How do we teach philosophy without influencing the student?


Be a skeptic. Teach tools of a skeptic to accompany a particular philosophy. This, of course, only lessens influence.

teach it to people in the madhouse. They’ll never learn anything new.

we can’t


The best way to teach philosophy without influencing the student is to not teach it in the first place. Let the students teach themselves.

Let those who want to think & question, do so.
Plenty to learn, but what is to teach?

As you probably can tell I have never studied philosophy, neither do I have any formal qualifications in it. This being a genuine question: how much does that matter do you think? what would I gain from studying it? I love to think and to question and to look at all options from all angles and find my own answers. I am my own teacher an my own student. Would studying the subject of philosophy actually help or hinder my own inner philosophising and truth seeking? I can’t help think that the best, freshest ideas would come from un-formal students of personal philosophy. ?


I’d think that being a student of philosophy would prevent you from saying you had a new thought, when it has already been gone covered. By learning what others have thought in the past, you’ll be exposed to more paths than if you constrained yourself to only your own thoughts.

As a current student of philosophy, I can honestly say that I see no possible way to teach anything without influencing the student. To teach IS to influence.

I do agree that teaching the tools of the skeptic allows the student to make his or her own decisions, which is helpful in allowing them to develop their philosophical mind.

I studied Philosophy in school as well, and I think I would have to agree with Socratic in so far as saying that teaching does come with a substantial amount of influence, but disagree that it is always enough to cause your own thoughts to become invalid and/or tainted.

As far as studying philosophy, professors are obviously bound to leave out any kind of bias when lecturing/teaching, but it always come out. The good students, unlike me :blush: , are the ones who take the lecture/reading for what it is, and question it. The profs are there to only help interpret the readings and help with the process of coming to a logical interpretation. Most can do this on their own, but with some qualified help, you may see flaws/inconsistencies in your own ideas quicker.

I want to say this: studying philosophy alone is great if you can do it, but to say that most of you will have a better understanding of it w/o formal study, or that you will have access to more POVs to an idea or question is kind of silly. I know people who study alone and they know a good amount of what they’ve studied, but they have been biased to what they’ve read, and have pretty much have agreed to what they have read w/o reading refutes or criticisms of the theory.

Obviously I wish that none of you think I’m attacking the method of study thus attacking those who use this method, but to say that profs who have studied this stuff longer than you have, with obviously the love and will to since they have Ph.Ds, cannot provide most of us with some help seems to me silly.

I have noticed that some of the posters here don’t see how formal study can be any good or worth it; this topic may be a thread all in itself, but I’m afraid that it might be one-sided.


Skepticism is very manipulatory. It is a disease sometimes, it seems. It filters out the rubbish, but tends to make us want more precision than the given field allows.

Any teaching, any communication will involve some degree of manipulation. The only way to curb this would be to only answer student’s questions. But then, we wouldn’t learn nearly as much, now would we?



Moderate would be a much better verb for what a good Philosophy prof does.

He makes the reading list.
He keeps the discussion moveing.
He provides usefull bits from his vast reading, and often furthure reading recomendations.

None of these things are nessisary, but they are all helpfull.