Tim LeBon: Exercising Philosophical Development

“…we each have the ability to think about how to live well, and that philosophy – and psychology – provide tools to help us do this.”

How did you become interested in this area?

I studied philosophy as part of a PPE degree at Oxford, and it was a real eye-opener. The idea that we could think about how to be happy and lead good, worthwhile lives was life-changing. It started a wonderful journey from learning about the philosophy and psychology of well-being to teaching it and writing about it, a journey I am still enjoying.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

That we each have the ability to think about how to live well, and that philosophy – and psychology – provide tools to help us do this. Also, that we shouldn’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by philosophy – it’s a practical tool for everyone. I combine philosophy (especially Stoicism) with CBT and psychology, and so see how it can be helpful in my everyday work with clients.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Devote at least as much time to your philosophical development (in the broadest sense) and mental health as to your physical health. If you spend 30 mins exercising your body, invest at least 30 mins in developing your practical wisdom. Read a practical philosophy or psychology book. Get into the habit of daily philosophical exercises such as the Stoic early morning rehearsal of how you should spend your day and an evening review of how it went. The idea behind my new book, 365 Ways to Be More Stoic, is that “little and often” is a great way to go!

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

The unexamined life is not worth living.


What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I would suggest reading one of my books. Wise Therapy is about how philosophy can help to therapists and it contains a lot of my philosophical thinking, aimed at the general reader. Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology provides a practical introduction to the science of well-being, drawing on philosophical ideas as well as psychology. My new book, 365 Ways to Be More Stoic, (edited by Kasey Pierce) is due to be published by James Murray in late 2022. It will provide a daily injection of Stoic wisdom – I hope it’s going to help many people start each day in a really positive way.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

I’d be very excited by the prospect. Talk about standing on the shoulders of giants!

Mia Funk: The Creative Process

How would you introduce yourself and the work that you do to our readers? 

I’m an artist, writer, podcast host, and the founder of The Creative Process and One Planet Podcast. The Creative Process is a podcast, international educational initiative, and traveling exhibition. One Planet Podcast focuses on the environment and the kind of world we’re leaving for future generations. What’s important for me is to create experiences that ignite imaginative inquiry and help the next generation to find their vision. As an artist, I never made a decision based on making money. I did what made me happy. The arts and humanities have always been my passion and nourished me throughout my whole life. They are the glue that holds society together.

How did you become a creative educator and come to launch The Creative Process?

After years of helping to launch cultural initiatives, founding magazines, and making arts documentaries alongside my painting and storytelling, I decided to found The Creative Process in 2016. It was launched at the Sorbonne, Panthéon-1 in Paris. While the Panthéon is a memorial to national heroes, The Creative Process celebrates living artists and creative thinkers from around the world who have made important contributions to society. It is designed to be a record of our time and through the collaboration of students and faculty, and the insights shared, we aim to inspire this and future generations on their creative journeys.

The Creative Process was born out of a desire to celebrate progressive intellectual and artistic practices that inspire human resilience and unlock potential in young people, encouraging their empathic imagination and an open mindset. We have promoted the humanities through art, literature, poetry, music, dance, film, podcasts, exhibitions, and conversations with well-known artists, writers, and creative thinkers. Through storytelling, we’ve celebrated culture, history, civic engagement, and shown the important legacy of the arts and humanities, how they provide spiritual and intellectual nourishment and enrich our lives. At a time when universities are increasingly prioritizing STEM, we say that both the humanities and sciences are essential elements of a well-rounded education and promote happier, more engaged global citizens.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

We need to live a life larger than ourselves. Nurture your mind with nature and good company.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

It is important to remain curious. Learning is a lifelong process and everyone has the capacity for creativity.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution,” that people attribute to Albert Einstein. That’s really to say that knowledge is important, but what is of greater importance is what you do with that knowledge for that is really what you have contributed to society and our understanding of the world.

Working on this project, I am often reminded of what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote:

When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work, but rather awaken within men the desire to long for the vast and endless sea.

And these really touch on the three pillars of our project, imagination, knowledge, and respect for the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

To learn more about our projects, visit www.creativeprocess.info, oneplanetpodcast.org, listen to The Creative Process and One Planet Podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. There are many ways you can get involved in podcasts, exhibitions, or other initiatives. We’ve even had projects right here in Athens and conducted interviews with many museum directors, archeologists, artists, philosophers, and others.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy in Athens. How would you feel about that and what topics would you cover? 

Giving a talk or workshop at the location of Plato’s Academy in Athens would be a dream for me. I am in awe of Plato’s contribution to culture and learning, as well as Greece’s enormous cultural legacy, which I only grew to admire more through conversations with many artists and intellectuals in Athens. For my workshop or talk, I would like to draw on my experience as a creative educator, artist, and podcast host to discuss the importance of creativity and ways for unlocking our artistic voices.

Citing the many conversations with immensely talented and accomplished artists I’ve been honored to have, I would conduct open conversations that allow participants to understand that they are part of the process in order to help them realize their creative capacity. In honor of the important setting and the many Greek contributors to The Creative Process, from the directors of the Acropolis Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Benaki Museums, Onassis Cultural Centre, founding director of Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, and other museums, to the choreographer for the Olympic Games, writers, musicians, philosophers, and many others have shared so much about their creative process and the importance of knowing history with us. My workshop would begin and end with Plato, whose teachings are the foundation of our Western culture. We may never fully know the extent of Plato’s influence on culture, but it is interesting to explore his impact on contemporary philosophers and the pursuit of this knowledge is perhaps the most important part of the journey.

Mia Funk is an artist, writer, podcast host, and founder of The Creative Process and One Planet Podcast. Her painting, writing, and films can be seen on www.miafunk.com.

Visit www.creativeprocess.info. Listen to The Creative Process and One Planet Podcast on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us on @thecreative_process, @miafunkart, Facebook to see opportunities to share your creative work or to get involved.

