One of the questions we went walking with yesterday was:
Have you ever attempted to share your beliefs, convictions, core principles (etc.) in public? (If yes, would you say you did it in a spirit of evangelism and proselytizing, or in a philosophical way? What's the difference? And if no, why not?Most respondents said they do not even make the attempt, mostly because their past experience of that kind of conversation has been unpleasant, hectoring, divisive, mean-spirited, and, indeed, evangelical. That's disappointing but, given our collective failure to introduce a philosophical alternative to most children, not surprising. If you want a culture of philosophers you have to begin growing it early. But this is a big country, and thousands of us have used TIB's happy medium to initiate the kinds of conversation I still think might be our salvation as a civil society. That's why I keep saying, with William James, that we all have a philosophy. What we don't have is enough practice sharing our philosophies with civility.
It's interesting to note, as TIB II does, that most young people who've participated in the project tend to write about things like money, music, and sports. Also that educators are drawn to this exercise because it gives them an opportunity to "encounter adults thinking hard, not lecturing but soul-searching," empowering young people to follow their example and realize that nobody has all the answers.
We're also looking today at the late great Carl Sagan's philosophical conviction (and Neil Tyson's, and mine) that we'd be a kinder, gentler, more responsible species if we better appreciated our situation as riders on a fragile spaceship earth, a pale blue dot, "the only home we've ever known," that we must cherish and preserve if we want to have a future among the stars. So much blood has been shed, so much misery inflicted, by those deluded kings and emperors who thought they did have the answers and wasted lives to become "momentary masters of a fraction of a dot."
I've already shared my partial list of favorite TIBs, here are a few excerpts.