Top Arts and Entertainment Hotpots in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale boasts of a culture that is as deep as its oceans any individual can ever fathom. Its heritage is diversified by the arts and entertainment that make its communities alive and dynamic. Throughout the year, there are festivals and events that foster interaction and unity among its residents. Here are some of the arts and entertainment hotspots in the city where you can spend fun time alone or with friends and family.


Located at 1350 East Sunrise Blvd., Artserve holds the reputation of being one of America’s six art incubators. The 20000 square foot art facility has a professional art gallery, dance studio, auditoriums, conference rooms, and office suites. It also holds programs and services that aim to help local artists turn their arts into profitable businesses. It is a haven for both artists and art enthusiasts. The facility also holds regular exhibits which focus on bringing diverse kinds of art to the public.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

On 900 N. Birch Road, you can find the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. It is a historic house museum erected on 35 acres of pristine barrier island in Fort Lauderdale. It prides itself of being one of the few places with homes and studios carrying original furnishings from American artists. It also has an art gallery from several reputable artists. Its garden is also a living art by possessing five distinct ecosystems within it – the Atlantic Beach Ocean, freshwater slough, secondary dune, mangrove wetlands, and maritime forest. Tropical tranquility beams with the tropical vegetation, hibiscus garden, and arid plantings. The entire garden is also a perfect paradise for wildlife like squirrel monkeys and gopher tortoises. Weddings and corporate events can be held in this place through special arrangements.

Arts & Culture Center of Hollywood

The parcel of land in 1650 Harrison Street is the site of the Arts & Culture Center of Hollywood. It is where art exhibits, live performances, and educational programs for kids and adults are staged. It has several art galleries, art school, theater, and café. This is literally a melting pot of arts and entertainment where residents and visitors can have a grasp of the rich culture that Fort Lauderdale has grown over the years.

These are just three of the top arts and entertainment hotspots in Fort Lauderdale. Throughout the city, there are more places like these which can also satisfy your thirst for visual arts and live entertainment. If you want to know more of these hotspots, you can contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Music As an Art and an Entertainment

When we were kids, our parents made it a point to expose us to a lot of things. They made us sing, dance ballet, act, play instruments, join art classes and many more. Our exposure to arts and entertainment deviate our attention from the structured lessons we learn in class. Aside from developing our cognitive abilities, it is important that we work in honing our creativity and motor skills. Being a well-rounded person is a good thing. It allows us to adjust to our environment and relate well to our peers.

Arts and entertainment covers a broad area, it includes music, literature, television, theater, visual arts and many more. It is everything that stimulates what we see, what we feel and what we hear. The people who came before us left beautiful masterpieces, which should inspire us to do better.

At present, modernization has paved the way of doing the impossible. People are driven to achieve more because things are one click away. Books are can be bought online, movies are available in DVD’s and music updates are very accessible. Technology may have taken over, but it cannot be denied that everything that we have right now is a product of man’s creativity. This is a good thing because a lot of young people are into it. They enjoy immersing themselves on what they see on TV and on listening to their favorite songs from their playlists. One of the artists that are loved by most of them is Jason Derulo.

A singer and a songwriter born in Miami, Jason Derulo has succeeded in making himself known in hit charts along with other famous performers. The songs that he released from his present album were a major hit that everyone is looking forward to his upcoming projects. His fans are excited to collect stuff like Jason Derulo “autographed” photos that they can keep as a memorabilia or post on their walls. In fact, most of them enjoy joining contests where they can show how much they love and enjoy his music. A big thanks to technology; these activities can be accessible to everyone who is willing to join in the craze.

So what’s in stored for Jason Derulo for 2011? Lots! He will commence his year by going on tour internationally. He will begin in England on February 17, 2011 with a concert in Bournemouth which will be followed by a similar event in Wolverhampton on February 18, 2010. He will also be visiting Leeds, Derby, Manchester, Cardiff and London. I’m pretty sure the people in the United Kingdom are all excited to meet him. Ticket details and the schedule of his tours are readily available online. This way, fans who are interested to watch his concerts, will be kept updated. Attending his concerts will surely be fun and exciting, besides the fact that you get to see Jason Derulo in person, you will also hear him sing live!

The guy is just starting his career but everybody loves him already. The fans are hanging on to what he is going to offer in the near future and they don’t doubt his capacity to exceed what he has already achieved.

Public Views of Arts and Entertainment

Entertainment art and entertainments gallery is not, as publication would have it, a pale imitation of art which happens to propound for a public audience the same values that art does for the elite members of the self-same cultural group.

Rather, art and entertainment are but similar activities. Art engenders thoughts and emotions in its audience so that they can be referred to a meaning,

While entertainment creates thoughts and painters museums art gallery emotions in its audience that create pleasure for that audience by allowing its members to notice that the events art and entertainments before them engendered those thoughts and emotions. Acrobats create fear with their daring, and the audience enjoys its sense gallery art of fear because it knows that the events before it created that fear. Mystery tales generate galleries suspense by piling up yet clues and suspense, the public audiences enjoy the puzzle as well as the atmosphere of painters contemporary the fiction in which the puzzle is set.

Games of cards and sports are two sources of entertainment because their audiences attend to the particular way a game is played out whether a declarer should have led a spade and whether a squeeze bunt might have led art museum a runner to score– rather than for any sources to be a participant to the play of chance or athletic prowess.