Announcing: Plato’s Academy Centre

How would you like to attend an event at the original location of Plato’s Academy?

We’re delighted to officially announce the launch of the Plato’s Academy Centre project.  Plato’s Academy Centre is a nonprofit organization, creating an international conference centre at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens, Greece. We are also creating an online community for exploring the applications of Greek classical literature and philosophy to modern living. 

[Plato’s Academy is] an inspiring and atmospheric place to visit. It would be wonderful to be able to meet with people and talk about ancient philosophy there, an iconic location in the history of Western thought.

Dr. John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism

What we’ve been doing

  • We recently joined the Orange Grove incubator program, based in Athens, who will be supporting our startup phase
  • Our core team has been formed, and a board of advisors has been established, which includes academics, authors, and experts
  • The legal process of incorporating as a Civil Non-Profit Association (AMKE), will be completed by 1st Jan 2022
  • We have been meeting stakeholders, including government ministers and other NGO’s
  • We are now looking at properties adjacent to Plato’s Academy Park, for the new conference centre
  • We’ve secured initial startup funding for the project, and have started implementing our communications and social media strategy
  • Our website has been published, and social media accounts created, featuring interviews and other original content 
  • We’ve started collaborating other organizations in order to organize physical and virtual events in 2022

Giving a talk or workshop at the location of Plato’s Academy in Athens would be a dream for me. I am in awe of Plato’s contribution to culture and learning…

Mia Funk, artist and founder of The Creative Process exhibition and podcast

What’s next? 

We are organizing physical and virtual events for 2022, which will be announced shortly. You can find more information about the project on our website platosacademy.org.  From now on, we’ll be posting news and articles regularly there, and keeping you informed via our social media accounts.  You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube

How you can help

If you want to support the project, you can subscribe to our Patreon page.  Please also feel free to contact us if you’re interested in volunteering or offering your support in other ways.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter, to receive regular updates about our progress.

Thank you for your support, 

Kasey Pierce 

Communications Director

Eugenia Manolidou: Ancient Greek: Past, Present & Future

Eugenia Manolidou

Eugenia Manolidou is a musician, composer and conductor of symphonic music. Since 2017 she has been directing Elliniki Agogi, a school specialising in Ancient Greek, History and Philosophy. Her passion for the Classics began when she left Athens at the age of 19 to study composition at the Juilliard School. Amazed by the depth and richness of the Greek Civilisation she decided to learn Ancient Greek in order to understand the original texts. Her compositions and performances, including a concert given for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, were entirely based on the Greek civilisation.

Eugenia is the Director and Program Coordinator of Elliniki Agogi. Where they apply the Living Language method. Since 1994, they have been teaching the Ancient Greek language to children from the ages of 3 to 16 years old. They also teach adults who wish to broaden and advance their knowledge of Ancient Greek, history and philosophy. Eugenia’s role, as the Director and Program Coordinator of the school, is to continuously research, develop and evaluate the curricula, as well as, introduce and create new approaches to learning Ancient Greek. She does her best to ensure the learning programme remains interesting, compelling, engaging and fun for both children and adults.

How did you become interested in this area?

Once I realized the plethora of benefits derived from learning the Ancient Greek language, for all ages, it propelled me to research and develop new methods and techniques to improve the educational model by effectively connecting learning, communication and experience. These methods allow students to approach their distant past by integrating knowledge and experience, in and outside of the classroom. Offering so much knowledge in such a fun and gratifying way is what attracted me the most to this area.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

The most important concept we try to communicate and demonstrate to our students is that Ancient Greek is not a “dead” language. As Greeks, most of our everyday vocabulary comes directly from the ancient Greek language. We use phrases, quotes, jokes, in Ancient Greek, even as kids. By naming the language “dead” automatically separates what comes natural to us, as a continuation of the ancient form of our language. As a result, when students start studying Ancient Greek in high school they feel they are studying something “dead” and therefore, useless. At Elliniki Agogi, we try to bring our students in contact with the wealth of Ancient Greek thought and culture, showing the temporal continuity and enhancing it morally and spiritually.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Many people still question why they should learn Ancient Greek and what the practical use may be. Of course we can speak about the beauty of reading the original texts of Greek drama or philosophy or the wealth of vocabulary building and improved grammar comprehension. The most important practical reason to learn Greek is to improve the knowledge of all the other Western languages, as a significant amount of words are derived from both Greek and Latin.

Many scientific words are Greek and many abstract meanings come from this very rich language. I believe it is worth trying to learn, even a few words, anyway! There are words of Greek origin like “disaster” (dysastron) that don’t sound greek at all, and yet they come from Greek. The hardest part is for someone to decide to learn Greek; once the decision is made and the first few lessons begin, a whole new irresistible world full of ideas and noble concepts opens up!

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

There are many quotes that I use in my everyday life. My most favourite quote of mine is by Chilon of Sparta: ΜΗΔΕΝ ΑΓΑΝ – “Nothing in excess”. Moderation as a principle of life and at the same time, a key part of personal development.

Another favourite of mine, which is used a lot to encourage our young students, is the wise counsel found in rapsody Z in the Iliad: Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων, μηδὲ γένος πατέρων αἰσχυνέμεν – “Ever to excel, to do better than others and to bring glory to your forebears”. For me, this is the foundation of excellence, to try your best, without harming others, thus avoiding disgracing ones ancestors.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I would advise and encourage them to come and attend our classes and lectures, or register online. Elliniki Agogi is an educational institution open to everyone who wishes to investigate the Greek civilisation by either studying the ancient greek language, or by listening to lectures on philosophy or drama which ultimately founded the roots of Western thought.

It’s considered a sacred place amongst the Greeks. It is the first “University” of the Western world where the foundations of Western Science and Philosophy were laid two-and-a half millennia ago.

Eugenia Manolidou

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

Just the thought of it gives me the chills! I study Plato’s philosophy. In fact, at Elliniki Agogi, we recently concluded the whole Platonic Corpus after two years of weekly lectures, and I would be so grateful to watch scholars talk in this amazing place.

