It has been a while since I took philosophy in school. It was one of my favorite subjects, but it seems to me, 40 years later, that the curriculum at the time was too narrow, and from what I can tell, it has not changed much since. Do we need to begin to change the curriculum to make it more relevant?
Should equal weight be given to Eastern philosophies? Should there be more experiential aspects as opposed to emphasis on just thinking about it? I would like to see philosophers actually experience yoga and Taiji so that they can understand the actual experience that led to the philosophies.
Should there be more discussion of scientific thought such as Relativity and Quantum Physics, and the philosophical and metaphysical debates that surround them?
Should there be more emphasis placed on skepticism of facts as they are presented in the world. For example, yesterday I read of a medical study that showed "There is vigorous evidence that verebroplasty [a medical procedure that is used 100,000 times a year] doesn't work any better than control intervention." Yet, "Most doctors in this country thought taht the trials was unethical, because they were so convinced vertebropasty works. Several hospitals didn't allow their doctors to participate." Do we need to teach ourselves to be much more skeptical of that which we believe to be true?
Should we seek out the practical applications of what ideas in every day life, beyond the possible economic benefits, e.g. Ayn Rand? Should be look at how philosophy affects the way we live. For example, Eastern philosophies evolved from everyday observable events such as health practices and relationships with people.
In some respects, it seems that modern universities have already done so:
Only those who choose to dedicate a serious amount of time and effort to the pursuit of philosophical discourse, insight and introspection will come to appreciate philosophy's monolithic omniscience in the matters concerning humanity and its place in the world.
I like to make philosophy very simple, accessible, and relevant. I discuss the basic practical applications of Eastern philosophy with my students all the time and how it is relevant to their health, their relationships, their own sense of what life might mean to them. Most of my students are older, and they may be more open to these kind of discussions because they have already experienced lots in life.
Sounds great. But what has it to do with philosophy? It sounds like social work.
Exactly. Everything is connected. One thing flows from the other. My philosophy flows into my daily life and then back again. I treat them all as one. This is how one makes philosophy relevant.
I like to make philosophy very simple, accessible, and relevant. I discuss the basic practical applications of Eastern philosophy with my students all the time and how it is relevant to their 1. health, their 2. relationships, their own 3. sense of what life might mean to them.
Most of my students are older, and they may be more open to these kind of discussions because they have already experienced lots in life.
Relevant to what? I want philosophy to be relevant to philosophy. By all means, do social work.
These are things that cannot be told-to someone by way of attempting to convey abstract notions upon other abstract notions.
Nietzsche said that truth is antithetical to life (hence also to health and relationships, etc). While this might be a bit extreme, it is certainly the case that truth is indifferent to health and relationships and all that. Philosophy is only relevant to people's live to the extent that truth is relevant to people's lives, which is to say surprisingly little.
I think one must be careful, if one attempts to make philosophy relevant, simple, and accessible, to not at the same time turn it into something that prevents it from making its real contribution to the world---relentless, rigourous, and sustained questioning of the world and of itself.
And to do this, it must be in the world and at the same time permit itself to distance itself from the ordinary world; its ways are often difficult and demanding of its followers, for its tools and methods of explanation are complex and require both intense study and often isolated contemplation.
Certainly more classes on Eastern philosophy should be included, focusing perhaps on the societal impacts of different brands of philosophy as much as the philosophies themselves (this includes Western philosophy, by the way). Eastern philosophy is easily as deep, ancient, and well-thought-out as the one we're familiar with, but it should be offered more as a concentration, since of course we're raised in the Western tradition and therefore should be more familiar with it.
(The opposite would go at, say, the University of Beijing, for the same reasons given above.)
Eastern philosophy is important; however, at my old alma mater, Eastern Philosophy is the responsibility of the Centre of Asian Studies and they offer several courses in Indian and Chinese philosophy.
The Philosophy Department merely cross-lists them and includes them as acceptable electives though not required courses.
But yeah. I'm all for more philosophy in school.
I don't like the public school system and I champion the idea of autodidacticism, especially now that we're in the internet age (which I also think makes socialism a lot more plausible. All we need is a smaller population which can be achieved by a few generations of relaxed breeding, but that's just my own vision of Utopia), but if the public school system were reformed and people were a bit more enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge, then I would love the public school system. :p
Thanks for sharing with me your experiences and thoughts.
From my point of view, philosophy as well as many other courses that are taught in school, should be made more relevant.
I remember when I use to teach, teachers chose topics and subjects and texts that were easy for them to teach. The material itself may be ancient, but they kept teaching it so that they would not have to revamp their own curriculum adding to their own workload.
I think philosophy can be made relevant so that students can relate to it. But much of philosophy as it is presented in books and in class are merely thought experiments. They do not attempt to be relevant and practical.
Hope you find this forum interesting. I noticed that different people in different age groups view topics differently, so hopefully you will find a discussion that you can relate to.
What is important about Eastern philosophy?