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The town of Corigliano d'Otranto has gone all brainy. They've put up ceramic plaques around town with quotes from the likes of Augustine, hand out conversation-starter postcards with questions like "Why were you born?" and even hired a Municipal Philosopher.

Does this not astonish you, in this age of tweets and sound bites, knee-jerk ideologues and their blind followers? It does me..

Graziella Lupo, the first person to hold the position, actually trained as a philosophical consultant at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice. I didn't even know such a degree existed!! Had I known, I might have made different choices as an undergrad ;)

So, the Philosopher is available for consultation on Friday afternoons to help you clarify your thoughts and puzzle over Deep Junk. Is this not a wonderful creative fascinating thing? Are not amazed at the intellectual fire of this tiny (pop. 5900) town?? Of course it is and you are! (I wish MY town had a Municipal Philosopher.)

But guess who thinks it isn't? The local branch of the psychologists' professional organization. They say that the use of a consulting philosopher is "not only misleading and confusing, but utterly perilous" and state that they will take "all the most appropriate actions to combat any offence that may be identified".

Well, thinking has always been a little perilous (all those highly volatile IDEAS, you know?). But somebody whose job is helping people's minds work better objects to...somebody whose job is helping people's minds work better? (This bit of course is not surprising at all. Rather depressing, but not surprising.) It's almost enough to make you question their dedication.

Perhaps I shall institute the habit of starting each day with a little Marcus Aurelius or Socrates :)


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Jul. 21st, 2012 07:07 am (UTC)
omg i love this post. And I can hardly wait to share it with my son. He is a psych major, religious studies minor who would love to be a philosophy major. And he would whole-heartedly approve of your idea of starting the day with a bit of Marcus Aurelius.
Jul. 22nd, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
I love Marcus. He's my favorite philosopher ever. Such a sane, down-to-earth guy who talks about the day-to-day stuff. But I also identify with the Epicureans who like the good things in life. I suppose that makes me a Stoicurean. Or maybe just Epic LOL!
Jul. 22nd, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
Snicker! I do have to admit that the thought that crossed my mind was "Is the Municipal Philosopher related to the mayor or something?"

It sounds like something made up for someone who has just graduated only to find out that the only thing you can do with a Philosophy degree is get in at entry level for a potentially useful degree.
Jul. 22nd, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
I know, it does sound kind of suspect at first, doesn't it? Perhaps that's because we're not used to the idea that philosophy can be of practical use in people's everyday lives. For example, think about the kinds of decisions made by city planners; maybe they'd make different ones if they included philosophy in their consideration as well as the bottom line! I know there are a bunch of things MY city has done over the years that might been done differently (or not at all). One of the most interesting courses I took for my LIS degree was a telecommunications and network policy course which paired technical readings with philosophers like Thomas Hobbes on questions like universal internet access. Really eye-opening.
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