It’s considered a sacred place amongst the Greeks. It is the first “University” of the Western world where the foundations of Western Science and Philosophy were laid two-and-a half millennia ago. If I were given the opportunity, I would present on the relevance of music in Ancient Greece and the importance of melody, rhythm and harmony in today’s world.

Elliniki Agogi’s children’s tribute to Thermopylae and Salamis in Ancient Greek with English captions.

David Fideler: A Short History of Plato’s Academy

Why did Plato start the Academy? And what went on there?

Plato’s Academy marked a revolution in ancient Greek education and was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. It also inspired the creation of Aristotle’s school, which, like the Academy, became a center for scientific research. While Plato’s Academy was structured less formally than a modern college or university, the fact that so many schools today bear the name “academy” highlights the lasting influence of Plato’s school, which existed for an unbroken period of 300 years.

In this article, I will describe why Plato (427–347 BC) founded the Academy, its physical setting in Athens (which one can still visit today), and what took place there based on the ancient sources that have come down to us.

Figure 1: Stairway near the site of Plato’s Academy, by the gymnasium.

Why Plato Founded the Academy

Around the age of twenty, Plato met the philosopher Socrates. As a young man, Plato wanted to contribute to society, so he seriously thought about pursuing a career in politics. But he was personally disillusioned by the unjust and corrupt political events that unfolded around him in Athens. When Plato was twenty-eight, his dear friend and mentor Socrates was executed on trumped-up charges of impiety. Then, earlier, there was the case of the Thirty Tyrants, who ruled Athens for a period of eight months. At first Plato had been hopeful about the Thirty—but he misjudged their character. The unhappy truth was revealed when they unleashed a reign of terror. Despite their brief rule, the Thirty executed 1,500 Athenians without trial, confiscated the property of citizens, and sent people into exile.

Based on these events, Plato reasoned that the political situation in Greece could only improve if politicians came to understand the nature of Goodness and Justice. Socrates had explored these questions earlier, and they were central to Plato, too.

Plato concluded that political troubles would never cease until either philosophers became rulers or rulers became philosophers. This, in short, was Plato’s famous idea of the so-called “philosopher king.” In his view, only a properly educated ruler, who understood the true nature of goodness and justice, would have a genuine vantage point from which he or she could govern well.

Plato was in touch with members of another philosophical school, the Pythagoreans, based in South Italy, including his friend Archytas of Tarentum (d. 360–350 BC). Archytas was a Pythagorean philosopher, mathematician, inventor, scientist, and statesman. He was a much-loved leader of Tarentum, being elected seven years in succession, even though the law only allowed one term. He most likely served as the model for the “philosopher king” or political guardian in Plato’s Republic. Another political figure from South Italy, Dionysisus I, who Plato didn’t admire, probably served as a model for the tyrant in the same dialogue.

Plato made several trips to South Italy. On the first trip, Plato met Archytas, other Pythagoreans, and sought to acquire Pythagorean manuscripts. These meetings almost certainly inspired Plato to start his own philosophical school, the Academy, because he founded the school immediately upon his return to Athens.

Prior to the Academy, the schools in Athens were for children or adolescents. Students would learn basic subjects, including gymnastics, reading and writing, literature, arithmetic, and works of the lyric poets. Students, then, were expected to receive their remaining education by participating in civic life.

Aside from those elementary schools, the primary providers of education were the Sophists (“wise ones”), who taught the art of persuasive public speaking for a fee. In a city like Athens, persuasive speaking was an essential skill for professional advancement. Unfortunately, the Sophists were like polished courtroom attorneys who would argue either side of a case to win an argument without reference to the underlying truth. Dubiously, the Sophist Protagoras had said, “Man is the measure of all things,” while Thrasymachus claimed, “Justice is the rule of the stronger.”

Because of their questionable ideas—and what often appears to be outright moral relativism—the Sophists frequently came under the scrutiny of Socrates, who would engage with them in dialogue and test their ideas and teachings. In his conversations with the Sophists, Socrates would use his famous method of dialectic, which employed systematic question and answer, the careful definition of terms, and a careful exploration of logical contradictions. By using this method, Socrates would, in the end, leave the Sophists dazed and reeling, feeling dumbfounded, and realizing at the end of a dialogue that their actual beliefs were flimsy or incoherent.

Against this background, Plato founded the Academy in the Park or Grove Academus, from which the school took its name. Significantly, he started it with a belief that philosophy could direct people’s minds toward a knowledge of goodness and virtue, which, in turn, would benefit all of society.

The Park and Grove Academus: The Setting of Plato’s School

It was common for philosophers to meet in the public parks of Athens, especially those with gymnasia, to engage in discussions. The Sophists, similarly, would use such public spaces to give speeches, display their rhetorical skills, and seek out students.

The Park Academus, located a short walk outside the northern gate of Athens, was famous for its beautiful setting, tall plane trees, and shady walks—a perfect place to linger with friends and have meaningful conversations. In what must be a historical miracle, the ancient park has now survived for 2,500 years in its original location, in a densely populated neighborhood still called Akedēmia Platōnos (Plato’s Academy), without being built over or destroyed. In fact, the tall trees and shady pathways of the present-day park give visitors today an almost perfect experience of the pathways that existed there during Plato’s lifetime, which, as Cicero said, “are so deservedly famous” (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Shaded pathways at Plato’s Academy Park in Athens today, near the ancient gymnasium.

As a child, Plato grew up not far from the park, which contained a Sacred Grove. According to ancient account, the small grove of olive trees in the park originated from the sacred olive tree of Athena atop the Acropolis. In addition to the Sacred Grove, there were altars dedicated to Athena, Prometheus, Hephaestus, Eros, the Muses, and Heracles. And of course, it goes without saying that the park contained a gymnasium, the foundations of which can still be seen today (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Archaeological remains of the ancient gymnasium at the Academy Park.

