What Is Philosophical Discourse?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Philosophical discourse is a process by which two or more people discuss and communicate about various topics and concepts within philosophy. This can occur in a context dedicated to the exploration and study of philosophy, or it can be part of a discussion on another subject, such as art or literature. Philosophical discourse often happens in a structured way, with various individuals who have studied philosophy and who talk about these subjects with great experience and background in the field. It can also arise as a natural process, however, as people discuss the realities of the world and try to understand the larger human experience.

Much like any other type of discourse, philosophical discourse basically refers to a form of communication between two or more people. This group component is essential to this idea, since it regards more than just an isolated scholar studying different philosophical concepts or ideas. Philosophical discourse can happen through verbal communication, such as a dialog between scholars or a group discussion among students and peers who have studied philosophy. It can also occur through non-verbal communication, such as a series of essays written between philosophy professors, or an article written by someone that is intended for peer review and publication.


One common way in which philosophical discourse can occur is in a scholastic setting, such as a philosophy classroom. This is a natural environment for such communication, and usually goes beyond the authoritative process of an instructor standing at the front of a room and lecturing to students. Philosophical discourse often requires that students are an active and involved part of the process, demanding careful consideration and deliberate thought about a subject. Such conversations can involve a number of scholastic concepts and ideas, including different movements and figures within philosophy and how these ideas relate to each other in a larger context.

There are also informal settings in which philosophical discourse can occur between groups of people. Any setting in which individuals come together to discuss the reality of human existence and attempt to put such experiences into words is, essentially, a forum for philosophical discourse. Such conversations do not strictly require a background in philosophy, since people are often able to form their own ideas and put into words their general view of experience and life. These informal conversations may lack the context and frame of reference that scholars and students have, but this is not always a drawback. Ignorance of established ideas and concepts may allow people to more easily form their own ideas and construct a world view that is more intimately meaningful.


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