nedjelja, 30. prosinca 2012.

Why I want to DO Philosophy?

Austin claimed that we can actually DO something by mere pronunciaton of certain words. Following this logic, we can ask ourselves could we do something with philosophy?
Last night i had a really interesting conversation and philosophical counselling with a friend of mine, policeman. Few days ago his colleague said to him that philosophy doesnt have any real use in everyday life. In this post i will try to defend philosophy from such accusations and state my reasons for engagement in philosophical practice.
One year ago, i wanted to enroll in PhD studies in philosophy of language, so i needed to write motivational letter for submission. In that letter, it was expected of me to state in what way would my research contribute to scientific community. This was the hardest part for me to write, because i couldnt think of any reasonable argument by which i could justify the significance of my work. In real world, to be extremely honest, who would really care about what i wrote on Wittgenstein, Foucault or any other philosophical interpretation. Contribution to scientific community? Please! Writing some research papers, thesis or books on what somebody else said one thousand or one hundred years ago - where is the point of that, really?
Ok, i get it. It is, it really is very important to read all major philosophical works written by most brilliant minds in human history - but do we really need academics from all over the world to write the same interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of someone's work in order to understand it? No wonder my friend's colleague thinks of philosophy as useless, when he doesnt really have any use of any writings about Wittgenstein or any other philosopher. To be honest, now even i dont really see any use of doing PhD in such manner, other than getting a slightly bigger paycheck every month. But, that is not the reason i wanted to do PhD, not for the money. I like to see any of my work to be of use not only to myself, but to others as well.
After i did philosophical counselling with my friend, i asked him did it help in any manner, did he discover something new about himself and did he solve the problem he was worried about at the beginning. He replied that it surely helped him to find the answer to his problem and to view it from a different angle, so he can work on a solution in future. Interestingly, he also stated that policemen need more philosophy. Of course, not only policemen, but everyone, no matter of their profession, often need someone to talk to about their problems and to help them with thinking and reasoning process, after which they could work on concrete solutions - and if possible, doing this by not blaming their mother for everything. We also managed to agree to do next counselling session with his colleague. I am really looking forward to that.
So...what, some of you thought that policemen, car mechanics, truck drivers or any other sort could not philosophize? That philosophy is strictly academic discipline for scholars? Think again! In almost 2500 years of our history, there wasnt a single man described as wise as Socrates. Which philosophy department did Socrates attend? How many research papers or books did he publish? Philosophy is ment for everyone! Why? Because everyone can think and reason, and that is what philosophy is all about! This is what philosophical practice does - dialogue, thinking, reasoning, problem solving! I'd say this is where a philosopher can be of use to you, your family, your work, your everyday problems. This is why we need philosophy in elementary schools, in high schools, in everyday life. It can help us, only if we allow ourselves to think.
Why i want to DO philosophy? Because i want to give people something they can use in everyday life, because it can help them live better, do better, treat each other better. Philosophizing in dialogue with others can help you discover more about yourself, more about others. Sure, reading books and analyzing philosophical texts can also help in search for truth, knowledge or self, but never so intensely and with such impact as when talking to other human being. Consider why Socrates never wrote a line of text, why Plato choose to write only dialogues, and why both of them cherished living word more than anything else.
If i want to analyze other's work, i can write philosophiCALLY, but i can DO philosophy only by practicing it in dialogue with others. As a teacher, if i am giving lecture on philosophy, i am not doing philosophy, i am doing lecturing; but, if i constantly ask questions and make my students think and respond to me on any given subject, we are philosophizing, we are doing philosophy. If i delve into philosophical books and even write something about what i've read, am i doing philosophy or am i doing reading and rewriting?
As philosophers, we should also consider how many people in the world are familiar with Plato's views on, lets say, history, and how many people in the world everyday go to drink coffee with their friends and talk about problems, events, What would you rather spend your philosophizing gift on? Closed reinterpretations of someone else's worldview, or own contribution to well being of your fellow men? Yeah, i thought so!

Zoran Kojcic

srijeda, 26. prosinca 2012.

Free Philosophy Apps for iOS devices

After reviewing some of the most interesting philosophy related apps for Androids, i've deceided to make similar post about apps used on devices which run on iOS.
It turned out there are slightly more apps available on iOS which could be more interesting for philosophers, so i will try to keep it simple with this review.