Entertainment is more popular than art because it limits what its audience is required to do to the apprehension of what happens before it, gallery art while art opens up the audience to any associations its members might make between the art object and and entertainments art museum and entertainments paintings contemporary

All You Wanted to Know About Life Casting

In the ancient days, life-like, three-dimensional imitations of a deceased person’s body were created to transport him or her to the next world. This venerable art from the land of Egypt is now being practiced all over the world.

However, one no longer has to be dead to get a life cast done! Yes, realistic and perfectly detailed reproductions of the living and breathing human body are possible today. The 3D replica manages to capture every minute detail right down to the hair, skin texture, fingerprints and even the pores.

This cherished reflection can be captured from any part of the body and impressions of baby hands and feet are particular popular. So are pregnant bellies, intertwined hands, individual torsos and so on.

How is it done?

A life cast begins with making a body mold. In fact, this forms a crucial step and success depends on both the skill of the artist and the cooperation of the model. In fact, the model is only involved at this stage and the artist will work on his own during the casting.

The life casting artist will carefully instruct the model and decide on a pose that has to be maintained for a while. The artist will do his best to ensure that the model stays comfortable, secure and stationary.

The artist coats the body part with petroleum jelly or other release agent before slathering it with an alginate mixture. This alginate is a natural product that is derived from seaweed and is completely safe for the skin. Softer set variations are also available that is gentle for infant skin. Alternatively, the artist can opt to make the body mold with skin-safe silicone rubber too.

The mold making material is carefully applied on the body. Extra attention is needed when casting the face as the mold should capture the precise shape and yet the material should not enter the eyes, mouth or nose. Alginate molds are secured with plaster bandages to enable the mold to retain its shape.

The mold will set in a matter of minutes and it can be demolding by wriggling the face a bit. Now alginate molds should be cast quickly as the material tends to shrink and distort quickly. Plaster is generally the material of choice for making life casts. Resin life casts are also popular. It is even possible to make life casts in stone, metal or wood by using cold casting powders.

The casting material is carefully poured into the body mold. Care is needed to avoid air bubbles that can easily mar the perfection of the life cast. Once cured, alginate molds are usually broken away to reveal the life cast inside. The cast is then carefully finished (to correct any imperfections) and can also be painted or buffed as required.

Costume Play Is A Popular Hobby

Do you like dressing up in costumes for Halloween or a special event? Would you like to be able to attend more functions with costumes? Then Cosplay is for you. This is the “hottest”creative and imaginative hobby being enjoyed by amateurs and professionals.

No, there are no lines to memorize and you do not have to act in a play or any type of theatre performance. Select a character that you would like to be and become that personality for a period of time.

People who participate in this activity can be found at celebrity, sci-fi, and other types of conventions which welcome costumed personalities. They can also be found at promotional events such as books or movies.

Costume ideas:

Space creatures
Military and other combative characters
Fantasy creatures
Mythical characters and creatures
Movie characters
Super heroes
Cartoon characters
Sexual fantasies
Distorted human appearances
Original creations fabricated by your imagination

The participants of this activity enjoy making their personal creations whether it is original or copying a favorite character of their choice. These people take great pride in their talents and skills which are needed to assemble a costume.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

In addition to entertainment for self or others this interest may:

Jumpstart a new career
Photos of your costume may win contests, modeling, or a movie invitation
Satisfy your need to portray various characters
Meet celebrities and other famous people at the conventions and costumed promotions
New social life with people who share your interest
Satisfy your creativity and imagination

Various talents used in arts and crafts are utilized in making these costumes. Copying and duplicating a simple character can be easy or an ordeal depending on your skills.

A monster or a military costume will involve crafts from plastics, foam, wiring, electronics, metal assembly, and more which may be needed for the costume and the props. In this example sewing fabric, fur, feathers, skins, leather, and other garment needs may require a sewing machine or hand stitching may be the solution.

Regardless if the costume is purchased, rented or made by your skillful hands, cosplay is a lot of fun.

This an up and coming “hot” hobby for everyone to enjoy. There is a niche for any interest, talent or skill which you may possess and wish to keep active.

Arts and Entertainment News from Hollywood North

Boys Come… Boy’s Co.

“John Lennon & Yoko Ono Bed-In for Peace”

Ask any girl. Those rules were bent Friday night when I happened upon old flame David Goldman still going strong at his Boy’s Co exclusive opening of “All We Are Saying” – a fashionable evening featuring the original photographs of “John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace” by the late photojournalist Gerry Deiter.

These extraordinary photographs, providing the backdrop for the theme of the evening, were on display through the sagacity of the Elliott Louis Gallery’s owner Ted Lederer – who single-handedly dragged them out of Deiter’s vault for a first-time showing on May 26, 2004 – thirty-five years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono went to bed in a suite in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, and invited the entire world to join them in seeking an alternative to violence and war in solving global political and social problems.

May 26, 1969. That month the battle of Dong Ap Bia, a.k.a. Hamburger Hill was exploding in the Vietnam War. Race riots occurred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. French Foreign Legion paratroopers landed in Kolwezi, Zaire, to rescue Europeans caught in the middle of a civil war. U.S. National Guard helicopters sprayed skin-stinging powder on anti-war protesters in California. It was two years after the Summer of Love.

John and Yoko were in room 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Early in the Bed-In, a reporter asked John what he was trying to do. John said, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” Putting sounds to the thought, he rented an 8-track tape machine from a local music store and, on May 31 while in bed, recorded the first solo by a single Beatle,” Give Peace a Chance”, – the recording was attended by dozens of journalists and various celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory and Canada’s Tommy Smothers.

Gerry Deiter was there for the entire eight days. He was assigned to photograph the Bed-In for Peace by Life Magazine but Life never ran the feature. Ironically, it fell victim to a bigger story – the death of Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam.

