|World Philosophy Day is Thursday 19th November. That got me thinking about the idea that philosophy is about ultimate questions that anyone, anywhere in the world might ask at anytime. A common technique used in question generation is to say that a good philosophical question “Would make sense to someone who had just walked into the room.” The thinking is that the best questions are general in nature, and not tied to any particular person or story.
But is that true? Questions that are for “everybody” might turn out to be questions that a particular sort of body (those rather like mine) has traditionally thought are important. They might ignore that life is experienced differently precisely because of the bodies that different people are in: male, female, black, white, gay, straight, young, old. “Timeless” questions can also ignore histories of oppression, a bit like mistaking mossed-over bomb craters for a natural landscape.
Here is poem (also attached as PDF at te,he end) on the theme of questions and a suggestion for how you might use it generate some questions of your own.
Some for somebody, sometime:
Is that a lesser-spotted woodpecker?
Is that an iceberg?
Will Sophie say yes?
Some for some people, every time:
How do you always know?
When does it get easier?
Why do I have to eat vegetables?
Some for everybody, sometimes:
Where did I put that?
Should I say something?
Is this going to hurt?
Some for many, too many times:
When did you have it last?
What’s the third letter of your password?
Do you have anything for vegetarians?
Any for everybody, anytime?
Why are we here?
What can we know?
What should we do?
Or is every body a thisbody?
Questions for Somebodies
You might explore the poem a little first, and then I invite you to get the class to create four very different characters in different circumstances, times and places. You might have a Roman legionary from Gaul stuck patrolling Hadrian’s wall, a teenage girl living in central London, a doctor working in a hospital 100 years from now, a father in stone age times. To this group, add themselves!
Then try to create a philosophical question that will be particularly important to each of these characters, and to them; and finally, create a philosophical question that would be of equal importance to each of them.
PS I’m thinking of running another open Level 1 course on Zoom on either Monday mornings from 11th January or Friday mornings from 15th (Sessions 9-10, 10.30 to 11.30, 12 to 1). Cost would be £199 + VAT for three days of sessions facilitated by me, and a peer-led final day in the first week of February in which participants can lead enquiries with one another.
On the same weekday, I’ll also be running separate Masterclasses on topics such as Writing Stimuli, Responsive Facilitation and P4C into Writing. Those will run from 2.00 to 3.00 p.m. and will cost £30 each.
If you’d be interested in any of these opportunities, could you let me know if Mondays or Fridays would be better and I’ll go with the majority decision.