Philosophy literally means “love of wisdom.” It is not only an academic pursuit but a way of life. It is a commitment to discovering who we are in relationship to each other and the universe.
Regularly engaging in philosophical inquiry empowers us to make better life choices and become more thoughtful, involved citizens. Philosophy is fun and fulfilling! Philosophy is for everyone!
How do you teach philosophy to adults? We start with a text—a chapter from a book, scene from a movie, an art exhibit, or other text—then we use a holistic, Socratic facilitation method to explore that text.
Our method is holistic because we encourage participants to appreciate the text as a thing-in-itself, rather than as merely a thought experiment or discussion prompt. We have found that this makes it easier for participants to bring every part of themselves to the discussion, including compassion, aesthetic judgment, and humor, as well as analytical skills. We encourage participants to practice empathy with fictional characters and with each other.
Our method is Socratic because we believe that we can arrive at a higher perspective through questions and dialogue (a word that literally means “through talking”).
How do you teach philosophy to children and teens? We teach philosophy to our young participants in the same way we teach it to adults, by participating in thinking with them! All humans, even small children, are natural philosophers who are curious about the world and their place in it.
Why Geek Philosophy?
We call our facilitation method Geek Philosophy for three reasons.
First, we believe that passion, curiosity, and an enthusiasm for life are central to geek culture. These are qualities we want to cultivate in our discussion communities!
Second, we have found that science fiction and fantasy stories make particularly good texts for philosophy discussions. J.R.R. Tolkien believed that we see the ordinary things of our world more clearly when we see them in a fantastic setting. He called this principle Recovery, and it applies to human behavior, ideas, and ideals as easily as it applies to material objects. We don’t always talk about science fiction and fantasy, but we are always looking for ways to practice Recovery through art and literature.
Finally, geeks and nerds are cool. Isn’t that reason enough?
Are there any topics that are off-limits?
You may have been taught that it is impolite to discuss religion and politics, especially with people you have only just met. We throw that rule out the window, but we do ask that participants respect everyone’s point of view, even when they disagree. We have found that our discussions help us to cultivate “philosophical distance” or the ability to step back from our assumptions and prejudices to take a fresh look at old ideas. Philosophy encourages us to think about things in ways that transcend our differences. Our facilitators work to help people set aside partisanship during discussions.
Any participant using hate speech in a discussion will be removed immediately. There are other forms of harmful speech, however, and speech that harms has no place in a philosophy discussion.
We ask participants to speak only for themselves and from their own experiences. This prevents us from straying into the harmful logical fallacies that arise from assuming that others experience the world as we do. Statements that attempt to invalidate the experiences and identity of any individual or group are not valid arguments and we will not entertain them as such. This includes but is not limited to statements about race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and about injustices experienced by marginalized groups both throughout history and in the present.
For more information, please refer to our Guide to Civil Discourse. We are also very interested in hearing about your experiences at our discussions. Our feedback form is available here. Our facilitators are available to support everyone in our community—and, if you attend our discussions, you are part of our community!
I’m ready to philosophize! How do I start?
Check out our Community Page then take a look at how our Philosophy in Public Spaces Initiative is taking philosophy out of the classroom and into your world! Keep up with all our discussions and events by liking our Facebook page and subscribing to our Art+Philosophy and Geeky Families newsletters.
If you are interested in a philosophy discussion for your organization or community group, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 720-224-3804.
We look forward to thinking with you!
“A star shines on the hour of our meeting.”