Deiter kept the negatives and transparencies locked away for more than 30 years. He had been living aboard a classic wooden motor yacht cruising the wilderness of the British Columbia coast photographing and writing when Ted Lederer, with the help of family and friends, prevailed on him to bring this archive to life and offer the work to the public at the Elliott Louis Gallery in 2004. This amazing work offers up 25 images in colour and black and white that celebrate John and Yoko’s example of peace and love.

What brought the Boy’s Co show together were Goldman and Lederer meeting up on the field where their sons play soccer. It was a confluence that allowed for a new generation to have a special glimpse of an older one.

Disenchanted fan, Mark David Chapman, murdered Lennon on December 8, 1980. The world is still at war. This retrospective clearly speaks to Lennon’s prescience.

Good on Deiter, Goldman and Lederer for keeping his mission in our faces.

Devorah Macdonald is a freelance writer living and working in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her professional career began as a disc jockey in California, Seattle and her hometown of Vancouver BC.

Vancouver Magazine, in an article titled ‘Video Vixen’, hailed her as having “the best female voice in radio locally,” going on to compare her world-weary delivery with Linda Ellerbee, formerly of the ‘Today Show’ and the award winning ‘Nick News’.

A ten-year retirement devoted to creating three children, “one of each,” according to Macdonald, now allows time write on music, movies and television.

Teaching Philosophy in Schools


Over recent years there has been a growing movement pushing for the inclusion of Philosophy in schools.[1]

As a subject, Philosophy is broad. It can be separated into many sub-disciplines such as Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, to name a few. These sub-disciplines reduce back to three broad pillars of Philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.

Regardless of where one’s philosophical interest sits, the essential skill set remains the same. This is the ability to reason. Philosophers produce rationally convincing arguments and critically assess the arguments of others.

In this fictional dialogue Socrates meets with Allison Fells, the Principal of Western Heights School, to discuss the inclusion of Philosophy in the school curriculum. Socrates has been running a successful Philosophy club at school and believes that students would benefit through the extension of the club into the regular school curriculum. Socrates argues that Philosophy equips students with the skill set needed to live the good life.

The Dialogue

Fells: Good morning Socrates. Please come in and take a seat.

Socrates: Thank you Ms. Fells. It is good of you to see me at such short notice.

Fells: I like to make time to talk to people when possible. I’ve been told that you would like to talk about the school curriculum.

Socrates: Yes, that’s correct. Specifically, I would like to talk to you about the place of Philosophy in the curriculum. There are no Philosophy classes at Western Heights, and I would like to discuss the possibility of introducing the subject.

Fells: You’re running a Philosophy club after school. From what I’ve been told, it is quite well attended. Why do you think we also need classes?

Socrates: The club only meets for one hour per week. The issues we discuss are deserving of more time. At most, an hour per week provides an introduction to Philosophy, but does not allow for any depth of discussion.

Fells: I understand what you’re saying Socrates. But I’m sorry to say that we don’t currently have the capacity to add a Philosophy class to our timetable.

Socrates: I admit that I do not understand the intricacies of timetable design, but it seems to me that it would be a relatively simple matter to add a subject. There are two empty classrooms. I could take one of them.

Fells: But where would you get the students from? They all have full timetables. The school curriculum is comprehensive and we need to cover a lot of material. We can’t simply pull students out of other subjects to switch to Philosophy.

Socrates: Perhaps it could be optional.

Fells: My concern is that students might join your Philosophy class at the expense of something important that they really need, like English or Mathematics.

Socrates: English and Mathematics are indeed worthy subjects. Are you assuming that Philosophy is less important than English and Mathematics?

Fells: I wouldn’t put it that way. What I mean is that English and Mathematics are needed, while Philosophy is interesting, but not essential.

Socrates: As a novice in the field of education I am eager to learn. What makes something essential?

Fells: Well, to put it bluntly, the essential subjects are the ones that prepare students to function well in society and get a job.

Socrates: Are you suggesting that the purpose of education is to prepare students to function well in society and get a job?

Fells: Yes.

Socrates: That seems rather a narrow purpose. Why does your school offer subjects such as music, art, and physical education? Are these taught so that students can function well in society and get a job?

Fells: Not directly. But they contribute to the overall student. They make the student a knowledgeable, interested member of society.

Socrates: So part of the purpose of education is to produce knowledgeable, interested members of society?

Fells: Yes, Socrates. And this contributes to their functioning well in society.

Socrates: It seems to me that if the purpose of education is to produce people who can function well in society, we need subjects that provide more than job readiness. This is why you include subjects such as music, art, and physical education. Would you consider these subjects essential?

Fells: I think these subjects are important.

Socrates: Allow me to pose another question. Would you think that education was serving its purpose if it was producing knowledgeable, interested, and well functioning members of society who get jobs, but who are unhappy and living in a state of despair?

Fells: I’d question why they are living in a state of despair, but I wouldn’t necessarily blame education.

Socrates: I understand why you wouldn’t want to blame education. However, do you agree that suitably educated people are able to assess their lives, make wise decisions, and thus avoid unhappiness and despair?

Fells: Possibly. But that does not lead me to think that the purpose of education is to help people avoid unhappiness and despair.

Socrates: We have agreed that the purpose of education is to prepare students to function well in society, have we not?

Fells: Yes we have, Socrates.

Socrates: Do you think people can function well in society if they are unhappy and in a state of despair?

Fells: I suppose it depends on the extent of their unhappiness, but probably not. I imagine their depression would cause problems. Some people might end up with drug addictions or the inability to commit to a job.

