PATHWAYS TO PHILOSOPHY
"You can philosophize for sheer enjoyment. Or because you want to change the world. Or to develop and hone your mental powers. Or out of insatiable, childlike curiosity. Or because your very life depends upon it." — Those words written by philosopher Geoffrey Klempner in 2002 express the sheer diversity of reasons for coming to philosophy.
One needs a reason. But there are lots of reasons. Sometimes we do things not fully knowing the reason, because we feel it is the right thing to do, or the right thing to do now, at this point in our lives. That's good enough!
We are all enthusiasts here. The word comes from the Greek enthousiasmos — being possessed by the gods. Discovering philosophy is like falling in love. Which explains the Greek word philo-sophia. We are in love with what we do.
Students who are used to getting a few scribbled marks at the bottom of an essay or paper are amazed to discover that when you write an essay for us, we write an essay back. We take your thoughts and ideas seriously, but not uncritically. We want every student to be the best that he or she can be.
You will find here a broad range of courses and study tracks catering for different levels of ability from beginners to graduates. In addition to the six Pathways, you can study for an Award from the International Society for Philosophers, or take a University Diploma or BA Philosophy Degree.
If you prefer to follow your own self-directed course of study without a mentor, we have a range of free course materials. To register as a student and gain the benefit of membership of the Pathways community, all you need to do is apply for free membership of the International Society for Philosophers.
Take your time to look around these pages. There's a lot to read — although you don't have to read everything! If you need advice, write to us at email@example.com. Even if you don't need advice but just have something to say, write anyway. Tell us your ideas, or how you think we are doing.
Why are we here?
In 2001, Pathways to Philosophy at PhiloSophos was launched with the motto: Philosophy is for everyone and not just philosophers. Philosophers should know lots of things besides philosophy.
We believed then, as now, that universities have for too long held the monopoly on the teaching of philosophy in the Western tradition. Academic philosophy is mired in a new age of scholasticism.
In the university tower blocks, professors of Physics or Psychology, History or English are baffled by what it is their philosopher colleagues do. They might as well be speaking a different language.
At the time of the great British philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), it was considered a necessary mark of culture to be knowledgeable about philosophy. Not just knowing names and dates, but to know why Berkeley attacked the theories of Locke, or what Locke debated with Leibniz. It seems incredible to us today.
In these pages, you will find the case for philosophy made in numerous ways. We hope you will take an online philosophy course. But don't expect us to save you from the struggle, and sometimes the anguish, of getting to grips with the most sublime problems and questions that human beings have every conceived.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, born Austrian but adopted as a British philosopher, once remarked that philosophers should greet one another with the words, 'Take your time.' That is sound advice. If you want to become a student of philosophy then don't look for quick, easy success. You won't find it here. But you will succeed if you are prepared to take your time.
A brief history
Pathways was founded in 1995 by Geoffrey Klempner. In 1997, the six Pathways to Philosophy programs were launched on the world wide web as an independent project hosted on the University of Sheffield web site. The first version of the Pathways web site was completed in 1998.
In 1999, the Pathways Ask a Philosopher service was introduced. The Pathways web site was expanded with a Study Guide, Pathways Essays and Letters to my Philosophy Students.
In 2001, the first issue of the Philosophy Pathways e-journal was published, followed two years later by Philosophy for Business.
Since 2002, the Pathways to Philosophy has been run under the supervision of the International Society for Philosophers. The Board of the ISFP are responsible for reporting on the essay portfolios and dissertations submitted for the Associate and Fellowship awards, as well as evaluating submissions to the two e-journals.
At the beginning of 2006, Pathways moved to commercial web hosting at philosophypathways.com. Today, Pathways is the leading independent internet distance learning site for philosophy courses online. Since 1995, students from over 70 countries have studied with Pathways.
"Dear Dr. Klempner,
this is just to inform you that I got a 71 in Philosophy of Mind and
finished, as predicted, the BA with First Class Honours.
Many thanks again for having tutored me those six years. Without
your support I would not have been able to reach this result.
I will get back to you soon to see how to move on.
Along with Christian Michel, six other Pathways students gained First Class grades for some or all of their University of London modules. Five are continuing to work towards their BA Philosophy degree with tutorial support from Pathways while one student, Louise Chapman, who scored the highest marks out of the seven with Firsts for her three modules, has transferred to King's College London to take the BA as an internal student. We wish Louise the best of luck!
Mark Selikowitz graduated with First Class Honours, while four other Pathways students gained First Class grades for their University of London modules — each student scoring marks in the 70s for two modules. Mark Selikowitz is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Sydney, where he is researching the topic of mental causation.
In 2011, three University of London students tutored by Pathways, Craig Skinner, Julian Plumley and Plinio Coll, graduated with First Class Honours. Craig and Julian have joined the panel of contributors to the Pathways Ask a Philosopher pages of Questions and Answers at WordPress.com.
