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Cecilia Chapa Phillips  Modern Diotima  Contact: socratescafe@gmail.com

*A natural childbirth instructor*

Cecilia Chapa, born and raised in Mexico City, earned her bachelor's degree in philosophy at Universidad La Salle. From 1995 to 1996 she taught in a middle school in an indigenous community in Chiapas, Mexico, and has been involved in educational programs for indigenous children in Mexico ever since. She earned her master's degree in education in the United States, and has a specialty in teaching philosophy for children. She also is a certified Spanish bilingual elementary and middle school teacher. She has been a K-3 teacher in the Mission district of San Francisco, and a literacy instructor for elementary school children and teachers in Phoenix, Arizona. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Society for Philosophical Inquiry. These workshops help them become adept at facilitating philosophical dialogues with their students, and show them how to incorporate Socratic philosophical inquiry in specific content areas, so that they can more effectively nurture their students' creative and critical thinking skills. Cecilia works from home part-time for SPI and full-time raising their daughter Cali.

Chris and Cecilia met and married each other through Socrates Café, look inside chapter III in “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in Socrates Café to see the story!


"Giving Philosophy Back to the People"

A Profile of Christopher Phillips

by Josh Glenn

            Chris Phillips used to be a journalist and photographer, a public school teacher, and a college instructor with three master's degrees. Today, at forty, he's underemployed, deeply in debt, and completely ecstatic about how his life has turned out.

            While studying for a master of arts in teaching at Montclair State University in 1996, Phillips chanced to pick up Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, the seminal collection of existentialist and proto-existentialist texts that Walter Kaufmann compiled in 1956 as a means of preparing humankind for a genuinely philosophical form of life. Something Phillips read in Kaufmann's introduction to the book soon sent him rocketing across America, visiting jails, hospices, nursing homes, and other public venues-all on his own dime. "I didn't have any master plan when I started doing this," he told me recently. "I just had this little idea: Let's give philosophy back to the people."

            "More than anyone else who's ever lived," Phillips insists, "Socrates models for us philosophy in practice-philosophy as deed, as a way of living, as something that any of us can do. The Socratic method is a way to seek truths by your own lights; it is a system, a spirit, a method, a type of philosophical inquiry, an intellectual technique, all rolled into one." Having decided to bring Socrates' mordant, incisive methods of philosophical to ordinary men and women around the country, Phillips started what he calls the Socrates Café. By which he means a bunch of people getting together in a café or coffeehouse for a couple of hours and, with the help of a facilitator, applying the Socratic method to some question that troubles them: What is Truth? What is Justice? What is a Philosopher?

            This kind of group effort, Phillips argues, is the best possible antidote to traditional philosophy lectures, which create a hierarchy of philosopher and student. He doesn't charge for his services, because "it would be sacrilege to charge people when you learn much more from them than they could ever learn from you." A Socrates Café is nontechnical, and though it may become erudite, the participants-including the ones who've never read a word of philosophy in their lives-can't help but become expert at Phillips's brand of philosophical inquiry. "A Socrates Café is a home for a lot of people who've never felt at home in academia, including academics," Phillips explains. "It's not in any way, shape, or form anti-academic, but it does hopefully expand and broaden the range of inquiry, to the way philosophers used to be, when they would look at any and every question under the sun."

            How, exactly, does one facilitate a Socrates Café? Apparently, you just have to keep asking yourself: "What would Socrates do?" Remember, Socrates presented himself as a perplexed inquirer who knew only that he knew nothing; by example, he showed that the proper business of the philosopher-and, by extension, a Socrates Café facilitator-is to help us see that we don't know nearly as much as we think we know.

            Do Socrates Café participants ever arrive at an answer to their questions? "It's not about coming up with answers but finding a way to ask the questions, which, in a way, is the answer," Phillips replies enigmatically. "Those who become smitten with the Socratic method of philosophical inquiry thrive on the question. They never run out of questions, or out of new ways to question. In fact," he concludes, "some of Socrates Café's most avid philosophizers are, for me, the question personified."

Josh Glenn is a contributing editor to the online magazine FEED and the editor of Hermenaut, a (print) journal of philosophy and pop culture. This is an excerpt from a profile that first appeared in FEED, May 23, 2000.

Christopher Phillips   Founder of Socrates Café  Contact: socratescafe@gmail.com

Author of Socrates Café,Christopher Phillips is a man on a mission: to revive the love of questions that Socrates inspired long ago in ancient Athens. Public Radio International has called him the 'Johnny Appleseed of philosophy.' Motivated by charismatic optimism and passionate ideals, he has traveled around the country, gathering people to participate in Socrates Cafes in bookstores, senior centers, elementary schools and universities, and a prison.

What is the Socratic Method?Socratic_Method.html