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by Scott Hughes
If you read or study philosophy, you probably want to discuss the philosophical ideas that you come across. Even if you do not have a formal education in philosophy, you may want to have philosophical conversations with the people around you.
You can have philosophical discussions in everyday life. You can discuss philosophy and philosophical topics with your friends, family, co-workers, and associates. You can discuss it while on dates. You can discuss it with strangers that you find yourself talking to in public places, such as in waiting rooms or at social gatherings.
Most people have a general interest in philosophy. Plus, it may surprise you how many people have taken a philosophy class or read some philosophy books. Most people at least have some basic knowledge about well-known philosophers and their ideas. Nonetheless, remember when talking in a general setting to avoid getting too technical. For example, avoid the jargon that mostly only philosophers use (such as "a priori"). Also, do not cite specific philosophers or books too much, as outside of philosophy-focused academia people may not know much about such topics.
You can ensure not to exclude anybody by keeping the discussion focused on the ideas and opinions of only the people involved. Tell others what you think about certain philosophical topics, and ask them what they think about those topics. Ask them philosophical questions, such as, "What do you think is the meaning of life?"
You will get people to talk philosophy more often if they enjoy it and feel comfortable. For that reason, avoid talking down to anyone or talking to them in a condescending or patronizing tone. Create a comfortable atmosphere for others to put forward their ideas.
You may have the desire to try to show off. However, doing that would just make others not want to discuss philosophy with you. Do not try to impress people by purposely talking about topics they do not know well. Do not try to impress them with your knowledge of people, books, or facts that they do not know. Do not use big words that they do not understand (and that you probably barely understand) to try and impress them. You will just make them feel bad, and make yourself look arrogant, neither of which will foster quality discussion.
Just speak your mind in a way that the others will understand best.
Also, avoid rambling. When telling others your philosophical thoughts you can easily just ramble on and on, which will bore others. Instead, sum up your thoughts in quicker, simpler statements, and then give the other person a chance to talk.
The normal etiquette and tricks of conversation also apply. Others will judge you and the conversation based on your listening skills more than your speaking skills. Listen intently to what others say, and ask them questions about it so they know you listened. Additionally, asking questions will keep the conversation going. To spark further conversation, ask open-ended questions.
Whatever you do, good luck and have fun!
About the Author: Scott Hughes owns and runs OnlinePhilosophyClub.com which is an informative philosophy website. You can discuss philosophy at the Philosophy Forums. It's completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.
What do you think?
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