Plato founded the Academy in the year 387 BC, at the age of forty-one, after returning to Athens from his first trip to southern Italy. According to the accounts that have come down to us, Plato first bought a kēpos—an orchard or garden—near the Academy Park, which also contained a house. This provided the school with a center for its private activities, including symposia or drinking parties, during which philosophical conversations would occur.

Plato’s second act was to create a shrine dedicated to the nine Muses—the goddesses of learning and education—in the Academy Park. This probably contained statues of the nine Muses, and it’s also likely that there was a small mouseion, or place sacred to the Muses, on Plato’s property. These shrines to the Muses were standard features of all Greek schools, including elementary schools; and this ancient word, mouseion, is the source of our modern term museum: a place devoted to learning.

While Plato’s orchard and house may have been small by later Roman standards, philosophy scholar John Dillon suggests the orchard could have been up to a couple of acres. Plato’s house must have had several rooms, including an exedra—a place for conversations. It almost certainly contained a library for the school’s books and manuscripts

Plato’s strategy in setting up the school was brilliant, since it gave the school both a public and a private dimension. Many of the school’s activities took place in the Academy Park, where members would meet and then converse, walking along the pathways. Other activities took place at Plato’s house and garden. It was like having the best of both worlds: the school had its private property while also having access to a beautiful, free-to-use campus, open to all. The arrangment, however, also creates confusion for us today, because when ancient writers speak about “the Academy” as a school, it’s not always clear if they are referring to the park or to Plato’s private property.

The Activities of Plato’s School

In the Republic, Plato presents a detailed philosophy of education with a corresponding curriculum. In Plato’s plan, the would-be guardians of the state should study mathematics in-depth. This would purify their insight, allowing them ultimately to understand the nature of Goodness—and the classical virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation. Plato, in fact, was the first individual to describe a systematic philosophy of education.

Because of the educational blueprint detailed in Plato’s most famous work, one might (wrongly) assume this was the type of training a student would receive at the Academy. Also, because we modern people are products of the present-day educational system, it’s easy to assume that Plato’s Academy would have offered regular “classes,” just like we have today, complete with lectures. But both of these assumptions are false. First of all, while Plato had strong philosophical views of his own, the whole purpose of the Academy was not to teach students a specific philosophical doctrine, dogma, or what to think; the point was to teach students how to think. Second, during Plato’s life, there’s no evidence that regular classes were offered there, or at least anything that would resemble university classes today. In fact, during the entire forty years that Plato taught at the Academy, he only offered one public lecture, entitled “On the Good.” While Plato’s closest students, including Aristotle, took careful notes on the lecture, most people who came to hear the talk left in confusion because it ended up being about mathematics!

While there’s no question that Plato wanted his students to understand the Good and many other things, too, it’s to his credit that the educational approach of the Academy was based on Socratic questioning and not focused on teaching a philosophical doctrine. As John Dillon describes it,

Despite Plato’s strong views on many subjects, it was not his purpose to leave to his successors a fixed body of doctrine which they were to defend against all comers. What he hoped that he had taught them was a method of enquiry, inherited by himself from his master Socrates, which, if correctly practised, would lead them to the truth; but, if so, it was a truth which everyone would have to arrive at for himself.

While some informal courses might have been taught on geometry or mathematics, the overall emphasis of the Academy was on Socratic dialogue and dialectic: question and answer, arriving at sound definitions, testing unproven assumptions, and searching for logical inconsistencies. (While Plato preferred dialogue, his student of twenty years, Aristotle, preferred the lecture format and would later found his own school where he could, and would, lecture endlessly.)

Plato’s published dialogues reportedly attracted new students to the school, who would read his work and then travel to Athens. Supposedly, one student even came from Chaldea. One of Plato’s most famous and enjoyable dialogues, the Symposium, in which people give speeches about the nature of love, may have been (at least in part) a marketing document for the school, advertising the kind of intellectual stimulation and companionship one could find there. The Academy also attracted two female students, Lasthenea of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius. Reportedly, Axiothea became a student after reading the Republic, while Nerinthos, a Corinthian farmer, joined the school after reading Plato’s Gorgias. Aristotle, who came from Macedonia, joined the Academy at the age of eighteen.

In addition to Plato, some Academy members also wrote dialogues, including Aristotle, Speusippus, and Heraclides. These dialogues, we might imagine, would have been shared with others or even performed out loud for other students to discuss. Some of Plato’s dialogues could have been used in a similar way to teach the Socratic method.

Aside from its emphasis on Socratic inquiry (which would have investigated the nature of virtue and what it means to live a good life), the Academy was also an institute for scientific research into mathematics. Plato was familiar with the most advanced mathematical discoveries of his time. But it’s astonishing to realize that every single advanced mathematician during Plato’s lifetime had some relationship with the Academy. This group included Theatetus of Athens, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Heraclides of Pontus, Menaechmus, Dinostratus, Hermotimus of Colophon, and Philip of Opus—a true who’s who of Greek mathematics. The famous saying supposedly inscribed over the Academy’s entrance, “Let No One Ignorant of Geometry Enter Here,” is surely a myth. But the serious mathematical research that went on at the Academy during Plato’s lifetime was significant and widely known. Looking back from today, it makes Plato’s Academy resemble a private think tank with its own board of advanced scholars. It also appears that the mathematicians of Plato’s time worked out most of the material in Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, which Euclid would have then compiled, edited, and published.

One of the best documented and most interesting reports to reach us from the ancient world is that Plato acted as “an architect” or a “director of studies” for the mathematicians of the Academy. What this means is that he would raise specific questions or problems for the mathematicians to solve. In one famous case, Plato raised “the problem of the planets.” In visual astronomy, which we perceive with our eyes, the movement of the planets does not appear to follow regular, mathematical patterns when mapped out over time. But based on his belief that the planets do follow regular mathematical patterns in reality, Plato challenged the Academy members to discover, or at least model, what those regular patterns are. Plato’s challenge gave birth to mathematical physics: study of nature’s mathematical laws.

