INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHICAL PRACTICE
International Seminar "Practicing Philosophy"
La Chapelle Saint André, Burgundy (France)
August 5th - 11th 2019
Every summer, in the little village of La Chapelle-Saint-André (Burgundy - France), gather about 30-40 persons involved in philosophical practice (students, teachers, professors, counselors, trainers) in order to reflect on their work and improve professionally. For seven days, in English, these philosophy practitioners coming from the five continents will participate to different workshops, lead workshops, analyze and evaluate them, theorize about the different issues involved.
In this context, philosophy is not any more an academic activity centered on the history of ideas, and one does not come simply to narrate what he does in his home country. The principle is to get acquainted with varied ways of philosophizing, as an activity constitutive of the mind and the self. Philosophy with children, philosophical consultation, philosophy workshops, Socratic dialogue, etc., one is introduced to the many forms and variants of such an endeavor. It is not so much knowledge that is at stake here, but acquiring and developing skills. How to conceptualize, how to problematize, how to deepen understanding of given ideas, and especially how to create a situation where this activity can be induced, is the main focus of the work.
Of course, Socratic maieutics is a key methodological point, but as well dialectics, analytics, community of enquiry, constitute as many entries and matrices to define the work. If they wish so, participants can facilitate a workshop, a situation which provides an occasion for any practitioner to show how he works and get some critical feed-back on his work and his methodology, so one becomes more conscious of his own options and activity. Since the atmosphere of this seminar is open, inclined to both rigor and diversity, it creates a context where one can really express his view instead of hiding behind the usual pseudo-consensus where "everything is fine and we are all great". In this sense, the idea is to recreate the context of antique philosophical schools, or the gymnasium as described by Plato, where one could challenge other's ideas and oneself be challenged. In the peaceful atmosphere of a small French village, accompanied with good food and good wine, walks in the beautiful surrounding woods and visit to the medieval site of Vezelay, one can truly devote oneself to philosophical encounters and reflection.
All practitioners interested in presenting their work and holding a workshop during this event are invited to send their proposal. The purpose of this seminar is to exchange, discover, experiment and develop practices.
This seminar does not require previous philosophical training. It can be an initiation to philosophical practice, or a deepening of the activity. Participants come from different parts of the world, and join for professional or personal reasons, in order to work on a practice that is applicable to many contexts: teaching children or adults, management, individual consultation, N.G.O activities…
The duration will be one whole week, from Monday, August 5th (arrival on the 4th), to Sunday, August 11th, and the cost will be 600 Euros; the price includes the workshops, food and accommodation in a private room. For people who are on a tight budget, this can be reduced to 350 Euros if you accept "camping style" accommodation. Our Institute can accept some people free of charge who have financial difficulties, but are highly motivated.
You can read theoretical texts and watch videos of the practice on the following websites (English section): http://www.pratiques-philosophiques.fr/en/welcome/
Zhuangzi was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC. He is credited with writing – at least in part – an opus known by his name, the Zhuangzi, which is one of the foundational texts of Taoism. It is composed of many strange little stories, written in order to make the reader think. Its primary function is to make us reflect on the illusory and even ridiculous aspects of our life, by criticizing numerous preoccupations, social and moral obligations, which are the cause of our psychological and cognitive misery. Our work consists of a selection of stories, accompanied with a philosophical analysis, organized around the key concepts of each story, including some background on Chinese culture. A series of questions is provided, in order for the reader to meditate on the content of the text.
“Who are you?”, asks Socrates. “Do you want to know? Then, remove your shirt and meet me hand-to hand!” A consultation takes place between a ‘questioner’ and a ‘questioned’ one, as in a Socratic dialog. Like a hunting dog pursuing it’s pray up to its shelter, a torpedo fish which paralyses anyone that comes in contact with it, a bumblebee which stings and harasses anyone on its way: there is no shortage of powerful metaphors to speak about Socrates and of the one who takes on the role of the ‘questioner’ in the philosophical consultation.
Why wanting a philosophical consultation?
