The world's population really needs the skills (literacy!) to balance arguments and debate issues. Today being World Philosophy Day, 19 November 2009 we can see this need as global events re-frame our words. For decades now some of the world's cities - capitals have become synonymous with fevered political debate, equality, equity, poverty, power.... 'Copenhagen' is the latest example, stressing the need for informed argument and rationale thinking on an individual and group level, as the UNESCO introduction reveals:
Ever since its inauguration as a “Philosophy Day at UNESCO” in 2002 and particularly since its institutionalization in 2005 as a “World Philosophy Day”, this celebration of philosophy has inspired much enthusiasm. With its aim to bring philosophy closer to everyone, academics, students and the general public alike have all shown great interest in this activity that offers new opportunities and space for philosophical reflection, critical thinking and debate.My previous studies comprised a joint honours degree in computing and philosophy, which may account for the appeal of Hodges' model and the reflections here on W2tQ. As mentioned previously, in the 1990s I wrote a dialogue (of sorts):
The aims of this 'dialogue' are threefold. First, simply to explore through the minds and voices of two ancient characters, contemporary nursing informatics and telematics issues. Secondly, to test the viability of the dialogue as an alternative format to the usual academic paper. And thirdly, to introduce unfamiliar readers (students?) to 'the' master of the dialogue form - Plato.
Readers may (hopefully) be stimulated to seek out Plato's works, which are freely available in affordable paperback editions. 'The Last Days of Socrates' is recommended as a starting point. Plato captures in the dialogues the technique employed by Socrates, that still bears his name - 'Socratic questioning'.
As health professionals search for ways to reassert values amid unprecedented technical and social change, philosophy is once more on the agenda. This attempted 'dialogue' has two protagonists. Telemachus, who is in name from Homer's Odyssey and other Hellenic literature. The name appeals to me here due to the study of 'tele'-matics, a key branch of informatics research.
Epictetus (50-120A.D.) was a philosopher of the stoic school. Sometimes we find unexpected connections in things, as with Epictetus: nursing - health - ethics/values - philosophy - Enchiridion (Manual) health - how to live ones life - leadership - 3,000 drachmas paid for E.'s lamp after his death - Florence Nightingale - nursing!
Telemachus is a student of the Academy established by Aristotle, starting his third year of nurse training. Epictetus is staged as a professor, a member of the faculty for health. With apologies...
There is also a philosophy listing on the INTER-INTRAPERSONAL links page. One initiative here in the UK which I must admit I have not attended thus far is Philosophy in Pubs. Many colleges also do courses were you do not necessarily have to sign-up for the whole deal - that is exams - but you can still enjoy what is a marvellous subject. I remember a lady of some 70 years who did just that with literature, she also beautifully shredded my unspoken thoughts on Sylvia Plath's Ariel and other works. So do go and check what's happening in your area.
Despite the significance of today it is troubling that the existence and value of university philosophy departments can be thrown into doubt as recently as March this year. I must check what happened in Liverpool? And also wonder what there is to learn from Eastern and African philosophy?