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Coming Online and Onsite Events

Become a subscriber in the Community of Lifelong Learners for $40 per month for unlimited attendance at on-site and online events, or $25 per month for only ONLINE events. Subscribers are responsible for ordering their own books. One-day ONSITE seminar tuition is $125 per person for non-subscribers. Special events have differing tuition. Scholarships are available for teachers and students. Please inquire via email here.

Online Weekly Intensives

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Online Seminar Series - NOW MEETING

The Book of Numbers

 

Tuesday Evenings - May 7 - July 9, 2024

 

The Agora Foundation's online series on the books of the Old Testament / Torah will continue with The Book of Numbers. The overall initiative is expected to last three to four years, with attendees choosing which book offerings to participate in.

The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi, lit. 'numbers'; Biblical Hebrew: בְּמִדְבַּר,  Bəmīḏbar, lit. 'In [the] desert'; Latin: Liber Numeri) is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book has a long and complex history. The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites. Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land.  

 

Online seminars in this series will take place on Tuesday evenings, 5:30-7:00PM Pacific Time. Attendees are encouraged to read their preferred translation of The Book of Numbers. Sessions will be facilitated by Dennis Gura. Groups will be limited to 14 participants and no prior knowledge is required. Teachers will be offered 2 CEU credits for participating. This nine-week series is $600. Community of Lifelong Learner subscribers receive a discount of $50 through a refund. Payment options are available. 

Click here for full details.

Free Community Series

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Free Onsite Community Seminar Series

Eastern Classics

The First and Third Tuesdays of each month

Next Session is May 21, 2024

Like the west, the east has its own tradition of influential texts that address the perennial questions of human kind. Centering around the bodies of work from China, Japan, and India, this series will focus on the texts of Taoism, Confucius, Buddhism, and Hinduism. We invite you to join us and attendees can feel free to join intermittently.

The May 21 reading is:
The Tao Te Ching - Chapters Six and Seven

Click icon to download, or click here
for all chapters.

Schedule:
12:00 - 1:00PM PDT

Location: 

The Ojai Library

111 East Ojai Avenue

Ojai, California 93023

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Free Onsite Community Seminar Series

The Glory of Art

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

What is Art? Why does it hold such a central position in humanity’s self-understanding? Art seems to have subjective, contingent, and relative aspects, while also evoking the eternal, essential, and radical. Art represents, communicates, explores, inspires, challenges, creates, and questions. This semi-monthly series, taking place the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the Ojai Library, will explore the work of artists and thinkers through history.

 

Aristotle - “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”.

 

O’Keeffe - “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”

 

da Vinci - “Art is the Queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all generations of the world.”

 

O’Connor - “Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.”

 

Picasso - “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” 

 

Klee - “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”

 

Brecht - “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”

 

de Beauvoir - “Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom: that of the creator; to foster such an aim, one must first unequivocally posit oneself as a freedom.”

 

Dostoevsky - “Art is as much a need for humanity as eating and drinking. The need for beauty and for creations that embody it is inseparable from humanity and without it man perhaps might not want to live on earth.” 

Works discussed will include selections from:

On Beauty by Plotinus


Books on Architecture by Vitruvius


– Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci 


The Arts and Crafts of Today by William Morris


The Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinski 


Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier


Some Memories of Drawings by Georgia O’Keefe 


Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin


– The Search for the Real by Hans Hoffman


Man the Musician by Victor Zuckerkandl


Image-making and the Freedom of Man by Hans Jonas


I Shock Myself by Beatrice Wood


Remote Control by Barbara Kruger

 

Click here to visit The Glory of Art Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

The May 28 reading is:

Plotinus - On Beauty

Schedule:
12:00 - 1:00PM PDT

Location:

The Ojai Library

111 East Ojai Avenue

Ojai, California 93023

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Free Online Community Seminar Series

The Foundations of Our Republic - The Federalist Papers Complete Series

Sunday, June 16, 2024

What are the fundamental principles of our Republic? Are these principles based on a view of objective reality/nature, or simply the "consent of the governed"? Depending on how one addresses the previous question: Are these principles changeable, and if so on what grounds? How should one read the founding documents? What authority does the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches have? What are rights? Are they based on nature or consent? Are they inalienable? Please join us as we explore these political works through monthly weekend meetings. 

Click here to visit The Federalist Papers Complete Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

The June 16 reading is:

Federalist Papers 25-28

Schedule:
12:00 - 2:00PM PDT

Readings in the series:
Complete Federalist Papers and selected Anti-Federalist Papers

Location:

Online. Register to receive the link.

Upcoming Regular Events

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Online Seminar Series

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Let us leave theories there and return to here's hear.

