I was always one of those who loved to sit up until the wee hours of the morning discussing the universe. So when I got the opportunity to go to University as a mature student in my mid twenties, Philosophy seemed like the ideal option for me. There were times when it was intensely frustrating and times when it was conceptually mind blowing, but on balance I’d have to say I loved it.
My frustration never came from trying to grasp complex ideas – that was the fun part – no, it came from appallingly written, pretentious, intellectual crap. There are some philosophers (Heidegger springs to mind) who are like wading through half-set treacle. I continually found it astonishing that I could comprehend each word individually, but make no sense whatsoever of a complete sentence. To me, it was completely unnecessary: if you can understand a concept, you can find a way to explain it. Any philosopher who uses overly complicated language in some form of intellectual elitism deserves to be head-butted in the balls repeatedly until they are prepared to climb off their self-built pedestal and talk to the rest of us on our own level.
A few years ago, up in Central Scotland, I taught Intro to Philosophy as an Adult Education Evening Class where one of the primary objectives was to make it as understandable and accessible as possible. It was great fun. The adult learners had varied social and educational backgrounds as well as spanning over 50 years in age from the youngest to the oldest member.
Dealing with different philosophical ideas each week, such as “What is the self”, “Free Will & Determinism”, “Existentialism” etc, I would introduce the concepts, give examples and get discussions going. One of the few rules was that if you disagreed with someone you were to attack their argument and not the person. It made for lively dialogue and I encouraged people to try arguing from viewpoints they disagreed with as it gave them a better understanding of the issues involved.
All in all these classes were a great success, but then I got too busy with the web design business and couldn’t spare the time to continue with them. However since changing my life and moving to Castle Douglas I now have more time available and entered discussions with the local Community Learning Assistant.
The new Adult Evening Classes leaflet for the Stewartry Area of Dumfries and Galloway came through the letterbox today and behold, there is my course being advertised. If there are sufficient numbers of people interested, then the class will begin in 4 weeks.
I’m all excited