On the Possibility to Teach Doing Philosophy

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The purpose of this paper is to clarify and evaluate the possibility of teaching doing philosophy. Using analysis as a main method, I argue that philosophizing, as an activity, has different levels, some of which are connected with specifically philosophical abilities. By analyzing John Rudisill’s minimal conception of “doing philosophy,” I demonstrate that many philosophical practices, such as the interpretation, analysis, and critical assessment of arguments and presuppositions, as well as the application of simple philosophical concepts, do not need a background of specifically philosophical abilities. However, other philosophical practices, including the application of sophisticated philosophical concepts and the development of novel approaches, need such a background. I show that specifically philosophical abilities are: (1) high ability of abstract thinking, (2) high motivation to achieve intellectual autonomy, and (3) capability to feel “philosophical astonishment.” I also argue that there is a real possibility to teach doing philosophy, although students without specifically philosophical abilities will successfully learn only basic levels of philosophizing. Consequently, careful selection of prospective students for philosophy courses is important. Moreover, I claim that the possibility of teaching doing philosophy highly correlates with a teacher’s expertise in the pedagogical approaches and techniques of philosophy teaching. The results of my research provide to philosophy teachers information to help them choose proper methodology and raise teaching effectiveness.
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