Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice


published on October 25, 2018

Kristopher G. Phillips

The Kids are Alright
Philosophical Dialogue and the Utah Lyceum

This paper serves as a call to philosophers both to create more precollege philosophy programs, and to push back against the instrumentalization of the value of philosophy. I do not intend to defend the intrinsic value of philosophy in this paper, though in an indirect way I will offer a defense of the value of precollege philosophy. I discuss the history, theory and practice behind the Utah Lyceum, a precollege philosophy summer camp program I helped create in rural Utah. I argue that philosophy summer camps such as the Lyceum are in a unique position to push back against the increasing vocationalization of education by building a curriculum on what I call “reasonableness.” In short, reasonableness is a form of rationality that necessarily includes a social component. Focusing on this social aspect, I distinguish three levels at which philosophical dialogue occurs: interpersonally, intratextually, and intertextually. I argue that by employing this distinction we can facilitate better philosophical dialogue and better aid our students in becoming reasonable.