It is a perfect day in Chicago today. It’s one of those days that rests halfway between spring and summer where the sun is shining bright and warm, but the air is cool and it’s hard to decide if the sweatshirt you’re wearing is actually necessary. It’s one of those days where you want to go outside and stay there and, contrary to what preconceived notions you might have about school, it is also a perfect day to be a Shimer student.
Near the beginning of this semester I fell in love with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. We read about a third of it in my Social Sciences class and then moved on, which was disappointing for me. I asked our facilitator, Aron, if he would be willing to lead an informal tutorial for interested students so we could finish the book before the semester ended. He agreed, and since then we have met almost every Tuesday at 10:30 to discuss yet another book of the Nicomachean Ethics.
It has been phenomenal.
There are usually somewhere between three to six of us who take the time to read an extra 20 or so pages of Aristotle and meet for an approximately hour long discussion. Sometimes we bring snacks. Sometimes we sit outside.
Today we went for a walk, ‘cause we’re peripatetic like that.
The conversation started more casually than it usually does. I think Alexis brought up my squirrel phobia, which led to Aron’s story of being attacked by a gang of squirrels when eating lunch one day. Eventually, though we wove our way to the book of the Ethics that we had read and spent the next hour or so shouting over traffic and meandering through neighborhoods and parks while discussing Aristotle’s perspective on friendship.
I can say with the utmost sincerity that there is no other way that I would rather have started my day. The conversation flowed beautifully and, despite being outside and walking, we managed to cite the text and carry on an extremely focused, rigorous and interesting conversation about a beautiful piece of philosophy.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that very few other schools have peripatetic philosophy days.
I’m going to go write an essay outside now.