“There are those who are unable to attend formal philosophy classes due to life situations, ie homelessness, return from prison, multiple jobs, a full-time job, no can’t afford to pay for classes, anxious about formal education, caring for others, and of course, most recently a global pandemic. That is why we go to these communities and offer our services.
In the following guest post, Sophie’s Stone, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Lynn University, talks about the work of his organization, Wisdom’s Edge Foundation, Inc., made to bring philosophy – not just texts or videos, but philosophy as an activity – to those who may need it but who might not otherwise be able to access it, including people recovering from it. homelessness, sex trafficking and drug addiction.
I think sometimes it can be difficult for philosophy teachers to imagine how doing philosophy can be of use to those who find themselves in difficult situations. We have a self-deprecating view of philosophy as a kind of luxury. In some forms it certainly is, but we should not overlook how valuable it can be for those in difficult circumstances to feel as though they are thinking more clearly or being exposed to possibly useful ideas about how to live that have withstood the filter of history. , or to be treated with the dignity that comes from being a welcome participant in a philosophical conversation.
I have been impressed with Dr Stone’s efforts so far, and with more support from the philosophical community, she will be able to do a lot of good with philosophy for those in need. I think this is an organization that deserves to be helped (earlier this year I joined its board of directors), and I invite you to do so by making a donation here.
Bringing the philosophy to those who need it
by Sophia Stone
Last Sunday we took a group into the woods under a canopy of trees and read passages from Emerson and Thoreau. We reflected on and discussed our connection to the nature around us. Then we drew, wrote and painted with hand-made watercolors in newspapers. It was a peaceful gathering, sometimes intense with the awe and splendor of the green that surrounded us. Next Sunday we will meet on a large lake near the public library and reflect on the lake like a mirror, showing something deep within ourselves. Coming together in nature to philosophize, reflect and create allows us to connect with each other, with ourselves and with the earth.
So, can philosophy be a social good?
Athens killed Socrates for philosophizing with its famous citizens. But after the death of Socrates, Plato opened his school and gave us the memory of Socrates. At Plato Apologies, Socrates tells his jury that the unexamined life is not worth living. He would rather die than not have these interesting conversations about life. But what about us?
Can philosophy be a social good?
We at Edge of wisdom thinks that anyone who wants to should have access to philosophy. I’m not just talking about access to college or the public library or a YouTube philosophy channel. I mean access to philosophical texts chosen by a professional philosopher passionate about leading meaningful conversations on life’s deepest questions: how should we live best? What do we owe our future selves? What do we owe to society? What should be our connection with nature? How can we overcome the past and free ourselves from mental chatter so that we can focus on improving the present and the future?
But a lot of people don’t have such access. There are those who are unable to attend formal philosophy classes due to life situations i.e. homelessness, return from prison, working multiple jobs, working full time, not working. can’t afford to pay for classes, anxious about formal education, caring for others, and of course, most recently a global pandemic. That is why we go to these communities and offer our services.
Since fall 2019, the Wisdom’s Edge Foundation has offered philosophy classes to transitional housing for women, home-schooled children, intergenerational students in community centers and soon to senior communities. We find communities that want philosophy courses, and we offer philosophy courses tailored to meet their schedule and needs. We have had great success. Here are some comments from our intergenerational students (ages 16-80) in St. Cloud, MN:
“I lost loved ones and learned to cope with loss and pain. I have heard of Ecclesiastes. ‘There is a time for everything.’ “A time to keep and a time to throw away. It helped me realize and helped me go over the affairs of my deceased daughter and move on with grief.
“I have a lot of scoring anxiety, and with this course, I didn’t have to go through that. “
“I consider this a ‘teaser’ – and I want more! ‘ In our busy lives, we seldom take the time to really reflect on these deep and important questions that all humans face, if only they would take the time to admit it. The readings and class discussions were a plus. in my week. I’m almost 80 years old and a lifelong learner! “
“I haven’t had the chance to graduate here in the US, so this course was a great opportunity for me to attend.”
“We’re just coming out of a very short year outside of our bubble talk. This course allowed me to discuss ideas and thoughts with people I had just met.
“I think it’s really cool to see how students will present themselves to talk about philosophy even without grades or out of necessity.”
Here are some comments from our South Florida students, some of whom are recovering from homelessness, sex trafficking or drug addiction:
“Dr. Stone teaches a course called” Wisdom’s Edge “and I am currently one of her students. She teaches us philosophy so that we can see the world from a different perspective, unearth hidden beauty, and find new ways of thinking. In the classroom, we learn to embrace wonder, face regret and maintain hope.
“I particularly like Dr. Stone’s group because we are examining the philosophy of women in ancient times versus women today. We covered ancient Chinese philosophy, Socrates, the 1920s, 1950s and [how to think about women’s roles in] the future. Our discussions help exercise our minds and broaden our thinking about the evolution of women and how we want to be as leaders as we enter the next century. “
“Dr. Sophia Stone has given us a wonderful gift with her philosophy teachings. In a way anyone can understand, Dr. Stone shares his knowledge and insights into ancient texts and “great thinkers” and easily correlates them with everyday life. Philosophy is the basis of understanding humanity, and we are fortunate that Dr. Stone graciously reserves the time for us to acquire this knowledge.
We have done so much with so little.
Wisdom’s Edge Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit philosophical outreach organization and we seek to provide philosophical education and conversation to the fringes of society. We have done amazing things with what little we have. So far, none of our students pay a dime for tuition and tuition fees, and all of our dialogue facilitators are volunteers. As we seek and ask for institutional funding, we ask the philosophical community to help us fund our programs. Without institutional support, we cannot pay our bills.