Philosophy goes back to life: Insights from disseminating philosophical thinking

Philosophy dissemination can take many formats and it reveals its value when it empowers people beyond entertainment. If you are lucky, sometimes research inevitably spills over to the general public: this happened to me. Working on philosophy of emotions and, in addition, applying the methodology of Philosophy for Children in a variety of settings since 2003 showed important insights on how philosophy can help cultivate the joy of thinking (Mendonça, 2022). These three examples are given: first, the value of questioning for thinking; second, how thinking philosophically with others can support creativity, and finally how philosophical writing can deepen thinking.

Philosophy and cultivating questioning

Philosophy for Children shows how philosophical questions can help the general population to cultivate lively questioning. In 2004, a kindergarten classroom highlighted how questions were strangely absent from the school environment and that a philosophy session was just what was needed to explore and cultivate the powers of questioning. From then on, doing philosophy sessions in a variety of settings (museums, schools and university, council training, etc) prove again and again how questions have a revolutionary impact for thinking processes.

Thinking philosophically supports creativity

Sessions which foster and promote philosophical thinking can become material to contribute to creative processes. When the choreographer Aldara Bizarro contacted me in 2007 to contribute to a performance (A preguiça Ataca?), we transferred the methodology invented by Matthew Lipman to contribute to artistic endeavours. This proved to be especially crucial for artistic projects that depended on collaborative thinking processes (Aldara Bizarro, Sombra; Companhia Caótica – Crevescer. Um thriller Existencial; Maria Gil (Teatro do Silêncio), Paradoxos de Alice; Sofia Cabrita (Cepa Torta), Como Assim?).

Philosophical writing and thinking

Finally, dissemination of philosophical research revealed how philosophical writing can be an important part of improving thinking in general. Writing is often taken as an activity in which one puts down the thinking that was done previously. Yet, there is an important part of thinking that is given by the very process of writing. Philosophy is ideal to practice expository, critical, analytic, evaluative, and creative writing skills in connection to thinking abilities because writing is essential for philosophical research.

Purposely designed philosophical writing exercises are ideal to promote everyone’s ability to think more deeply because they help people phrase questions, explore ideas, logically follow an argument, identify problems, and work out thought-provoking objections.

To summarise, philosophy promotes rigorous thinking by providing people opportunities for revising thinking both in dialogue and in writing, revealing the complexity of thought processes which often surprise even their own authors.

Mendonça, D, (2022) Self-Pity as Resilience against Injustice, Philosophies 7, no. 5: 105.

Mendonça, D, (2022) Foundations of Philosophy for Children, Reasonableness and the Education of Thinking, In: Núria Sara Miras Boronat and Michela Bella (eds.) Women in Pragmatism: Past and Future, Springer, pp. 147-158.

Mendonça, D, Cadilha, S, (2022) Philosophy for Children and the Participation in the Democratic Life, in Philosophical News, n 23, ed by J Forte.

Mendonça, D, Franken Figueiredo, F, (eds), (2022) Conceptions of Childhood and Moral Education in Philosophy for Children, Stuttgart: Metzler.

Video: PI of project P4C-AIM: Education for Hope with Philosophy

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