International Society For Philosophers

International Society
For Philosophers

Requirements for study group convenors

It is not necessary that as a group convenor you have studied philosophy to any great depth. You will know something about the subject, sufficient perhaps to make an intelligent choice between the different programs, or to discuss these with prospective members.

Most important is simply the desire to learn, as well as the willingness to be the one who is mainly responsible for keeping the group going. You may find that your skills as a negotiator are being tested every bit as much as your philosophical ability.

We do not see any inconsistency in faith groups — Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or etc. — forming philosophy study groups exclusive to their faith. In a similar way, womens or disability groups, ethnic minorities or even serving prisoners, can form philosophy study groups and benefit from learning together.

You may need to take active steps to publicize your meetings — for example, distributing leaflets, putting advertisements on notice boards, or even approaching local radio stations. If another member of the group is willing to do this then you can delegate this responsibility. At some point, you may also need a group treasurer, for example, if you are all putting money in to pay for group activities.

Be tolerant. Remember that not everyone will be able to keep up at the pace of the smartest members. For some, it can take time for the penny to drop. You may also encounter animosity or intransigence, which will require tact and diplomacy to resolve. In the long run, the effort made to overcome these difficulties will pay off, and benefit all the members of your study group.

© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2018