As practiced today, philosophy is often focused on a series of problems or puzzles: the mind-body problem, for instance, or the problem of free will, or the issue of how to address the skeptic who doubts whether we know anything about the world. In the ancient world, however, both East and West, philosophy was often taken to be something more directly practical—a guide to the good life. A central goal of the Institute will be to explore specific, concrete proposals that particular traditions and particular philosophers have suggested for living well.
At the same time, because the Institute will be by and for philosophers, it will critically examine the reasons and arguments behind these proposals. The Institute aims to introduce participants to the distinctive content and teaching assignments surrounding the “philosophy as a way of life” idea, develop rich dialogues with participants about best practices for these assignments, help participants plan their own “way of life” curricula, and build professional relationships that will help to sustain this approach to philosophy going forward.