Groups in Focus: Philosophy in a Cafe

Socrates
470 – 399 BC

 

Philosophy in the Community is not new, and has been around ever since human-beings gained the power of speech.   Philosophical discussions help people make sense, of the world of existence and how best to live as human beings.

The ancient Greeks used Philosophy as a social pursuit; think of Socrates holding forth on the streets of Athens 2500 years ago. He said “that an unobserved life is not worth living” and his methods for discussion form the basis for those we use in the philosophy group today, and have a bit of history behind them.

In 1974 in America, guided by the belief that children are capable of rational thinking from an early age, Professor Mathew Lipman founded The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children.   In 1992 the international charity, Sapere, was setup to promote Philosophy for Children and to train teachers and community leaders to encourage children to think critically, creatively, collaboratively and caringly.

In 2001 Philosophy in Pubs (PIPs) was brought into life when a few friends began meeting and chatting in a pub in Liverpool.   Now with over sixty groups in Liverpool alone, PIPs has spread out into the community and across the country with groups meeting in cafes, churches and community spaces.

Our group came into being after some of us attended a free course in Community Philosophy held at Cardiff Metropolitan University, on which we learnt the Sapere principles of Community enquiry.   This involves
people thinking together with a view to increasing their knowledge of the world and each other.

Members propose, choose and introduce a topic and a question, which can involve a few words, a short presentation, a poem or object, to stimulate the discussion.   The topics are wide ranging.   Some of the questions we have attempted to answer are: what is soul?   What is friendship?   Which would be better for society, matriarchy or patriarchy?

We have a facilitator who guides the meeting, encourages good practice and turn taking which allows everyone the space to be heard and listened to with respect.   No experience of philosophy is needed.   We simply meet to discuss life’s important questions in a relaxed and friendly environment, in which people are free to express their thoughts and learn from each other.

We gather in Steen’s Café every second and fourth Friday in the month and then move to an upstairs room for the meeting at 2pm to 4pm.   There is no charge or commitment and newcomers are always welcome.   Just come along join in or simply listen.   Philosophy is a way of life.

Linda

 

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