1. Art of Stoic
Not totally free app, but free version includes 2 books for reading, The Golden Sayings of Epictetus and Seneca's Letters, which isn't much of an offer concerning that you already can get those ebooks online for free on many places, including App Store. Yet, texts are very well organized, easy to scroll and read both in landscape and portrait mode (Note: Im using these apps on iPad, so i wouldn't really know how they function on iPhone), so if you are interested in Stoic philosophy, this could be an interesting app for you to use.

2. Pearls of Wisdom.
Now i had to mention this one. This app..well, i imagine it would be really interesting to use this app while 'under the influence'. Basically, its just a quote app, but with soft piano background music, texts written in pink and with some sort of 'deep' spiritual quotes. It has a share option, but i wouldn't actually use this app,  because im not a big fan of 'the world is yours' positive thinking quotes, but also most probably because of it's weird psychodelic background design, which made me laugh at first, but then scared me a bit.

3. Crystal Wisdom - philosophy
If you are looking for wisdom while working out your biceps, you should consider downloading this app. Similar to previous app, this is also a quote app, but in order to get your quote, you need to rub a big crystal  ball, placed in the center of your screen. And you need to rub it hard or long enough, untill the ball gives you what you, as lover of wisdom, really need. Still, the design is nicely done and it's fun to use this app.

4. Ingenious
Finally, an app that i WON'T delete right after this review, though it also features quotes. But, apart from that, this app offers you 2 more options: Problems and Paradox, where you can find quite a number of philosophical, logical or mathematical problems (with solutions) which could be interesting to use in classes or in any type of philosophical dialogues. Also, Paradox section offers some intersting things to think about, some of which i didn't encounter before. Quotes are divided by categories and authors, and you also have a nice share option for social networks.

5. Wisdom Quotes free
This app comes in free and paid versions, and it basically is just very well designed quote app. Main menu has an old book background, so when you open Options (Quote of the day, Start and Resume), it looks like an opened old book, in which on the left side you can choose Categories or Authors and on the right page you have author's name, photo and the quote. As for the rest of the options, you can search entries, favourite quotes or share them on Facebook, Twitter and email.

6. The meaning of life
Fear no more, because with this presentation app, major philosophical question has been answered. At least thats what the author claims. A swipe presentation, with Notebook background, some graphics, coffee stains and not so much text, offers a simple answer to the most important question in history of humanity: what is the meaning of life? His answer? Well, i'll quote: "It is human instinct to be dissatisfied". I will say no more. I'll let you download the app and judge on your own about his reasoning and argumentation for such a boldly claim.

7. Attikos
I've tried to avoid ebook apps, but this app could come in handy to those of you who are into Greek philosophy...and who can read Greek. This app is a collection of philosophical texts in original ancient Greek, very well designed and arranged. It contains texts of Aeschylus, Apollonius Rhodius, Aristophanes, Euripides, Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Lysias, Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides and Xenophon, and quite a number of texts/books. Once you choose an author and a book, the ancient Greek text is really clear, easy to read and use with Jump to option toward every section of the book and with zoom in/zoom out options for easier reading. It can be of help mostly to academics and researchers, because it also features original verse numeration.

8. Phi2phi
Similar to Android app AskPhil, Phi2phi is 'peer to peer philosophy', where philosophers can ask questions to their peers and try out argumentation, thought experiments or any other forum-like type of online interaction/dialogue. Within app you have 4 main options, Answer, Ask, Results and Me (as in profile, where you can write about your philosophical interests, occupation and education). Ask section is designed for you to ask a question, including title, the question and response style (choice, scale, text) and philosophical categories or fields (mind, political, science, logic, etc). Within Answer section you can read all the asked questions by mentioned categories. This seems like a nice place to hangout with other philosophers..especially after i found this question: "Is it now morally and socially acceptable to crush on Emma Watson?"

9. Philosophy Spotlight - Wiley
Although this app is free, not all of it's content is available for same price. Wiley is probably known to you as publisher, and with this app they made a nice overview of almost everything they are doing with philosophy. Within app you can find many resources for serious academic work, but you will probably need to buy most of them. This app is great for searching scientific journals and their contents, conferences, blogs, publishing news, books, but also some free sample issues, and everything is related to philosophy. Both free and paid content can be found using philosophical categories and all these features make this app probably the best serious app for academic philosophers.

