Dr. Kiki Berk is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southern New Hampshire University. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the VU University Amsterdam in 2010. Her current research interests include value theory (especially happiness), analytic existentialism (especially the meaning of life), and the philosophy of death.
Open Questions is a series of thought-provoking community conversations presented by New Hampshire Humanities. This series explores essential questions about meaning and life that are important to Granite Staters. Each program is facilitated by philosophy professors who will explore essential questions about meaning and life.
"Should We Fear Death?" is facilitated by Dr. Kiki Berk.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Becoming Beauvoir," by Kate Kirkpatrick, a fascinating philosophical biography of one of the most important existentialists and feminists of the 20th century.
A symbol of liberated womanhood, Simone de Beauvoir's unconventional relationships inspired and scandalized her generation. A philosopher, writer, and feminist icon, she won prestigious literary prizes and transformed the way we think about gender with The Second Sex. But despite her successes, she wondered if she had sold herself short.
Her liaison with Jean-Paul Sartre has been billed as one of the most legendary love affairs of the twentieth century. But for Beauvoir it came at a cost: for decades she was dismissed as an unoriginal thinker who 'applied' Sartre's ideas. In recent years new material has come to light revealing the ingenuity of Beauvoir's own philosophy and the importance of other lovers in her life.
This ground-breaking biography draws on never-before-published diaries and letters to tell the fascinating story of how Simone de Beauvoir became herself.
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "How to be Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life," by Massimo Pigliucci. Stoicism is an ancient yet extraordinarily relevant practical philosophy that is aimed a living a good life. This book explains what Stoicism as a way of life looks like and how it makes us flourish.
Whenever we worry about what to eat, how to love, or simply how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal is more elusive. In How to Be a Stoic, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that inspired the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, as the best way to attain it. Stoicism is a pragmatic philosophy that focuses our attention on what is possible and gives us perspective on what is unimportant. By understanding Stoicism, we can learn to answer crucial questions: Should we get married or divorced? How should we handle our money in a world nearly destroyed by a financial crisis? How can we survive great personal tragedy? Whoever we are, Stoicism has something for us—and How to Be a Stoic is the essential guide.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide," by Kieran Setiya, a brilliant book that offers practical philosophical advice for coming to terms with regret, the feeling of missing out, our morality, and other existential issues.
How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive. You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps. Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Stoner," by John Williams. Stoner is "The Greatest American Novel You've Never Heard Of" according to The New Yorker. It's a painful yet thought-provoking read that raises the question of what constitutes a good life.
William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.
John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Sparrow," by Mary Doria Russell. The story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a twenty-first- century scientific mission to a newly discovered extraterrestrial culture.
A visionary work that combines speculative fiction with deep philosophical inquiry, The Sparrow tells the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a scientific mission entrusted with a profound task: to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The mission begins in faith, hope, and beauty, but a series of small misunderstandings brings it to a catastrophic end.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.