Friday, March 09, 2007

Philosophical Labs

I have been attending, for the very first time, the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy conference in South Carolina. So far I am impressed. In fact, why haven't I found this group sooner? What seems fundamental to the philosophers here is a commitment to improving the lot of fellow human beings. Interwoven into traditional panels on a major figures of the American tradition are "invited" panels dealing with such issues as the status of Civil Rights in South Carolina, the "Relative Universality of Human Rights," and a panel on incorporating service-learning into your courses. Part of what I am taking away from this group is a lived commitment to interdisciplinary work and action in the service of liberation. Now, that is my kind of philosophy people.

I attended a panel today on Jane Addams and boy, oh boy was I invigorated by the discussions of Hull House. What particularly caught my interest was the sense in which Hull House was a "laboratory." Philosophers don't usually have "labs," and yet we should. I think Service-Learning courses are good first starts, but what many of us need to do is connect our thought to praxis in substantive ways. More importantly, we need to provide these opportunities for students.

Now, I realize that not all who do Philosophy are interested in fighting racism/sexism/classism and strengthening democracy (not even all Pragmatists are), but those who do dedicate themselves to this work need to find ways to test out theories and amend them based on the trial and error that naturally occurs when one implements ideals in practice.

I look forward to reading more about Hull House.