Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rathaus, Wien 26/V/2011

Kelly, Mr. Murphy, and Andy on Thursday evening
Posted by PicasaNo sleep today, but what an event at Vienna's City Hall. My native English speaking students of Philosophy are tired, but happy. On Friday they will write philosophy in Spanish -- a language they have only studied in school in the USA for about 6 or 7 years except for a one month immersion, academic, home-stay experience in Salamanca at the Universidad de Salamanca. Their competition will be students from 29 other countries, most of whom have been studying English for many years, some have an English speaking parent and some spend a substantial amount of time in their lives in English speaking countries. The great majority of these students will write in English on Friday.

Well, 65 kids from 30 countries. What do you think the lingua franca of the IPO is? It's not Latin, but I'll make an interesting analogy in a future blog. Some of the Philosophy teachers and I discussed it at some length here in Vienna this week. I'll leave you with this. Imagine what it must have been like for medieval scholars to travel around the major university circuit of the 13th & 14th centuries -- Bologna, Sorbonne, Salamanca, Cambridge, Dublin, Heidelberg, Cracow, Vienna.... Then imagine them all coming together once a year in one of the places mentioned to discuss philosophy with each other and with the star students they brought with them. There was a 'common' language. But imagine the accents.

Arrival in Vienna!

Here are our D-E pre-college philosophers upon arrival in Vienna.

Kelly and Andy are tired after just arriving on Thursday morning, 26/V/'11. But they're in Vienna! The day will be spent walking around near Hotel IBIS. No napping today because our rooms aren't. So we'll do the Olympic thing -- tough it out and fight exaustion with enthusiasm, anticipation and immersion in Austrian life in town. Tonight we will go to a reception with the Mayor of Vienna at the Rathaus (City Hall) at 20:00. Then sweet sleep before the essay tomorrow.

There are 65 competitors from 30 countries. We don’t know what the linguistic mix is going to be yet. It’s all very exciting. We did take a moment to rest at an outdoor café. Pastry and Viennese coffee -- Melange! We meet everyone at 16:00 today. Oh, wait… that’s in 5 minutes. Young philosophers on the run…. Bye for now.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Follow Me to Vienna

On Wednesday 25 May 2011, my students and I are leaving for Vienna at the invitation of the Austrian International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) team. (I quote the text of the invitation below.) And here's a link for you to this year's IPO.

Professor David E. Schrader, Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association, had the initial inspiration to propose that the IPO include Spanish as one of its official languages of competition. – A student must compete in the essay writing at the IPO in a language that is not his or her own first language and which is not the main language of the country where he or she is a citizen. Before this year, the only languages sanctioned by the IPO for the competition were English, French and German. – Professor William McBride, Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University and President of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie (FISP) has been of invaluable help taking David Schrader’s suggestion to the right people at the IPO. Both Professors Schrader and McBride have guided me in the steps that eventually led to our invitation to compete in the IPO.

Here's the US Delegation to the IPO Vienna 2011.

Teacher / leader

Joseph A. Murphy, Ethics (Philosophy) Department Chair, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood NJ 


Kelly Greiss, June 2011 graduate from Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ. Kelly will be a freshman at Pitzer College in CA in 2011/2012.

Andrew Loeshelle, June 2011 graduate from Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ. Andy will be a freshman at Bucknell University in PA in 2011/2012.

Both Kelly and Andy have been studying Spanish for years. They also joined me in one of the five week academic immersion programs I lead every year to the University of Salamanca in Spain. Kelly studied there last summer. Andy studied there two years ago. Both of them have also studied Philosophy with me in courses I teach at Dwight-Englewood School: a required Ethics course for all sophomores and one or more of our major electives; Intro. to Western Philosophy, Intro. to 'Eastern' Philosophy, Bioethics, Ancient Philosophy taught in Spanish and Modern Philosophy taught in Spanish.     

I’ll be blogging about our trip throughout our stay in Vienna. You may follow us virtually to share the experience, to form questions about the IPO, to think about how to create a national American competition leading up to the IPO 2012 and beyond, and just for the fun of it.

Follow us through our days in Vienna. Come on along.

Here's the text of the IPO invitation.

"April, 18, 2011

To  Joseph Murphy

It is a great honor for us to inform you that the XIXth International Philosophy Olympiad will be held in Vienna, from May 26-29, 2011.

The Olympiad will take place in accordance with the Regulations of the IPO. (See the attached IPO Regulations.) The Vienna IPO 2011 Event will be organized by the Austrian National Organizing Committee. The website of the Vienna IPO 2011 contains more useful information. You find it at
We would like to invite Joseph Murphy and two students to participate in the Vienna IPO Event.

Each country may send a delegation which consists, at the maximum, of two upper secondary /high school students, who are selected through your National Philosophy Olympiad (or through another process consistent with the IPO Statutes), and similarly one or two teachers / professors who take responsibility for the philosophical activities of their students. So far it can be guaranteed that the costs for two students and one teacher are covered.

The Austrian National Organizing Committee will provide accommodation and meals for the official days of Vienna IPO 2011 and cover the cost for all activities in the official program of Vienna IPO 2011, while the participants from abroad will have to bear their own travel cost to Vienna, Austria. For the accommodation, see Hotel IBIS at

The day of the philosophical essay contest will be Friday, May 27. The theme of the Vienna IPO 2011 will be Power and Powerlessness of Philosophy.

All delegates are expected to arrive in Vienna no later than Thursday, May 26, 5 pm. You have already received a draft program of the Vienna IPO 2011 Event, an updated program will be sent to all delegations later.

In case you have any questions concerning the Vienna IPO 2011 Event, we kindly ask you send your queries to Barbara Conrad (

Cordially Yours,

Ms. Barbara Conrad
on behalf of  the Austrian IPO team"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The XIX International Philosophy Olympiad

The XIX IPO is being held in Vienna, Austria between May 26th and May 29th, 2011. I am leading the U.S. Delegation with high school students, who will be competing in Spanish.

Each nation may send two students to compete at the international level after a national competition or other IPO approved method of entry. The 2011 American team is supported by the American Philosophical Association. The official languages of the IPO are English, French, German and, for the first time ever in 2011, Spanish. Students must write in a language that is not their native language or the main (or official) language of the nation from which they come.

Students who compete must be secondary (high) school students of Philosophy and be sufficiently competent in one of the official languages to be able to write philosophy in it.

I am overjoyed to lead this pioneering American delegation!