 

Having done the longest day in literature with Ulysses (1922),  Joyce set himself an even greater challenge for his next book - the night. "A nocturnal state... That is what I want to convey: what goes on in a dream, during a dream." Published in 1939, the book would take Joyce two decades to complete. 

 

A story with no real beginning or end, the work has come to assume a preeminent place in English literature. Anthony Burgess has lauded Finnegans Wake as "a great comic vision, one of the few books of the world that can make us laugh aloud on nearly every page". Harold Bloom has called it Joyce's  masterpiece, and, in The Western Canon (1994), wrote that "if aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon, Finnegans Wake would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante".

Join us as we read this text a few pages at a time, every other Wednesday afternoon. Click here to visit the Finnegans Wake Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

May 22 Reading:

Book Two - Chapter One of Finnegans Wake by Joyce (page 241, Line 2), Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (December 1999). ISBN 9780141181264. Also, Chapter Nine of A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake by William Tindall. Syracuse University Press; Reprint edition (May 1996), ISBN 0815603851

Schedule:

12:30-2:00PM PDT

Tutor

Barry Rabe

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

Epistemology of Spinoza

Thursday, May 23, 2024

What can we say we know with certainty? What does it mean to say that we know something? How does knowledge differ from belief? Can an exploration of basic philosophical questions, such as How do we know what we know? and What are the limits of our understanding? inform our thinking not just on intellectual issues, but on broader cultural challenges as well?

 

Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order, usually known as the Ethics, is a philosophical treatise written in Latin by Baruch Spinoza. It was written between 1661 and 1675 and was first published posthumously in 1677. The book is perhaps the most ambitious attempt to apply the method of Euclid in philosophy. Spinoza puts forward a small number of definitions and axioms from which he attempts to derive hundreds of propositions and 
corollaries, such as "When the Mind imagines its own lack of power, it is saddened by it", "A free man thinks of nothing less than of death", and "The human Mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the Body, but something of it remains which is eternal." Over ten
 afternoon online seminars, the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, the series will cover:

January 25: Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect (pp. 233 to 262)

February 8: Ethics, Part I, Propositions 1-15 (pp. 31-43)

February 22: Ethics, Part I, Propositions 1-15 (pp. 31-43) continued

April 11: Ethics, Part I, Propositions 16-36 and Appendix (pp. 43-62)

April 25: Ethics, Part II (pp. 63-101)

May 9: Ethics, Part II, Pr. 40 to end; Part III, Pr. 1-13 (pp. 88-112)

May 23: Ethics, Part III, Pr. 14-49 (pp. 112-132)

June 13: Ethics, Part III, Pr. 50-end; Part IV, Pr. 1-7 (pp. 132-158)

June 27: Ethics, Part IV, Pr. 8-end (pp. 158-200)

July 11: Ethics, Part V (pp. 201-223)

Join us as we discuss these foundational works from Spinoza. This series continues a broader series on epistemology. All are welcome. Please join us even if this will be your first seminar in the series. 

Click here to visit the Epistemology Page.

May 23 Reading:

Ethics, Part III, Pr. 1-49 (pp. 88-132)

Ethics: with The Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and Selected Letters

Hackett Publishing Company (November 1992)
ISBN 978-0872201309

(This is the text for all the seminars in this series)

Schedule:

Thursdays, 12:00-1:30PM PDT

 

Tutor: 

Carol Seferi

Location: 

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Golden Bough by James Frazer

Saturday, May 25, 2024

“For myth changes while custom remains constant; men continue to do what their ancestors did before them, though the reasons on which their fathers acted have been long forgotten. The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.”

 

The Golden Bough - A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging investigation of mythology, religion, and ritual. First published in 1890 and greatly expanded in later editions, the book attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief and scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat, and many other symbols and practices whose influences had extended into 20th-century culture. We invite you to join us as we discuss this entire abridged version, a few chapters at a time, with weekend seminars taking place about one month apart.

May 25 Reading:

The Golden Bough by James Frazer -

Chapters XIX - Tabooed Acts, XX - Tabooed Persons, XXI - Tabooed Things,
XXIII - Tabooed Words (pages 234-316)

Penguin Classics; Abridged edition (January 1998)

ISBN 978-0140189315

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Onsite Seminar and Play Performance

Nora (an adaptation of A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen)
at Antaeus Theatre

Sunday, May 26, 2024

"I’ve got to find out which view is the right one, society’s or mine…”

 

The Agora Foundation is thrilled to continue its partnership with Antaeus Theatre in Glendale, California, with a stage version of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House by Ingmar Bergman. Translated and Adapted by Frederick J. Marker and Lise-Lone Marker, and directed by Cameron Watson (Top Girls, Picnic, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Little Foxes).  

