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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 1999

Philosophy of Education

Adrian Miroiu
Pages 141-147

Changing Patterns of Teaching Philosophy

I investigate two issues that divided philosophers on how to teach philosophy to non-philosophers in East-European countries, specifically in Romania. First, should we focus on respectable philosophical ideas like Being, Truth, God, and Reason, or spend our time in classes discussing topics one faces in everyday life, like equity, famine, abortion, or pornography? The former alternative enforces the significant cultural role philosophy (and some philosophers) enjoyed in the last decades of socialism, while the second means a dramatic change in the way philosophy relates to real life. Second, should we support the idea that great values like goodness, justice, and freedom have an enduring, non-contextual, even absolute, character, or center on tolerance, our fallibility and the social context of life? I discuss background factors that make philosophers bound to choose between such alternatives, and argue that answers are independent of our own philosophical opinions on these topics.