You are on page 1of 4

Philosophy Training

Welcome
Version 1.1. Modified 5/26/09.

Philosophy Training – Welcome

Contents

– What the training program is


– What’s required – time, effort
– What’s required – materials
– Selecting a concurrent project
– How the training program works

What the training program is


The philosophy training program is a correspondence course in philosophy, designed to help you
increase your skill in philosophy as quickly as possible. How does a person develop greater skill
in philosophy? The methodology underlying the training program will be described in another
document.1 In summary:

1. Philosophical skill is acquired by working on the right sorts of tasks in the right
order. The right tasks include: (a) thinking on your own, (b) handling the best and
most common philosophical arguments, (c) practicing arguing with people, and
(d) reading the best philosophical texts. The right order is roughly that: think
first, handle arguments second, argue third, read fourth. And for most of these
tasks, there is a right order to the material as well.

2. Hard work and persistence is far more important than “innate skill,” if there is
such a thing in philosophy.

As a result, the philosophy training will take your hard work and persistence and direct it at the
right tasks in the right order. You’ll start by developing initial theories about important
philosophical questions. You’ll revise and improve those theories. You’ll receive collections of
arguments that you’ll have to respond to. You’ll argue with people. You’ll read the best
philosophical texts. And when you’re done, your skill in philosophy will have increased
substantially.

1
To be written shortly.
1
Philosophy Training
Welcome
Version 1.1. Modified 5/26/09.

What’s required – time and effort


The philosophy training program is composed of a number of tasks. These tasks will require
both time and effort. You should expect to spend at least:

• 10 hours each week

working on these tasks. During this time, you may be required to work to the point of mental
exhaustion. In addition to these 10 hours, you should expect to spend at least:

• 5 additional hours each week

working on some other intellectual project. What sorts of projects are acceptable will be
discussed below under “Selecting a Concurrent Project.”

What’s required – materials


The program requires:

• Internet access, email and a word processor.

At various points, you will be reading philosophical texts. You will need to have access to these.
In some cases, suitable copies can be found online. In other cases, you may need to borrow or
purchase a copy. The texts include:

• Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy.


○ Best: Cottingham, Stoothoff and Murdoch translation
○ Acceptable: Any other translation
• Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason.
○ Best: Guyer and Wood translation
○ Acceptable: Kemp Smith translation
• (Others will be added.)

In addition, it will be useful to have:

• A notepad.
• Pencils, pens, etc.

2
Philosophy Training
Welcome
Version 1.1. Modified 5/26/09.

Selecting a concurrent project


Beyond time, effort and material, the philosophy training program requires that you spend at
least 5 hours a week engaging in some other intellectual project. Why? The short answer is: it
will help you theorize better. What sort of intellectual project? Not any intellectual activity will
suffice. Your concurrent project must:

(a) require abstract thinking


(b) require you to solve problems that cannot be solved merely through the use of memory or
the rote application of rules.

You might engage in this sort of project at work or as part of a class. That’s fine. The only
requirement is that you have such a project and that you spend at least 5 hours a week on it. If
you have difficulty selecting a suitable project, ask the person coordinating your philosophy
training program (i.e., your instructor) for suggestions.

How the training program works


1. When you begin the philosophy training program, your instructorwill give you a task.

2. From the time the task is sent to you, you will have one week. During that week, you
must either:
a. spend 10+ hours on the task, or
b. work on the task until you reach the point of mental exhaustion.

3. At the end of the week, or earlier if you choose, you will email the results of your efforts
to your instructor. When you do so, you should note:
a. how much time you spent on the task,
b. whether you reached the point of mental exhaustion,
c. whether you would like to work on the same task again next week,
d. whether you worked on some other intellectual project.
An example email might look like this:

Hi Geoff-

I spent 16 hours on the “Does time exist?” task. After 14


hours, I felt like my head was going to explode if I thought
about it any more. So I took a break. My current theory
document is attached. I’d like the next task. I spent 6 or so
hours working on strategy for my startup company.

-Raul

4. Your instructor will then either:


3
Philosophy Training
Welcome
Version 1.1. Modified 5/26/09.
a. direct you to work again on the same task, or
b. provide you with a new task.

5. Steps 2-4 will repeat until you successfully complete all of the tasks. By the time you’ve
completed all of the tasks, you will have substantially increased your skill in philosophy.