Sunday, 20 September 2015 20:00

8. Participating as an involved party

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During my absence last weekend, the participants voted for a text against non-religious public education by a Peruvian Socialist, as the issue to be dealt with at the philosophical café this evening. I considered it a challenge to lead this issue towards philosophical reflection.

In order to avoid that some participants would just criticize the author and others would try to justify his position and that most participants would limit themselves to criticize public education in general, I introduced an introspective exercise. Before the first input of the evening, everybody had to tell briefly about an experience he had as a child in public school and that he held dear. The exercise worked very well. Our minds went back to school, and now we were participating from within the issue. It was not an outburst of void words but a reflection on the potential and possibilities of learning in public school.

Different more philosophical issues came up, like: Can religious or political spirituality or engagement be taught? What is spirituality and how does it come into existence in a person? Can we manipulate the minds of others/be manipulated ourselves so that the others/we apply the learned skills and contents to be used only for specific goals? Also Marx and Nietzsche were present this evening through the voice of some participants and also some teachers from public schools and pupils from public schools from different generations were represented among the participants.

The initial example given by each participant clarified from which context and yearnings the words in the discussion were being said. This facilitated the possibility of creating a deeper reflection atmosphere in the philosophical café, instead of a mere discussion with words about words.

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Carmen Zavala

I am  a philosophical practitioner with a PhD in Philosophy by the National University of San Marcos . Since 1998 I co-organize a philosophical café in Lima every Saturday evening. I also organize philosophical workshops, retreats, and individual counseling sessions. Together with Ran Lahav I adminstrate the Agora Webpage  since 2014. My personal website is