This kind of dialogue is the best mean to lean toward truth. The other is the very condition of thought, of the access to truth. Philosophical consultation is not a hand-to-hand combat to tell who shall win, but to test ideas and the relations which they entertain in themselves and one to another. The ‘questioned’ one can see himself thinking, he gains access to himself, if he wants to. Annoying, astonishing, destabilizing, consultation reveals what we often struggle to leave hidden. It gives a display, as a mirror. It is not recommended to those who love their own truth, reluctant to calling into question.
Instructions for use:
Book an appointment either online or through Skype. Prepare a question to begin the consultation with. It will be filmed to allow for a personal self-analysis later on, and for a growing awareness.
Oscar Brenifier, Doctor in Philosophy (Paris IV-Sorbonne), Trainer, Consultant, Author
For years he has been working on the concept of “Philosophical practice”, both on the practical and the theoretical level, in France and in numerous other countries. He is one of the main proponents of ‘philosophy in the city’: philosophical-cafes, philosophical workshops with children and adults, workshops and seminars for businesses… He published numerous works in the field, notably the “PhiloZenfants” (Nathan Editions) collection, which have been edited in over thirty languages. He is also one of the authors of the UNESCO report on “La philosophie, une École de la liberté” (Philosophy, a School of Freedom).
Isabelle Millon, Librarian, Editor, Philosophical Practitioner, Trainer, Consultant
She mainly works on projects involving children and teenagers in France; she also leads philosophical workshops with children and adults in various countries (Albania, Algeria, South Korea, Iran, Israel, Peru, Russia, Vietnam…). She trains teachers and other interested people in mediating philosophical workshops and/or to use the suggested tools within their institutions.
The Institute organizes many para-seminars in France, ranging from 2 to 7 days long, in French and in English. By working thoroughly on the functioning and the issues involved in the practice, these seminars allow one to be initiated and trained in the practice of philosophy.
For those interested in being trained or in perfecting their skills in philosophical practice, the I.P.P. offers a distance training program, made possible by video-conference technologies, mainly through Skype.
The Institute of Philosophical Practices
The I.P.P. is a 1901 association. Founded by Oascar Brenifier, Doctor in Philosophy, and Isabelle Millon, Librarian, its vocation is to promote the principle of ‘Philosophy in the City’. Since over fifteen years, this came to mean moderating philosophical discussions, philosophical workshops or cafes, in media centers, in cultural centers, in the abode of young workers, in prisons, in educational establishments as early as kindergarten, in businesses, with youth having integration issues. The public involved is most diversified, even if the main concern is to target precisely those who are not accustomed to, or do not have the possibility of, accessing the philosophical approach. The point is not to make a display of erudition, but to learn and practice how to ‘think for oneself’ and to ‘think with others’. Therefore, philosophizing comes to signify a way to be initiated in the construction of thought, to critical analysis, to dialogue, to become aware of the issues of the thought process and of discourse.
Recognized for its competences, the I.P.P. leads activities not only in France, but in various countries, focusing particularly on training people in philosophical discussion. In this regard, Oscar Brenifier wrote a report on Philosophy in the City and in the World for the UNESCO. He is also the author of numerous works on philosophy for children, translated in over thirty languages.
Institute of Philosophical Practices
There is no single answer to the great questions of life.
There is no single way of thinking.
It is up to everyone
Oscar Brenifier elaborated a method based on Socratic maieutic which developed throughout the years within the Institute of Philosophical Practice.
Activities of the Institute.
As tools to deepen one’s thought and critical analysis, they help to work on the issues and the functioning of the philosophical practice. They are open to everyone without any prior experience or erudition.
From kindergarten to adulthood, the Institute offers philosophical workshops adapted to every age group.
Destined to train teachers, moderators and anyone interested in philosophical practice.
The Institute offers individual consultations.
The Institute offers debate conferences where a thesis on a given subject must be presented; a discussion with the group follows.
The vocation of the Institute of Philosophical Practice is to bring philosophy back to the heart of the city so that it can enlighten and brighten every citizen.