As you can see, iOS offers more apps for philosophers than Android, and even more serious ones. Also, there are some paid apps for iOS which i am not able to review that look really nicely designed and very well done in their description. I hope that these reviews were helpful to some of you, and i hope that we will see more philosophy related apps from both developers in future.

Zoran Kojcic

ponedjeljak, 24. prosinca 2012.

Free Philosophy Apps for Android devices

As you type in 'Philosophy' as key word in Android Play Store search bar, you will find numerous apps, dealing with literally all kinds of stuff. Mostly, one can find a lot of e book apps and quote apps, which aren't that much interesting, unless you really want to read some books, or you are really into quoting philosophers.
However, i wanted to find out whether some of those apps could have more meaningful purpose, so i set out to try them and discover it on my own.
Here are the findings:

1. Philosophy: Reason ˛& Thought
Really simply and nicely done philosophy quiz. Not dealing with any interesting philosophy subject, but merely answering the questions you are asked seems boring, but this quiz really got me thinking and i also wanted to refresh my knowledge on some facts in history of philosophy. Questions aren't so hard and app is made really easy to use.

2. Philosophy
App named pretty straight forward, Philosophy, seems to be collection of quotes, arranged in a way that on main page you can read some sort of title, for instance 'Limitations of Logic', and when you open it you can read the rest of the quote/text, at end of which usually you find some (auto)biographical notes on author, with  his/her web address or some other information. Not classical quote app, but interesting to use with variety of topics and authors (not just philosophers) who have something interesting to say.

3. AskPhil - you ask, philosophers answer. Really simple. This app is awsome to use. You can browse categories, from abortion to war, there are over 50 of them and you can see the number of questions already asked and answered for certain category. You can use search option for every category, and you have the option to email entry, using some of other phone apps, such as gmail or any other. Also, great feature of this app is that you see when the question is posted, anonymously, but you can see the date and the name of philosopher who answered it.

4. Philosopher's Calendar
I was actually looking forward to use this app, but i was surprised when i opened it. This app doesn't use our usual names for months, but 'has a mind of it's own'. Still, it is more interesting to use it that way, trying to figure out names of months and the rest of it. Apart from that app is simple to use. It is practically a annual calendar with dates and names of famous philosophers and artists, so if you wanted to check out which of them is born on same date as you or your family and friends, this is the app to use. You can also tap on any of dates/names and see biographical data about philosophers with direct link to wiki page. This app can also come handy if you work in any kind of institution/organisation where you mark any philosophy related dates.

5. Zowi for Philosophy
Another Philosophy quiz easy to use app, but more interesting and interactive. This app actually talks with you. Which creates a bigger least for my bad english pronunciation. Anyway, app consists of 4 basic categories: Concepts, Isms of Philosophy, Philosophers and Philosophy basics. Questions aren't so hard to answer, but as i said, sometimes the app doesn't recognize your pronunciation, and also sometimes has a funny pronunciation of its own.

6. Philosophy quote apps
There are a few well made quote apps i liked to use: Nietzscheisms, Platoisms, Socratesisms, Epicurusisms; all separate apps but made by same app developer. Basically, when you open the app, you can see black screen with short quotes, not stating from which book they are, which is a miss, in my opinion. On the bottom, there are scroll and share options, for gmail, facebook, twitter or text messages. And thats about it, really. Besides those 4 apps, there is one more quote app i liked, called Wisdom of Socrates, which is slightly more beautifully designed, with background and scroll/share options made for easy use; also, you have a option to share quotes on many more social networks, probably all of them you already have installed on your device.

Next  time i will try to find some philosophy related apps for iOS users and review them.

Zoran Kojcic

petak, 14. prosinca 2012.

Using Smartphones in classroom - workshop

In this post i will share my recent experience with using Smartphones in literature class, but i am sure that one could use this approach in many other subjects, especially in humanities. First thing you have to make sure is that everyone in class have their phones with them, or students can do it in pairs/groups, depending on class size.

First of all, list of tasks to do.

