Socrates Cafe

Socrates Cafe, Socratic method
[Socrates Cafe]
Christopher Phillips, exitentialism, Montclair

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Socrates Cafe

Christopher Phillips, the founding spirit of the Socrates Cafe movement, was studying for a master of arts in teaching at Montclair State University in 1996 when he, quite by chance, picked up "Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre", a seminal collection of existentialist and protoexistentialist texts that Walter Kaufmann compiled in 1956 as a means of preparing humankind for a genuinely philosophical form of life.

Something Phillips read in Kaufmann's introduction to the book soon sent him rocketing across America, visiting jails, hospices, nursing homes, and other public venues - all on his own expense.
Phillips had come to believe that the demise of a certain type of philosophy has been to the detriment of society. He consequently made a commitment to attempt to bring about a recovery of the type of philosophy that Socrates and others had practiced in Athens in the 6th and 5th century B.C.

In those times in Classical Greece Socrates had utilized a method of philosophical inquiry that "everyman" could embrace and take for her or his own, the type of vibrant and relevant philosophy that quite often left curious souls with more questions than they'd had at the outset of discussion, but at times to come up with at least tentative answers.

Phillips started what he called a Socrates Cafe in August 1996 in a cozy coffee house located in a section of Montclair, New Jersey, that attracted a diverse group of patrons. This proved to be very popular and provided a model for the establishment of many another discussion club, where a bunch of people could get together in a cafe or coffeehouse for a couple of hours and, with the help of a facilitator, applying the Socratic method, in a non-technical way, to some question that troubled them such as: What is Truth? What is Justice? What is a Philosopher?

Phillips, author of Socrates Cafe, and Six Questions of Socrates, has been the inspiration for the establishment of more than 150 such discussion groups. Scores of people meet in bookstores, libraries, coffee shops, prisons and even a casino, and, keeping in mind Socrates' advice, "The unexamined life is not worth living," they ask the hard questions and debate them in the way the philosopher intended.

While you are here please visit our Slide Shows in which we attempt to summarise D-E-E-P Wisdoms about Human Existence gleaned from World Faith teachings and other sources.

This slide show suggests that Human Nature
has three main aspects:-
    Materialistic, Spiritual, and Ethnic.
Human Nature

These slides develop this view of Human Nature
to consider wider questions:-
    about God, about Man, and about Society.
God, Man, and Society

Our web site is quite extensive so we have prepared an introductory page that features these slide shows and then, bearing in mind Emerson's assertion that:-

man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world.

will direct you towards finding interesting material about the Tripartite Soul, about the Unfolding of History and about Comparative Religion.

Introductory Page - Emerson's notion of a "Knot of Roots"

Introductory quotations
"Central" mysticism insights
"Other" spiritual wisdom
"Central" poetry insights