If I am to speak about this year’s Practicing philosophy seminar it would be hard to start with just seminar activities that held place beginning with Monday, 6th of august.
After long 36 hours of traveling by couple of buses and trains from Osijek, my home town in Croatia, i finally arrived to La Chapelle st Andre, small picturesque village in Burgundy, France, late in the evening on Saturday, 4th of august. I was warmly welcomed by our hosts, Oscar Brenifier and Isabelle Millon, spending the night at their home. After a good sleep, on Sunday morning i was able to discover a bit more of this strange experience, especially as most of participants arrived. Almost everyone of over 40 of them came to Oscars house during the day, brining their own views, thoughts and expectations, telling me that they are from Iceland, Peru, Netherland, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Iran, Russia, France, Norway, Sweden or New Zealand.
After initial introductions and everyone settling in places inside village or tents in some gardens, official seminar begun on Monday morning in Salle de Fettes, big hall for local parties. There, big number of us who participated in this seminar for the first time, started to realize what it is going to be all about.
At first, we struggled to express our complicated views and thoughts on subject of argumentation in a workshop held by Oscar Brenifier. No matter how hard we tried to resist, he was able to teach us how to think in simple terms and with reasoning. Of course, it was hard in the beginning, trying to be smart in front of your colleagues with different titles and experience, but as the seminar went on it was really clear that there are no titles, no smart people, that we all should just reason as much as we can, in order to better understand both what others are trying to say and what we think for ourselves, expressing our thoughts as simpler as possible.
As helpful and insightful Oscar’s and Isabelle’s workshops have been, participants were also able to experience many other practices held across the world. We were divided into 2 smaller groups, each of us attending 2 or 3 workshops a day and also participating in numerous activities during lunch breaks or in the evening. After tiring Monday’s workshop dealing with argumentation, we continued to deal with same subject on Tuesday, but with more enthusiasm and with better work atmosphere in smaller group, trying to grasp the process of thinking and, for some of us, new methods of group work. Every day, after lunch or dinner, we participated in activities such as: guided tour through the village of La Chapelle; excursion to town Vezelay where we visited the Basilica of St Magdalene, famous medieval pilgrimage site where relics of Mary Magdalene are kept; small tournament in French national sport – petanque; philosophical walks with Peter Harteloh (Netherland); also swimming in nearby lake; visiting local castle where we had dinner and really interesting task of philosophizing about numerous objects present in the room; and in the end, organizing music band and concert by participants for participants where everyone had a really good time.