1. Take your phone and play your favourite song using earphones.
After you have listened to entire song, write one concept which will describe this song (or your feelings toward the song).
Write down which topic does the song have and what would be the main idea behind that song (topic and idea could be written in more than one word, but they have to be different than concept).

2. Write one SMS poem. Poem must be 140/160 characters long, you can use lenght of only one SMS.

3. Write a short story which will fit in 5 text messages.

4. In group, write one short SMS story, also fitting in only 5 text messages, writing it in a way that each group member writes one sentence.
- write a concept for your poem, concept for individual story and concept for group short story.

5. Take your phone and take a photo of anything around you that most resembles with one of your concepts (which concept you prefer).

6. Take your phone and take two photos of yourself, one with a happy face, and the other with a sad face.
Answer: Which face does suite more to your concept, happy or sad?

7. Go on Google and type in your chosen concept. Which link appears first in Google search, both in pages and in pictures. Write it down (in notebook).

8. Take your phone and play your favourite game. After you've played, write one concept which describes that game (or your feelings toward the game).

9. Go to Facebook and write your concept as Facebook status. Also, write your SMS poem as another status.

This workshop which uses Smartphones (tablets) as main tool for learning isnt complete. It is something im still working on, but i had a chance to test it in class and i can say that the students liked it. It took me more than one hour to finish the workshop and i used 15 minutes for student evaluation. Students said that they liked it, it was fun for them, but they complained with the purpose of it all - they wanted to know why they have done it.
Of course, in literature class seems obvious for them to engage in creative thinking process. That is why they needed to write a poem and short stories. As i teach in economics oriented school, students dont have a lot of chance to experience much art, that is why i had to use photography and gaming experience to show them in which way they can express themselves, other than literature. I asked myself, what do students use their phones for. They use it for messages, taking photos, listening to music, playing games, surfing the web - so this workshop covers it all.
Now, as for making concepts in almost every task, this idea comes from my background in philosophy and my experience in international summer seminar in practicing philosophy (i wrote about that in one of previous posts) - main idea behind concept oriented classroom is to make students think in simpler terms - and this is perfect use of short message services on mobile phones, to make them write such a short poem, short story, not to overthink things, not to complicate, but to express their thoughts simply and for others to understand. The most fun part for them was when they saw their friends liking their Facebook statuses where they put written poem and concepts - this was something i couldnt preddict that turned out pretty well.
To conclude, and as i said, this workshop can be altered in any way that suits you, your students, your subject; you should know it best. For any suggestions or criticism, you can comment on this post, i would appreciate it. Also, i will update this workshop later on, as i complete it.

Zoran Kojcic

utorak, 11. prosinca 2012.

