All work published in Ordinary Philosophy is authored by Amy Cools unless otherwise attributed. All work shared here is by express permission of the author or the original publisher, in the public domain, or free to republish under a Creative Commons license or to excerpt under the fair use doctrine. Please contact Amy with questions and concerns.
Ordinary Philosophy is dedicated to philosophy in the public square and the history of ideas that change the world
This forum for ideas is founded on the belief that philosophy is an eminently useful endeavor as well as a fascinating and beautiful one; that citizen philosophers and academic philosophers alike share in making it so; and that the legacy of human thought, short of the universe itself, is our most valuable resource.
So why the name Ordinary Philosophy?
The ‘ordinary’ in Ordinary Philosophy means: philosophy and the world of ideas are not just arcane subjects in the exclusive domain of academia.
Philosophy is also an ordinary activity, something we do regularly whatever our education, background, or profession, from our homes, workplaces, studies, public spaces, and universities. It’s applicable to ordinary life since it’s about solving the problems we all encounter in the quest to pursue a good, happy, and meaningful one.
It’s about seeking answers to the ‘big questions’ we ask ourselves all the time: ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ ‘What’s a meaningful life, and how can I make mine so?’ ‘What’s the truth of the matter, what does truth mean anyway, and how do I know when I’ve found it?’ ‘What does it mean to have rights?’ ‘How did reality come to be as it is?’, and so on.
It’s also just as much about the ordinary, day-to-day questions: ‘Should I take this job, and will it help fulfill my highest aspirations?’ ‘It is wrong to put my interests first this time, even if it might harm someone else?’ ‘What’s the difference between just talking about other people and malicious gossip?’ ‘Why should I go out of my way to vote?’
And in the end, it’s about living philosophy, about philosophy in the public square and the stories of human thought as it is realized, personified, lived out over time, by scholars, activists, writers, artists, educators, leaders, engaged citizens, and everyone else who loves what’s just, what’s beautiful, and what’s true.
~ Amy M. Cools
About Amy Cools:
Creator and editor of Ordinary Philosophy blog, podcast, and history of ideas travel series, I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with an emphasis on Applied Ethics and Law from Sacramento State University, a Master’s degree in Intellectual History from the University of Edinburgh, and am currently pursuing my Doctoral degree in History at the University of Edinburgh. I’m also an avid hiker and quilter, love movies, mystery stories, and music, and think coffee, ale, cheese, and a British breakfast are among the most delightful things the world has to offer
Email: ordinaryphilosophy [at] gmail.com
Art & design: www.amymcools.com
– ‘Roots: Tracing the Family History of James McCune and Malvina Barnett Smith,’ Journal of
the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, 2020
– ‘James McCune Smith Predicted African American Preeminence in United States Art and
Culture’ in ‘A New Dawn of Freedom’ special issue for Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and
Relational Ethnic Studies, 2020
– ‘Roots: Tracing the Family History of James McCune and Malvina Barnett Smith’ (summary),
AAHGS News: The Bi-Monthly Newsletter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical
Society, September/October 2020
– ‘Paine on Basic Income and Human Rights.’ Thomas Paine National Historical Association
website, 30 Mar. 2016
– ‘Science & Philosophy: A Beautiful Friendship.’ Philosophy Now, Issue 109, Aug./Sep. 2015
Frederick Douglass and His Scottish Influences – MSc thesis 2018, University of Edinburgh
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Outstanding work on Frederick Douglass, Amy. I did not know that the Grimke’s were also of mixed race. Through research on the NEW NATIONAL ERA I stumbled onto your adorable “Ordinary Philosophy” blog; I also learned that I had not read Douglass ‘ last autobiography in the process ! Thanks again! Thanks 🙏
Thank you so much for your kind words, Larry! You may be pleased to know I’m working on a new piece on Frederick Douglass, I hope you find it of interest.
This is a very thorough and thoughtful account of Douglass in Rochester. Thank you! The city doesn’t do a good job of highlighting locales related to his life here. That might be changing with the bicentennial of his birth – there’s been more awareness this year. I’ve written on his friendship with the Blackalls, local abolitionists and suffragists. Looking forward to your new piece on Douglass!
Thank you for your interest and kind comments! Please feel free to share this piece freely, and I would be very interested in reading your work on the Blackalls if you’d like to share the link.
Here’s a link to an article on their friendship: https://www.nysarchivestrust.org/application/files/5915/2666/7364/Parker_Spring18.pdf
And here’s a link to my blog, which includes a few items on the Blackalls: https://www.sally-parker.com/blog
I’m going to be restarting the blog!
What is a citizen philosopher?
Dear Nate, I had in mind one who thinks deeply about the nature of all that there is and seeks to apply their insights to personal and public life, but does not necessarily do so within an academic or professional sphere.