On Christmas Eve, Nora Helmer, whose world is built entirely around her domineering husband, must confront blackmail, financial ruin, the consequences of her past actions, and the unsettling truth about her life. The Antaeus play is influenced by Ingmar Bergman’s adaptation of Ibsen's masterpiece.  

May 26 Reading:

A Doll's House (play in its entirety) by Henrik Ibsen -

Penguin Classics (September 2016)

ISBN 978-0141194561

Schedule:

Continental Breakfast - 10:00-10:45AM

Seminar - 10:45AM-12:45PM

Lunch Provided - 12:45-2:00PM

Play Performance - 2:00-3:30PM

Discussion - 3:45-4:30PM

 

Tutors

Jordan Hoffman and Andy Gilman

Special Event Cost:

$125

Location

Antaeus Theatre
110 East Broadway

Glendale, California 91205

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Online Seminar Series

What is Life by Erwin Schrödinger

Saturday, June 1, 2024

"The great revelation of the quantum theory was that features of discreteness were discovered in the Book of Nature, in a context in which anything other than continuity seemed to be absurd according to the views held until then."

 

What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell is a 1944 book written for the lay science reader by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The book is based on a course of public lectures delivered by Schrödinger in February 1943, which focused on one important question: "how can the events in space and time which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?" We invite you to join this monthly online series as we read this short but difficult book, one chapter at a time.

June 1 Reading:

What is Life by Schrödinger - Chapter 1 -
The Classical Physicist's Approach to the Subject

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Laws by Plato

Sunday, June 2, 2024

“...there is simple ignorance, which is the source of lighter offenses, and double ignorance, which is accompanied by a conceit of wisdom; and he who is under the influence of the latter fancies that he knows all about matters of which he knows nothing.”

The Laws (Greek: Νόμοι, Nómoi; Latin: De Legibus) is Plato's last and longest dialogue. The conversation depicted in the work's twelve books begins with the question of who is given the credit for establishing a civilization's laws. Its musings on the ethics of government and law have established it as a classic of political philosophy alongside Plato's more widely read Republic. Scholars agree that Plato wrote this dialogue as an older person, having failed in his effort to guide the rule of the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse, instead having been thrown in prison. These events are alluded to in the Seventh Letter. The text is noteworthy as Plato's only undisputed dialogue not to feature Socrates. We invite you to join us as we read this often overlooked text, one section at a time, in monthly online events.

Click here to visit the Laws of Plato Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

 

June 2 Reading:

The Laws by Plato

Book 4 - Sections 6-7: Magnesia and Its People
and The Correct Way to Legislate 
(pages 112-140, 704a-723d)

Penguin Classics (June 2005)

ASIN ‏B01FIXK9JK

ISBN 9780140449846

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

David Appleby

Location: 

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

Transcendentalism 

Monday, June 3, 2024

 

"Humankind is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean. A man is related to all nature."

 

Transcendentalism was a philosophical, spiritual, and literary movement that developed in the early 19th century in the northeastern United States. Deep beliefs in the goodness of nature, and of humanity as a part of that nature, were central expressions of the movement’s thinkers and writers. Self reliance, individualism, and divine encounter with everyday experience also characterized the transcendental spirit. A strong feature of American societal development, the approach generally embraced intuition over empiricism, and was cautious of progress that insulated the individual from dynamic, authentic experience. We invite you to join us for monthly Monday evening sessions (generally taking place the first Monday evening of each month), exploring the early, middle, and late thinking of the approach. Attendees need not participate in all of the sessions to benefit, as each reading will stand on its own. Authors in the series will include:

Jonathan Edwards

William Ellery Channing 

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Henry David Thoreau 

Walt Whitman 

Margaret Fuller

Emily Dickinson

Frederick Douglas

Nathanial Hawthorne

June 3 Reading:

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards

Schedule:

5:30-7:00PM PDT

 

Tutors

Roxana Zirakzadeh and Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Romantic I/Eye

Saturday, June 8, 2024

A pan-European and American phenomenon, Romanticism influenced Western notions about the individual as well as humans' relationship to nature. This series of online seminars addresses both themes through a variety of genres and nationalities, most of which texts are written in the first person. How did the Romantic Era shape the notion of what a subject is?  Does first-person writing, in seeming to explore the subject or the self, reveal it or make it more obscure? To what extent does the choice an author makes to portray an experience through the use of the first person affect that experience, and do these authors' texts coalesce into a coherent portrait of the Romantic period? Finally, how do these singular voices engage with nature, particularly under the looming shadow of the Industrial Revolution?

