Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Philosophy Community


Michelle Irving from Heart of Philosophy is certainly getting on top of things. Have a look at this article about last fortnight's philosophy in the pub event. It was a corker, and can only go from strength to strength with the amount of momentum Michelle has managed to garner. This is fantastic news.

However, I must admit to being a little disappointed in the wider reporting of philosophy in Melbourne. For all that Heart of Philosophy (HoP) represents a new era of philosophical discussion and cross-institutional interaction, the state remains deplorably fragmented. Also, I feel that my website and the philosophy resources and events which I am organising are sadly under-represented. The problem, chiefly, lies with the lack of knowledge by traditional power-brokers.

I was able to discern that the Heart of Philosophy group has some government backing, although what form this takes is uncertain. The "Philosophy in Public Spaces" project has a page on the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools website. I have found this group to be on the whole rather introverted and cloistered. Their links page is not exhausted, and their email discussion list is low-volume, and the postings are only ever concerned with course-related issues. There seems to be very little pleasure taken in the philosophical issues they are discovering. Nonetheless, their listing of discussion groups (the exclusion of notwithstanding) includes several groups not elsewhere mentioned.

Reading the article mentioned in the first paragraph, something I have been saying for a long time becomes apparent : that philosophy needs to be taken out of the traditional power structure. The most refreshing comments were those from members of the public, an encouraging reminder that there are still those who question life and refuse to be cowed or smothered by media morality.

"Raimund Bruns, a 49-year-old courier agrees: "I think, broadly speaking, there's not enough opportunity just to talk about life and ideas, you know. What does it mean to live a good life? What is happiness? I have trouble meeting people who want to discuss these ideas," he laments."

What is so deplorable about the University approach is their extreme lack of interest in groups outside of their own. The article mentions at least three semi-regular events organised by University groups. However, none of the people interviewed on their own group mentions any of their other. There is no web of interaction, no growth. There is only a distasteful scattering of groups pursuing a course-led agenda, each concentrating on their own ideologies and not seeking to engage outside of their traditional fora.

It is my hope that one day, more people will look outside their windows at the world around them. My website with its free courseware, radio presentations, research content and regular news will be waiting for them with open arms when they do. In the meantime, hopefully the Heart of Philosophy will continue to bring people together, and bring philosophy to the media.



Blogger Heart of Philosophy said...

Heart of Philosophy is pleased with the media coverage and support from your blog. I would like to clarify that we DO NOT have any Government support- financial or otherwise.

Like Melbourne Philosopher we are keen to ensure people have the space for broader discussion of ideas. In addition, we did mention the other groups, it just was not reported.

We have been approached by lots of groups to work with them in providing more Philosophy discussion and forums. We are currently working on these proposals which we hope will draw on the strengths and skills of members from the Melbourne philosophical community.

Obviously a lot is happening very quickly and Heart of Philosophy is keen to ensure that we have a sustainable and strategic presence all the relevant Philosophy players.

We think the blog is a fabulous idea and resource and as our proposals progress, we feel we can work with Melbourne Philosopher to create new opportunities and awareness about the work you do!

Kind Regards

Michelle Irving
Heart of Philosophy

3/09/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

Sorry to mis-inform! The "Philosophy in Public Spaces" program is being run by the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools, and they are mentioned in both Age articles, but I was mistaken in thinking they were directly involved with HoP. The Age article calls it a Federal Government project, but I can't find any mention of it outside of VAPS.

"I wanted to create a forum where people could practice philosophy rather than just read about it or write about it," says Harvey, who is also a member of the Federal Government-funded Philosophy in Public Spaces project. "It's about creating a public opportunity for people to engage in a philosophical dialogue. And it's fun."--Gordon Harvey, secondary school teacher on VAPS

""Philosophy began in the agora of Athens, and that's where we're taking it - back to the marketplaces and cafes of Melbourne."--Gordon Harvey, secondary school teacher on VAPS

VAPS Philosophy in Public Spaces site.

Apologies HoP, I didn't mean to blame you for anything, I'm just being deliberately scandalous in order to provoke people into awareness of the other resources available out there... Thanks for the positive comments!!


3/09/2005 01:14:00 PM  

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