Sunday, June 09, 2013

DIY Philosophy: Crowd Models to Democratize Participatory Thinking

The model for computing and info tech exploded with the PC and the Internet – democratizing the field across all strata and making it accessible to any interested individual. The worldwide technology and startup industry has boomed and proliferated as a result. DIY science is doing the same for crowdsourced labor, quantified self-tracking, biology hacking, and the shift to the 21st century health paradigm of preventive medicine. The field of philosophy is ripe for similar democratization – some tip-offs are that it is one of the few remaining areas comprised primarily of white males, and where memorization is still important.

Philosophy Improves Sophistication of Modern Thinking 
Philosophy is the sport of thinking – one of its great benefits is its broad applicability beyond the dusty academic discipline to one’s own personal thinking and lifestyle. A key contemporary use of philosophy is in helping to provide a deeper and more sophisticated means of understanding our fast-paced technologized modern world and our place therein. Many people are interested in philosophy but few have the affordance or interest for full-time involvement which has seemed to have been required given the notorious density and inaccessibility of philosophical works.

Crowd Models Facilitating Philosophy Accessibility 
Crowd models (analogous to the PC revolution) are starting to change the former inaccessibility of philosophy. Philosophy courses and reading groups are popping up at free public universities (the Public School, the University of the Commons), podcasts are acquiring significant listenership, and online communities and publications have growing participatory audiences (e.g.; e-Flux, Plasticities Sciences Arts).

FQXi for Philosophy
While there are some research institutes supporting philosophy like the University of London's Institute of Philosophy, one next step in creating the more overt sensibility of the DIY philosopher as the analog to the DIY scientist and software hacker would be to have Philosophy Research Institutes that specifically promote DIY philosopher participation through essay contests, conferences, and other acknowledgement and community-building activities – an FQXi (e.g.; a research institute encouraging speculative innovation in physics and cosmology) for philosophy is needed.

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