Hammer

Philosophy: How-To-Do-It Guide

as regards the sounding-out of idols, this time they are
not idols of the age but eternal idols which are here
touched with the hammer as with a tuning fork...

Friedrich Nietzsche Twilight of the Idols 1888


If you want to philosophize well, you need a good tool kit. Not just a hammer, but screwdriver and pliers, drill and saw. Every student who starts out on the road to philosophy learns how to value and assess the tools available. Try everything. Pick up anything you can use, from as wide a variety of sources as possible.

Over the years that I have been running Pathways to Philosophy, certain basic issues concerning the nitty-gritty practice of philosophy have come up again and again: 'I don't know how to approach a philosophy book,' writes one student. 'Every time I put pen to paper I find myself writing complete rubbish.' 'I just don't know to think!'

If philosophy as a subject intrigues you, but you doubt whether you've got what it takes to study philosophy, I hope that what you find here will help get over the initial barriers. So grab your tools and get stuck in! [more...]

Geoffrey Klempner

Director of Studies

Pathways Study Guide | Lessons in Philosophy | Six of the Best | Can Philosophy Be Taught? | Questioning Philosophy


Pathways Study Guide

These pages, inspired by questions to Ask a Philosopher, developed out of pieces written for The Glass House Philosopher.

Lessons in Philosophy

Pages taken from The Glass House Philosopher, taking a look at some of the things that introduction to philosophy books don't teach you, including "Creating a space", "How much intelligence does a philosopher need?" and "Knowing when to stop."

Six of the Best

What is a philosophical attitude? Pathways students Laura Laine Kelley, Martin O'Hagan, Glyn Hughes, Jackie O'Connor, Alberto Capizzano, and Graham Nicholson explain.

Can Philosophy Be Taught?

This controversial and widely-read talk describes my struggle to find a way to teach philosophy. Along the way, a number of myths are exploded about the world of academic philosophy.

Questioning Philosophy

Here is my first attempt to conduct a philosophical investigation on-line. If you want to keep a philosophical notebook — as I advise all my students to do — this will show you how it's done.



Pathways to Philosophy

Letters to my students
Essay archive
Ask a philosopher
Pathways programs

Pathways teaching materials © G. Klempner 1995–2014
'Hammer' photograph © G. Klempner 1999