Practical Philosophy Introductory Course

Most of our students come to the School because their friends or family have come along and enjoyed the classes. If you found us online, you might not be as familiar, so these are some questions and answers to help you know what to expect.

Q. What if I sign up for a class but I'm not able to attend every week - will I be able to catch up easily?

A. Yes. The classes have a flow and a theme over the 10 weeks, but we recap the previous class at the beginning of each class, so you won't be lost. In Dublin we are able to offer classes on multiple days throughout the week, so if you normally come on a Tuesday, but can't make it this week, you can attend a Wednesday evening or a Saturday morning as an example.

Q. I've never studied philosophy before - will I be lost?

A. No. Most students come to the classes with no prior knowledge. Indeed, if you have studied philosophy academically, you will find this quite a different format from how you may have studied previously.

Q. What is the format of the class? What can I expect?

A. The class is 2 hours long, with a break for refreshments. The tutor goes through the material and introduces concepts and questions for us to think about and discuss. The tutors are also students of the School, so the discussion is an enquiry style, where each question opens up interesting perspectives from the students. What may appear like a cold piece of text on the page can suddenly open up to be so much more interesting when we apply the concepts to our own lives and situations. It is a really practical application of wisdom, not a lecture style of learning.

Q. What kind of people go to the class?

A. People of all ages and backgrounds attend the classes. Anyone with an interest in learning more about themselves and the world around them tends to be interested. The diversity in the class is what makes the classes much more interesting than just reading a book on your own.

Q. Is there a reading list for Part 1?

A. Each week you'll receive a handout that contains some of the quotations from the class material; this short amount of text is enough for some people to contemplate over the course of the week ahead, but many do like to explore the writers and philosophers more fully. In the Northumberland Road branch in Dublin we have a bookshop where you can purchase directly from a selection on the bookshelves there.

Q. Do you teach mindfulness?

A. Many of the practices taught do encourage awareness and a gentle stilling of the mind which has a similar effect to mindfulness.

Q. Do you teach meditation?

A. Yes. We practice a mantra-based meditation which has a similar lineage to Transcendental Meditation, or TM. Generally we offer meditation when you have already attended 4 terms of practical philosophy. If you would like to learn meditation before then, we have meditation initiations throughout the year for any student that is interested.

Q. Do I have to speak in class?

A. Not unless you wish to, although these classes are not lectures and discussion is encouraged, but you can participate just as well by listening.

Q. Are there further classes after the introductory term?

A. Yes. The Introductory term is part of a foundation year of philosophy which will also cover happiness and love. These three, wisdom, happiness and love are central to human life and so are important subjects for philosophic inquiry.

The courses after the Introductory Course are called Happiness, Love, Freedom and Presence. This last one is when you are introduced to meditation. After that, people continue to attend classes often for many years purely for the love of discussing and practising philosophy.

Q. If the course doesn’t suit can I get a refund?

A. Yes

Q. Why study Philosophy?

A. Philosophy means the love of wisdom. This is a course in practical philosophy that can be used in everyday life. It is not an academic course. The introductory course concentrates on the nature of wisdom and how it may be possible to live wisely.

Q. What are the benefits of studying philosophy?

A. Philosophy gives us the opportunity to think more deeply about the subjects that really matter to us:

What is truth?
Who am I?
What is this universe?
What is my part in it?
What is freedom?
How can I find meaning and satisfaction in life?

Philosophy deals with the big ideas, which govern human life.

It affects all of our lives much more than may be obvious.
For example, Plato lived over 2000 years ago and what he said about subjects such as truth, beauty and justice have influenced the western world to this day. During this course we will be considering some of these ideas.

The world in which we live is shaped by philosophy, whether we know it or not.

When other areas of life fall into a state of uncertainty or doubt, philosophy can provide direction, and a sense of certainty.

Philosophy can give us a greater sense of perspective on life.

Philosophy can simplify, clarify and enrich our lives.

Philosophy can raise awareness, to enable us to see things as they are and bring us closer to our true selves. It is the supreme means of self-discovery.

Introductory Course (Part 1)

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