Socrates: So when I asked about knowledgeable, interested, well functioning members of society, who get jobs, but who are unhappy and in despair, I was imagining the impossible, correct? We can’t have well functioning members of society who are unhappy and in a state of despair. They wouldn’t function well.

Fells: It seems not.

Socrates: To function well in society, people must be happy, do you agree?

Fells: Based on our discussion so far, yes, I agree.

Socrates: Shall we describe people who are happy, knowledgeable, interested, and functioning well in society as living the good life?

Fells: That sounds like a reasonable description of living a good life.

Socrates: Okay. Let’s talk a little more about happiness and the good life. We have agreed that happiness is a component of the good life.

Fells: Yes, we have.

Socrates: So, it would seem that to live the good life, one must seek happiness.

Fells: That follows.

Socrates: Tell me, if you had never seen a bird, would you be able to seek one out?

Fells: I suppose not. I may stumble upon one by accident, but if I didn’t know what it was, I’d be likely to ignore it.

Socrates: So if a person needs to seek happiness in order to live the good life, it follows that he or she would need to know what happiness is. I think we should talk more about this. We have not yet developed a working definition of happiness.

Fells: It seems straightforward to me, Socrates. We all know what happiness is.

Socrates: I am not so sure. Tell me, Ms. Fells, if a person functions well in their society, but is entirely selfish, would you think they are living the good life?

Fells: Sure. Why not? They might be perfectly happy with the way they live their life. We have said that the good life is lived by those who are happy, knowledgeable, and functioning well in society.

Socrates: What do you think is the better life: one in which a person is knowledgeable, interested, functions well in society, but is selfish, avoids paying tax, and focuses on gaining material wealth; or one in which a person is knowledgeable, interested, functions well in society, helps others, pays his tax, and focuses not on material wealth, but on ensuring the health of his humanity?

Fells: What do you mean by “humanity”?

Socrates: In the past I would have used the term “soul”. Really what I mean is the state of the person as a just, benevolent, and humane being.

Fells: Okay. When you present it as a dichotomy in this way, I would be foolish not to agree that the second option is preferred. But in both cases, the person could be happy.

Socrates: Let us see if this is true. Is it your opinion that a person can achieve happiness by focusing on gaining material wealth?

Fells: I would say so, Socrates. They gain happiness from the things they buy.

Socrates: But if a person equates happiness with material gain, he needs to constantly acquire more possessions in order to be happy. How, then, could he ever achieve happiness? There is always something else to buy. Wouldn’t such a person simply have moments of pleasure, but always be wanting more, thus never being fulfilled and never achieving true happiness?

Fells: I can agree to this point Socrates. However, suppose that a person has gained as much material wealth as he wants. He doesn’t want anything else. Surely then he would be happy.

Socrates: Are you suggesting that the mere possession of this material wealth is sufficient to make this person happy?

Fells: Yes. He might be completely happy with what he has.

Socrates: Here you seem to be saying that his material wealth makes him happy because he is happy with his material wealth. Isn’t this circular? It doesn’t seem to provide us with an answer to what happiness is, does it?

Fells: You philosophers are annoying.

Socrates: You see that this is an important issue to settle, do you not? If people want to live the good life, and if happiness is a necessary component of the good life, then people need to know what happiness is. Now, you are suggesting that happiness is achieved through wealth and material possessions, but I am not sure this is enough.

Let’s continue. Do you agree that material wealth, in itself, is neither good nor bad?

Fells: I agree to this

Socrates: Very good. I think we are making progress. Tell me now, Ms. Fells, do you agree that wisdom is good and ignorance is bad?

Fells: I think so. I certainly think wisdom is better than ignorance.

Socrates: Okay. Now, is it plausible that a wise person will put material wealth to good use and achieve happiness, while an ignorant person may be wasteful and end up in a worse position, and thus achieve the opposite of happiness?

Fells: How so?

Socrates: Consider a famous performer who has amassed a vast fortune. This fortune itself does not produce happiness, so the performer decides to seek happiness in rich food. His health suffers, and happiness is elusive. The performer then attempts to gain happiness by throwing parties and drinking large quantities of alcohol. But this does not work. Eventually the performer turns to stronger drugs in order to satisfy his desire for happiness. The drugs are addictive and lead to a cycle of behavior that causes relationship problems and the loss of much of his fortune. Do you understand this example?

Fells: Okay Socrates. You make a fair point. Material wealth does not necessarily bring happiness. If bad decisions are made, material wealth can prevent happiness.

Socrates: Indeed. So the key to attaining happiness is not material wealth itself because material wealth is neither good nor bad. However, ignorant action can be bad and wise action good, so what’s important is knowledge of how to put material wealth to good use. And if we put the issue of material wealth aside, we see that this applies to life decisions in general. If people make poor decisions about their life, happiness will remain out of reach. Many years ago I suggested that the unexamined life is not worth living.[2] This is precisely what I meant. It seems to me, then, that wisdom is the route to happiness.

Fells: Can you tell me more?

Socrates: I am pleased to elaborate. We have agreed that happiness is not to be found in material wealth. Instead, happiness is found in the decisions one makes about one’s own life. Everyone has the ability to choose their life direction. The ignorant person may choose a direction that is focused on merely satisfying his or her desires. But the wise person can recognize which desires are worth satisfying and which ones prevent a sense of overall purpose and the ability to function well. The wise person understands human nature and how to bring out the best of their own humanity.[3] Achieving this is happiness.

