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.
CONTEXTUALIZING OUR PROGRAMS ALONG COMMUNITY DOMAINS
The Lawn Chair Philosophy Foundation certainly casts a wide net in delineating our intellectual community. And doing so presents a number of pedagogical challenges. By dividing our programs into two categories, and holding firm to our principle axioms, we believe we can methodically achieve our double vision without succumbing to any disharmony that might accompany the congregation of so many world views under one philosophical roof.
First we offer local services.
- Library Dedication Program: In this program, our community focus is strictly limited to the homeless population in Philadelphia, PA. We are working with the Bethesda Project to donate carefully curated philosophy library packages throughout their network of homeless shelters. The works we have chosen to include in our library packages represent the best translations available, many of which are found in the curricula of world-renowned philosophy programs. This population is worthy of what is considered the best philosophical material. And we hope that by delivering the best, we inspire the best in them.
- Hands On Heuristics Program: Academic conversations in philosophy are often centered around the Western philosophical canon, which itself is centered around specialized terminology and prescriptive interpretation. To accompany our library donations, we offer helpful philosophical guidance over the specialized terms and honor the Western tradition, while ditching prescriptive pedagogy and welcoming the natural language our prioritized community speaks. By providing introductory philosophy discussions through creative exercises like drumming, our Hands On Heuristics program pairs the specialized themes and terminology of academic philosophy with the thoughts, beliefs, and language of those we serve in an equitable fashion. And the activities of this program are transferable to all sorts of settings. The community focus for our Hands On Heuristics Program entails any group that wishes to engage in rigorous academic philosophy through art within the greater Philadelphia region! We offer sliding scale services for larger institutions and groups. And we provide Hands On Heuristics sessions to organizations serving vulnerable and marginalized populations for free.
Second, we offer our global services through our virtual LCP Academy. Here, our community focus encompasses all who seek to study in the warm and welcoming atmosphere we’ve cultivated out of our local activities. Our free introductory material is approachable and engaging. Its pedagogy is aimed at those who have never encountered academic philosophy before, while its content is of a quality even seasoned academic philosophers will enjoy. Our sliding scale philosophical consultation services provide personalized guidance and office hours. And our free membership unlocks digitized versions of our library packages, supplementary study material, and more advanced coursework. Check out our specific programs!
- Philosophical Foundations Program: Borrowing from our Hands On Heuristics, we have created introductory content revolving around the rudimentary concepts in philosophical discussion and the promotion of creative critical thinking. Our Guide to Philosophical Thinking helps our virtual students reflectively take on their own thought patterns and map out their motivations and overall perspective, before taking on any readings. Our Out of Context Series playfully introduces passages from the Western canon. And our 101 Lecture Series combs through the academic tradition with hour-long preliminary presentations on major thinkers.
- Major Courses Program: This program offers more in-depth resources for those wishing to take on more advanced philosophical study. Our Continental Chop Shop Series acquaints students with the technical jargon and themes of the Continental tradition. And our 300 Level Survey Course Series offers semester-long virtual courses on various themes and topics in academic philosophy.
- Capstone Program: This program offers graduate level resources for those wishing to engage in academic philosophy at a professional level. Our Scholar Spotlight Series showcases professional scholarship through individual conference-style presentations. And our Special Topics Series offers semester-long virtual seminars on specific philosophical texts that provide students with workshop opportunities to hone their own presentation skills, as well as an opportunity to work towards their own Scholar Spotlight presentations and publication in our forthcoming online journal.
- Philosophical Consultation Services: With this program, we bring office hours to you. This sliding-scale service offers one-on-one tutoring, paper-editing, and professional conversation. It also offers consultation for groups and institutions looking to provide their own philosophy services.
For those seeking more in-depth readings and resources to accompany our free material, we offer free memberships with digital access to our educational database and private virtual classroom discussions – which are instructionally overseen by our Philosopher in Chief and qualified guest philosophers.
Keli “Animal” Birchfield
Philosopher in Chief
MA Philosophy, Temple University
President and Treasurer of the Advisory Board
Ben Carlo Atim, University of Santo Tomas
Vice President of the Advisory Board
Kristen Keller, MSW, LSW, Rutgers University
Secretary of the Advisory Board
Contact us by mail:
150 Monument Road
Bala Cynwyd, PA
Copyright LCP Foundation 2018