Pictured above is Pathways student Sachiko ('Pearl') from Singapore, who received a Prize of £100 from the University of London for her outstanding performance in the BA Philosophy examinations in 2010.
[See more student testimonials.]
How to apply
You can start a Pathways Program or the ISFP Associate and Fellowship at any time.
You can also apply at any time for the University of London Diploma or BA Philosophy degree via Pathways, provided that you have registered with the University of London to study online with their International Programme.
To simplify the application procedure, there now is single application form for the three Pathways study tracks.
On the form you can apply for free membership of the International Society for Philosophers with the option of open membership if you wish to be contacted by other ISFP members.
You can also request the Pathways CD-ROM and subscribe to the Pathways e-journals Philosophy Pathways and Philosophy for Business.
For details of fees, see the application form. After you have submitted your application you will receive an introductory email within 48 hours. You can start your program without delay.
If you have any questions about choosing your Pathways study track or about the application process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your course, we undertake to respond sympathetically and constructively to your concerns.
2. We offer a 28 day money back guarantee. You will receive the full fee that you have paid to Pathways, promptly and without question.
3. If for any reason you are not happy with the mentor who has been assigned to you, then we will do our best to find a suitable replacement.
4. You can switch courses at any time, subject to payment of fee calculated on the basis of the amount of course work that you have completed.
5. If you are applying for a university place or making a job application, you can ask the Director of Studies for a confidential reference or testimonial.
6. Studying philosophy can change your life. While we hope that this will be a change for the better, we cannot promise that you will be happier or more fulfilled as a result of taking one of our programs. That is up to you.
If you have any questions about the Pathways study tracks or about the materials reproduced here, or experience problems viewing Pathways pages email email@example.com.
For all inquiries you can also use the Pathways Feedback form.
If you would like to meet Dr Klempner face to face, then please call or email to arrange a time. Pathways is based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire UK, which has excellent transport links.
Mobile: +44 (0)7772 406124
Office: +44 (0)7582 121423
Where to go now
For our three study tracks go to the six Pathways programs, the ISFP Associate and Fellowship Awards and University of London Diploma and BA Degree via Pathways.
The three study tracks are compared at Pathways at glance. You can also browse through our student testimonials.
After that, you might try the links at the bottom of this page. Some of these are to directories on this site, such as the Philosophy Study Guide or Pathways Essays, while other links point to different domains such as The 10 Big Questions or Electronic Philosopher.
The structure of the Pathways presence on the web is more organic than hierarchical, which reflects the fact that the web sites have grown and developed over a number of years.
If you are a returning visitor and are wondering what happened to the old Pathways home page, you can find it here. Some of the links have been changed as they pointed to pages that no longer exist. Or you can choose your entry page from previous versions dating back to 1999.
If you want to know more about me, have a look at my Brief CV. There's a recent interview Geoffrey Klempner on taking philosophy beyond academia by Jules Evans of the Centre for the History of the Emotions Queen Mary College, University of London conducted as part of his project Philosophical Communities for the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
There are over 3500 Pathways pages on the web. Running Pathways has taken up most of my energy and passion over the last 17 years. I have chosen to be a philosopher in the world, rather than apart from it.
Updated: 9th March 2014
Cupid the 'philosophy lover' is by Pathways student Katherine Hunt. I added the bow and volume of Plato. The Porta Rosa at Velia (ancient Elea, Italy) is reputed to be the actual pathway that Parmenides the great Presocratic philosopher walked. It was photographed by Pathways student David Faber. The open window, the Pathways logo and emblem, was photographed by me back in 1974. Below that are my more recent digital camera snaps of Meersbrook Park Sheffield, and my office desk. The photo of Sachiko is from her blog 'Hermit Philosopher'. The watercolour portrait of Geoffrey Klempner is by June Wynter-Klempner. The last image is an etching of Bertrand Russell made by the painter Emmanuel Levy (1900—1985), a family friend. It is based on his original oil painting.
In the Pathways banner and collage, credit for the Plato clipart goes to ETC Florida. The computer screenshot is from the movie 'Matrix Reloaded' (Trinity's hacking exploit featuring the legendary 'sshnuke'). I was helped with the packshot by photographer John Riley, using an Agfa scanner. (The Sheffield University address and floppy disk dates it somewhat.) Following that, a bust of Marcus Aurelius, a Pathways student practising the Japanese martial art of iaido, 'Zombie with Qualia' by my colleague and former student Glyn Hughes, and finally Senate House University of London at Christmas time, copied from a Google image search.
In the bottom banner, low-resolution images for University of Sheffield, Directory of Online Access Journals, Birkbeck College Department of Philosophy and University of London International Programme for Philosophy are intended solely for use as graphic web links under the 'Fair Use' provision of UK Copyright law and are not intended to imply the existence of any official connection between the Pathways School of Philosophy and the aforementioned institutions.