Text Box: A Brief Description 

	Civic Philosophy provides a home for scholars who recognize the value of the generalist and meta-disciplinary roots of philosophy, and who wish to make meaningful contributions to one of the most fundamental missions of philosophic practice–the creation of citizen-thinkers.  We are making connections with philosophers, philosophically-inclined scholars and students from all disciplines who are concerned about the lack of incentives in the academy for rigorous, generalist-oriented scholarly study that focuses on the challenges facing the citizen decision maker.  Scholars of civic philosophy address the intellectual, emotional and spiritual fragmentation faced by individuals as they confront contemporary civic life.  They focus on the discipline of philosophy as an integrative practice, not as a body of knowledge; and they envision themselves as bridge-builders between this careful practice and the needs of the citizenry.    

	As philosopher Bruce Wilshire chronicled in “The Moral Collapse of the University,” philosophy’s gatekeepers now require that professional philosophers must specialize in smaller and smaller areas of study.  We certainly do not challenge the idea that philosophers have made important contributions in their roles as specialists.  But in today’s academy, there appears to be no opportunity to specialize in being a generalist.  The Philosopher-Citizen Institute’s scholarly activities hope to inspire the discipline to reopen its doors to its holistic foundations.  A major goal of civic philosophy is to re-acknowledge and reexamine the sources of complexity of life and thought, and also to refine ways for diminishing the chances that people will become driven by their unresolved knowledge-related conflicts to accept the easy answers, which are the conventionally-framed sets of life choices, whether political or academic.  

	The ideals of civic philosophy are mirrored in our Western tradition of liberal education, from the original notion of the academy to the great books tradition all the way to the contemporary movements toward integrative general education programs.  In these programs we find faculty from many disciplines who are dedicated to building a more responsible and aware citizenry.  There are also many members of the professoriate from research universities and community colleges who take this mission very seriously.  Those from all disciplines who feel this strong sense of mission are most welcome to join our discussions, as well as concerned citizen-thinkers from outside the academy.

Prepared by Dr. Linda S. Handelman


By Linda S. Handelman

A)	Time Problems:

	What are some of the difficulties presented by the fact that time is passing as ethical deliberation is occurring?  How does someone deal with the trade-offs between taking immediate action versus continuing to gather decision-related knowledge? How much does our own knowledge become "invalidated" as we realize we will always have limited knowledge at any given point of action? 

 	Another type of integrative time problem involves communication.  At any given point in time, people are at different stages of knowledge development in different areas.  For example, somebody who is very sophisticated regarding psychological knowledge and unsophisticated about philosophical knowledge may be having a conversation with someone whose disciplinary sophistications are reversed.  They each are trying to communicate their advanced understandings to the other and are having tremendous difficulty in reaching agreement, yet they do not know why.  They each simply think the other is "wrong."  Although this is not just a time problem, the time problem it represents is important.  This inevitable lack of temporal coordination of disciplinary knowledge acquisition among conversants may give rise to the appearance of much more fundamental disagreement than may actually be the case.  The same could be said for the appearance of fundamental disagreement within cross-cultural discussions. 
B)	Epistemological and Methodological Problems:

	Ways of Knowing:  Is there a way to balance holistic and analytic study?  Different "ways of knowing" produce different kinds of knowledge.  How does one balance these?  This problem has been discussed in feminist literature (often as part of a claim that more intuitive ways of knowing have been systematically excluded from the Western intellectual tradition) as well as in Eastern and Western philosophical literature.  How does the student become adept at productively moving between various ways of knowing without becoming schizophrenically self-adversarial? 
	First-hand, second-hand, and third-hand knowledge:  Another major integrative challenge comes from trying to merge first-hand experiential knowledge with second and third hand knowledge which becomes more and more "distilled" as it is communicated.  At what point does the loss of context, including emotional context, render distilled knowledge more of an intellectual "fabrication" than reflective of any actual truth?  On the other hand, without some means of efficiently transmitting second- and third-hand knowledge, we become locked in the prisons of our own limited experiences and run the risk of reinforcing our personal misconceptions even more than we already do.  All of these epistemological problems are magnified by the pervasive problem of information overload both inside and outside of academia. 