Epistemološke, agnosticističke i političke veze Ekrema Jevrića i Sokrata

     Na prvo slušanje Ekremovog poznatog hita Kuća poso, za uho su mi zapali stihovi Eto šta znam, ništa ne znam, a đe da znam. Možda već većina gimnazijskih maturanata, a zasigurno svi brucoši filozofije dobro znaju o sličnim izjavama koje je Platon u svojim dijalozima stavio u usta Sokratu. Znam da ništa ne znam poznata je Sokratova maksima koja govori o samoj prirodi znanja. U dijalogu Teetet Sokrat je najjasnije govorio o prirodi znanja i o tome što znanje jest. Razgovor koji vode mladi Teetet i Sokrat počinje samim pitanjem što je znanje, dok Ekrem, u nadaleko poznatom hitu, već spomenutim stihovima ujedno postavlja isto pitanje i daje sličan odgovor. Ekremova konkluzija koja nastaje iz dvaju premisa, govori o nemogućnosti ljudske spoznaje. A đe da znam tako postaje krik tužnog razdora čovjeka koji stoji nemoćan pred ukupnošću naravne zbilje.  Epistemološka instanca lirskog subjekta u ovome nalazi izlaz ka pomirenosti sa samom vlastitošću. Konkulzija a đe da znam utoliko savršeno oslikava agnosticističke tendencije kojima teži naša priroda. Sami i nemoćni pred onime što samo znanje jest ili što može predstavljati, duboko u sebi svi znamo da jednako Sokratove i Ekremove pretpostavke moramo uzeti kao valjane i istinite.
     S druge strane, ostatak Ekremova hita naslanja se na nastojanja ranog Platona, prisutna u prvim dijalozima u kojima Sokrat ima ulogu prosvjetitelja slavnog grada Atene. Atena, prijestolnica svijeta u Platonovo doba, u Ekremovim se stihovima pretvara u grad koji danas nosi slične atribute, New York. Jednako kako se proročki i uzvišeno Sokrat obraća svojim sugrađanima na suđenju, opisanom uApologiji, tako i lirski subjekt u hitu Kuća poso na sebe uzima ulogu lučonoše, proroka, šamana, čak i mesije u obraćanju svima onima koji dijele locus horribus sveopće dekadencije, iskvarenosti i nemoralne propasti. U Ekremovoj utopiji prisutan je mračni ugođaj koji se javlja nakon što demokratsku vlast preuzmu one koje, kako po Platonu, Aristotelu, tako i po Ekremu, nisu sposobne za vladanje – žene! Onako kako je Sokrat predvidio propast Atene, tako i Ekrem predviđa propast svog polisa ukoliko se ženama i dalje dozvole prava slobodnih građana, te ukoliko i dalje budu bježale od svoje primarne uloge – uloge majke. Apel lirskog subjekta da su djeca najveće imanje ide ruku pod ruku s Platonovim pedagoškim zahtjevima da filozofima uvijek treba biti u zadatak dobar i svrhovit odgoj mladeži. Ipak, iako bi neki mogli tvrditi da su Ekremova stajališta bliska onim radikalnim Platonovim stajalištima, na kraju Ekremovog videa, naš je protagonist prikazan u zagrljaju sa ženskom osobom, što zasigurno poručuje da su njegova nastojanja ka ženskom rodu svakako prijateljska i usmjerena na dobrobit svih ljudi u polisu.
   Osim toga, da ne ostanemo samo u domenu značenja stihova, video spot za hit Kuća poso također oslikava Ekrema po uzoru na Sokrata. Vidljivo je da Ekrem, baš poput Sokrata, najviše vremena provodi s građanima na agori, da se nalazi među svjetinom i da tamo savršeno funkcionira. Sokrat je bio poznat i po svojim kontemplativnim šetnjama po Ateni i izvan nje, a i Ekrema tako nalazimo u za današnje doba prilagođenim kontemplativnim vožnjama polisa New Yorka. Na kraju, Sokrat je slovio za filozofa koji se uvijek nalazio tamo gdje se dobro jede i pije, ali i kao onaj koji nikad nije bio pijan, ma koliko vina popio. Ekrem se i u ovome pokazuje kao jednak Sokratu, jer ga u više navrata vidimo po kafanama, ali uvijek dostojanstvenog i na visini zadatka. Nažalost, jedina nam nepoznanica ostaje hoda li i Ekrem bos... 

Zoran Kojcic

ponedjeljak, 10. prosinca 2012.

