Christopher Phillips has a passion for inquiry — and of a sort that transforms the way we relate to one another, to ourselves, and our world. A foremost specialist in the Socratic Method, he reminds us that we ought to ask questions – “not about any chance question,” as Socrates put it in Plato’s Republic, “but about the way one should live.” He encourages us to roll up our mental sleeves, turn on our childlike questioning lenses, and become our own best thinkers, askers, doers. In a nutshell, Christopher helps people discover their unique stores of wisdom and talents so they can make the most of their mortal moment, and achieve what the Greeks of old called arête, all-around excellence.
Dr. Phillips — 2014/15 Network Fellow at Harvard University‘s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, 2012 recipient of the Distinguished American Leadership Award, and a recent Senior Education Fellow at the National Constitution Center – is a roving ambassador for open, inclusive and connected societies who travels the world over holding dialogues with people of all walks of life. He believes that the process of dialogue and the space of human interaction are good for us as individuals and essential for us as a society. A primary goal of the noted author, educator and consultant, who is a popular presenter and public speaker, is to inspire curiosity and wonder, to nurture self-discovery, openness, empathy.
From his acclaimed popular yet scholarly works Constitution Cafe: Jefferson’s Brew for a True Revolution, to his philosophy bestsellers like Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy and Six Questions of Socrates: A Modern Day Journey of Discovery through World Philosophy, Phillips is a noted author of works for both adults and children. He blends in timeless philosophical meditations as he recounts his travels across the globe, launching everything from philosophical discussion groups to mini-Constitutional Conventions, designed to stimulate inquiry and forge bonds among diverse participants. These conversations reveal surprising points of intersection between classical philosophy, modern life, and the intellectual richness of societies far removed from Western philosophical tradition.
As a workshop presenter and dialogue facilitator, Chris helps those who engage with him — whether in a large or small group, or one on one — to discover and tap into their unique stores of wisdom and forge stronger connections with one another. This leads to greater flourishing on both individual and societal scales.
To date, through his dialogue initiatives, Chris — a sought after dialogue facilitator trainer, moderator, and consultant — has helped create more than 500 ongoing discussion groups around the world.
In the words of Time magazine, “Socrates Cafés have found a surprisingly large and diverse following.” The subjects under discussion are Life’s Big Questions: love and friendship, work and fulfillment, justice and religion, death and aging, success and failure, goals and ideals.
As founder and Executive Director of the nonprofitDemocracy Cafe, Phillips strives to come to a greater understanding of the nature and future of democracy, and to influence its nature and future through signature initiatives such as The Declaration Project and its exciting MyDeclaration component, the long-time global Socrates Cafe movement, and Constitution Cafe, in which he has led spirited exchanges on matters Constitutional across the fruited plain, including Troy Historic Village, Aspen Institute, and the National Constitution Center, where he moderated a wildly popular online Next Ten Amendments crowd-sourcing discourse.
Chris is a popular speaker, presenter, and moderator, and has done keynote events at an array of venues, including the American Leadership Conference, Rutgers University Honors Colloquium, the Aspen Institute Socrates Seminar, Syracuse University Symposium on the Soul, the Ideas Festival, and Gemini Ink Breakthrough Thinkers Series. He is represented by The Lyceum Agency.
“A modern-day Socrates who’s chosen the world, not just the agora, for his stage… [with] a model discourse that elevates working lives and reduces intellectualism’s pretentions.”
“To date, Phillips has orchestrated discussions on … Solomonic topics at nursing homes, maximum-security prisons, churches, homeless shelters, bookstores and coffeehouses across the country, gently prodding students, urban professionals, unreconstructed slackers, street people and others to share their worldviews and scrutinize their most basic assumptions.”
“[Socrates Cafe is] alive with the passions of ordinary people from a dozen cultures, these colloquies dramatize the universality of Socrates’ deeply humanizing concerns…Readers will applaud Phillips for … making philosophy a living enterprise beyond the lecture hall and the faculty lounge.”
“Phillips has combined the approach of Socrates and the wisdom of Jefferson to show us the way.”Dr. Larry J. Sabato
“We are left hoping that Phillips, by returning to the methods of the first Western philosophers, has created a template for philosophical exploration that many others will emulate”