About us

Mission statement of the SFCP

The Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy aims to promote independent critical thinking in the transformative Socratic tradition. SFCP has an international outlook and engages with others in dialogue and activities about ethical issues and the challenges of personal and public life.

In recent years SFCP has:
– Arranged Socratic seminars for students in secondary schools, teachers of mathematics, education managers and other groups from a variety of occupational backgrounds.
– Introduced educationists to a Socratic approach to learning and teaching. With the introduction of citizenship into the UK school curriculum, and a growing interest in philosophy, SFCP is focusing more on acquainting teachers with the Socratic method as a valuable tool for these developing subjects.
– Sponsored Scholarly Research at doctoral and post-doctoral levels.
– Trained new Socratic facilitators. Weekend dialogues may be arranged, facilitated by trainee facilitators.
– Established Occasional Working Papers in Ethics and Critical Philosophy and published books.
– Developed European networks to extend interest in critical philosophy and Socratic Dialogue among professionals across a range of disciplines, and to encourage the fostering of ethical practice in everyday life.
– Managed a mailing list of people interested in the activities of SFCP. A news bulletin is sent out from time to time and publications like the Occasional Working Papers mentioned above are listed and available on request.
– Expanded its international co-operation with its sister organisations the PPA (Philosophisch-Politische Akademie) and the GSP (Gesellschaft für Sokratisches Philosophieren) (see below) to organise a number of International Conferences and International Socratic Dialogues.

The Socratic Dialogue method was popularised by Leonard Nelson in his book Die sokratische Methode (The Socratic Method), and a short history of the movement is here.

Links with International Socratic Groups

Philosophical-Political Academy (Philosophisch-Politische Akademie – PPA)
PPA is dedicated to the promotion of critical philosophy in the tradition of Immanuel Kant, Jakob Friedrich Fries and Leonard Nelson, as well as to the application of ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of law to social and political life, as espoused by Nelson and his followers. In his writings, Nelson was mainly concerned with epistemology, ethics, pedagogy and politics, and in all three fields tried to put his theories into practice. He was an ethical socialist, he adapted Socrates` method of searching for truth, developing the neo-Socratic method for group work, finally he founded the PPA to further develop and promote his philosophical ideas. Founded in 1922, PPA was, of course, banned by the Nazis but was re-established in 1949.
The Academy organises conferences on political and philosophical subjects, sponsors the publication of books, initiates a scientific prize competition and, last but not least, supports Socratic seminars.
Society of Socratic Facilitators (Gesellschaft für Sokratisches Philosophieren – GSP)
GSP’s purpose is to develop the practice of Socratic Dialogue, to contribute to theoretical tradition of Leonard Nelson and Gustav Heckmann (1898-1996), and to train Socratic facilitators.  An increasing number of courses have been organised by GSP in co-operation with PPA and SFCP, held both in England and in Germany. GSP also contributes to the training of teachers concerned with the subject of “practical philosophy” in the school curriculum, by acquainting them with the theory and practice of Socratic Dialogue.