshop, led by David Nowakowski, we took a whirlwind tour of “species” from antiquity to the present, in order to better understand the hidden assumptions behind our own thinking today…and what thinking ecologically might tell us about virtue & value. Access resources & photos here!
Most people can identify the ideas that have revolutionized science as we know it. But what about the thought experiments behind those ideas? The ideas behind the ideas that gave rise to our vision of the world today? This free interactive & theatrical presentation was held on January 31st at ExplorationWorks as part of their Science on Tap project and explored three thought experiments that revolutionized science. Guest speakers Marisa Diaz-Waian (who played the role of the student), Martin Richard (the mad scientist) & Michael Chapman (the philosopher) examined the role of imagination and wonder in scientific and philosophical thinking and invited audience members to share in the fun!