"Sheffield Star" 10th January 2000

   by Martin Dawes

Geoffrey Klempner

MIND GAMES

Discussing the Merits of Philosophy on the Internet

AS a philosophy on life, it's hard to beat. Tutor Dr Geoffrey Klempner lets his students run his classes.

"I get four of them to do a talk each week and I sit back and listen so it's very easy for me. Last term was absolutely brilliant. They did their stuff and I intervened from time to time."

You can do that when you're a philosopher. On Wednesday at Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Sharrow Lane, Sheffield, he'll be trying it again when he starts his latest Workers Educational Association course. "A brisk survey of the history of philosophy from Socrates to Wittgenstein."

Dr K, from Woodseats, who is Director of Studies of the Philosophical Society of England, also runs the biggest philosophy school on the Internet with students from 25 countries.

Call it up to enrol on one of six courses, from ethics to the philosophy of language, or click on the ever-popular 'Ask a Philosopher' page 'responding to your queries within seven days.' (Marianne asked for help with her Baccalaureate question, Do Our Passions Lead Us Astray?)

Dr K first came to public attention when, short of a job, he put up postcards reading 'Hire a Philosopher' in shop windows.

The former photographer's assistant and clerk confesses on his own personal website "I discovered that philosophy and I were meant for each other. It was a whirlwind romance. I revered Kant and idolized Plato."

His Pathways to Philosophy distance learning project currently has 60 students, from a US diplomat in Bolivia to a salesman in Hong Kong.

"It's a constant challenge and stimulus to me because the people who enrol are often very well qualified. It appeals to those people who want something to broaden their horizons.

"I get very, very difficult questions thrown at me. They give me a very good run for their money. It may take me a day or two to come up with an answer."

Dr K, who is 48, has taken to wearing a beard again. "in olden days a beard was a sign of great learning. Now philosophers shave to look clean cut and efficient. I suppose I am a retro!"

Discuss.

The WEA course begins on Wednesday at 7pm for 10 weeks. Fees 20 Pounds waged, 10 Pounds concessions, and benefit cases free. Details of online courses on philosophypathways.com.
Dr K's website is http://sophist.co.uk/glasshouse/.


Photograph of Geoffrey Klempner © Sheffield Newspapers Ltd.

The Glass House Philosopher