The Tyranny of Merit by Michael Sandel. “We can all rise as far as our talents can take us.” Harvard moral philosopher Michael Sandel argues that there’s a dark side to this popular idea. Read this book for deep philosophical insights into our stress-ridden and status-obsessed culture.

Plato at the Googleplex, by Rebecca Goldstein. Want to know what one of the greatest philosophical minds in history would make of life in the 21st century? Check out this book by philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, in which Plato visits Silicon valley and confronts a brain scientist, a cable news reporter, an advice columnist, and more.

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius. When Marcus Aurelius was serving as Emperor of Rome, he kept an ongoing diary in which he regularly engaged in philosophical conversations with himself. These conversations are available in this short handbook for your own personal reflection and edification. Read them and come away with greater strength, integrity, and clarity about who you are and what you stand for.


Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Looking to bring some peace and calm into your life during these stressful times? Check out this beautiful little book by renowned Buddhist monk, scholar, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh.


Philosophical Health Test:

Are all of your beliefs consistent, or are there latent contradictions lurking within your worldview? Take this quick Philosophical Health Test to find out! The test involves a series of short questions that are relatively simple to answer. It then measures the degree of “tension” among your beliefs, helping you to see where you are inconsistent.

Link here:

Share your results by emailing:

May the best score win!

Descartes Meme:

The 17th-century philosopher Renee Descartes famously raised the question of how we know we are not dreaming. When you are dreaming, things sometimes seem quite real. How then do you know when you are awake?

Lots of essays have been written on this topic. For this little contest, though, we’re asking for something else. We want you to produce a humorous meme responding to Descartes’ challenge. No hard requirements, so long as your meme in some way responds to the question of how you know when you are awake rather than dreaming. (A possible template could be two pictures, one illustrating what things are like in a dream, the other illustrating what things are like in reality.)

Have fun with it! Maybe the best meme will win a small prize of some sort?

Share your results by emailing:

Liar Paradox:

Here is a riddle. In Dr. Kremm’s classroom in MSB 227, there is only one thing written on the blackboard. It says,

“Everything written on the blackboard in Ms. Mott’s classroom (MSB 316) is false.”

Meanwhile, up in Ms. Mott’s classroom in MSB 316, there is one thing written on the blackboard. It says,

“Everything written on the blackboard in Dr. Kremm’s classroom (MSB 227) is true.”

Question: Whose blackboard tells the truth? Send along a “tweet-sized” response or reaction to this riddle in 140 characters or less. We’ll think of something clever to do with them?

Share your results by emailing:

Cave Drawings:

In his Republic, Plato presents an allegory of what human existence is like. He likens us to prisoners chained up in a cave, spending our whole lives looking at shadows on a wall. We mistake these shadows for reality, not realizing that there’s a whole world outside of the cave– a world with light and hope and genuine goodness. When one of the prisoners gets unchained and leaves the cave, he finds the transition to be painful and arduous. (After all, it’s difficult for our eyes to adjust from darkness to light.) The freed prisoner has an obligation to go back down into the cave and share his knowledge with the others. But the prisoners are harsh and resistant to his new teachings. They prefer to remain comfortable in their ignorance. The goal of education, Plato suggests, is to help people find their way out of the cave– not by putting knowledge into their heads, but by helping them learn the habits of attention, thought, and desire that will lead them to acquire true knowledge and understanding on their own.

For this contest, we’re looking for the best cave drawing. Give us a visual representation of this allegory, or a drawing/painting/work of art inspired by it. May the best piece win!

Share your results by emailing:

Spotlight: Religions of the World Final Project

Students from the Religions of the World course share their final project. The purpose was to propose a journey that would introduce participants to a religious, spiritual, and/or cultural experience. A quick description, with a Loom video profiling one day is shared below:

Tripp Didden '22

Jerusalem; important to many religions; Temple Mount – a sacred place for all three Abrahamic religions; built on Mount Moriah; Dome of the Rock, built right next to the Temple Mount; great relevance of this area to the three Abrahamic religions;

J.T. Anderson '21

Thailand; Theravada Buddhism; Start up north and make our way south toward Bangkok; visits to sacred temples; holy caves and mountains; this would offer a natural balance of the forests and cities; the indoor and outdoor sites; living for a day with a monk

Haley Sundstrom '21

Angkor Wat – Temple City – Cambodia; built in 12th century as a Hindu Temple to Vishnu, but it became Buddhist by the end of the 12th century; no longer active as a temple; damaged by regional conflict; 1992 UNESCO site – largest religious monument in the world; a chance to learn about the values of both Hinduism and Buddhism

Griffin Shutz '21

Romania – super-religious country; 81% Orthodox Christian, followed by other denominations; Black Church (14th century); Painted Monasteries; this trip would provide a great degree of religious exposure; setting to allow students to open their minds to religion

Ginger Berry '21

Cuba; Havana; interesting country, predominantly Catholic, much as a result of the slave trade; religion was forbidden for many years; Fidel Castro began to identify as Christian later in his life; there are many sites that remain; Pope JP II visited and called for an end to the embargo; Christopher Columbus’ remains were once kept in a church there

Geoffrey Jamiel '22

Vatican City, Rome; the religious capital of Catholicism; surrounded by many important sites – basilicas, museums; this is the home of the Pope

Fahad Shahbaz '22

Bethlehem, Palestine; a rich religious history; Church of the Nativity (birthplace of JC); Christians and Muslims living in Bethlehem; museum visits; ancient art and textile exhibits; learning about the religion, culture and traditions of the region

Ella Peoples '21

India; visit to the Bodhi tree, the site of the first sermon of the Buddha; visits to nearby temples, and time spent sitting at the tree

Drew Wierzbicki '21

Rome, Italy – three primary denominations of Christianity; Roman Catholicism would be our focus in Italy; connections to the Latin language studies at Deerfield; Pope’s residence is in the Apostolic Palace; excellent architecture; Basilica of St. Clement; Archbasilica of St. John – considered to be the first church built in Rome; how can we nurture knowledge in Rome? I will answer that question.

Charlotte Otis '21

Japan; Investigation of Japanese Buddhism; visiting Buddhist temples; learn about the early history of Buddhism in Japan

Ben Ullyot '21

Bhutan; Vajrayana Buddhist kingdom; one of the self-proclaimed “happiest” countries in the world, even if poor; visits to monasteries and temples; University of Buddhist Studies; students would learn about the practice of meditation – one path to nirvana; an off-the-beaten-path trip

Anastasia Arefyeva '22

Turkey (Istanbul); History of faiths in Turkey; visits to palaces, churches and mosques; sacred sites; relics; the Blue Mosque; Hagia Sophia – church, mosque, museum; religion and history of Turkey

Ainsley Hubbard '22

Switzerland; a really important site of early European Protestantism; Zurich – birthplace of Swiss Protestantism; Geneva – International museum of the Reformation; Lausanne – known for architecture of cathedrals and castles, as well as great views of the Alps; taking in religious and Swiss history; tasting cheese and chocolates