In an effort to help people engage with the humanities, one local volunteer organization is looking to connect philosophy to the Madison community.
Public Philosophy in Madison, an organization created by Aaron Yarmel and Katie Petrik in September of 2016, aims to teach the community about philosophy and concepts within it, such as the idea of fairness and what it means to live a good life.
While the organization primarily focuses on young kids at the moment, they are not limited to only that age group and plan on expanding their reach to high schoolers and adults as well.
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The two philosophy graduate students at the University of Wisconsin started the organization mainly because of their passion for philosophy.
“In addition to being intrinsically worthwhile, philosophy gives us tools that are highly useful for practical pursuits,” Yarmel said. “We believe that no matter what you are doing, philosophy can help you do it better. These are reasons we want to share philosophy with our whole community.”
Yarmel said the group is made up of undergraduates and graduate volunteers. But PPM has with other partnerships in the Dane Country Area, such as the Arts + Literature Laboratory.
Currently, Petrik said PPM teaches bi-weekly philosophy classes for children at the Dane County Salvation Army Community Center.
PPM also works with other community organizations to host one-off events.
“One of the [events at the Arts + Literature Laboratory] is a dramatization of a famous thought experiment and the other is a workshop for high schoolers on discovering ‘the good life’,” Petrik said.
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To find the importance of philosophy, Yarmel said to imagine a day you wake up “hoping to make things better.” From there, he said you need philosophy to not only decide what it means to make something better, but also how to define your goals.
“Everyone has different initiatives, and ultimately philosophy can help you determine a plan of action,” Yarmel said.
With respect to future initiatives, Yarmel said, PPM will continue to work with more community partners.
Along with building partnerships, Yarmel said PPM will look into hosting more public performances that help the general community explore philosophical issues, more educational initiatives and more workshops.
PPM will be hosting two events May 12 and May 13 featuring UW students: a dramatization of a famous philosophy thought experiment and a workshop for high school students dissecting the meaning of “the good life.”