This morning in Aspen, Colorado.
This morning in Aspen, Colorado.

Today’s readings investigated individual rights and liberty. We had two sessions – one in the morning and one in the evening. In the morning we tackled Aristotle, Rousseau, Sumner and the Declaration of Independence.

We discussed the Aristotelian notions of place in society, including the positionality of slaves and masters. We wondered what Rousseau meant by free when he wrote of forcing a man to be free who refuses to obey the general will. We debated the merits of the Declaration of Independence, from the use of the language to its call to action. We closed with The Challenge of Facts, a clearly written document that, among other things, seems to indulge in victim blaming.

I like the ways the facilitators ask framing questions. What would Hobbs say about this? What might Aristotle say to that? These sorts of questions challenge us to reconsider old understandings and bridge the new ones.

After some down time, we ventured up the mountain to a cabin called Toklat. There we enjoyed a discussion of Melville’s Billy Budd, closing the night wondering what Captain Vere could’ve or should’ve done differently. It’s an interesting exercise to imagine how we’d be better or different leaders under similar circumstances. I think that’s the key, really. The ability to imagine different outcomes keeps us youthful and agile.


Read the next post in the Aspen Seminar series.

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