Fells: This is much more complex than I had ever realized.

Socrates: Perhaps we should pause to summarize our discussion thus far.

Fells: Yes, please. That would be useful.

Socrates: It will be useful for us both. Please correct me if I am wrong. We have agreed that to be happy, one needs to know how to live a life in which the focus is not on the accumulation of material wealth, but is instead focused on one’s own humanity. We have also agreed that the purpose of education is to prepare students to be knowledgeable, interested, happy, well functioning members of society. We have called this the good life. So, it follows from what we have said that the purpose of education is to prepare students to live the good life.

Fells: Based on what we have discussed, I agree that the purpose of education can be summarized as preparing students to live the good life.

Socrates: Then I think we have our first premise in an argument for including Philosophy as a subject at Western Heights School:

Premise 1: The purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life.

Shall we proceed?

Fells: You have captured my interest, Socrates. Yes, let’s continue.

Socrates: Excellent. Now, consider this proposition: The purpose of an Internet provider is to provide Internet access to its customers. Am I correct?

Fells: Yes, you are correct, Socrates.

Socrates: Would you agree that if the purpose of an Internet provider is to provide Internet access to its customers, then procedures and equipment specialized in providing Internet access to customers should be available within the company?

Fells: Yes, of course.

Socrates: If we apply this analogy to the field of education, we have the second premise in our argument:

Premise 2: If the purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life, then subjects that specialize in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life should be offered in schools.

Fells: I understand your point, Socrates. But before you go on to suggest that we don’t have suitable subjects on offer, I need to remind you that we have a robust curriculum here at Western Heights. I believe our curriculum is sufficient to meet the stated purpose of education. Many subjects can prepare students to live the good life.

Socrates: I wonder to what extent your subjects do, in fact, equip students to live the good life. We have agreed that all subjects contribute to the development of a well functioning person, but not all subjects specialize in preparing students to live the good life.

Consider this scenario: suppose that the purpose of education is to prepare students to be excellent musicians. I can imagine some subjects incidentally covering elements of music training. However, I also know that music teachers specialize in running classes that offer musical training. On balance, what do you think provides the best guarantee that students will leave school as an excellent musician: having music covered in classes such as English and Mathematics, or having it taught as a specialized subject?

Fells: You are leading me to agree that it would need to be taught as a specialized subject. I’d be foolish to disagree when you word it this way.

Socrates: We agree, then, that it is better to offer a specialized subject rather than leaving it to chance. So, if Philosophy is the subject that specializes in providing the tools for living the good life, you must agree that we should offer Philosophy classes at Western Heights. What do you think?

Fells: I agree that if the goal of education is to prepare students to live the good life, then if Philosophy specializes in this goal, then we would be best to offer it as a class at Western Heights.

Socrates: Very good. This brings us to our third premise:

Premise 3: Philosophy specializes in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life

Tell me, how much do you know about Philosophy?

Fells: Not much to be honest. I haven’t had much time to explore it. I know it involves asking unusual questions and talking about religion.

Socrates: We do indeed ask questions in Philosophy. And some of those questions are related to religion, but many are not. Why do you think we like to ask questions in Philosophy?

Fells: I suppose questions provide a context for discussion and debate.

Socrates: Certainly, yes. But the end goal of Philosophy is not discussion and debate. The word “Philosophy” means “love of wisdom”. We ask questions to better understand what it is to be human. We also seek to understand our place in this vast universe. Sometimes our questions are unanswered, but our exploration of philosophical questions moves us closer to gaining clarity and knowledge.

Now, we have agreed that in order to be happy and live the good life, one needs to know how to live a life in which the focus is not on the accumulation of material wealth but is instead focused on one’s own humanity. Am I correct?

Fells: Yes, we did come to this agreement.

Socrates: How did we come to this agreement?

Fells: We talked through the issues and reached a conclusion.

Socrates: That’s right. We carefully worked through the issue. We reasoned. We have reasoned about what constitutes the good life. This is what we do in Philosophy. Philosophy is the subject that specializes in providing the tools with which to reason and gain wisdom, and we have agreed that wisdom is required for people to know how to live the good life.

I believe we have a completed the construction of the argument. May I summarize?

Fells: Please, go ahead.

Socrates: We have done well today, Ms. Fells. From our discussion we have built three premises that lead to the conclusion that Philosophy should be offered in schools.

Premise 1: The purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life.

Premise 2: If the purpose of school is to prepare students to live the good life, then subjects that specialize in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life should be offered in schools.

Premise 3: Philosophy specializes in equipping students with the tools necessary to live the good life.

Therefore, Philosophy should be offered in schools

From here, I suggest that since Western Heights is a school, Philosophy should be offered at Western Heights.

Fells: Your reasoning is impeccable Socrates. I admit that although I find your approach rather annoying – you just don’t take “no” for an answer – I have enjoyed our discussion. Is this how you plan to run your Philosophy classes?

Socrates: My aim is to develop these skills in students so that they too can construct convincing arguments and assess the arguments of others.

Fells: The process is good, and you have convinced me that Philosophy is a worthy subject. Yes, it should be offered in schools. I cannot promise that we will include it, but I will certainly give it some careful thought and will consult with our school board of trustees. I hope you understand that I can’t commit right now.

Socrates: I am happy that you are willing to consider it. Shall I come back next week?

Fells: It may take longer than a week for me to work through this.

Socrates: I shall see you next week.

Arts and Entertainment As Education and Training

Prisons should be rehabilitation centers. Inmates would be forbidden to watch commercial TV. Entertainment would be OK, but it would be good clean entertainment, not the sexual immorality, drug abuse and violence so prevalent on commercial TV.

