A five week process:
Course Dates: Tuesdays starting 16 November, 2021
Introductory Price: £195 / $270
Price: £195 / $265
What can Socrates teach us about identity politics? Can Mary Wollstonecraft give us a fresh take on free speech in the age of big tech? What would Carl Jung make of the strange union of the new age and far right known as ‘Conspirituality’?
This course, led by award-winning public philosopher Jules Evans, looks at the big philosophical ideas and thinkers behind some of the noisiest issues of the day. With so much reaction and outrage in public debate, it can be difficult to step back and see the philosophical positions – the deep code – underlying these clashing currents. When we do, we can uncover essential insights that help us thrive in the times we live in.
Essential Philosophy for Modern Life will take you on a journey of understanding the key philosophical ideas and arguments underlying today’s disputes. We will unpack these ideas in a critical and non-dogmatic way, introducing you to some of the leading thinkers and philosophies that can help you see where people are coming from, where your own philosophical sympathies might lie, and why there are always two sides to every argument.
We all of us swim in the world of ideas and philosophies, often unaware that the unconsciously beliefs we hold were once invented and put forward by a long-dead philosopher. John Maynard Keynes wrote:
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.
The history of ideas can help us articulate and examine our own prejudices, consider the content and strengths and weaknesses of multiple positions, and weigh up alternative visions of the good life and the good society.
‘Evans reminds us that philosophy is not just about dry analysis. It’s also about the good life.’ - Matthew Syed
‘I hugely enjoyed Jules’ Philosophy for Life’ – Derren Brown
‘Jules’ book saved my life’ – Adrian Edmondson
‘Philosophy Club was the best thing we did all season’ – Paul Gustard, former coach at Saracens RFC
Jules Evans is a bestselling author and philosopher. His first book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, explored how people are rediscovering ancient Greek and Roman philosophies and how Greek philosophy (particularly Stoicism) inspired Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and was a Times book of the year. His second book, The Art of Losing Control, explored how people find ecstatic experiences in modern western culture.
He has extensive experience teaching people how to apply philosophy to their lives, having set up the London Philosophy Club and also as an honorary research fellow at the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary University of London.
He also co-organised the first Stoicon and has taught workshops on well-being, transcendence and flourishing to organisations like Arsenal FC, Netflix and MIND.
The course includes a 90 minute Zoom call each week with a live lesson, including breakouts and Q&A's. The course will begin on Tuesday, 16 November 2021 at 8pm UK Time / 3pm New York / 12:00pm San Francisco. All the subsequent live zoom sessions will take place on Tuesdays at the same time, ending on 14 December.
All lessons will be recorded and available to you in case you miss one or want to rewatch it. Between the live calls you will have a Zoom call with your 'pod' of three others to deepen your inquiry into that week's topic and to practice new conversational techniques. As well as this, you'll have access to a workbook, useful links and a reading list designed specifically for this course.
Click on each week below to find out more about it.
We begin by looking at the genesis of our search for the real me and a collective We. We'll explore the thought of St Paul, Augustine and the Christian search for the true self. We'll see how this evolved in Romanticism, starting with Rousseau. From there, we'll look to the civil rights movements and modern identity politics.
This week we'll look at Liberalism versus tradition, including Tom Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft and Edmund Burke. We'll examine the thought of John Stuart Mill and the arguments for and against free speech. And we'll ask: is cancel culture about accountability or a vindictive search for scapegoats?
This week we'll look at the concept of Eudaimonia in ancient Greek philosophy, and how it helped to inspire the modern politics of well-being. We'll track the rise of therapy culture, and the triumph of ‘wellness’. Can we develop a post-GDP society dedicated to well-being rather than just material progress?
Why are conspiracy theories so enticing right now? Can we find a balance between our need for myths and the capacity for critical thinking? Here we'll see how the enlightenment challenged superstition in the name of rationality, and how the Romantic counter-enlightenment criticized the supremacy of rationality. We'll link this to Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and the modern search for myths, and ultimately explore the concepts of re-enchantment and conspirituality.
Should we try and fix the Earth, or strive to become a multiplanetary species? Should we harmonize with nature or master it with technology? In this final session, we'll look at how Romanticism made a cult of nature. We'll study Malthus, Darwin and the rise of ecological thinking and track this directly to current conversations around existential risk and modern techno-utopianism.