Readings in the Series (ISBNs and Posted PDFs will added soon):

Goethe — The Sorrows of Young Werther
Rousseau — Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Holderlin — Hyperion
Wordsworth — The Prelude (Two-Part 1799 version)
Chateaubriand — Rene, and Atala
Foscolo — The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis
Byron — Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto One 
Hazlitt — On the Love of the Country, On Living to One's Self, and On Thought and Action
Müller/Schubert — Die Winterreise
Pushkin — Eugene Onegin 
Emerson — Nature, The Over-Soul, and Circles
Poe — The Landscape Garden, William Wilson, and The Fall of the House of Usher

Join us as we read explore these readings, with sessions about one month apart. Click here to visit The Romantic I/Eye Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

June 8 Reading:

Byron — Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto One 

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutors

Jordan Hoffman and Eric Stull

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was Hannah Arendt's first major work. The book strives to understand the causes and the mechanics of Nazism and Stalinism as the major totalitarian political movements of the 20th century. Regarded as one of the most important books of the last 100 years, Arendt warns that, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” We invite you to join us as we explore this entire book, meeting about once per month. 

June 9 Reading: 

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

Chapter Eleven - The Totalitarian Movement  (pages 341-388)

Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; First edition (March 1973)
ISBN 978-0-156-70153-2

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor: 

Andy Gilman

Location: 

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Saturday, June 15, 2024

 

In 1871 Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man, which applies evolutionary theory to human evolution, and details his theory of sexual selection, a form of biological adaptation distinct from, yet interconnected with, natural selection. The reception was mixed, with some concerned that “this book would unsettle our half educated classes and people will begin doing as they pleased, breaking laws and customs…” The text discusses many issues, including evolutionary psychology, evolutionary ethics, and the relevance of the evolutionary theory to society. We invite you to join us as we discuss this entire text, with readings about one month apart.

June 15 Reading:

The Descent of Man by Darwin - Part II - Chapters 17-18 
Secondary Sexual Characters of Mammals - pages 561-619

Penguin Classics Reprint Edition
(June 2004) - ISBN 978-0140436310

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Contemporary Issues Seminar Series

The Gene - An Intimate History
by Siddhartha Muk
herjee (2017)

Saturday, June 22, 2024

 

This revived online series will inquire into contemporary issues of science, politics, culture, and economics, meeting once per month and covering 30-50 pages of a text per session. We kick off the series with a look into the history and current questions of genetics. The Gene: An Intimate History was written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, an Indian-born American physician and oncologist, published in 2017. The book chronicles the history of the gene and genetic research, all the way from Aristotle to Crick, Watson and Franklin and then the 21st century scientists who mapped the human genome. The book discusses the power of genetics in determining people's well-being and traits. It delves into the personal genetic history of Siddhartha Mukherjee's family, including mental illness. However, it is also a cautionary message toward not letting genetic predispositions define a person or their fate, a mentality that the author says led to the rise of eugenics in history. This series will span over ten monthly sessions on this book, and then turn to other contemporary subjects.

June 22 Reading:

The Gene - An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Part Three - The Dreams of Geneticists - Crossing Over, The New Music, Einsteins on the Beach, Clone or Die (pages 201-252)

Scribner; Reprint edition (May 2017)
ISBN 978-1476733524

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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Online Seminar Series

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

Sunday, June 23, 2024

“We must judge the tree by its fruit. The best fruits of the religious experience are the best things history has to offer. The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, and bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves, have all been flown for religious ideals.”

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James. It comprises his edited Gifford Lectures (20 in total) on natural theology, which were delivered at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland between 1901 and 1902. The lectures concern the psychological study of individual private religious experiences and mysticism, and use a range of examples to identify commonalities in religious experiences across traditions. James concludes that religion is overall beneficial to humankind, although acknowledges that this does not establish its truth. He also considers the possibility of over-beliefs, beliefs which are not strictly justified by reason but which might understandably be held by educated people nonetheless, and had relatively little interest in the legitimacy or illegitimacy of religious experiences. Join us as we work through these lectures, with online seminars taking place about one month apart. 

Click here to visit the Varieties of Religious Experience Online Seminar page, with links to media and the Discussion Forum.

 

June 23 Reading:

Lecture Nineteen - Other Characteristics

(pages 459-484)

The Varieties of Religious Experience 

Penguin Classics; Later Printing edition
(December 16, 1982) - ISBN 978-0140390346

Schedule:

12:00-2:00PM PDT

 

Tutor

Andy Gilman

Location

Online. Register to receive the link. 

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