Learning Outside of the Classroom

Learning Outside of the Classroom

Something that has become more and more apparent to me as the class has moved along, is the importance of learning outside the classroom. This has been brought to my attention because many of the philosophers that we have studied, acquired valuable knowledge from travelling outside of their residing city state. Right now, there seems to be a lot of hype of going to school to get your credentials and be done with it. I think it is important to think about the fresh lens that taking some time to travel can provide, as it did with these philosophers.

It is well known that Thales of Miletus took some time to do some travelling on his own. That is right, one of the original philosophers travelled abroad to gain some valuable knowledge. Thales, is a philosopher contributed to many aspects intellectual thought. For instance, he may have been one of the original astronomers as well, as there is proof that he predicted a solar eclipse around 585 BCE. As well, it is known that Thales contributed to mathematics as he is credited with using geometrical theorem to predict the distance of ships at sea. It is through his trip to Egypt that Thales produced much of his intellectual thought. For instance, he quenched his thirst for geometry by studying Egyptian pyramids. In addition, it is perceived to be true that Thales predicted the eclipse in 585 with the help of Babylonian tablets. Lastly it is also thought that Thales exposure to the Nile River contributed to his thought that water was the arche. Thales is a solid demonstration that it is possible to learn some pretty important things from the homeland.

When thinking about philosophers who left the homeland in pursuit of more knowledge, it is hard not to think about Aristotle. The famous philosopher is known to have left Athens after the death of his great teacher Plato. Although this trip may not have been planned as he left because he was not selected to take over The Academy. However, leaving Athens did many great things on this trip away from Athens.  For instance, it was during his trip that he tutored Alexander the Great. It is then that he was able to realize his teacher’s dream, to have a king become a philosopher. However, during this experience of tutoring, Aristotle learned some valuable lessons. Such as students should only be trained to be philosophers at an appropriate age. This is because he felt Alexander was too young to be trained in philosophy. After his trip, Aristotle would return to Athens to found his own school of philosophy, The Lyceum.

I hope that during the course of this article I have produced some thought towards the importance of travelling. Many great philosophers made strong developments in their work outside of their home city state. The inspiration for this article came from me planning to do some travelling myself during this coming summer!


1 Comment

  1. Etienne 2 years ago

    I am happy you picked up this idea of travel and developing ones own philosophy. It is certainly true going out in to the world to actually test your ideas is essential to learning. In the most basic scientific sense it is how we come to gain theory. On the more personal level it is how we come to know ourselves. We must test what we believe and who we are against the world. The best way to go about doing that is to put yourself in to unknown situations. When on travels, one is forced to test ones personality against the total unknown.

    I like how you brought this argument to a historical level. Greece may be absolutely one of the best examples to talk about the use of travel in philosophy. It is no small coincidence how Athens became the birthplace of western philosophy. Athens was a trading port, one that brought countless people from all over the world for economic gain. The vast confluence of information led to a civilization, exposed to entirely new ideas, and new ways of looking at the world. When one encounters such vast amounts of information, we get what we had it Athens. I think that in the same way we should come to embrace the internet as a potential intellectualizing of the world. If we can come to gain perspectives on others lives/ philosophy/ tradition/ customs and culture all around the world, we can sure gain something out of it. One way is to travel, that much is sure, but I argue that it is the interaction with ones self when faced with new information, and that on the larger scale the development of greater philosophy, art, science, comes from the interaction with putting to test your old ideas against the radically new.

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