What was so unsettling about meeting Socrates? Why would you want to be a Stoic? How did Descartes radicalise the philosophical agenda? What is philosophy anyway?

These questions and more are explored in a series of evening classes on ancient and modern philosophy at The Idler Academy, the west London home of philosophy, husbandry and merriment.

The aim is to learn not just what different philosophers have argued, but how these rich traditions can resources us, body, mind and soul. On the ancient philosophy course we examine the pre-Socratics, Socrates and Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Sceptics and the Cynics. On the modern philosophy course we consider the work of late medievals, Descartes, Hume and Kant, Nietzsche and Foucault, Popper and Kuhn, and others. Full details can be found online.

The evenings are taught by Dr Mark Vernon. Previous participants have said: 'I never spent Sunday afternoons looking forward to Monday until I joined this course!' 'It is much better to talk philosophy than to read it.' The price is £150 for six evenings, beginning in January.

A striking Christmas present? A wise gift for yourself? Book now: places are limited!