Thinking Together: A Socratic Dialogue with Christopher Phillips

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Imagine sitting in a little cafe, sipping coffee with Socrates, asking questions such as "Who are we? What is truth? Why question?" With his love of asking questions, Christopher Phillips does just this. In 1996, the former journalist and schoolteacher, started on a journey across America introducing his love of questions, using the Socratic method with anyone who was interested. In creating his first Socrates Cafe, he created an atmosphere of free exchange and energetic thinking, reviving the pleasures of examining one's most cherished beliefs. These dialogues do not just take place in cafes, bookstores or coffeehouses, but in prisons, hospices, libraries, nursing homes, homeless shelters and schools for at-risk kids as well as gifted kids. Phillips has since roamed back and forth across the country forming lasting communities of inquiry, composed of people, he says, "who have nothing in common beyond an immense respect for one another's point of view and a curiosity that cannot be satisfied by know-it-all gurus." He believes that "a Socrates Cafe is every bit as much a concept as it is a place." Phillips tackles grand topics of love and friendship, knowledge and truth and also delves into subjects just as important for living this modern life. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Phillips is the co-founder of the Society for Philosophical Inquiry, where you can find a community of fellow thinkers.

He is the author of the children's book:

  • The Philosophers' Club and Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy (W.W. Norton & Company 2001)

Topics Explored in this Dialogue:

  • Discover how you can examine your life in philosophical, friendly and brain tingling ways
  • Socrates Children - A club that focuses on being thoughtful and not just being social
  • How the Socratic method differs from therapy
  • Learn how concepts are not mere definitions, mere semantics, but are entities with powers and properties and functions
  • Why the meaning of "ignorance is bliss" is not blissful but maddening
  • Why the Socratic method of dialogue is so imperative to modern times
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 9/24/2001      Program Number: 2890