Thursday, December 27, 2012

Philosophy for Everyone

In the distant past one could not have been considered a well-educated person if one had not studied philosophy at the university level and could converse with some degree of familiarity at least about the ideas of Socrates and Plato, Kant and Hegel.  In the 19th century philosophy truly was "the first science" and along with classics was considered an indispensable part of a young man's formative education. 

That all changed in the 1960s, when universities began to abandon their commitments to the liberal arts and philosophy began to be viewed as an esoteric discipline with little practical application.  Members of the elite might study philosophy, but it was hardly the sort of discipline that would attract the kinds of middle class students who were beginning to attend college in larger numbers.  Today most students could probably pass safely through college without ever even having to take a single philosophy class.  But at prestigious intuitions like Harvard, Yale, or Stanford philosophy continues to have the kind of cache that has made it attractive to the sons and daughters of the new aristocrats of American society.

In 1999 a group of idealistic young faculty members in the Department of Philosophy at Molloy College in New York decided to reclaim their discipline and sought to make it accessible to just about everyone.  The result was the creation of the Sophia Project--an online repository of philosophy resources that included thousands of pages of primary sources with commentaries, original articles, and even entire online courses.  What was truly amazing about this project was that ordinary people from around the globe were accessing the information provided on the site and using it for their own intellectual edification. 

The Sophia Project was removed from the Molloy College website for reasons too complicated to go into here.  But it has now re-emerged, better than ever, in a new form on its own website.  The same animating spirit that drove the original Sophia Project was behind its re-creation: that ordinary intelligent folks should have access to philosophical wisdom in a format that is "easily digestible." 

We didn't include all the resources from the original Sophia Project on the new site, but there's certainly enough there to stimulate even the most voracious reader of philosophy.  I'd encourage you to check The Sophia Project for yourself and let us know what you think.  You might just find that you rather enjoy reading some of the greatest selections from some of the greatest texts written by some of the greatest thinkers that mankind has ever produced. 

Visit the New Sophia Project!

No comments:

Post a Comment