	Negative knowledge versus positive knowledge:  In a recent discussion, Richard Jacobs coined the term "negative epistemologies" to cover the whole range of discussions and practices that emphasize the stripping-away of illusions, false connections, universalistic foundational meanings, and any other unquestioned and unexamined assumptions.  The practices range from Buddhist meditation to Socratic questioning to textual deconstruction.  But where is the line between the dissolution of false connections and all connections, between universalistic foundational meanings and all meanings, between unquestioned assumptions and all assumptions?  When does the productive and illuminating examination of hidden underlying ideations turn into a strategy for the avoidance of action and ethical responsibility, accompanied by its own set of illusions, such as solipsism, meaningless argumentation and other useless types of intellectual analysis.  C. S. Lewis (1947) captures the essence of this concern:
	...[Y]ou cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever.  The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.  It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque.  How if you saw through the garden too?  It is no use trying to 'see through' first principles.  If you see through everything, then everything istransparent.  But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world.  To 'see through' all things is the same as not to see. (p. 91)

	Also, as Dewey discussed in depth in Democracy and Education (1916), there is a fundamentally positive role for "positive" knowledge.  Our ideas, concepts and associations are very often not accidental -- they serve our physical, social and spiritual survival needs.  Making the "right" (productive) intellectual connections and concepts leads to self-realization and a better world.  Thus, we need both negative epistemology and positive epistemology.  Civic philosophy examines the tensions and potential for nurturance between the two for the citizen-thinker. 

	Skepticism/cynicism/pessimism vs optimism/hope/joy:  Similar in some senses to the category above, this challenge also brings in serious attitudinal and emotional conflicts.  Although they are often considered as psychological, rather than philosophical components, several philosophers have directly referred to these attitudes in characterizing their own philosophy or criticizing the philosophy of others.  More important for our purposes, however is that citizen-thinkers can become seriously weakened if they become polarized into either one of these attitudinal poles.  The polarized pessimist gives up altogether, and the polarized optimist becomes out of touch with the harsher aspects of reality to the point where his/her ideas become “Pollyannaish.”  Yet both attitudes/emotions can be extremely valuable when the individual thinker finds a proper balance between the two (a la Aristotle’s golden mean).
Text Box: The Philosopher-Citizen Institute

Civic Philosophy

Text Box: 
APRIL 7, 2006 -- 2-5 PM


Dr. Linda Handelman (Philosopher-Citizen Institute Director & Asst. Professor of Philosophy at PCC):  
	Welcome and Introductions
Dr. Edward Feser (Philosophy Instructor: Pasadena City College): 
	"Civic Philosophy in the Natural Law Tradition(s)"
Dr. John Roth (Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy; Director—Center for the Study of the Holocaust, 
   Genocide & Human Rights: Claremont McKenna College): 
	“Philosophy in Public: The Legacy of American Philosophers”
Dr. James Nichols (Professor of Political Science: Claremont McKenna College):  
	“Rhetoric and the Citizen: Civic Philosophy’s Classical Greek Legacy” 

Dr. Michael Finkenbinder (Professor of Philosophy and Social Sciences Division Dean: PCC): 
	“The Devaluation of the Rational Citizen in the 20th Century”
Dr. Richard Jacobs (Professor of Education Emeritus & Founder of the Integrative Education Program: 
    Cal Poly Pomona): “From Concept to Context: The Development of the Citizen-Philosopher” 
Dr. Mariusz Ozminkowski (Lecturer in Political Science, Communication, Argumentation & Political Theory: Cal Poly 
     Pomona & PCC): “Civic Philosophy–Finding Principles or Muddling through a ‘Garbage Can’?”  
Dr. Linda Handelman: “Brief Remarks on the Integrative Challenges Facing the Citizen-Thinker”
Mr. Nicholas Buccola – ABD, University of Southern California
Dr. Gerda Govine – EdD - Education, Columbia University; Communications and Legal Consultant
Dr. James Kossler – President of PCC 
Mr. Larry Wilson – Editor, Pasadena Star News

COLLOQUIUM FORMAT:  Presenters will have up to ten minutes to present their ideas.  In each section, after the 3 papers are presented, we will begin an open dialogue where co-presenters and our panel of responders will have first preference of being called on to discuss any of the ideas that have been presented.  Then we will include audience comments and questions.  The complete dialogue will be recorded, edited and released as the first edition of Philosopher-Citizen online journal.  Any comments by our audience members will be attributed to them, with their permission (the same is true for our presenters and responders).

COLLOQUIUM CHALLENGES & GOALS:  Typical contemporary scholarly discussions focus on narrow topics, yet we are presenting a great breadth of creative ideas in a very short time.  Because the purpose of civic philosophy is to help citizen-thinkers confront the myriad of difficult challenges they face as ethical decision-makers, broadness is a fundamental component of our scholarly study. And this very broadness is probably the most formidable challenge we face as scholars. To help meet this challenge, it will be helpful to focus on two main goals of our discussion: 1) to attract other like-minded scholars (in and outside of academia) to our concentration via our online journal; and 2) to develop an agenda for future inquiry and discussion.  These two goals require that we attempt to explore our similarities and differences via a dynamic, integrative discussion (as opposed to a boring, nit-picky discussion). 
Text Box:   See below for the 
  program of our 
   Scholars Colloquium 
  held on April 7, 2006.