What is Philosophy For?

Expansive thinking?


Seminar at the British Academy by Stephen Law (with kind permission) http://stephenlaw.blogspot.co.uk

As I’m the author of several popular philosophy books – including three philosophy books for children – and also editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK which is aimed at the general public, I thought I would talk about why I think engaging young people with philosophy might be a good idea.

Two of Britain’s best-known philosophy-for-children organisations are called Sapere and Aude. It’s no coincidence that ‘Sapere Aude’ – dare to know – is also the motto of the Enlightenment. But how might the Enlightenment and philosophy for children be related?

Diderot and d’Alembert defined the Enlightened thinker as one who,

trampling on prejudice, tradition, universal consent, authority, in a word, all that enslaves most minds, dares to think for himself.[i]

Kant, in a short magazine article entitled ‘What is Enlightenment?’ described Enlightenment is:

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