Origins of the school
The School of Philosophy has been offering courses in Wellington since 1956. The actual origins of the school go back to London in 1936 when a group of men and women came together to study economics in an endeavour to better understand the underlying factors of the economic depression then causing such widespread misery and suffering. They sought to rediscover natural laws which, if followed by society, might prevent the occurrence of such misery and suffering, and allow peace prosperity, happiness and justice to prevail.
After a time, it became evident to them that a deeper understanding of the nature of society could only come through a study of Man himself, and thus the enquiry led naturally to the study of Philosophy.
Today, there are schools in many countries, including UK, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad, and New Zealand (Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Masterton).
What does the School of Philosophy do?
We offer a series of ongoing courses and activities in practical philosophy. Courses are available for as long as students wish to pursue their love of wisdom.
Are the School of Philosophy’s courses open to anyone?
Yes, they are for anyone regardless of age, race, sex or religious belief.
How academic is it?
Not at all. There are no quizzes, tests or anything of that sort. The classes are open discussions based on readings and observations.
The only test that is given is your everyday life: are you happier, more effective, more content? There are no certificates, diplomas or qualifications; just the opportunity to examine life and keep growing and learning.
Is it religious?
No, the school is not a religious organisation and there is no mysterious cult behind it. If students have a religion then they usually find that philosophy enhances their appreciation of that. The school does offer meditation because it helps with deeper philosophical enquiry and it does not require any religious belief.
Who runs The School of Philosophy (Wellington)?
The School in Wellington was incorporated in 1956 and is administered by its current senior students. All work is done on a voluntary basis and the School is a registered charity. It exists simply that students may study and pursue a philosophic way of life.
What is the financial structure of the School of Philosophy?
The School is entirely supported by course fees and donations.
The largest purchase has been Philosphy House at 33 Aro Street, funded by fees, donations and loans. Our funds go entirely to support courses and events, to maintain buildings and to advertise the courses.
The School is affiliated to similar organisations around the world, but is not legally or financially linked.
No one receives any payment for their services to the School.
Who are the tutors?
The tutors are men and women who have studied philosophy in the School of Philosophy for many years. They come from all walks of life, united by a shared love of wisdom, and volunteer their time to teach. Tutors are selected for the breadth of their understanding, their character and their devotion to principle.
What do you mean by philosophy?
The Greek philosopher Socrates defined philosophy as ‘the love of wisdom’.
The original purpose of philosophy, to discover truth and become wise by practical application in our daily lives of what has been discovered, is central to our activities.
What do you mean by ‘practical’ philosophy?
Philosophy which is applicable to all aspects of our lives.
It’s not about theories or beliefs. The very meaning of the word ‘philosophy’ means a full engagement with Wisdom, not information about it.
Practical Philosophy is a journey of discovery through study, discussion and reflection. The truth of what we have learnt is then tested against the experience of every day life.
Does the School teach a particular Philosophy?
We draw inspiration from the great philosophies and religious traditions from around the world including the Platonic tradition, the Judaeo-Christian and especially Vedic teachings which seem to enlighten all the traditions.
The aim is to discover and realise the truth about one’s self and the unity that lies within creation. This study leads to the conclusion that all religions and philosophies reflect differing aspects of the one truth. There is no need to leave behind one’s own tradition.
What is the simplest way of learning more about it?
Show up and try the introductory course. If after the first night you decide it’s not for you, your full fee is refundable.
Otherwise contact us and arrange to speak with one of our tutors or students.
Who built the building?
Philosophy House at 33 Aro Street was originally built by the Salvation Army as a training facility. They later sold the building the School of Philosophy and were happy for it to be used for continuing non-profit educational purposes.
The building has an historical status. Architectural drawings are displayed inside the building.
Why does the School offer meditation, what kind is it, and how much does it cost?
Meditation allows the experience of deep inner peace and happiness, where you return to yourself. It can over time make these qualities part of everyday existence.
We teach and practice mantra meditation based on the Vedanta tradition because we’ve found that it works.
We offer initiation in the meditation in the traditional manner, which involves a short ceremony honouring the lineage of its Teachers.
A once-only donation is requested for the initiation.
Following initiation, the School offers free and continued care and support for meditation as long as you want it, even if you stop attending courses.
More info about meditation on the Courses page.
If I like it, can I keep going?
Most people find substantial benefit in taking one or a few courses. Some students find such value that they continue their study of philosophy.
An introduction to the practice of meditation is offered after at least a year of study.
Later on, weekend and weeklong residential retreats are offered to study and practice philosophy without the distractions of daily life.
Subjects such as drama, music, art, calligraphy, economics, mathematics, Sanskrit, the education of children, the Renaissance and dance are explored in greater depth in study groups formed by interested students.
Many students have been participating in the School’s courses and retreats since it was founded and find a strong sense of community.
If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.