Ordinary Philosophy’s 4th Anniversary

At Monticello, VA, with my Dad, John Cools, in 2015 for my history of ideas series following Thomas Jefferson in America

I published my first post for Ordinary Philosophy four years ago today, on April 23rd, 2013. Thank you, dear readers and listeners, for your kind attention, your encouragement, your corrections, your patience as I learn with and from you, and your hospitality and financial support (you know who you are!) for all of my traveling philosophy / history of ideas series.

Ordinary Philosophy has been one of the most satisfying projects of my life, and I look forward to continuing to share my love of philosophy, history, ideas, and travel for many more years to come, whatever form this will take.

I’m thrilled to share the news with you that I’ll be resuming my formal education at the University of Edinburgh this fall. What an adventure this will be! I’ll be living and studying in the center of the Scottish Enlightenment and the city of David Hume. He brought me here three years ago when I followed his life and ideas for my first history of ideas travel series. I’ll take this opportunity continue my Hume series as well. Though my studies will demand a great deal of my energy and attention, I dearly hope I’ll be able to devote more time to share more with you here at Ordinary Philosophy, not less, as I once again pour the bulk of my time, energy, and love into the world of ideas.

Yours, as ever, Amy Cools

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!

Selfie in the beautiful Rose Room of the New York Public Library, 2016 Amy Cools

In the beautiful Rose Room of the New York Public Library. Thank you, friends, for supporting my New York projects too! Ahhh, what a town…

Wall of Thanks

Patrons of the Margaret Sanger Series

Funding: Christopher Wallanderthank-you-christopher-photo-by-amy-cools-and-unknown-nyc-2016

Lodging: Magaly Gamarra Grant, Devin Cecil-Wishing, Sally Leethank-you-magaly-devin-and-sally-photo-by-amy-cools-and-unknown-2016

Patrons of the Frederick Douglass Series

Funding: Bryan Kilgore, Michael Burke, Veronica Ruedrich, Blair Miller, Alex Black

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Lodging: Roxanne, Fred, Aleph, Maya, Devin, Sally, Jim, Nerissa, Brennan, and JamesonIMG_4079
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~ And thanks to everyone else out there who contributed in so many ways!

What Ordinary Philosophy’s All About: Clarifying the Vision

People in a Public Square, Image Creative Commons via PixabayIt’s been an especially busy few weeks for me: studying, researching, writing, planning for my upcoming traveling philosophy journey and for the expanded future of Ordinary Philosophy. This year so far, I’ve had the great good fortune to meet some inspiring new people: passionate, thinking, active, and creative. I’ve also gotten to know others better as well, and am opening new doors and making new contacts every day. Our conversations have been inspiring me to think more clearly and deeply about my vision for Ordinary Philosophy, about my hopes, dreams, and goals, and about the wonderful people who will work with me to accomplish them in the future.

So I’ve just been looking over my introductory statement about Ordinary Philosophy, and thought it needed some clarifying and expanding. Here’s my vision as it stands now, best as I can describe it, and it’s beautiful to me. I hope it is to you too!

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Ordinary Philosophy is founded on the belief that philosophy is an eminently useful endeavor as well as a fascinating and beautiful one, and that citizen philosophers and academic philosophers alike share in making it so.

So why the name Ordinary Philosophy?

The ‘Ordinary’ in Ordinary Philosophy means: Philosophy is not only pursued behind the walls of academia.

It’s an ordinary activity, something we can 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 will 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 and histories of philosophy as it is realized, personified, lived out by activists, artists, scholars, educators, communicators, leaders, engaged citizens, and everyone else who loves what’s just, what’s beautiful, and what’s true.

All of this is philosophy.

~ Amy Cools, founder and editor of Ordinary Philosophy

Fundraising Campaign for Frederick Douglass’ Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas Series

Frederick Douglass with his second wife Helen Pitts and her sister Eva, public domain via Wikimedia CommonsAs you may know, dear readers, I’m embarking on the travel portion of my fifth philosophical-historical themed adventure in mid to late March. I’m off to Baltimore, MD, New York, Washington DC, and other East Coast sites to follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass.

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, supported by patrons and readers like you.

Every single bit helps, from $1 on up: directly through your contribution, and indirectly by inspiring confidence and enthusiasm in others who see the support already given.

As always, I count on you to help me accomplish what I do here; thanks to all who have contributed in the past, and thanks in advance to all who contribute in the future!

