Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Philosopher-Citizen Q&A with Matthew

The problem with being a compulsive reader is that you are always taking in information. Then the questions start coming in your head and next thing you know you are talking to yourself to find the answers because many people are more interested in a movie star's life than their own community. Then those folks start to call you crazy just because you have a head full of stuff and insist upon sharing it. What do they know, invisible people are more fun anyway.


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One of the goals of the Philosophers-Citizen Institute is to create a climate that encourages citizens to talks about politics, social issues and planetary changes in a non-hostile, rational manner. In this Question and Answer with Matthew I asked him about what he gained from the seminar and what are the benefits for future attendees.

I've actually seen this in action. Years ago on PBS there was a test TV program with NPR's Scott Simon. He had two guest from opposite sides of the abortion issue. Each got to state his case, each had to repeat back what he understood the other person was saying and then offer clarification. Then, as I recall, they spent the remaining time trying to find common ground. No yelling, screaming, distorted or misleading point making. It was three people in a rational discussion on a hard issue. The show was never put into production. Grievous error on PBS's part.

For more information visit http://www.pasadena.edu/phil-cit

Monday, February 06, 2006

Philosopher-Citizen Part 2 - From Both Sides

One of the goals of the workshop is to get people to think beyond their preconceived ideas. The participants are presented with a worksheet that asked them to consider the question “In a nations self defense is it acceptable to harm one person, or a few innocent people, in order to save the lives of many people?”



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Each section of the paper has an acceptable or not acceptable side. It is further divided by more questions such as What are the major ethical arguments for and against each side? What information/research might we need to support or dispute these arguments?

By working through this process the participants are able to work their way to an informed opinion based on facts and a better understanding of the other person's point of view. For more information about the Philosophers-Citizen workshops and seminars you can visit http://www.pasadena.edu/phil-cit/

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Time For Thinking - Philosophers-Citizen Institute

Is it possible to live with people that you disagree with? Can you work with them? Is is possible to find common ground with the other if you don't believe “the other” has a right to his/her point of view?

I am always fighting against my base nature but somehow I do know we are not going to get out of this collective mess unless and until we start talking to each other across belief system, politic stances or what we know to be true. And for some of us that ain't much to work with, let alone defend a point of view.



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On my path of gathering as much knowledge before I croak, I stopped by Vroman's Bookstore and rushed up to the second floor where Dr. Linda Handelman was conducting a workshop to introduce folks on some of the skills needed for true understanding and communication. After you master those skills then you can dive into a problem to solve it.

In this section, Dr. Linda is talking about how Americans tend to want to act before they think. Considering current events, she may be on to something here. This is first in a series about the Philosophers-Citizen Institute.