What are the Practical Philosophy Courses?
THE SCHOOL’S courses treat philosophy as a personal and practical attitude to life and its opportunities, enabling people to deepen and develop understanding of life and of oneself. They are not academic courses such as would be followed in a university.
This approach to philosophy has engaged philosophers and sages of every culture in every age. Examples can be drawn from many systems and civilizations; from many eastern and western countries; from the experience of indigenous peoples the world over; from Western philosophy and from many other sources.
What is Discovery through Personal Experience?
THE KEY to studying philosophy this way is that it is not theoretical. In fact it is intensely practical and experiential. Although considerable help and insight can be drawn from the works of countless philosophers, writers, artists, musicians and others who have illuminated this study, it is only useful when it becomes a matter of personal experience.
Philosophic study in the School is therefore directed at helping people, as best as may be possible, towards personal experience of the insights of philosophy in practice.
Who are the Teachers at the School?
THE SCHOOL’S courses are taught by students who have studied and practised in the School for some years and who remain students themselves. Their role is not to deliver a package of knowledge, but rather to assist students to discover for themselves through practice and observation.
In the fifty or more years during which it has engaged in this kind of study the School has gained considerable experience which it makes available through its tutoring system, based on a principle of continuous learning and passing on what has been understood.
The ultimate responsibility for all this lies with the School leader and senior tutor, Mr Donald Lambie, who has been in that position since 1994 and was himself taught and trained by the School’s founder, Leon MacLaren. All the tutoring in the School and nearly all of the support functions are carried out on a voluntary basis without payment.
Does the School have other Areas of Study?
STUDIES IN practical philosophy can have a significant bearing on many other subjects. Students in the School have applied philosophy to more specialized fields including music, art, dance, language, engineering, education, ethics, economics and law and have found in their specialist subjects further opportunities to advance philosophic understanding.
Indeed it is possible to assert that all fields of human endeavour can be used to advance philosophic understanding and that philosophy has its application in all fields of human endeavour. The School works on this principle and encourages students to pursue their own interests with a philosophic perspective.
As a result more than forty books written by students in the School on a variety of subjects are available, as well as recorded music and lectures. The School is a centre for the study of the Sanskrit language and for the translation from Latin of the works of the Renaissance philosopher, Marsilio Ficino. The School’s musicians organize and perform regular concerts as well as encouraging and developing the art of composition.
The intention of the School’s founders was to base their studies on natural laws and this continues in most Schools around the world. Natural law is not confined to the physical sciences and includes principles which govern both human life and the ordering of the universe, such as justice and freedom.
With some knowledge of such principles it is possible for human beings to learn to live naturally and abundantly without exploitation or misuse of each other or the living world. It is in discovering and applying principles of natural law that philosophy and economics come together as directly related spheres of knowledge.
The School takes the view that the study and practice of economics has to be founded on principles of justice and equity and that economic injustices indicate failures to understand or observe basic principles of economics.
Economics is taught in the School as a human subject derived from observable principles of human nature and laws intrinsic to the natural world and universe and the human relationship with them.
All the major problems of contemporary economic life can be examined in this context with a view to offering practical policies and principles as the foundation of a more just and equitable economic system. Economics-with-justice can be studied on its own, but it is also an expression of practical philosophy applied to human society.