Prisoners would also have a menu of cognitive therapy options available to choose from for their rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation and other educational opportunities will also be available.

Prisoner selection and progress in such programs will be monitored and considered in their reentry into society process.

I think Wyoming would be a great place to build prisons. Good jobs for Wyoming and placing them out in the relatively empty places in Wyoming would keep them away from society. I just think prisons and the whole rehabilitation industry would be good business for Wyoming.

Reforming Hollywood and other entertainment industry activities is another project we can work on to improve human nature and civilization. I am astonished that people think that murder and rape, and all kinds of human perversity is entertaining.

I guess the scientists who work in Hollywood have discovered how to push certain buttons in human nature and now they just keep pushing them, just like a pigeon will keep pushing the cocaine button in an experiment.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Make sure everyone wins in all your business activities. Deliver more than you promise. Trade good stuff for good stuff. Never sell poison for money, whether its physically, mentally or spiritually poisonous. Much of the entertainment available today is mentally and spiritually poisonous. And when people act out the fantasies they are watching, it becomes physically harmful.

We are all responsible for this. Society is whatever we make it. We can make a peaceful and prosperous society, or we can make this mean oppressive society that Hollywood is selling.

I encourage everyone to help make the world a better place, be kind friendly and polite. Practice peace and prosperity in your own personal and professional lives. Practice unity in diversity.

Love and respect each other. We are not seeking uniformity. The diversity inherent in human nature is a strength of human nature. We do need a common set of moral and spiritual principles that we can all agree to and practice in order to live in harmony with each other and our
natural habitat.

Closer To Reality: Philosophy

Regarding Philosophy

- Everybody, including readers here, have personal beliefs. Almost by definition, if you have a personal belief, you believe that belief to be obviously true. You are not an exception to that rule; I am not an exception to that rule. Part of the construction of personal beliefs is adopting definitions that re-enforce those beliefs. You seem to think that each and every term or phrase has a unique one and only one definition that is carved in stone. If things were that clear-cut, it would be impossible to have debates since everybody would have to absolutely agree on the unique one and only one possible definition before-the-fact of each and every term that will be under discussion. Thus, 100% of everybody would agree on 100% of everything. Somehow the world doesn’t seem to work that way. Sorry ’bout that.

- Actually I suspect not everyone will be mentally capable of answering any and all deep existential and metaphysical questions. I also suspect not everyone who is mentally capable of coming to terms with what you consider to be deep existential and metaphysical questions will actually give a stuff. The highest priorities or interests of some of the great unwashed often has nothing to do with what you or even I might term The Big Questions.

- Philosophy (of causation or anything else) is not a subject whose postulates are set in stone, absolutely fixed, pinned to the wall and not subject to debate. Philosophy is full of debatable waffle, so there is probably no such thing as any central point, but rather central points depending on what side of the fence you are sitting on; maybe even sitting on the fence. If you’re sitting on the left side of the fence you’re going to miss or misunderstand the central point put by someone sitting on the right side of the fence – and vice-versa. There is no such thing in philosophy as “has to be”, otherwise it wouldn’t be philosophy, which for all practical purposes is a something that “has to be” something that everyone can agree to disagree on, hence debate.

- The Accidental Meta-physician gives the thumbs down to those who wax lyrical outside of their field(s) of expertise. If you’re not a formally trained professional philosopher therefore, you have little street credibility when it comes to dealing with the Big Questions. Nix to that viewpoint.

It would appear that everyone with FORMAL training in philosophy have had no luck in answering the Big Questions. It that had been the case, all of those Big Questions would no longer be a part of philosophy but reside in cosmology or physics or neurology or the law or elsewhere. There would be no debate about a before-the-Big-Bang or the Copenhagen (or Many Worlds) interpretation of quantum physics or free will or dualism or morality.

Now if professional philosophers adopt drastically differing positions on any one Big Question, ranging from one extreme to the other extreme, then sorry, there’s no rhyme or reason the rest of us great unwashed can’t enter the fray. Formal training in philosophy leads no closer to truth than the average John Doe pondering the same Big Questions. Philosophy is one of those fields where anyone can join in and strut their stuff, unlike say medicine or law or various other professional fields that really do require expertise. We’re all experts in philosophy since we all apply philosophical principles and positions to ourselves and the world around us. I’d better not practice unlicensed medicine on myself, and I’d better not be my own lawyer, but I’m quite okay in pondering my own free will, or lack of it.

- Though I’ve been accused of it, I never recall saying that philosophy hasn’t made progress. All fields of inquiry make progress as newcomers add to what has gone before. My beef here is that unlike many other professions, philosophy isn’t an exclusive professional ‘members only’ club. And agreeing to disagree seems to be a mantra of or between professional philosophers. Never have so many debated for so long with so little conclusive results, although, as the Accidental Meta-physician says, progress happens.

However, IMHO, if two (or more) professional philosophers can find themselves on totally opposite sides of an issue involving say theology, free will, consciousness, the nature of time, etc., then all that formal training doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, unlike say the medical profession where one would expect a reasonable degree of consensus when it comes to a diagnosis. Squabbling siblings can argue opposites just as effectively as professional philosophers with equal results.

Since philosophical questions are unanswerable questions, I put just as much stock in the opinions of John & Jane Doe, even myself, as I do the professionals. Philosophy is one of the few professions where I feel safe in making that judgement. I wouldn’t go to just anyone for legal advice or medical advice.

