Philosophy and Community

Philosophy and Community shares updates and interviews about people and initiatives that promote the engagement of philosophy with the community. It gives a fresh insight into the role that philosophers play in society, in different parts of the world.

Filosofía escolástica, historia colonial y sociedad chilena: Una entrevista con Abel Aravena Zamora sobre el reto de la divulgación

November 2022 – How may the study of Second Scholasticism be connected to societal problems such as cultural identity in postcolonial settings? And how can a young researcher contribute to the rediscovery of the cultural treasures of his land when our societies are always projected towards the future, so often forgetting about their past? In this interview with Abel Aravena Zamora, we explore these and other issues that characterise the lives of many young researchers in medieval philosophy worldwide. More specifically, we shall discuss his daring idea of making “capsules” to foster his outreach strategy and maximise the impact of his research on society.
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Philosophy, Dreams, and Coffee: Interview with Maria João Neves

October 2022 – Nowadays, academic articles have become the stage where the development of philosophical research takes place. But publishing is a serious business. It requires a long (and often painful) process of research, redaction, review, and corrections until the articles attain their final printed form and can be shared with others. “But then who reads them?”, asks Maria João Neves, “perhaps only one or two doctoral students, who are interested in those very specific topics.” They rarely reach the larger public, even though knowledge is lacking outside of academia. This is one of the reasons that led Maria João Neves, Doctor in Philosophy and specialist in the work of María Zambrano, to recover the living power of philosophy and bring it out to the public. In her own words, philosophy is not there to “overfeed points of view” (engordar os pontos de vista). In that case, “it is preferable to cumulate less knowledge.”
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“A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps”: Interview with Prof. Peter Adamson

September 2022 – Speaking about research topics and sharing them with a wider audience is not an easy task for an academic, perhaps in any field of research. Professor Peter Adamson, the host of the podcast “History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps” is definitely an exception to this rule. Since 2010, he has taken listeners from all over the world through the history of philosophy. Today, his podcast counts more than five hundred episodes in total, and several of its series are also available in print. His talent for story-telling and entertaining anecdotes can make any complex philosophical topic or author sound easy while at the same time preserving impeccable accuracy and in-depth analysis. In this interview, Adamson tells us about how this project emerged and about his passion for sharing his ideas with the public. In addition, we also learn about his concept of a “history of philosophy without any gaps” and how it reflects his own approach to the history of philosophy.
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Introducing Medieval Arabic Philosophy in a Portuguese High School, with an Interview with Elisabete Silva Santos

July 2022 – How much do high school students in Portugal know about Medieval Arabic Philosophy? This question is especially pertinent given that what is today Portugal was once under the political rule and cultural influence of Islamic dynasties. Together with Spain, it constituted the most western region of the Muslim dominion and one of the most important intellectual centers in the Middle Ages: al-Andalus. Thus, one would expect that there would be a greater awareness of the medieval Arabic philosophical tradition in this context than in other parts of the European continent. However, this is not quite the case. In fact, this intellectual heritage is often neglected outside the academic milieu.
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Philosophy with Children: More Than an Educational Project – Interview with Sara Gomel

June 2022 – Does children’s ability to wonder – for this is how Aristotle describes the beginning of philosophy – make them more apt to philosophize? Do they also ask philosophical questions? This curiosity concerning the limits of children’s capacities to think and engage with profound questions drives many philosophers nowadays to practice philosophical dialogue with children and adolescents. But this is not their only motivation. Doing philosophy with children is also an educational and social project, as we learn from Sara Gomel, a young philosopher who is currently part of an associative initiative that promotes regular sessions of philosophy with children in Italian schools. More than mere instruction about philosophical topics, doing philosophy with children aims to foster discussions about what matters most to them. It stimulates rational discourse and reflection by helping them formulate their thoughts and listen to their classmates’ concerns and convictions – which are not always in perfect consonance with their own. In addition, doing philosophy also empowers children in underprivileged contexts by encouraging them to speak their minds and giving them the feeling that their voice is heard. More importantly, it provides them with the tools to think differently and envision how they can make a change.
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Intercultural Philosophy in Mozambique: Interview with Prof. Severino Elias Ngoenha

May 2022 – To what extent can philosophy contribute to the development of a democratic discourse and of an intercultural and interreligious society? In a time when nationalism and religious radicalism are gaining new terrain and imposing new limits to rational dialogue and tolerance among different communities, in Europe and beyond, it becomes urgent to inquire about the role that philosophers can play in dealing with this social and political dynamic. Today, we propose to explore the example of the Mozambican philosopher Severino Elias Ngoenha, who found a concrete way to respond to the problem of religious and cultural divergence in Mozambique. Alongside his academic work and teaching, for the past few years, Ngoenha has been leading the organisation of seminars and workshops of Intercultural and Interreligious Philosophy for the general public in different regions of Mozambique. Ngoenha titles these encounters “Seminars of Intercultural Philosophy: The Challenges of Radicalization” (Seminários de Filosofia Intercultural: Os Desafios da Radicalização). The country has increasingly been hit by religious radicalism, especially since the recent occupation of the north by the Islamic State. However, as Ngoenha explains, there are also intrinsic cultural and religious divisions in what he describes as an extraordinarily diverse population. With these philosophical workshops, Ngoenha aims to bring these different communities together in a dialogue of tolerance and respect for one another and, thus, to enable the emergence of a truly intercultural and democratic discourse in Mozambique.
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