"A bracing, rollicking read about the spark that ignites when people start asking meaningful questions." —O Magazine
Christopher Phillips is a man on a mission: to revive the love of questions that Socrates inspired long ago in ancient Athens. "Like a Johnny Appleseed with a master's degree, Phillips has gallivanted back and forth across America, to cafés and coffee shops, senior centers, assisted-living complexes, prisons, libraries, day-care centers, elementary and high schools, and churches, forming lasting communities of inquiry" (Utne Reader). Phillips not only presents the fundamentals of philosophical thought in this "charming, Philosophy for Dummies-type guide" (USA Today); he also recalls what led him to start his itinerant program and re-creates some of the most invigorating sessions, which come to reveal sometimes surprising, often profound reflections on the meaning of love, friendship, work, growing old, and others among Life's Big Questions.
"How to Start Your Own Socrates Café" guide included.
In an entertaining blend of memoir and philosophical reflection, a former journalist describes his adventures bringing philosophy to the masses through his Socrates Caf . Phillips travels the country starting philosophical discussion groups in caf s, schools, churches, community centers, prisons, hospices, nursing homes and senior centers. In each session, a question from a participant becomes the focus for free-flowing, sometimes contentious, communal inquiry. Questions spotlighted in this book include "What is insanity?" "How do you know when you know yourself?" "What is a world?" "Does anyone have the right to be ignorant?" and "Why question?" A rough version of the Socratic method is employed, characterized as "the sustained attempt to explore the ramifications of... opinions and... offer compelling objections and alternatives." Phillips presents several real discussions in poetically "filtered" form, interspersed with his own lucid commentary and citations. These dialogues are lively and sometimes moving, particularly his account of how he met his wife. But the quality of participants' opinions is often low, on the sophomoric level of such comments as "Communication is meaningless," and despite Phillips's efforts to probe, these dialogues yield few fresh insights. Phillips's own philosophical weakness is in romanticizing questioning as nearly an end in itself, claiming to run a "church service for heretics," even though his belief that "all so-called truths... are never the last word" is itself a popular dogma. Nevertheless, as in the case of the usually silent fifth-grader who wonders out loud about the word "wonder" ("I wonder what other kids think of me.... I wonder what they see, I wonder if they see a good person..."), he winningly showcases a tantalizing method for getting philosophy to thrive more widely.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Socrates Cafe and would recommend it to anyone who loves to think and read. A great book. Worth reading.
Not even done
But I still want to share a review.... If you like to think.... Buy it. Buy it now. It is worth every penny. If we all spent some time in Socrates Cafe the world MIGHT be a better place. I'm buying it for my grandson and can't wait to discuss it with him!