Further, philosophy is one of those subjects that can be self-taught, though for best results it helps to have a sparring partner(s), usually and easily found down at the local pub.

- The professional philosopher may be more adapt at writing textbooks and tossing around unpronounceable jargon, but that doesn’t mean he or she thinks any more deeply about an issue than the average person in society.

- Philosophy on the whole is pretty worthless, for while it asks consistent questions, it fails to give consistent answers. About all that can be said for philosophy is that it gives you options, but from that point on you gotta do the hard yards and sort things out for yourself. So philosophy is pretty much a do-it-yourself activity. So in that context it’s marginally more interesting than watching paint dry or the grass growing.

- I’ve watched many a Big Question interview, such as you find on the website “Closer to Truth”, coming out none the wiser about what the heck the philosopher in question was on about. That just re-enforces a previous comment I made in a long ago previous post that, for example, “Closer to Truth” should pick a panel of kids from say 10 to 14 or so and interview them on all of the Big Questions. Kids would be really quick smart to cut through all of the jargon and associated bovine fertilizer. Sophisticated it wouldn’t be, but they would cut right to the chase.

- Apparently philosophy and logic intellectually trump all else, or at least that’s the impression I get from the Accidental Meta-physician.

Let’s see, what were those 3 R’s again? Oh yes, reading, ‘righting and ‘rithmetic! Somehow philosophy got left out of the essentials. Going back to my high school days, philosophy was never a required subject, unlike English and history and bonehead general mathematics and science; even gym was required. Actually I couldn’t have studied philosophy in high school even if I had wanted to. It was never a part of the curriculum in any shape, manner or form. And philosophy was never a mandatory subject when I was a university either. Seems in the grand educational scheme of things, philosophy isn’t regarded all that highly as an essential to having a well rounded education. Why’s that? Alas, apparently that’s all just a quirk of cultural history – an anomaly; a mistake.

So our Accidental Meta-physician seems to be saying that reading, writing and arithmetic are not as important as philosophy when it comes to having to make your way in this world. I mean his excuse to the IRS tax office might be – sorry I couldn’t do my tax return because I don’t know how to add and subtract, but I know philosophy if that’s any help. Methinks that if you go for a job interview I’d bet that your ability to read and write and do basic mathematics will weigh more heavily in the panel’s consideration of your suitability than your ability to pontificate on the Big Questions! You couldn’t post your philosophical thoughts here without first having mastered reading and writing. I want my GP to know medicine, not philosophy. The plumber had better know plumbing first, philosophy second. There are multi dozens of professions, emergency service workers and supermarket clerks come to mind, that are essential in our society without those professions requiring detailed or even any understanding of philosophy. Your military officer had just better obey orders as opposed to endlessly pondering the philosophical issues and consequences of those orders, even if there are philosophical issues and consequences. Shoot first; ask questions later.

- When it comes to the average person trying to manage their average day and overcoming the average challenges faced, the 3 R’s have a more useful application than philosophy or logic or indeed quantum physics or evolutionary biology. It would be really nice if we all could be omniscient but there are only so many years one can spend in high school / college / university / adult education; there are only so many hours in the day; the human brain does not have an indefinite capacity to absorb more and more and more. Thus, priorities have to be set, firstly by federal, state and local government and their school boards (the schooling curriculum) and by parents and ultimately by students when they reach a certain age. Anyone believing along the lines of the Accidental Meta-physician are of course free as a private citizen to lobby the relevant powers-that-be to elevate the teaching of philosophy and logic in say years 7 to 12 – as electives. Actually it sounds like a good idea to me. I can find no philosophical or logical objection to this.

- The Accidental Meta-physician laments the decline in the levels of comprehension or understanding in the areas of logic and mathematics in the greater population. On this we basically agree.

I haven’t seen or read about any studies done on rational / logical thinking and whether it is in decline or not, or what comparisons there are with respect to other nations. However, there have been many studies done that show a rather sharp decline in the ability of students, even university and graduate students to do bonehead mathematics using pencil and paper, a phenomena that seems to cut across many of the traditional English speaking countries, not just USA. Apparently many attribute this to the ready access of electronic calculators that comes part and parcel with smart phones, laptops, PC’s, and as just standalone instruments as solely functional calculators. I gather they are even allowed in many exam rooms now. Of course in the retail trade now electronic scanners now do the sums and calculate change. Everything is electronically calculated so sales staff don’t have to worry about that aspect of their jobs. Fortunately, I can still do elementary mathematics using pencil and paper.

Today’s Golden Age of Philosophy

Few people know this, but our age is an amazing time for people who love philosophy.

When I was in college 30 years ago, philosophy was strictly an academic exercise and there were few resources available for people, like me, who view philosophy more as a way of life or avocation than as a job.

Today, however, all that has changed.

There are three or four excellent “magazines” about philosophy – such as Philosophy Now and The Philosopher’s Magazine – that are filled with funny, off-beat, irreverent articles about philosophical topics. A number of top-rate publishing houses, mostly in the UK, such as Routledge and Blackwell Publishing, produce books aimed at a general philosophical readership.

There are philosophy radio programs such as Philosophy Talk, coffee houses, salons, adult education classes and literally hundreds of websites for the interested reader. There are even philosophy comic books, such as LogiComix about the life of British logician Bertrand Russell. It’s simply amazing. It’s a golden age of philosophy, I think.

The irony, however, is that there is still no solid consensus on what, precisely, philosophy actually is. In its historical and etymological sense, philosophy is literally “love (philia) of wisdom (Sophia),” and that is always how I have looked upon it. Philosophy, for me, is the attempt to reflect upon experience in order to understand more about life and how we are to live. My aims, like those of Socrates, are primarily practical: I want to understand the world and myself to live better.

