In this modern age one can learn everything about philosophy online. This is very convenient for those with little time and money. But for those who are able to do so, I recommend following an actual philosophy class. Online discussions and fora are great tools, but they can’t beat actual human contact. You could join a university course and learn academic philosophy. This is a great way to engage yourself in academic debates in philosophy. But there are also genuine schools of philosophy that resemble Plato’s Academy or the Stoic Gardens. These are schools that unite students and teachers who usually have a common belief about how philosophy should be taught or about specific topics on philosophy. They are a great place to deepen your understanding about specific philosophical topics. That’s why I want to present three schools of philosophy all over the world that I think are worth a visit if you are nearby.
Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology
This school of philosophy brings together philosophy and theology. This allows its students to achieve two MA degrees with one thesis. This school is really interesting for those interested in both philosophical issues as well as theological. Many people think of theology dogmatic and repressive of theology. But this definitely is not true for the style of the Dominican school of philosophy & theology (DSPT). In fact theological issues are interesting to many great philosophers. Thomas Aquinas, which is a figurehead at DSPT was a devout Christian and a philosopher whose works are still read today. They also actively pursue an atmosphere of critical thinking and open discussion which allows for everyone to join the debate. There is also an emphasis on making abstract theological and philosophical issues relevant to modern phenomena. That being said DSPT also actively incorporates faith and prayer in their studies. But one can wonder if this is different from any other kind of spiritual discipline combining practical exercises with theoretical study. To learn more visit their website and read about their course offers and watch some of their educational videos.
London School of Philosophy
Former employees of Birkbeck College run this London based school of philosophy . The seven experienced lecturers aim to provide high quality philosophy classes in an accesible and professional way as they state on their website. Their rates pretty low despite being independent of any government funding. The great thing about this school is that it is run by highly motivated lecturers who enjoy teaching philosophy in all types of fields. And their independence from government funding insures that they can fill their curriculum exactly how they see fit. But unfortunately this also means that they cannot offer any degrees. Nonetheless it’s a great place to learn about a diverse range of philosophical topics. Their courses are part-time so they are perfect for people with a full-time job and they also offer a summer school. In short the LSP is an open environment with lectures giving by teachers who are passionate about all fields of philosophy. And their tuition is affordable for just about everyone which is a great way to make philosophy accessible to all kind of people.
The School of Practical Philosophy
The School of practical philosophy offers courses that directly impact the way students lead their life. It aims at teaching practical ways of using philosophy in everyday life. The focus is on everyday lived experience instead of gathering knowledge. They are the least academic school of philosophy but their courses certainly will have the most impact on your life. Their curriculum combines eastern and western philosophy and concentrates on thinkers that talk of an “underlying unity in all things.” Courses on meditation are also offered to gain the most of their teachings. This school has locations all over the United States including California, New York and Florida and you can start a course three times a year in January, April and September. If you are looking to improve your life through philosophy and are less interested in academic teachings this is a great school to start.
All three school provide excellent courses for those looking for an intro to philosophy and more advanced philosophers. All have their own strengths and if you live nearby one of them they are definitely worth a visit. Most schools of philosophy are open to newcomers and organize events for everyone. These schools are great places to come in touch with other people and discuss topics that interest you. Dialog is essential in learning philosophy and joining a school like these is a great way to discuss other philosophers.