Philosophy in the Wider World

John C. Morgan, who teaches philosophy and ethics in Albright's Accelerated Degree Programs, has released a new version of his book A Teacher, His Students, and the Great Questions of Life to include a guide for taking philosophical dialog out of the classroom and into the public sphere.

By Hilary Bentman


John C. Morgan ’63 dreams of a world where life’s great questions are debated on street corners and in coffee shops, where young and old can express their views unencumbered and uninhibited. “I believe philosophy is for everyone,” writes Morgan. “Listen to a child’s questions before she has had them silenced by adults, and you will understand why philosophy is part of what it means to be a human being.”

Morgan, who teaches philosophy and ethics in the College’s Accelerated Degree Programs, has penned a guide for such dialogs. In October, a new edition of his book A Teacher, His Students, and the Great Questions of Life: A Beginner’s Guide to Philosophy (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013) was released to include an appendix guide for using the text as a resource in small group settings such as libraries, coffee shops and religious institutions. “I want to build a philosophical bridge to the wider world,” said Morgan. He sees those small groups as places where people can raise the “questions they’re afraid to ask anywhere else.” To that end, Morgan is hoping to drum up interest in starting a small group in the Albright area to engage in this dialog. Anyone interested should contact him at jmorgan@albright.edu.

A Teacher, His Students, and the Great Questions of Life is an introduction to philosophy that Morgan developed after hearing complaints from his students about the high cost and difficulty of philosophy textbooks. “They challenged me to produce a book that mirrored what was happening in our classroom. My students said, ‘Is it ethical to have a $120 textbook that’s 500 pages long?’ And I said, ‘You’re right.’”

Morgan’s solution was a text of less than 100 pages, costing under $15 and no larger than a Kindle. It tackles 11 great philosophical questions – from “how do we know anything” to “what’s the meaning of my life” – through the stories of a fictional professor named Plotimus who engages his students using the Socratic Method of teaching. The book’s narrative is based on real classroom experiences. The new version, which extends the book’s length to 108 pages, suggests people form small groups to tackle one question each week.

< back to Spotlight home