Food for Thought

Food for Thought (originally Coffee with the Classics) is a seminar for engaging foundational questions without the stress of grades or papers.  This informal seminar forum setting provides an opportunity to read and discuss some of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the ancient and modern Western Tradition.

This Sept, we’ll discuss how digital and mechanical technologies have become indispensable in nearly every aspect of our lives, so much so that we rarely think critically about the roles they should fill in social as well as individual existence. This module challenges our everyday indifference to things technological. Join us as we explore the uses and abuses of technology and consider what a human-centered use of technology might really look like. – and discuss them in short weekly modules in an informal and collegiate atmosphere.

 

This module will be split into 4 sessions. They will take place on 9/20 | 9/27 | 10/11 | 10/18, every Wednesday from 5:30pm – 7:00pm, with Dinner and all texts are provided free of charge.  Express interest or ask questions to Elizabeth Feeney: elife@sas.upenn.edu.


Past Modules as Coffee with the Classics: 2016-2017

CwtC I: During this feverish election season, the Coffee with the Classics seminar opened the 2016-2017 academic year with our first module, “Can Politics be Redeemed?”  The seminar bonded students together with faculty to explore the pattern and ultimate end of political life by sifting the most venerable authorities on the subject — Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Marx, Engels, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Winthrop, and Aquinas, none of whom were of one mind.  We will discuss brief texts over dinner freely, uncompelled by requirements or grades, for our own sakes and, perhaps, for the sake of the polis.

CwtC II: Beauty is in everything that surrounds us: art, the human body, nature, and music of all sorts of cadences and melodies.  Yet, there is also a beauty which comes to us through the intangible: beauty of intellect, of virtues, of the good.  What is the good and live to find the good life and true beauty?  In our Second Module, Beauty and the Good Life, we will continue exploring perennial questions, examining brief selections from the works of Plato, Plotinus, Schiller, Maritain, von Balthasar, and Hart.

CwtC III: “He who has friends, has no friend.”  This observation, perhaps lament, was derived not out of the Facebook generation, but rather out of Greek antiquity.  In his foundational treatise on Ethics, Aristotle reflected on the value of personal friendship, and his conclusions have been continually absorbed and challenged over two millennia, addressing questions about human relationships that appear quintessentially modern. Students and a faculty guide will read and discuss brief but momentous texts on friendship.  Among the great thinkers featured in our Third Module, Friendship: Then & Now, Aristotle, Cicero, Chaucer, Montaigne, Emerson, Thoreau, Keats, and others.