Why Applied Philosophy? Well, when my esteemed colleague, professor Buzdor, and I were looking to found this institute, we were looking for something as unusual as it can get. As we discussed the matter, we discussed of several different branches of study. We thought of Theoretical Engineering, but if there isn’t already such an area of study, there could be. Engineering is a field which has not only practical application, but a theoretical side to it (think of Civil or Mechanical engineering areas where one needs to calculate theoretical maxima for load bearing structures, and the effect that wind might have on a building or a bridge … practical, yes, but theoretical to some extent). No, we were looking for an area where the grass was as yet untrampled and the soil still soft.
When one thinks of “philosophy” in a university setting, one generally thinks of wasted hours in worthless discussions which no one will remember when the hangover wears off. “Cogito ergo sum”, “I think, therefore I am” (or “exist”) may be a rich repast for deep discussions, but in a “man on the street” sense, it is lost. The squirrels which run through my yard on a spring day think less than I, and yet they are just as corporeal. Do we wish to get into the definition of “I” in that statement? Perhaps it refers to the concept of a soul or spirit, which I have, but the squirrel does not. Or, maybe it simply refers to self-awareness. I think “I”, the squirrel thinks “nut”.
In any case, how does any of this affect you? Well, unless you are a philosophy major, or just like to argue to impress an audience after you have consumed a few “adult beverages”, probably not a lot. Perhaps it is the way philosophy is taught. When mathematics is taught, one first learns arithmetic. If one never progresses to trigonometry or calculus, at least one can still balance the checkbook. But, in philosophy, it seems that the introduction starts in the deep end of the pool. If the student is lost (or just bored) with Socrates, Nietzsche, or Descartes, what can he or she glean from “remedial philosophy”? What can one take home from the class to balance the checkbook, so to speak? What is “elementary” philosophy? What does it mean?
Welcome to Applied Philosophy 101. The goal of this course is to give the student a handle on the basics of philosophy. Not Socratic philosophy or Nietzschean philosophy, but your own philosophy … what it is, how it is formed, and how it can be further developed, enriched, or changed. This is primarily a laboratory course in that there will be a small amount of lecture via this class and the rest is up to the student to put into practice in his or her own life.
R. Buzdor, professor Emeritus