This story offers, I believe, a profound insight into Plato’s actual role at the Academy: he was not an instructor or a lecturer, but someone who set out problems for the students to investigate. If he played this role in mathematical research, it suggests he worked the same way in other areas, too, like ethics and political philosophy. In fact, we can see him working this way in his dialogues, like the Republic. For example, Plato raises questions about the nature of goodness and virtue. He then tries to solve those questions by using Socratic inquiry.

The Afterlife of Plato’s Academy—and the Spirit of Philosophy Today

Plato lived to be eight-one years old, dying in the year 347 BC. He was buried in “the Academy”—presumably his orchard—which, while near the Academy Park, has yet to be discovered. After his death, a sculpture of Plato was erected at the Academy by the famous sculptor Silanion, copies of which survive today (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. A Roman copy of the bust of Plato by the sculptor Silanion.

The Academy was designed to be a permanent institution, headed by a scholarch or “head of school.” When Plato traveled to Italy, Eudoxus, a famous mathematician, was a temporary scholarch. When Plato died, he was followed as scholarch by his nephew Speusippus. Following Plato’s death, Aristotle set up his own school in 335 BC at the Lyceum, another famous park in Athens, which has now been excavated and is open to visitors. Aristotle, who Plato had humorously called “the brain,” carried on the Academy’s work in his own unique way, suited to his own temperament. While Plato favored mathematics, geometry, and dialogue, Aristotle favored biology, systematic research programs, and declarative arguments. Aristotle’s comprehensive research programs, in fact, helped to inspire the formation of the Library and Museum at Alexandria.

Over the decades and centuries, Plato’s nephew Speusippus was followed by a long line of scholarchs at the Academy, too many to list here. But because the Academy had no philosophical doctrine, aside from stressing the importance of critical inquiry, the character of Academic thought changed over time. Certainly, the most exciting time to be at the Academy would have been during Plato’s lifetime when Aristotle was there too.

In the year 86 BC, the Roman general Sulla sacked Athens. During the attack, he cut down the tall plane trees and the Sacred Grove of the Academy Park, using the wood to build machines of war. That was the physical end of the Academy as a teaching center. As an institution in Athens, it probably ended a couple of years earlier when Philo of Larissa, the last scholarch, fled to Rome to escape the Mithridatic wars.

Despite these setbacks, Plato’s philosophy remained unharmed. It continued to influence and inspire countless thinkers in the ancient world. It influenced the Stoics and Cicero, it inspired Neoplatonism, and it resurfaced in the Renaissance to help fertilize a reawakening of culture, classical values, and the humanities.

As Alfred North Whitehead famously said, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” That is because the big questions Plato raised are still actively explored and debated today. Likewise, the search for Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and virtue has never gone out of style (even if it is still often absent in the modern political sphere, just as it was in Plato’s day).

Sulla destroyed the trees of the Park Academus in the name of war. But through the power of natural regeneration, those trees have returned to their former beauty. Today, we can once again walk along the peaceful, shaded pathways of the Academy Park in Athens, while cicadas and crickets sing in the background. For someone interested in ancient philosophy or the deeper aspects of education, making this journey is an unforgettable experience. By walking along those pathways, it’s literally possible to walk in the exact footsteps of some of history’s most inspiring people: Plato, Aristotle, and the greatest Greek mathematicians; those who came later, like Cicero, Plutarch, and Marcus Aurelius; and everyone else who has been drawn to this birthplace of Western philosophy and science—those who believe that the unexamined life is not worth living.

David Fideler holds a PhD in philosophy and the history of science. He has a long-standing interest in the philosophy of education, has written a textbook on the history of Plato’s Academy and other Greek philosophical schools, and is a contributor to the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. He’s also the editor of The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library and author of the book Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Dillon, John. Chapter 1, “The Riddle of the Academy,” in John Dillon, The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347–274 BC). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Fideler, David. Platonic Academies: The Educational Centers of Athens, Alexandria, and Renaissance Florence—Their History and Contribution to the Philosophy of Education. East Hampton, New York: Ross School, 1996.

Kalliga, Paul, Chloe Balla, Effie Baziotopoulou-Valavani, and Vassilis Karasmani, editors. Plato’s Academy: Its Workings and Its History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Photo credits: Photos from Plato’s Academy Park (stairway, pathway, and gymnasium) copyright by David Fideler. All rights reserved. Other public domain photos from Wikipedia.

Christopher Gill: Modern Stoicism

Christopher Gill is a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy (Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, UK). He has researched and published especially on the interface between ethics and psychology in Greek and Roman thought. His books in this area include Personality in Greek Epic, Tragedy, and Philosophy: The Self in Dialogue (1996), and The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought (2006). He has also written extensively on Plato, especially his use of dialogue and narrative form for philosophical purposes, for instance Plato’s Atlantis Story: Text, Translation and Commentary (2017).

Much of his recent work has been centred on Stoic philosophy, including Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Books 1-6, translated with an introduction and commentary (2013), and the introduction and notes to the Oxford World’s Classics translations (by Robin Hard) of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Also, since 2012, He has been closely involved with Modern Stoicism, a collaborative project and organization designed to make Stoic principles accessible as life-guidance to a broad public audience. In that connection, He has given many talks at Stoicon conferences, including one in Athens in 2019, written many blog-posts for Stoicism Today, and worked with others on the handbook for the annual on-line Stoic Week course.

If I were to give a talk or workshop at the site of Plato’s Academy, I might discuss certain parallels and contrasts between Platonic and Stoic thinking on what counts as a good human life.

Prof. Christopher Gill

How did you become interested in this area?

My interest in ancient philosophy goes back to my undergraduate study of Classics at Cambridge. I have taught and researched ancient philosophy since completing a PhD in this area at Yale; in latter years, I have been focused particularly on Greek and Roman ethics, especially Stoic ethics (the subject of a book in progress).

