Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why philosophy?

High School students in France are required to study philosophy.
And among the writers you need to refer to are Plato, William of Ockham, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Sartre. 
Why this emphasis on philosophy in France? 
Other countries have school-leaving exams which cover the history of ideas and religion and so on. But the French are very clear that that is not what theirs is. 
The purpose of the philosophy Bac is not to understand the history of human thought but to leap into the stream that is the actuality of human thought. 
If you learn about what Kant or Spinoza once said, it is not so much to understand their argument as to use their argument.. 
So the purpose of teaching philosophy was - and remains, in theory - to complete the education of young men and women and permit them to think...
BBC News - Why does France insist school pupils master philosophy?


  1. As a recent graduate (completer?) of PHIL1030, I can say that I wish we did this here. It pays to learn some critical thinking skills, not just in school but in all areas of life. A lot of my life before this semester would have been more interesting if I'd had some of the outlook that I have now, or at least some of the exposure to the classics that I have now. Also, talking to John Lachs was very inspiring.

  2. Hi, Matt. Talking to John Lachs IS very inspiring, always. If we had more teachers like him, philosophy in America would be a lot more mainstream and "relevant." And, public life would in general be a lot more interesting.