3 Philosophical concepts about MMO RP gaming

First of all, for all of you who still dont know what MMO RPG is, simply put: those are massively multiplayer online role playing games. In other words, if you’ve ever heard of  World of Warcraft, you now have the idea what MMORPG is, because WoW is probably the most popular MMORPG in the world.
Now, following what i wrote in my last post, today i’ve deceided to write a bit about which philosophical concepts could be found in the world of MMO gaming. I only played three MMO games: first was Travian (which isnt RPG), then i played Gods War and finally there was Perfect World. Online gamers would probably say that those games aren’t the best of what you can get in MMO world, but for some reason i found them amusing and i spent a plenty of time on those games, mastered some of needed skills and just had a fun time playing them.
This time, i would like just to name and explain a bit for me most important concepts in all three games and in whole MMO idea, ascribing them to mentioned games in general.
The concepts are:
1. Friendship.
Basic idea of MMO is to play a game with other people in real time.  Whatever might be your reason to play MMO, this is a great place to meet new, different, friendly, interesting people. Of course, one can argue that people you’ve never seen or met in real life can’t be your friends, but i would ask them: how can we call a person who isnt your relative but you talk to them every day for a few hours and tell them everything about your life, your problems, your dreams, your activities and to whom you can trust with everything you say, who is there to console you, cheer you up, advise you whenever you need them and to whom you mean the same? If you ask online gamers, that is what they would call a friend.
2. Escapism.
This concept most probably connects with psychological aspects of life, but i would take it also philosophically, because it falls under not so deep psychological problems. Most of the gamers play MMO games for fun or leisure. Some philosophers would say that any form of art has the same purpose, either to entertain us or to distract us from everyday problems. Also, other people say that gaming is a form of escaping from reality (everyday problems)  into a better world where gamers are in control of everything, a world where they have second life, right to make mistakes and where making mistakes isnt really hurtfull or fatal to them or to other people. Once, i met elderly lady in game, she said she was sick, in a wheelchair for last few years, she couldnt do much, so she tried MMO and she liked it – in game she could walk, run, fly, meet others without any prejudices, etc. Although escapism isn’t the solution to our problems, in this sense it surely helps some people to better cope with them.
3. Ideology.
As in most of MMO games, Travian, Gods War and Perfect World have strong concept of ideology. In every game you have to choose sides, tribes, races, kingdoms, guilds. Every side you choose, tells you something about yourself, whether you are offensive/defensive person, whether you fight for good or evil, whether you like to help others or you like others to help you, and so on. Once you’ve chosen your side, you get a chance to be with people who are more like you, which can create a feeling of unity. After that, choosing your guild is the most important thing, for it becomes your new family. Whole range of our civilisation system is present within a game, and gamers act inside of it just as if they were in real world.
Apart from these three basic concepts, we could discuss many more things present in games which have any connection with philosophy. Feel free to write some of your own in comment section.
Zoran Kojcic

Philosophical concepts in some iOS video games

Since i’ve returned from Philosophical Practice summer seminar in France where i was introduced into new way of thinking, at least for me (and i wrote about that in my last post), im trying to practice what i’ve learned. One of the most important things for me now is to think in much simpler way. Concepts can be of much help in this practice and by putting all things or most of the things down to concepts, many of them in our daily life could be seen as philosophical. For instance, few days ago, in my Ethics class i talked about movies with my students. I told them that, basically, there is some philosophy and ethics in every movie. One of my students disagreed with me and dared me to watch Fast and Furious 5 and find at least 20 topics that could be discussed in Ethics class. I took a challenge and watched it. I found 8 ethical/philosophical concepts within first 10 minutes and more than 30 concepts during the rest of the movie. When i told them to my student, he was astonished and now he has a task to find ethical concepts in Transformers. I hope he will enjoy it.
