SHU celebrates World Philosophy Day on campus

On Nov. 21, the University’s philosophy department celebrated World Philosophy Day by holding events in the University Center and Bethany Hall to promote the teaching of philosophy.

Denise Vigani, an assistant professor in the philosophy department, organized an event at the University Center called “Ask a Philosopher Table,” where students could ask philosophical questions and receive answers. Students can also participate in philosophical activities. Travis Timmerman, an assistant professor in the philosophy department, also was there to answer questions.

Timmerman said that philosophy is important because it “hones a certain set of critical thinking skills.” He added that “it also helps you become a better writer.”

Timmerman discussed the difference between what is in a philosophy paper and an English paper. He said that philosophy papers articulate abstract ideas clearly and concisely, and the writer has to take a stance on a controversial topic.

Timmerman said that philosophical questions are interesting, and it is important to know the answers as well. Some examples that he gave included, “How do you live a good life?”, “How do you act rationally as opposed to irrationally?”, “What do we know?” and “How do we know what we know?”

Photo courtesy of Victoria Rossi
Vigani, Timmerman and Palmer are at the “Ask a Philosopher” table.

Amitabha Palmer, a doctoral candidate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, held the second event of the day at Bethany Hall. He was invited by Timmerman to have a discussion titled “How to Get Angry Online – Properly.” He discussed the ethics of civil discourse online. Palmer said, “The specific issue is ‘should we get angry online in political discourse?’” The talk revolved around how students handle something offensive or politically unjust in a highly polarized society.

After the discussion, Palmer said that he was “impressed by students’ level of engagement and quality of questions during the Q&A period.”

Felipe Pereira, a senior philosophy and religious studies major, attended Palmer’s discussion.

“I appreciate how Dr. Palmer’s lecture encouraged me to think about online behavior in ways I hadn’t before,” Pereira said. “I think the question he raises—about how, or whether, we should express our political anger online—is especially relevant nowadays.”

Timmerman emphasized the importance of philosophy. He added that it is universally applicable and has practical importance.

He said, “This is valuable for anyone because whatever you do in life, you’re going to want to be able to have these critical thinking skills.”

“I think philosophy is the ultimate transferable skill,” Vigani said. “Philosophy teaches us how to think clearly and carefully, to interrogate our assumptions and to reflect critically on the reasons we have for what we believe and what we do.”

“It also satisfies a drive most of us share to look into big questions,” Pereira said. “Besides, discussing philosophy can be really fun. How else would I get to talk about whether machines think, or whether I am just a brain in a vat?”

Marisol Ramirez, a senior finance and philosophy major, emphasized the importance of philosophy.

Ramirez said, “It touches every aspect of life, in ways often overlooked. Philosophy, specifically ethics, affects every sector of life from health care to education. Every very moral quandary has standing in the ethical realm.”

Victoria Rossi can be reached at victoria.rossi@student.shu.edu.

Author: Victoria Rossi

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