What the Frederick Douglass Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas Series project will produce:
– A series of essays on the ideas of Frederick Douglass, how they relate to his time and ours
– A series of travel accounts of sites associated with Douglass’ life and ideas throughout the East Coast. I’ll be seeking insights into how the places informed the man, and vice versa. These will double as historical-philosophical investigations to bring Douglass to life in the mind of the reader, and as inspiration for other traveling history enthusiasts
– A series of downloadable walking tours to accompany the travel series: just subscribe and download in iTunes, and you’ll have your own travel guides to East Coast places I travel to for this series
– Free educational resources: supplementary teaching materials on the life and ideas of Douglass
– And if all goes as planned, a book!

Budget: In the interests of transparency and so you know exactly where your hard-earned, generously donated funds go, here’s the breakdown:

Primary Goal: $2,500 – To cover airfare, lodging, ground transportation, and advertising for Frederick Douglass’ Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series
– Airfare: to DC or NYC about $500 (w/taxes and fees)
– Car Rental: average $28 / day = $392
– Lodging: average $50 per night, will be staying with friends some nights = $700
– Parking / Fuel / Public Transportation: average $25 per day = $350
Subtotal = $1,942

Any amount I’ve saved on the above costs or amount collected in excess will be spent on paid advertising (Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing, Pinterest, etc, even a radio spot if funds allow!), which will be listed here, so that the total spent comes to $2,500. (I also advertise in a wide array of free venues)

Secondary Goal: $1,500 – Monthly wages
This year, O.P. is making a big push to include an expanded and more in depth history of ideas travel series, more regularly published podcast with downloadable history of ideas travel guides, interviews with fascinating people, scholarship and educational materials, more great guest posts, and so much more! To accomplish all this, O.P. will need to pay its own expenses and if possible, wages, so I can throw spend less time at other occupations, throwing myself into O.P. with all the heart, time, and energy I long to dedicate to this project.

Please visit the Subscribe, Submit, and Support page to help me fund this project.

I thank you in advance, from the bottom of my heart, for any support you can offer

Sincerely,

Amy Cools

 

Welcome to the new Ordinary Philosophy!

Ordinary Philosophy, Writing a letter *oil on panel *39 x 29.5 cm *signed b.c.: GTB *ca. 1655, assemblage by Amy Cools 2015Greetings to all,

On this New Year’s Day, which also happens to be my birthday and therefore, personally, doubly a day of new beginnings, I’m looking forward to a more expansive, more energetic future for Ordinary Philosophy!

What is Ordinary Philosophy?

It’s a series of explorations founded on the belief that philosophy is an eminently useful endeavor as well as a fascinating and beautiful one, and that citizen philosophers and academic philosophers alike share in making it so. A citizen philosopher myself, I found that my experiences as an avid reader, an artist, a working person, an entrepreneur, a student, and a writer filled my mind constantly with questions and new ideas, spurring me ever on in the search for answers. As I’ve always been a restless and hungry thinker, I fell in love with philosophy, especially, practical philosophy and the history of ideas.

What is Ordinary Philosophy’s mission?

It’s always been to share this love of philosophy and the history of ideas with you. In my explorations, I’ve encountered the most fascinating, innovative, and beautiful ideas from the curious, thoughtful, questing, and inventive world out there, from academic philosophy to science to history to current events to politics to the arts and so, so much more; so much more, in fact, that I can’t possibly process it all on my own.

So here at O.P.’s new home, I’ve broadened the mission.

While there have been occasional guest posts, there will be much more of an emphasis on providing a forum for many more voices at O.P., representing views from all walks of life. O.P. will also publish many more reviews, recommendations, and links directing readers to the great ideas proliferating out there that may be of special interest to O.P.’s audience.

The Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series will also expand. Each series will become more in-depth, with more detailed explorations of the life and ideas of each subject and more resources for further exploration and study. The podcast will expand in tandem: new audio recordings of longer pieces published in O.P. for those of you on the go who enjoy the ideas found here but don’t always have the time to sit down and read. As time goes by, I plan to expand the podcast as well to include interviews and a series of downloadable travel guides to accompany the History of Ideas series.

To better accomplish this expanded mission, I’ve moved O.P. here to its new platform: easier to read, use, and share. So if you love great ideas and the pieces you encounter here, please support O.P.’s expanded mission by sharing as widely as you can.

Lastly, dear readers, I appeal to you: Ordinary Philosophy is a labor of love, and depends entirely on your support. I’m determined to keep O.P. ad-free, but can’t do it without you. All financial contributions will be credited by name (unless anonymity is expressly preferred, of course!) on each project funded by their donations, and welcomed with deepest gratitude. Please support Ordinary Philosophy today!

