Living According to Nature
Instructor: Peter Whitkop
Tuesdays • 8 classes • 9/19-11/7 • 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Class size 5-20 students
16 seats remaining
Location: Jewett 189
The ancient Greek Stoic philosopher’s motto was “live according to nature”. The Stoics realized that good life outcomes tended to result when people lived in alignment not only with their innate human traits, but in harmony with nature as well.
Of course, how we choose to “live according to nature” depends on our understanding of the structure of nature, ourselves, and our place within nature. We will start by exploring the Classical Greek and Hermetic philosophers views on these subjects in order to establish an intellectual framework for the course and connect the classroom material to the assigned book.
These ancient models are then updated by exploring the science of complexity. This modern viewpoint is compared to the ancient ones in order to show their interconnectedness. Along the way, we’ll present some science-based methods that we can personally use to minimize the effects of the uncertainties and paradoxes inherent in all complex systems.We’ll also see how the limitations imposed by nature and the human intellect actually enhance our ability for creative expression and our sense of mystery.
The scientific topics will be addressed at an introductory college level and will be free of mathematical detail. The class book, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, shows how the behaviors of complex systems are woven throughout our lives and explores how we may personally live in harmony with nature.
COURSE SYLLABUS — Living According to Nature
- Course Background
Peter Whitkop holds a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Maine. He has worked in various capacities at Cornell University and DuPont’s Savannah River Laboratory. After returning to Maine, he was an adjunct faculty member in the chemistry department at UMaine, where he researched confined quantum systems and taught courses in analytical chemistry and quantum mechanics. Over the past several years, he has been engaged in a course of individual study that helped guide the development of this course.