What is Practical Philosophy?

For those who struggle to answer this, describe all the aspects of what is so special about the School, here is a short article Celia Moore wrote for the newsletter of the place where she lives, which articulates things beautifully!

Residents may well have wondered about the ‘Philosophy’ entry on our Events Planner page, as well as the Tuesday morning meetings of our small Howick branch.  A few comments about these include:   ‘I’m not intellectual’, ‘I don’t know anything about the philosophers’ and ‘My mind is too full already!’  A response could be that philosophy, meaning the love of wisdom, is far too important to be left solely to the academics.

Far from consisting of a complicated curriculum, the school teaching runs on the Socratic principle of question and answer.  Material sent from London is read by the tutor, and participants encouraged to question and comment.   The result is not theoretical learning, but knowledge experienced and understood.

Words of the wise throughout history and throughout the world are discussed and tested in this way.  This a journey of discovery, rather than a religious study, looking at the problems we encounter every day, and following the spark in each one of us that asks ‘Who am I?  What is my purpose?’  We consider the unity that Christ speaks of in John 10:34:  ‘I and my Father are One’.  The solutions are often simple, and we find that we knew them all along. Our innate compass is our birth-right.

Mindfulness is a very important part of the School’s teaching, stillness being to the mind as oil is to an engine.   ‘Be still and know that I am God’:   Psalms 48:10.   This leads on to meditation, which has been shown to have enormous benefits for the meditator, not least to health.

Members of the School relate examples of clarity, decisiveness, compassion, freedom from stress, efficiency, joy and confidence among many others.  And relief from the tyranny of the mind.  When asked what he gained from meditation, the Buddha replied ‘Nothing. But I lost anger, doubt, greed and jealousy’.  Could one ask for more?

The School of Philosophy and Economic Science is a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation with branches throughout the world.  It began in London in the nineteen-thirties, in response to the need for social justice, with the belief that truth and justice could be discovered, and taught in a practical way.  Discussions grew to include studies of how society orders itself, and how this impacts on the economy, and vice versa, and other related matters.

Today, social justice is still sorely needed.   To survive troubled times, we need wisdom.  Wisdom works.  It really is very simple.