Today is World Philosophy Day. Which gives us the opportunity to celebrate every single human being. We are all philosophers: thinking, wondering, musing, considering, reasoning. We can do these things on our own but it’s even more interesting to do them with other people. I use the Philosophy for Communities method to facilitate philosophical enquiries, bringing a group together for shared purposeful discussion.
Discovering Philosophy for Communities has brought me many gifts – clearer thinking, more connections, new experiences. As a facilitator, it’s such a joy! Getting people thinking together to explore big ideas – no experts required – turns out to be not only interesting, challenging and stimulating, but great fun too.
Sheffield Libraries Year of Reading
On Tuesday this week, I facilitated an online philosophical enquiry for Sheffield Libraries Year of Reading. As well as participants from Sheffield and Rotherham, we were also joined by people in Hitchin in Hertfordshire, Austin in Texas and Kerala in India. What a privilege and a joy to bring together people from different parts of the world to talk and think together.
For the Year of Reading programme, I’ve used poetry as a way into the enquiry process. On Tuesday, we started with I met a dragon face to face by Jack Prelutsky and after delving into the concepts they found, the three sub-groups came up with a question each:
How has childhood changed in our lifetime?
Is imagination important for humanity?
How do we find courage to be inquisitive and do we have to accept the answers that we find?
It was this last one that got voted to discuss more fully and we started with more questions: what questions did we need to ask to be able to discuss the question?! This brought up the need to think more about the ideas in the question – courage, inquisitiveness and acceptance – looking into how people experience these and what they mean. People shared from their experience as well as their thinking. A last go-round on final responses included people’s value of talking together in this way but also ideas about the vital importance for humans to be inquisitive, to ask questions and to find out more.
A rich and valuable opportunity
Which brings me back to the value of community philosophy. Facilitating a collaborative group discussion that means people can learn from each other and themselves is huge privilege and offers the potential for change and development. On Tuesday, our participant from Texas said, “We need this process in our country.” She was reflecting on how people might move away from polarisation and division, and towards shared understanding, even when people have different views. Thinking philosophically together builds on the richness of diverse experience.
If you’d like to know more please get in touch. I run the Sheffield Philosophy in Pubs monthly group which offers a free, open access opportunity for anyone to join in. I can also provide tailored sessions for teams, organisations and community groups. Find out more about each other, big ideas and your common purpose. Philosophise together to grow together.