The Proper Study of Mankind Is Man

Pre-registration: Use the Google form below to let us know which Toronto Pursuits seminar you would like to pre-register for. Please choose only one seminar.

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Toronto Pursuits and COVID-19: We expect to formally open registration and collect deposits early in 2022, once we get more information from the University of Toronto. See the main Toronto Pursuits page for more details.

We do have a variety of online seminars running now, with new groups starting regularly. Thank you for your patience!



Gary Schoepfel is a lover of beers, a Wagner enthusiast and Shakespeare worshiper, kayaker, reasonably good listener, husband of 46 years, faculty member at Harrison Middleton University, close reader, Classical Pursuits international traveller, and former VP of the Great Books Foundation. He looks forward to this proper study of this curious beast, Mankind.


Gary will distribute, via email, a compendium of the seminar readings.

This seminar is a humble attempt to answer one important question: What is the nature of a human being?

The answers to this question inform our politics, personal relations, religious beliefs, economic systems, history, science and what we see when we look in the mirror.

Our seminar conversations will explore three aspects of human nature: body, mind and soul. Given the breadth of our subject, it’s best that many voices be heard. Candidates for our comparative reading include short, pithy selections by many authors, across several disciplines, stretching from the ancient world to the modern day.

Poems by Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver and Langston Hughes
Philosophical snips by Jean-Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, David Hume, Martha Nussbaum, Aristotle and Karl Marx
Psychological writing by Carl Jung and William James
Opera lyrics from video performances of Otello and Rinaldo
Science essays by Charles Darwin and E.O. Wilson
Commentary by Mark Twain and Seneca

Let us tempt you with a bit of Aristotle: “Of all the living beings with which we are acquainted man alone partakes of the divine…”

What the individual readings lack in length, they more than make up for in depth. These thinkers, writers and artists offer up a truckload of important and complex ideas to consider and compare.

And now let me ask how you’d reply to King Lear:

Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou owes the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha!… Thou are the thing itself. Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.



The cost of Toronto Pursuits registration will be announced shortly. Registration includes one seminar Monday to Friday, morning coffee and newspapers, five buffet lunches, afternoon speakers, a five-day opera lecture series, film screenings, guided walks, two cocktail receptions, and a range of other cultural and social activities. All costs are subject to the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

See Registration and Cancellation Policy at


ONE per registrant

  • Participants who have attended Toronto Pursuits at least five times receive a C$215 discount.
  • Register with a friend, and if one or both are first-time participants, each receives a C$215 discount.


You are responsible for booking your own accommodation. Click here for more information.

Stratford Shakespeare Festival Weekend

We expect to have more information about the Stratford Festival Weekend in early 2022.


Additional information


Concert ticket, Not eligible for discount, Five times, With friend, Gift registration