Philosophy Phun: The Millsaps Philosophy Board

by Catherine Arjet
assistant arts & life editor

 

Devin Winsett gazes at the board

Devin Winsett gazes at the board

If you’ve ever spent any time in the Christian Center, you’ve probably seen the philosophy board. If you haven’t, it’s a section of the wall with a piece of paper posing a philosophical question, a number of relevant news clippings and about two feet of kraft paper for people to write responses on. The philosophy board has been a part of the building since 2002 when Dr. Patrick Hopkins posted the first of the board’s 280 questions. Hopkins originally got the idea from a group of philosophy majors at his previous school, Ripon College in Wisconsin.

“We don’t have a mission statement,” Hopkins says. “We originally set it up to kind of get people thinking.” The questions (which go up every Monday) cycle through different types of philosophy: ethics, logic, knowledge etc. or, when occasionally discuss something interesting and philosophical in the news. For example, a few weeks ago, Hopkins used the leaking of Jennifer Lawrence’s and other celebrities nude photos to frame a question on crime.

Hopkins explains that no single type of question generates more conversation on the board than another, noting that the number of responses depends not on the question itself, but on the first reply. In fact, the most popular question in the history of the board was on whether Batman or Wonder Woman is a better role model. “It went on for about four feet,” Hopkins remembers. “I had to keep adding paper.”

     Most of these conversations stay civil, as well. In the 12 years that the philosophy board has been up, only two or three times has someone written something so offensive that it had to be taken down. If you want stay current on the  philosophy board, be sure to follow Millsaps Philosophy on Twitter at @SAPS_Philosophy.

 

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