Yours,

Amy Cools, founder and editor of Ordinary Philosophy

*Listen to the podcast version here or on iTunes

Welcome to the Podcast Edition of Ordinary Philosophy!

Hello dear readers, and welcome to the
podcast version of Ordinary Philosophy!

You can listen to the podcast here, on Google Play, or subscribe in iTunes.

Like many of you, I’m a big fan of podcasts, mostly because my life is very busy. One day in the future, I hope to have a lot more time to do each task one at a time, to really be present, as they say, as I wash the dishes, straighten the house, do the laundry, and perform all those other tasks that take up time, but not much thought.

But at this time in my life, between my day jobs, my creative projects, and spending time with friends and family (which I don’t do enough of these days, sadly), I don’t have enough time to keep up the world of ideas as nearly much as I’d like to by sitting down and reading. Instead, I keep myself informed and increase my education by listening to lots of podcasts: discussions with my favorite authors and thinkers, audio renditions of books and essays, debates, recordings of classes on my favorite subjects, and so on. I listen to these podcasts while doing those aforementioned chores, and let me tell you: as one who is not fond at all of household chores like doing the dishes and washing the floor, the podcast is a marvelous invention: they transform boring chore time into great opportunities for learning and exploration. I’m also an avid hiker, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to immerse myself in some fascinating ideas or discussion as I immerse myself in the beauties of nature.

To begin with, this podcast will simply consist of audio recordings of my Ordinary Philosophy pieces. Over time, I may add commentary and who knows, perhaps interviews and discussions with guests. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s Ordinary Philosophy in audio form: I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable!

… And here’s episode 2: Is the Market Really the Most Democratic Way to Determine Wages?
Originally published as an essay Feb 6th, 2014

Submit to Ordinary Philosophy!

Hello you thoughtful people out there who also love to write!

Ordinary Philosophy is my little blog that’s all about thinking through the Big Questions that arise from being a conscious, curious being in a vast, fascinating universe, and a social being whose life is filled with ethical quandaries and the ups and downs of cooperation and conflict. Examples of the sort of ‘Big Questions I’m talking about:

‘What is the universe, and is everything that can be talked about a part of it?’
‘What’s it like to feel/think/love/experience this?’
‘What is Beauty / Justice / the Self?’
‘How do we know what we know, and what is “knowing” anyway?’….
‘What is a good life, and how do I go about living it?’

We all confront these questions every day, and I think all of us come up with some pretty deep questions and some pretty interesting answers to them throughout our lives. Some of these we come up with when thinking about situations we personally have experienced or just heard about. Some we derive from the thoughts of others, reading, considering, then responding with our own critiques and defenses.

So I’d like to invite you to share your own essays, critiques, meditations, and so forth. They can deal with all manner of topics, from music and art (aesthetics), to politics and law, to culture and the humanities, to naturalism and theology, to the incredible and the humdrum occurrences of everyday experience. Philosophy is about everything, really. My favorite definition of philosophy I’ve heard (thanks, Daniel Dennett!) was formulated by Wilfred Sellers: “The aim of philosophy… is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” 

This is an amateur philosophy blog, though if professional philosophers want to take part, I would be thrilled too! I’m saying amateur in the sense that here at Ordinary Philosophy, the posts are aimed at a non-academic audience, using (mostly) ordinary language, for the edification of anyone who wishes to read it. I’m also (unusually, for philosophy forums) more focused here on original philosophy, with ideas drawn directly from life and from other arenas and disciplines, be it science, the news, politics, theology, arts and culture, and so forth, rather than work derived more from other philosophical works (though I value and would accept for posting the latter too).

Works submitted for publication on this blog must relate to some Big Question(s), and / or offer argument in favor of some position or other (not just mere opinions or preferences). They must demonstrate some good, honest thinking, not name-calling and mud-slinging, and while pieces can be strongly worded as needed for the topic at hand, no ad hominem attacks allowed! (Ad hominem is the name of a logical fallacy where you seek to disprove an argument or position by attacking or undermining the person, not the argument the person is making.) No preaching either, please. And yes, it is my blog, so it’s up to me to decide what to include. That being said, I’m also a very democratically-minded person, so I will be happy to include pieces with content I don’t agree with so long as it’s in line with the aforementioned simple rules. 

So send that good stuff your brain makes my way! 

To: ordinaryphilosophy (at) gmail (dot) com