A New Office for Your City: Municipal Philosophers

The tiny, ethnically Greek town of Corigliano d’Otranto in Italy has created a new position: an officially designated “Municipal Philosopher,” who hangs around City Hall for philosophical consultation between 3pm and 7pm on Fridays:

Lupo [the first one to hold the office-DT] engaged clients in Socratic dialogue and did not “dwell on their past, but their present and their perspectives on the future”.

Much of her work was about getting people to think clearly, listen to each other and formulate questions that bore on the subject in hand, the mayor said. The bosses of some local companies had been in touch with the council to see if the municipal philosopher could come and speak to their employees, she said.

Beginning her work last September, before the post became official, Lupo had so far seen about 500 people at the town hall, either on an individual basis or in groups. She charged €15 (£12) a session for her services, so her appointment had not involved any additional cost to taxpayers, the mayor said.

It may be about 200 spots down on the list of what American cities need right now, but who wouldn’t want some free (to the taxpayers) philosophical consultation? The idea reminds me a bit of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, a group of philosophically educated individuals who help clients resolve issues that are more philosophical than psychological in nature. Maybe they could offer their services for free at local city halls; if Corigliano d’Otranto is any indication, at least it’d gin up some publicity.

(ht Leiter Reports)

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