But now i wonder, could philosophical concepts be found in video games. Actually, i’m pretty sure they can and i would like to examine them.
I’m going to start with some of the games I already play on my iPad and afterwards i’m gonna download some more for examination.
1. Into the Dead (shooting game with zombies): survival, death, afterlife, consciousness, panic-attack, killing
This game makes me wonder alot about life and death. Internet is full of stories about zombie apocalypse, but all those stories are concerned with finding shelter and saving own lives. I would be more concerned with what happens to their awareness and how would zombies even be a threat to us with our weapons. This also raises the question of how one could kill someone who is already dead, and of course, if zombie is dead, is he even someone, is he/she/it a person!? Also, science and bioethics could jump in here and ask the question could we cure them, even better should we cure them. Finally, if we couldn’t do anything about them and if we would all to turn into zombies, we have to ask ourselves would we still be a civilisation, what kind of civilisation would that be and for how long could it even last.
2. Agent Dash (running, jumping, collecting): wealth, hypocrisy, evasion
If this game should teach me something it would be that everything in life costs money.  In this game you need to buy everything: boosts, your own life, you even can buy more money (silly notion at first glance). Even more, your main character is an agent, kinda James Bond parody type, who wears a tux at the beginning, which leads me to concept of glamour and also hypocrisy connected to his role – an agent is person who often isn’t sincere, whether because of nature of his work or because of his own human nature – also a question to be examined. At the end, not only that game itself demands of you to evade obstacles, but it seems that the character, if he was real, would be of such clumsy nature that he lives his life by avoiding problems rather than confronting them, which isn’t a very good message to send out.
3.  Jetpack Joyride (flying, collecting, avoiding): science, friendship, luck, myth, progress
This game is all about gadgets and what science could do for us next.  A man’s desire to fly, to use machines in order to help us survive and live better always leads us to question our purpose on Earth and to final concerns about how far are we ready to go. In addition to this we can wonder playing this game is science our friend or enemy – because it can help us survive, but it also can kill us if we dont threat it well. On the other hand, concepts of luck and myth lead us, with some of game’s features, to the other problems: what role does chance play in our lives, can we control events in which we engage, are we willing to take risks to achieve our goals and can we turn such notions in our advantage.
4. Dark Meadow (escape): reality, freedom, control, self
Who am I? What is real? What is my purpose on this world? At the beginning of this game, your character is thrown into unknown world/place where he is held captive, he doesnt remember who he is nor how did he get there. All he knows is that an old disabled man is the only living human being within this facility (abandoned hospital) and that there are some strange beings attacking him. Should you trust this old man?  How can you know he isn’t misleading you? How can you know he isn’t the evil genious who constructed this supposed world to deceive you? How do you know everything around you is real?
5. Virtual City Playground HD (strategy, simulation): responsibility, environment, happiness, culture, civilisation
It is often too easy for us common citizens to speak against politicians or any other people in power. What if we were given responsibility for others in a way of organising our entire civilisation? Providing our citizens with all their needs isn’t easy. They demand schools, health care, firestations, stores, transport, entertainment…so many things to think about. Try to imagine yourself being in charge of all this and even more, like one of  The Simpsons episodes, imagine that the virtual world you created is actually real, that your virtual reality which you enjoy in your spare time is actually someone’s only reality. Would you want to be someone’s god?
Those were some examples of how video games could engage us in philosophical problems, how we can percieve them and set our attitudes toward them. Of course, everyone would probably come up with different concepts and there could be so many of them. So, please, if you would like to contribute, do so in comments and share this if you liked it.
Zoran Kojcic

