What is Philosophy?

If you’re like most people, you have only a vague notion of what philosophy is about, what it’s good for, who does it, and why.

We hope to change that.

Why?

For one thing, because philosophy engages some of the most fundamental and important questions out there–questions like those above.

Questions like these have inspired some of history’s most important thinkers.

Even more significant for us, though, are the thinking skills and cognitive muscles you strengthen when you engage with these questions. You practice:

Analyzing assumptions and detecting flawed reasoning
Discussing controversial ideas with those who disagree
Communicating your thinking clearly and effectively
Evaluating your own reasoning, and imagining other perspectives
Being comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing
Maintaining attention in the face of constant distraction

(And a whole lot more besides).

At the Center for Public Philosophy, we believe that philosophical thinking not only sharpens your mind, but promotes a fulfilling, meaningful life.

What is Public Philosophy?

The term “public philosophy” refers to activities that in one way or another pursue, celebrate, or embody the value of philosophy for the general public.

One kind of public philosophy engages particular segments of the public directly in the practice of philosophy, introducing and animating its history and value.  For instance, we ourselves are working with elementary-school children, high-school students, and inmates at correctional facilities.

Another kind of public philosophy applies insights from the history of philosophy to problems of current public concern. Our Contemplative Pedagogy and Practices program investigates the promise of the contemplative traditions for navigating an array of persistent challenges in public education. Our Language of Conservation initiative studies the pivotal role that language may play in derailing well-meaning conservationist efforts.

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