At work, within the family or amongst friends, knowing our self is essential to connect with others, to express ourselves during conflicts, to face life issues with calm and serenity. Practical philosophy is a science and an art essential at any stage of life.
Starting from kindergarten, philosophy implies learning the capacity to think for oneself, to choose, to argue, to develop an understanding about how to be and live together.
Solitude, existential fears or simply the lack of mental and memory work can be exacerbated by time. Dialogues are a good way to preserve the ability to listen, to reflect, to strengthen social connections and to become ever wiser at this stage of life.
Philosophy teaches us that any difficulty, any handicap, can become an opportunity, a difference allowing one to develop a more sensitive and deeper outlook on the world. Socratic dialogues bring inner freedom back to the center of human concerns.
Identity is at the heart of belonging issues, essential to connect with our self, others and the world. To retrieve one’s roots and to project oneself into the future are two keys of the philosophical practice.
What is philosophizing?
The philosophical practice
Thinking by oneself is an everyday practical exercise, like an art or a gymnastic. Thinking forces one to confront oneself, to fight one’s opinions, one’s ignorance and comforting habits.
Philosophical practice is first of all an exercise in questioning. It starts from the principle that philosophy is a natural act, even if many obstacles hinder its way.
Exchanges try to do away with the pretense of an ill-thought of argumentation. Paying attention to the discourse of the other and caring about truth must be a priority, at the risk of jostling the interlocutor or to destabilize him in his convictions.
This method is the fruit of a reflection, of an awareness of the verb, of its use and of its author. The individual who often hides behind words reveals himself slowly, through the unsaid or the accessory, sometimes he is even unmasked in a totally unexpected way.
The learning of this method of Socratic questioning is progressive, demanding and requires much perseverance, critical thinking, listening, confidence and a necessary sense of humor to laugh about oneself.
Philosophy for Business
Bringing the human back to the center
In these days of crisis, the professional world needs to reflect on itself, on meaning, on the spirit of work and of enterprise. Philosophical practice, instead of finding solutions, will uncover, unveil what is happening behind conflicts, tensions, break-up within teams and hierarchical relations. It sends everyone back to their self and opens new perspectives on their relations with others and with the world. Consultations, Socratic dialogues with teams, will bring the human being back to the center in order to create genuine relations. Only the individual can decide to change, but dialogue, as a mirror, will help him to see and to perceive himself without concessions, within the frame of his professional activity.
Philosophy at school
Budding philosopher, at your questions!
Philosophizing as early as kindergarten
Training teachers to moderate workshops for children of at least three years old is the main activity of the Institute. Thinking by oneself, being oneself, being and thinking within the group are the three requirements of every practice. Questions are the best mean to learn and to awaken to philosophy, even more than the answers, often readymade, that could be given. Therefrom comes the possibility for a child to be involved in a philosophical process, because everyone is able to ask questions. For children, learning to think together is very important since it directly touches upon the relation that the human being entertains with the world around him and with himself. This amounts to seeing the ‘other’ as a possible interlocutor and not as a threat. Philosophical workshops focus on listening to the other by developing an interest in what classmates are saying. Through successive pulls, everyone will begin to ear his own speech, to argue about his choices and to articulate his thought in a precise and concise manner.
The Different kinds of Workshops
Every subject can become the support of philosophical practice. Among the most solicited, we suggest 4 examples of workshops done in school:
Workshop on objects: particularly skillful in kindergarten, it allows for the verification of the relation between things and what we say of them, between discourse and sense-perception.
- Workshop on themes: the theme is chosen by the teacher or by the class. A question is generally chosen as a starting point of the discussion.
- Workshop on text: stories, tales… which will be told beforehand to the students. This allows for working both on understanding and reflection: students will have to articulate their choices, to argue and compare them with their classmates.
- Workshop on exercises: ‘similar/different’, ‘agree/disagree’, dilemmas, concepts… This workshop allows for work to be done on specific skills.