7th International summer seminar – Practicing philosophy, 6 – 12 august 2012, La Chapelle st Andre, France

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.

But, fun part aside, great time for thinking development was at workshops and we had a chance to see really creative and interesting practices. As we were divided into groups, I wasn’t able to participate in all workshops, but the ones I’ve seen made strong influence on my attitude towards work. Ivan (Russia) held a workshop about safety awareness where we learned a lot on how people usually live in their own perception of reality and not in reality itself, clearly emphasizing examples from everyday life, where and how things can go wrong and how can we improve them by our process of thinking. Further, in workshops held by Isabelle Millon and Audrey Gers (France) we had a chance to go deeper into Oscar Brenifier’s methods, learning both how we think as a group and how we can facilitate certain groups as teachers or trainers. In these workshops we saw how teachers/trainers can easily state a problem in front of a group of participants and then by active listening guide or direct the group towards understanding each other and correct solutions. Later on, we also participated in Guido Giacomo Gattai’s (Italy) workshop which dealt with philosophical conceptualization and traveling – each participant had to choose a concept they learned during a travel and once the most interesting travel story is chosen everyone engage in questioning of chosen participant, making workshop very similar to concept of group consultations. Also, group philosophical consultations workshops were held by Audrey Gers and Peter Harteloh, each dealing with different method at the beginning: Audrey’s based on client’s question about the problem they have and Peter’s based on a (zen) story stating the problem, after which participants engage in process of questioning by playing the role of a consultant. However, Peter’s workshop has also one subprocess, as he calls it The Ultimate Question, where participants, after they have heard the story with hidden problem, have the right to ask just one question, the ultimate question, which is essential as first question after client has stated their problem; each participant has to think really hard before they ask the question, since nobody else from the group has the right to ask another question (also, before participants hear the story, they have to guess who is the person from group who’s going to ask this ultimate question, which was interpreted by some as who is the most impatient inside the group). Once after the ultimate question is asked, participants don’t look for an answer, but rather analyze why this question would be right or wrong to ask as first question after we hear the problem. Another interesting workshop held by Peter Harteloh was philosophical walk. It is really interesting approach to philosophical conceptualization and outdoors walks. A piece of paper with quote from famous philosophical works is given to all participants (10 being near ideal number). Participants have to find the main concept behind the quote and then start the walk. Main rule of this exercise is ‘either you walk, either you talk’, meaning that participant must walk silently on prearranged route and contemplate about the found concept. When participant finds the place, during walk, which for some reason he associated with chosen concept he must stop the entire group, say which concept he has chosen, explain how is the concept related to this specific place, after that read the entire quote and others have right to ask him certain number of questions, depending on time or number of participants. Participating in this kind of workshop gives a really good exercise for both mind and body, also giving a chance for the group to better know each other, based on relation between concepts and places. Furthermore, workshop held by Nelson Hoedekie (Belgium) was really fun and interesting to participate in, but a bit hard to follow the rules. After initial motivation concerning Buddhist dead body experience, we started a game called Black box, where each participant had to write a question starting with ‘Who…’ which had a goal to give us answer on participant and both how the group thinks of them and how they think of themselves, predicting whether they will be chosen by others in answering certain questions like ‘Who will profit the most from this seminar?’. At the end, Sandrine Thevenet’s (France) workshop has shown us the relation between art, philosophical conceptualization and argumentation, dealing with task of drawing mostly abstract concepts and accepting or refusing arguments why would the drawn representation suit the suggested concept.
After each workshop, everyone participated in discussion giving feedback to facilitators on what they liked/disliked, what was good or wrong, what can be very well used or improved in further practice. This kind of feedback was very useful for facilitators, since they can get instant information from participants and be aware of possible mistakes as well as good practice they have conducted.
Except workshops, every evening before dinner both groups would gather at Salle de Fettes for session of philosophical consultations. This practice was done in small groups of three or four people, doing individual philosophical consultations to each other, everyone having to play role of philosopher/consultant, client or observer. Consultations would start with client asking a question about a problem he has, philosopher would continue consultations by questioning the client and observer would mostly observe and give feedback after the 10/15 minutes of consultations or would play a role of coach and try to guide philosopher when needed. Most of us found this exercise very useful and we couldn’t wait the time for consultations to begin with work. It was interesting work to do no matter which role you were playing, since in this circle you knew that you will get every side of process and will be able to consider it with others, comment it after work is done or even continue the work after dinner. Other than these consultations which participants held among each other, we also had a chance to watch public consultations with Oscar Brenifier as philosopher and any other participant as client volunteer. Oscar held consultations with client for one hour, after which the observers could ask him questions or comment on what they witnessed. Of course, comments and questions were very useful for everyone, since Oscar gave us interesting answers and reasons why he asked certain question or why he wouldn’t ask other kind of question. At this point, I can only say that philosophical consultations are concept which made most influence on some of us and even before the end of seminar we agreed that we should stay in touch via Skype in order to continue this practice and that we will also try to do it with our friends after everyone gets back home.
At the final session of the seminar we had a task to say something about what seminar meant for us. I had only one sentence to tell: It was life changing experience for me. Oscar replied to me with a joke: Just, please, don’t commit suicide here, do it when you get back to Croatia. Of course, nothing so drastically came to my mind, what I really wanted to say is that the whole experience of summer seminar in La Chapelle changed my views on the world and my thoughts about myself. I heard similar sentences at the beginning of seminar from participants who came to La Chapelle for second or third time, but I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. After a week spent in that small village with all kind of different people, from different places, with different thoughts I found out not just more about myself, but more about what philosophy really is, or at least what it should be – your thoughts expressed by clear spoken words in dialogue with others. I couldn’t decide which of these three concepts – thoughts, words and others – is most important, but I’ve seen in La Chapelle that unity of aforementioned three makes not just basic foundations for philosophy but also gives philosophy its meaning.
In conclusion, I would like to state three things that I’ve learned after this seminar: First, in order to do philosophy, I shouldn’t just delve into books and worry too much what Hegel, Kant or any other philosopher was trying to say, I should rather dwell among people questioning their thoughts or acts and allow others to question me as well. Further, if there are just 40 people from all around the world willing to overcome any differences between them and join into positive common cause, whether its philosophy or any other subject, and making friends along the way, then all people should consider doing such a thing, because at the end they will see that there really are more things we have in common than there are small differences. At the end, I’ve learned the real importance in relation to self and to others. If you want to truly understand others, you need to listen carefully their reasoning, accept it if it’s clear and decline it if it’s vague, until it becomes clear. Also, if you want to be understood by others, you need to take off your masks and express yourself as clear as possible, just the way you are.