March 21, 2012

Accessible Philosophy

Ashok writes persuasively here about the need for accessibility to the great literature and thinking of the past. I think he is right (well I would, wouldn't I?) but I think he misses something else about the scenario of 'everything on the web' that he mentions. When I was a kid, I basically taught myself what to read. I've taught myself which films to watch on the same principle. I basically worked out which were the classics and read or saw them. So for example, as a child I read Penguin and Everyman classic editions. Now if those things go out of business, it would be harder for the future 'me' to find out what to read and therefore easier for him just to give up because he couldn't find the clue to maze. I'm not saying that would happen or will happen: but there is a use for things like public libraries and bookshops and imprints of classical books, and its not just that they make these things accessible, they define a canon for those who don't have a teacher to guide them to what is good and what isn't good. Definitely for me the presence of that canon was liberating...

3 comments:

Ashok said...

Many thanks for your response! More on the accessibility of philosophy forthcoming - a real issue with my work on Xenophon is that I can't really expect people to get decent editions which I can talk about with them.

goodbanker said...

Subjects like philosophy are ones that one generally first encounters in an academic setting at university (and most people never encounter it in an academic environment). In this context, teachers need help. It brings home to me the importance of initiatives such as Worley's "The If Machine", which provides practical guidance on philosophical enquiry to apply in a primary school setting. We should encourage more of that - and also in other fields that tend to feature only in tertiary education (e.g. anthropology).

Gracchi said...

Goodbanker I agree with you- I think its partly that. Partly also I think most of us tend to encounter philosophy through reading it in spare time which is why accessible editions and a guide to what to read are indispensible.