My more recent interest in applied Stoicism stems from a workshop I organized at Exeter University in 2012, exploring the potential implications for public engagement of my research on Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. This workshop brought together ancient philosophy scholars such as John Sellars and people interested in using Stoicism as a basis for psychotherapy, counselling, and life-guidance, including Donald Robertson, Tim LeBon and Jules Evans. During two stimulating and creative days, we formulated and planned the collaborative activities (Stoic Week, the blog, Stoicon) that have remained central for Modern Stoicism. We have worked closely together, along with colleagues from across the world, while the organization and its activities and global audience have grown steadily.

In my work in Modern Stoicism, I am especially interested in bringing out the links between Stoic practice as emotional therapy, directed towards oneself, and Stoic ethics directed at benefiting other people through interpersonal and social relationships, and also activities directed towards repairing the damage that human beings have done to the natural environment.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

What Stoicism can teach us is the importance of taking care of ourselves, others, and our world, and of integrating these three kinds of care. I think that is probably the most important general message that I would want to convey now. This message is also closely linked with the fundamental Stoic ethical idea that our happiness in life depends on developing the virtues (something we are all capable of doing), rather than on acquiring other things generally seen as valuable and as forming the basis of happiness, including health, property, social status and the welfare of our family and friends. Stoics also regards those things as having positive value; but they still insist that happiness depends not on these things but on whether we have and use the virtues, especially the four, core virtues (wisdom, courage, moderation and justice). Developing the virtues is the way in which each of us can best express care for ourselves, other people and our world.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Much of the work of Modern Stoicism is devoted to presenting exercises that can help people to embed these ideas into their lives and practice. For examples and discussion, see, for instance, past versions of Stoic Week, a recent blog post of mine on ‘Marcus on the dichotomy of value and response’, and a two-part dialogue between Tim LeBon and myself on values-clarification.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

Marcus Aurelius expresses powerfully the aspiration to virtuous care of yourself and others: here is one of many examples, framed as a dialogue to himself:

At every hour, give your full concentration, as a Roman and a man, to carrying out the task in hand with scrupulous and unaffected dignity and affectionate concern for others and freedom and justice, and give yourself space from other concerns. You will give yourself this space if you carry out each act as if it were the last of your life, freed from all randomness and passionate deviation from the rule of reason and from pretence and self-love and dissatisfaction with what has been allotted to you. You see how few things you need to be able to live a smoothly flowing and god-fearing life; the gods will ask no more from someonewho maintains these principles.

Meditations 2.5

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

If I were to give a talk or workshop at the site of Plato’s Academy, I might discuss certain parallels and contrasts between Platonic and Stoic thinking on what counts as a good human life. For Plato, I might use the image of ‘the self in dialogue’ (based on the Republic): the idea of human beings as participants in three interrelated types of dialogue, that is, dialogue between the parts of the psyche, between different people or social groups, and philosophical dialogue (dialectic) directed at establishing what is objectively valuable in human life.

For the Stoics, I might use the ideas outlined earlier: that human beings at their best are engaged in three types of care, for themselves, other people, and their world (or ‘nature’), and that each of these three types of care are underpinned by the development of the virtues and virtue-based happiness. I think this comparison would bring out important ethical implications of the two ancient theories that would have powerful resonance for modern audiences.

John Sellars: Living a Good Life

What’s most important is within us and under our control, namely our attitudes, judgements, and character.

John Sellars is an academic who teaches ancient philosophy at the University of London. He has written mostly about Stoicism and its later influence, but also on Socrates, Plato and Epicureanism. At the moment he is about to start work on a short book on Aristotle. 

How did you become interested in that area?

As a schoolchild I was interested in ‘big questions’ about the origins of the universe and the like, and so I enjoyed studying physics. As an older teenager I became interested in politics and was quickly drawn to questions in political philosophy about freedom, justice, and so on. I’d also had a longstanding fascination with ancient Greece and Rome. I went to university to study philosophy, and ancient Greek philosophy seemed to encompass all these seemingly disparate interests that I had at once. 

Many of these ideas go back to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who of course gained a good part of his own philosophical education at the Academy. 

John Sellars

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

Beyond my academic research I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few years talking to general audiences about Stoicism and how it might help them in their everyday lives. That’s involved teaching people about a range of core ideas in Stoicism, including what we can control, the emotions, how to deal with adversity, our place within nature, and the importance of developing a virtuous character. Many of these ideas go back to the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, who of course gained a good part of his own philosophical education at the Academy. 

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

One of the central ideas in Stoicism that people seem to benefit from is the idea that what’s most important is within us and under our control, namely our attitudes, judgements, and character. Many people seem to suffer a lot of distress worrying about external situations out of their control, and Stoicism argues that these things are in fact not that important for living a good life. 

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

I guess it would have to be Epictetus’ “It’s not things that upset us but our judgements about things”. 

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

These days people are keen to record talks and do podcast interviews, and I’ve done a good number of these recently. But I always much prefer to read a physical book – at my own pace and with a pencil in hand to annotate – and so that’s what I’d encourage others to do. If people want to learn more about Stoicism and are new to it, they might want to start with my short book Lessons in Stoicism (which has also been translated into Modern Greek as Η τέχνη των στωικών). 

Suppose you were able to give a talk at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

In 2019 I had the chance to visit Athens for the first time. I made a trip to the site of the Academy, wandered around the remains in the park, and visited the small museum (I also visited the sites of the Lyceum and the Painted Stoa). Although well off the usual tourist trail and tucked away in a residential area, it was nevertheless an inspiring and atmospheric place to visit.

It would be wonderful to be able to meet with people and talk about ancient philosophy there, an iconic location in the history of Western thought. 

Kathryn Koromilas: Delaying Gratification

Imagine if you were dying right now, what would you choose to focus on.

Kathryn Koromilas is a writer, an educator, a creativity coach, and an event host and speaker. She uses ancient wisdom and writing practices to help reignite creativity, reimagine purpose, and foster a thriving creative practice for living well.

