Why Philosophy?

First, what is philosophy?

Philosophy is about grappling with some of the most fundamental and important questions there are, questions like ones cycling above.

Just as important for us, though, are the thinking skills and cognitive muscles you strengthen when you engage intently 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

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, here in Northern California, among the groups we are working with are 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 Language of Conservation initiative, for example, studies the pivotal role that language may play in derailing well-meaning conservationist efforts. And yet another kind of public philosophy involves writing and other media produced for public audiences.