Ethics / Colorado Yale Association


Teen Ethics & Philosophy Program

This program in Ethics and Philosophy has been conducted by Bruce Heitler, ’67, for for 20 years. It introduces intellectually curious, open minded, thoughtful high-school students with a commitment to rigorous intellectual inquiry to close reading of classical, sacred Hebrew texts (in translation) of the last 3,000 years.  These texts form the groundwork of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions as well as Western ethical thinking.  Both Jewish and non-Jewish students are welcome.

Most participants in the program have attended for three or four years for an hour each Sunday morning during the school year. There is no charge, but students have customarily made an annual contribution of $180 to Congregation Kohelet, for the use of their building.

Students must want to participate, and not attend because of pressure from their parents.

Topics that we have addressed in previous years include:

Various kinds of love, and the dangers associated with them: money, honor, sexual attraction, long life, beauty, etc.

Regulating what we say:  speech can harm others; the importance and the limitations of truth as a standard; the effects of lying, and cases where lying is either permitted or required; the appropriate place for flattery, exaggeration, and revealing secrets.  Deceiving ourselves and deceiving others.

Ownership, Charity and Generosity:  Is charity a privilege, or a duty?  Does generosity benefit of the donor or the recipient?  What happens when charity undermines the recipient?

Worry:  What is it good for?  Why can it be undermining?  When is it appropriate?  How can we get over it?

Authority and honoring parents:  Who counts as a “parent”?  What counts as “honor”? Can you disobey with honor? How can we distinguish between “authoritarian” and “authoritative”; between rejecting authority and establishing an autonomous identity.

If you know a student who may interested in participating, please contact Bruce Heitler , 303-863-8610.