Sabina Higgins backs campaign for teaching philosophy in schools

Teaching philosophy in schools is essential to prepare children for modern life, Sabina Higgins has said at the launch of a new organisation aimed at promoting “thinking time” in the classroom.

“If we believe that all our children, the citizens of the future, should be offered the opportunity of understanding the decisions that affect their lives then we must offer them the capacity to do so,” Mrs Higgins, wife of President Michael D. Higgins, told the inaugural gathering of Philosophy Ireland at City Assembly House, Dublin.

Secondary schools will be able to offer philosophy as an optional short course under the new Junior Cycle programme, being rolled out on a limited basis this year.  Continue reading

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I’m a philosopher, get me out of here!

Two new books, The Philosopher: A History in Six Types and Philosophy and Practical Engagement, ask if an ancient discipline has lost its way

Philosophy is an odd pursuit in that its practitioners aren’t quite sure what it’s for. Scientists add to the stock of human knowledge. Medics cure ailments. Lawyers administer justice. Philosophers question, doubt and probe the underlying assumptions of others.

They ask open-ended, infuriating and perhaps unanswerable questions, like ‘Is it possible to know anything?’, ‘What does it mean to be just?’ and ‘Can suffering be meaningful?’ It’s no wonder a lot people find them annoying.

A selection of views about philosophy from a new book on the subject by Justin EH Smith gives a taste of the discipline’s ill-defined nature:

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Philosophy is precisely that intellectual inquiry in which anything is open to critical challenge and scrutiny.” – Graham Priest

“I see philosophy not as groundwork for science, but as continuous with science.” – WVO Quine

“The myth-lover is in a sense a philosopher, since myths are composed of wonders.” – Aristotle  Continue reading