This is our family. And this is about the best we could do to get everyone to smile at the same time. There’s a lot of us which has me doing many things. Mostly I change batteries and get people snacks because I’m a dad. But a long time ago I started my college path by taking Philosophy 101 because it fit nicely in a schedule gap between Anthropology and Biology. I had just graduated high school and picked classes based on course names sounding like something an 80s film character would take.
The philosophy class was taught by a professor who wore tie-dyed t-shirts, looked like Jerry Garcia and led us through breathing exercises. He also introduced us to Plato’s concept of forms which shifted a paradigm for me when it came to learning. Instead of being given a bunch of facts to memorize for a test, I got to think about things like ‘what is the ideal friendship’ or ‘what is the optimal number of donuts for breakfast’. I found that I loved to do this type of thinking. Needless to say, I also bought the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty on CD that year.
But back to being a dad. I love to read with my kids and better yet, have them read to me. One day I was going through this old antique collection of books from the late 19th century that my wife Emily bought at a library book sale. The books were falling apart but they were full of old classics including Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I decided to read it with my 8 & 9 year old kids having them take turn reading the role of Socrates. They had loads of questions and put their imaginations to work in deciding how they would handle themselves in a similar situation. Listening to them discuss and probe deeper with their questions was like magic at work.
This made me jump into creating study plans for us to explore other philosophical works. I’m not a professor and these plans aren’t intended to be academically rigorous. The intention of my study plans are to guide our approach in two ways:
- Short topics that we can discuss in one session. Topics include a range of subjects such as friendship, identity, ethics and how to better scrutinize information on the internet. I post these shorter exercises, complete with activities or thought-exercises, on this site.
- Longer study plans that allow us to dig a little deeper and will span several sessions. I also want to give them exposure to the original texts (or translations) but in chunks suitable for their age. This doesn’t mean we go nuts and read Hegel or Kant — but Plato, Aristotle and Descartes are a good start.
Other goals I have as we go through our discussions:
- Help guide my kids to understand the arguments.
- Encourage them to look at counter-examples.
- Build experience looking at things from different angles.
- To ask good questions.
So this is my site to share the lessons we do in our family. I hope they can be useful to others.