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”? By looking at the history of this much-contested concept in this month’s session of “How Did We Get Here?”, we can begin to peel back the layers! Learn more & RSVP 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’ll explore this and then some! Learn more & RSVP here.
In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?” with philosopher Ed Glowienka we’ll consider something we all want, but can’t agree on how to get: freedom. We’ll explore the shift between classical and Enlightenment notions of political freedom and look at how reactions to this shift inform modern conservative and liberal values. Along the way, we’ll do a bunch of other stuff, too, and hopefully gain a deeper appreciation of why we value freedom and of the philosophical positions underlying contemporary debates. Learn more & RSVP here.
In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?”, we’ll consider the intellectual history of the idea of “planet” with mathematician, physicist, and astrophysicist Kelly Cline. We’ll start with the ancient Greeks, move to Copernicus, and then sashay into the 20th century. Along the way we’ll learn 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 will give us important insights into the nature of science and the foundations of our modern civilization. Learn more & RSVP here.
In this installment of “How Did We Get Here?”, we’ll consider 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’ll gain some useful insights into the role of ideas and abstraction in western scientific thought, reflect on the search for stability in a changing world, as a unifying thread from Plato to Darwin, and beyond, and cultivate 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. Learn more & RSVP here.