She is co-organiser of the Stoicon-x Women: Practical Paths to Flourishing event, leads The Stoic Salon, which is a Facebook group dedicated to reading and writing with the Stoics, and hosts The Stoic Salon Podcast where she engages guests in long-form conversations about life, love, work, play, the universe, and Stoicism.

She is writing two books inspired by Stoicism. The first is The Joyful Practice of Stoic Death Writing, forthcoming end 2021. The second is a collaboration with Dr. Ranjini George and it’s called Journaling with the Stoics.

How did you become interested in philosophy?

I’ve always been curious about literature, philosophy, and creative living. As a child, I’d be the one asking “Why” on repeat. At nine, I knew I wanted to go to the University of Sydney to “learn everything.” At age 17, my English teacher told me not to do philosophy at uni because she had a friend who spent the first week crying on the steps of Wallace Theatre because of those metaphysics lectures. When I heard that I knew I wanted to learn stuff that would be so metamorphic it would make me cry.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

At the moment, my focus is on paying attention and on creative listening. Some of the creative writing practices that I teach include copywork, literally copying texts word-for-word as a way of listening, learning, memorising and as a way of finding a way into one’s own creative voice. This is what Arrian did when he recorded the Discourses and this is what Marcus Aurelius did in Meditations though he reframed, re-expressed, and reformulated the Stoic teachings, to use Gregory Hays’ words.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

I think it would be delaying gratification. We have a sense that we have to respond quickly to texts or to people with our own answers and opinions. We aren’t allowed to just sit in silence without an answer or an opinion. The more we rush to respond and interject and interrupt, the less we are really listening so we end up in a monologue with ourselves. So, delaying gratification, delaying the gratification we get from hearing our own voices to leave space and silence to really listen to what we are reading and to others.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

ἄφες τὰ βιβλία: μηκέτι σπῶ. οὐ δέδοται

I love it when Marcus Aurelius in Meditations, Book 2.2 tells himself to stop being distracted, to throw away the books. I just feel there is such a pressure to consume everything, even knowledge, these days. And there are companies that sell apps with condensed versions of books so that we can pack more and more into our brains in the shortest period of time. And there’s such a pressure to entertain and distract ourselves. But just imagine, imagine if you were dying right now, what would you choose to focus on. I try to ask myself this question every day. I’ve spent the last three years reading snippets of Meditations everyday. In one way, that book is all the books.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

I don’t like to give unsolicited advice, so let’s email or set a date and chat first.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

I would love to talk about Plato’s two women students. Axiothea of Phlius and Lastheneia of Mantinea. I love that Axiothea read Plato and travelled to Athens to study with him. She had to dress as a man so that she could do that. I’m fascinated by stories of women who entered the male arena by either dressing as a man or using a male pseudonym. I’d love to know what that was like and how awesome would it be to have that conversation on the very ground she walked.

I love learning in community so if you are working creatively and into Stoicism please connect with me via my website, Instagram, Twitter. And if you’d like to learn more about or get involved in the Practical Paths to Flourishing women in Stoicism events which will be held yearly, please make contact through the website here. And, see you at the Academy soon!

Artemios Miropoulos: Finding True Growth

Artemios Miropoulos is the Managing Director of Linkage Greece. In this role , he applies his extensive business background to coaching executives at global organizations, including Astir Hotels, Johnson & Johnson, Mercedes Benz, Motorola, Roche, Valencia, and Vodafone, among others.

He cherishes history, archaeology, story telling and writing, all culminating to his 2015 publication of his first book, The Nameless King-15 Stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece,​ sold exclusively in The Public,​ Greece’s biggest bookseller and via Amazon.

Artemios has has a wife and three daughters and lives just outside Athens, in a landscape of wineries, the homeland of retsina wine, crossed by the Classical Marathon road trail.

Leadership was not invented in the 21st century, so while it is reasonable to look ahead for new trends and concepts it is also a smart thing to look backwards and decode the signs of past societies.

Artemios Miropoulos

How would you introduce yourself and the work that you do to our readers? 

What I do for the past 17 years or more is teach people how to lead. It has been a long journey during which I have seen the topic of my teaching treat and trick me at the same time. Leadership is a fascinating subject I am still exploring. In the course of my ‘self-actualization’ (to use good old Maslow) I have written a book called The Nameless King-25 stories of Leadership from Ancient Greece and I have taken up a post graduate degree in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Athens. Of course my identity would never be complete without my three lovely daughters and Julie.

How did you become interested in that area?

Leadership was not invented in the 21st century, so while it is reasonable to look ahead for new trends and concepts it is also a smart thing to look backwards and decode the signs of past societies. We all know Greece has a unique historical heritage and by studying the original sources I have discovered extraordinary events that could fill the scripts for dozens of Hollywood blockbusters. Not everyone likes history but we all love stories. So that’s what I do; I am telling stories people will never forget and then I bring it to their present business reality.

While teaching Leadership you realize there are burning questions that cannot be answered in a convincing manner just by going through management literature. “Can we be friends with our subordinates?” or “Was Leonidas right when he killed the Persian messengers in ‘This is Sparta’?” These questions have long ago been answered and our ancestors are are transmitting the right answer to us through centuries with signs, symbols or myths.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

There is god-like image carrying a lamb on his shoulders as a shepherd, and this goes for Christianity as well as Islam along with the relevant quotes from the holy books. There is an equivalent 6th century BC marble statue of a man carrying a calf on his shoulders at the Acropolis Museum. The meaning here is that a Leader needs to care and carry other people’s burdens.

