How should we live? A dangerous invitation
by Belinda Seaward
Philosophers have been asking this question for centuries and arriving at various theories that aim to promote human flourishing. Self-examination started early in ancient Greece with Socrates, the big daddy of philosophy, whose playful and provocative approach to asking the most fundamental questions such as: what is true knowledge, drew scores of young followers inspired by him to open their minds and think for themselves.
Considered the most dangerous man of his time, Socrates was given a death sentence for corrupting the teenagers of Athens and told by the court that he could escape the penalty on the condition that he give up philosophy. He chose to drink hemlock rather than give into a system that wanted him to stop making people think.
A few thousand years later, a contemporary Socrates, the Australian philosopher Peter Singer received death threats for daring to suggest that not all human life is sacred. Among Singer’s so-called outrageous ideas is the claim that some highly evolved mammals such as whales or chimpanzees should be considered persons.
The Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, another controversial thinker who spent most of his years as one of Norway’s most eminent professors living in a remote mountain hut, believes that is it painful to think, but necessary if we are ever to wake up and find the solutions to some of the most pressing problems such as how we should preserve life on our planet.
If the above fails to put you off, then you have passed the first test of philosophy, which is to realise that thinking properly is challenging, mind-expanding and potentially, illuminatingly dangerous. If you would like to learn more and try out some philosophy in practice then come along to a free taster session at the REconomy Centre in Totnes on Thursday September 24th from 7pm to 9pm.
The theme of the evening is: What is Philosophy for and what can Philosophy do for me? An introduction to philosophical thinking through the ideas of Socrates. The seminar is led by teacher, author and social entrepreneur Belinda Seaward, who has taught philosophy and ethics for more than fifteen years. Two years ago she launched learning for life social philosophy seminars, which are growing across the South West. For further information contact: Belinda Seaward, Thinking Through Philosophy. 07968904256/01626 778049. www.belindaseaward.wordpress.com