ArgLab • Colloquium

Florian Franken Figueiredo

Philosophy for Children and the Socratic tradition

The aim of my presentation is to discuss the idea of the ‘Community of Inquiry’ as a central part of the ‘Philosophy for Children’ (P4C) programme as well as its epistemological foundations. My presentation has four parts. First, I shall give a brief introduction into the history of the P4C programme and the motivation that stands behind it. I will refer to the idea of the Community of Inquiry being interested in the philosophical ideas on which it is based. Second, I will present and discuss the main educational aims of the Community of Inquiry. In the centre of the discussion stands the philosophical question of what are the values on which those aims rely. Third, I show that regarding this question the Socratic Tradition has gained great importance for P4C while proponents aim to relate to it what they claim to be the epistemological relevant values (e.g. reasonableness, commensurability, truth, etc.). However, I argue that their positions are ultimately incoherent. In the final part, I aim to present an alternative answer to the question. I argue that the method of the P4C programme should not be directed at knowledge based on a realist or non-realist view but at understanding. In doing so I follow Gilbert Ryle’s idea that philosophical arguments are not aiming at an answer to questions that have the form ‘What is X?’ but at extracting contradictions or logical paradoxes that have their sources in ‘grammatical entanglement’, i.e. in the attempt to use expressions of the same grammatical patterns to express thoughts of multifarious logical sorts. This idea relies on Wittgenstein’s later thoughts about language and grammar. I will excavate those thoughts while showing how they might transform the P4C programme in accordance with its values.


Florian Franken Figueiredo, Nova University of Lisbon (Portugal)