Today, there are three, perhaps four major “schools” or approaches to philosophy, each with their own journals, intellectual heroes and methodologies. It is one of the scandals of contemporary philosophy that these schools are somewhat incommensurable, meaning they are so different in their approaches and ideals they are almost incapable of speaking to one another. It’s as though organic chemistry and 17th century French literature are forced to share the same offices and pretend they are the same discipline (I exaggerate but you get the point).

The first approach may be called, for lack of a better word, Traditional Philosophy: this is the approach now largely taught only in Catholic universities. It is primarily historical in orientation, a “history of philosophy” style in which students study the thought of, say, the ancient Greeks, and Descartes, the British empiricists, Kant, Hegel and so on. There is very little attempt to think through how the thought of these philosophical greats can be reconciled. The idea appears to be that by working through all of these great thinkers, eventually the student will come to his or her own philosophical conclusions — although there is really no fixed “method” or approach given for doing so. I always think of this as the University of Chicago or Great Books approach. A variation of this approach is Catholic philosophy, including various schools of Thomism (such as the Transcendental Thomism of Merechal, Karl Rahner and, my guru, Bernard J.F. Lonergan)

The second major approach to philosophy today is what is known as Continental Philosophy. This is the philosophy that is most commonly taught in Europe and, again, in some Catholic universities in the U.S. In practice, it means primarily the philosophical systems of phenomenology, existentialism, so-called “critical theory” and their postmodern descendants. When I was in college, this is what I studied (in addition to traditional philosophy). We read the classic texts of phenomenology as well as such trendy philosophers as Jean-Paul Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Max Scheler, Edith Stein and others. Today, those names have largely been replaced by those of postmodern French thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard. While classical Husserlian phenomenology does attempt to “solve” major philosophical problems and actually be a descriptive science, in practice students of Continental Philosophy, like their Traditional Philosophy counterparts, spend much of their time studying the works of individual thinkers and writing papers on aspects of their thought. (There is a greater interest in Continental Philosophy in social and political questions, however.)

The third and allegedly dominant approach to philosophy today is Analytic Philosophy. This is the philosophy most commonly taught in the UK and in major U.S. universities. Built upon the infrastructure of British empiricists such as David Hume, Analytic Philosophy appeared in the early 20th century through the work of such thinkers as Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, G.E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. When I was in college, I found Analytic Philosophy to be mostly unintelligible gibberish. The emphasis on symbolic logic and the solving of trivial intellectual “puzzles” was, to me, an absurd waste of time.

In the past few years, however, I’ve been reading more about Analytic Philosophy and I am now much more impressed. Analytic Philosophy has matured over the past few decades and is now more of a philosophical “style” than it is a collection of doctrines. The style is more like that of my hero, Bernard J.F. Lonergan, in that Analytic Philosophy is much more interested in actually solving philosophical problems than it is in clarifying the thought of past philosophers. Thus, Analytic Philosophy is characterized by a thematic, rather than a “history of philosophy,” approach. It uses or creates a specialized technical vocabulary to elucidate the various “options” available in any given philosophical issue — marshals the evidence in favor or against those options — and then attempts to actually “settle” the issue. It’s actually quite refreshing.

The only problem with Analytic Philosophy from the perspective of a traditional philosopher or “lover of wisdom” is that it’s still focused primarily on trivial problems or mere puzzles (perhaps because those are the easiest ones to “solve”). Academic analytic philosophy is often little more than “chloroform in print,” boring to the point of dispatching its readers into a catatonic stupor. The cure for this tedium has been, over the past several years, the appearance of those popular philosophy journals and publishing houses I mentioned earlier. Precisely because they are aiming at a wider audience, the popular philosophy authors have to turn their attention to the Big Issues that interest real people – and thus are forced by the market to abandon the tedium beloved by academics and use their philosophical skills to address topics people actually care about. An example of how wonderful this can be is a book I am reading right now, Michael Sandel’s magisterial Justice. It’s clear, concise, lays open the various options available on contentious issues, concerns serious subjects (what is justice?) and doesn’t resort to pretentious displays of symbolic logic to make its points.

These days, I mostly read good Catholic philosophy (such as can be found in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly or Method: A Journal of Lonergan Studies ) and “popular” analytic books such as Justice or those produced by Routledge. I still can’t read academic analytic philosophy journals. I tried subscribing to Faith and Philosophy, the (mostly analytic) journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers, but found it deadly dull and exhibiting the worst aspects of analytic pretentiousness. Here’s a sample, taken from John Turri’s essay, “Practical and Epistemic Justification in Alston’s Perceiving God” (July 2008, p. 290):

“Alston’s thesis is that putative perceptions of God often justify beliefs about God. A subject S has a putative perception of God when S has an experience e in which it seems to S that God appears to S as P. If, based on e, S forms the “M-belief” that God is P, then S has a justified belief that God is P. An M-belief is a belief that God is P, which is based on a putative perception of God. (I will often substitute ‘q’ for the proposition that God is P.) I dunno. My reaction to writing like that is the same as George Will’s: Just because life is absurd that doesn’t mean philosophy should be as well.

I don’t mean to pick on John Turri, whom I am sure is a great guy and a lot smarter than I am. But this sort of stuff is meant solely for professional philosophers in universities — and is largely what turns people off to philosophy as an academic discipline. If Socrates had spoken like that, they probably would have forced him to drink hemlock much earlier and philosophy would never have gotten off the ground.