PHILOSOPHY: FROM SENSE TO DISCERNMENT
As a tradition and practice of study, academic philosophy provides rigorous standards of self-reflection and self-actualization. It calls for radical inquiry into the mysteries and motivations of the human mind, the nature and patterns of human experience, and the ultimate horizon of shared meaning that makes spontaneous, original thought humanly possible.
When we remain moral to the spirit and standards of academic philosophy, what results is a grounded understanding of how we come to be as individuals and how we come to be as a collective. We gain a particularly open sense of wholeness that lends itself to productive dialogue and problem solving.
Within the sanctity of universities, various schools of thought throughout history have cultivated academic philosophy into a veritable fine art. The theoretical systems and stances produced by academic philosophers within the university setting are themselves powerful and, when taken on, empowering.
Those who are fortunate enough to study academic philosophy within a university setting are granted an invaluable opportunity to become intimately familiar with their own thought patterns in light of the language of great minds, such that they may efficiently represent themselves in speech and deed; such that they may become critical forces to be reckoned with in a complex, ever-changing world.
A STATIC SPACE AND FALL FROM GRACE
However, the benefits of academic philosophy often sit out of reach for those who could gain from it most: most folks – especially vulnerable populations and marginalized groups. Whether its constraints be financial or cultural, the current model of university standards and operations cannot carry out the purpose of providing a comprehensive philosophical education for the majority of people.
This state of affairs is not only detrimental to achieving healthy communities composed of engaged and self-determined individuals. Philosophy itself suffers under current university conditions, as only a few voices are at hand to represent the whole of humanity which it seeks to understand.
The current insights of academic philosophy lack the type of real substance that only diverse input can provide. Unable to keep up with reality on its own terms, the function of academic philosophy within its traditional home of the university system has become less than self-evident. It’s being cut from curricula at alarming rates.
REATTENDING OUR GARDEN: STAKING PROVIDENCE IN COMMUNION AND SERVICE
As a 501c3 nonprofit, our mission here at The Lawn Chair Philosophy Foundation is to partner with professional philosophers, progressive universities, and compassionate community leaders to make academic philosophy more accessible. We seek to ensure that no matter a person’s cultural or socio-economic background, rigorous academic study of one’s self and situation remains a viable and attractive possibility for those who might find its labor fruitful.
In order to accomplish this mission, we have taken on a sort of double vision. We believe that by focusing our service around the particular concerns of vulnerable populations and marginalized groups – those traditionally left out of academic philosophy’s purview – we can build an overall course of activities that both honors the exceptional standards of academic philosophy and broadens their reflective reach to include the full scope of humanity.
We believe that by leveling educational playing fields, so to speak, we academic philosophers can enrich a greater portion of the world beyond the confines of the current university system while enriching academic philosophy in turn. We celebrate the abundant perspectival potential our community already holds, the intellectual depth those perspectives possess, as well as the inherent creative and prudential value we jointly occasion. Together we can raise each other up, educate each other, and bring light to the content of our shared condition across great social divides – to the enlightenment and empowerment of us all.
Our History and Programs
We began in the spring of 2018 with the simple activity of donating philosophy books to local homeless shelters. We also set out to develop a pedagogy – our “hands-on heuristics” – which encourages participants to fully take on their own worldview, and the worldview of others, by reflectively creating art. Our Philosopher in Chief took her djembe into local shelters and youth centers to lead groups in a reflection on the inner rhythms that constitute how we rationally tie our worldview together, moment after moment; as well as the rational rhythms constituting the possibility of creating meaning as a community.
Then the pandemic required us to explore virtual services. We began offering sliding-scale philosophical consultation services and hosting online events and courses. And we started developing our private database of philosophical resources, which is free for our members. These services sedimented into our LCP Academy and community page. Please visit those for more information!
Keli “Animal” Birchfield, Executive Director and Philosopher in Chief
President and Treasurer of the Advisory Board
Zachary Behlok, Vice President of the Board
Zachary Behlok is an American existential philosopher, poet, and behavioral therapist currently residing in Palm Bay, Florida, USA. He has studied at and attended a variety of educational institutions including Eastern Florida State College, the Florida Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Athens in Greece, and the University of Cambridge. The bulk of his studies comprises the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, and engineering. He is a strong advocate for continued progress and discourse in the fields of philosophy and psychology, as well as a researcher in a wide range of topics stemming from such.
He is the publications director of a philosophical and psychological journal, titled Modern Rebellion, which seeks to serve as a platform for all modern-day thinkers and artists to spread their passion(s) for positive progression in the world by means of bringing their work into the eyes and ears of the public. Behlok is also working within the Applied Behavior Analysis field, as a Behavioral Therapist, providing services to assist children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD], Down Syndrome, Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD], Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD], Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], and so much more.
He is currently theorizing and conducting research on different topics ranging from Behavioral Psychology to Existential Philosophy, and so much more. He hopes that his work, both within the community and his written works, will be of some assistance in pushing humanity toward positive progress.
Emilie Jackson, Secretary of the Board
Emilie Jackson received her B.A. in Philosophy at James Madison University in 2011. Her primary interests were in the field of Continental Philosophy under the tutelage of Dr. Saulius Geniusas. Dr. Geniusas made the most dense paragraphs of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, Hans Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method, and the writings of Edmund Husserl comprehensible, but just enough to realize how truly deep the waters of philosophy run and permeate our society without knowing. Emilie did not continue to pursue academic philosophy after graduating, but it became a part of the narrative of who she is and is a time and a study she will treasure forever. Emilie is now Vice President of a boutique company based in Washington D.C., and brings a business-minded perspective to the board.