Before I start teaching anything I urge my audience to agree on two working assumptions: Subordinates are as clever as we are, and whatever we feel it shows on our face. We are not teaching acting or just ‘communications skills.’ People will follow you if they feel you care about them, and this shows.  So if you want to lead people you first need to make sure you really and sincerely care about people. And this, as strange as it might sound, can be developed.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

Since we talk about storytelling we all have great stories to tell, from our own experiences, or family history or things we heard to books we read. We only need to retrieve these from the deeper layers of our memory, brush them up and take our time to share them with love. We have learnt that speed is a good thing. Well, it isn’t when you want to tell a good story or when you want to show that you care. And another thing: books say you first need to decide on what is the point you want to make and then find the story that will get you there. I believe every good story has a good point to pass. I always start from the story.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

Well I guess reading The Nameless King would be a good start. Just before the pandemic we only did live sessions where I am using short videos (from History Channel and such) and pictures that help me ‘dramatize’ some of my stories. After relating the stories (which people say it is a powerful experience) we debate on advanced leadership topics, like making difficult decisions on values, trust, inclusion and biases, powerful women leaders and others.

I have done that in Germany and the US (and of course Greece) and I am telling you it is amazing how much alike people react and how close are our leadership challenges. Hopefully we will soon get back there, me traveling and presenting and teaching, but we all know our virtual footprint is here to stay, so my company will be releasing short Leadership videos soon.

Suppose you were giving a talk at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

I live in Athens, where strolling among such places feels normal. So I guess I would feel pretty much at home. The myth says that there was a sign overarching the door in Plato’s academy “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.”

One of the core leadership commitments is the need to ‘Become’ which means that you need to constantly and globally evolve. Many seek their “become” journey assuming they invest on a degree similar to their professional occupation. Plato’s suggestion about geometry means you can find true growth in seemingly diverse fields where there is balance, harmony and where your heart truly flourishes.

Massimo Pigliucci: Focus Your Energy on What is up to You

Massimo Pigliucci is a professor of philosophy at the City College of New York, with a background in evolutionary biology and philosophy of science. His interests range from the nature of pseudoscience to the practical philosophy of Stoicism.

Regarding the first area, the nature of pseudoscience, he has published Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk as well as Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem.

In the second area, practical modern Stoicism, he has written three books: How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life, A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control (with Greg Lopez), and A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living.

How did you become interested in Stoicism?

It began several years ago, while I was going through a bit of a midlife crisis and felt the need for some kind of philosophical framework that could help me figure out my priorities and in general live a more meaningful life.

I went through a period during which I explored several possibilities, from secular humanism to Buddhism, from Aristotelianism to Epicureanism. Then I saw a tweet, of all things, from the Modern Stoicism organization, encouraging people to celebrate Stoic Week.

I thought, why not? Let’s give it a try! As soon as I signed up and downloaded their materials I run into a quote from Epictetus: 

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

Epictetus, Discourses ,1.1.32

The quote struck me as both humorous and profound. I was hooked. Since then I’ve been studying and practicing Stoicism, and trying to help others discover and appreciate this powerful philosophy of life.

What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?

That we all need to be conscious of whatever philosophy of life we adopt. Everyone has a philosophy of life, whether they realize it or not. Most people inherit it from their parents, in the form of religious teachings. However it happens, and whatever your philosophy of life may be, it will pay off immensely if you occasionally pause and review your philosophical commitments.

Sometimes your reflections will simply validate what you have been doing all along. At other times you may realize that your current philosophy isn’t working very well and that you need to look elsewhere. Regardless, think about why you have certain priorities and goals, and then act appropriately. If you don’t, you risk mis-living your life.

What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?

The best advice I can give people is to study, understand, and especially internalize what modern Stoics call the dichotomy of control. It is fundamental to the brand of Stoicism put forth by the early second century philosopher Epictetus, but it is found in several other traditions, from 8th century Buddhism to 11th century Judaism to 20th century Christianity.

It basically reminds us that our agency, our ability to change things, is far more limited than we normally think. For all effective purposes, the only things that are truly “up to us,” as Epictetus puts it, are our considered judgments, explicitly endorsed values, and decisions to act or not to act. Everything else we may be able to influence, but ultimately will depend on external factors that we don’t control — including other people’s judgments, values, and decisions.

The powerful idea here is to focus our energy on what is up to us while at the same time cultivating an attitude of equanimity toward things that are not up to us. For instance, let’s say I am getting ready for a job interview. It comes natural to worry about whether or not I will get the job. But that’s the wrong focus, because that decision isn’t up to me (it’s up to my interviewer) and it is affected by factors outside of my control (e.g., the competition I face for the job).

Instead, I should focus on what is up to me: to put together the best resume I can; to prepare carefully for the interview; to dress appropriately on the day of the interview; and to maintain focus while I am answering the questions that will determine whether I’ll get the job or not. As for the outcome, I am mentally prepared for both possibilities: if I get the job, good. If I don’t, I will try again somewhere else.

Do you have a favorite quote that you use?

Many. One to which I return often is from Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations (VIII.50):

“A cucumber is bitter.” Throw it away. “There are briars in the road.” Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, “And why were such things made in the world?”

It reminds me that there are some inevitable features of the world that I can’t just wish away. But I can avoid or endure them. Again, as with the dichotomy of control above, the idea is to focus where my agency is efficacious and to accept or ignore those things about which I cannot do anything.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?

Ah, that’s easy! If people are interested in my work they should check my Figs in Winter site.

It contains links to pretty much all I do: essays, books, podcasts, and so forth. And it is updated every week.

Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…

That would be lovely! I would probably talk about the relationship between Socrates — Plato’s mentor — and his fascinating pupil, Alcibiades, who went on to become one of the most intriguing and controversial figures in western history.

The talk would focus on the relationship between philosophy (Socrates) and politics (Alcibiades), and on whether politicians ought to engage in philosophical training before launching their political career. (The short answer is: yes!)

Anything else you would like to add for our readers?

Just one thing. A few years ago I was honored to give a TEDx talk on Stoicism in Athens. I was surprised by how many locals didn’t know that the philosophy literally got started a few blocks away from the site of the conference. I would encourage people to explore and appreciate their cultural heritage, and to do their best to embody it in their daily lives.