Matthew Lipman's Model Theory of the Community of Inquiry

  • Darryl M. De Marzio


Introduction: In an earlier publication, titled, “What Happens in Philosophical Texts,”1 I present what I refer to as Matthew Lipman’s model theory of the philosophical text. I argue there that the distinctive form of Lipman’s own philosophical novels—the curricular flagship of the Philosophy for Children program—lies in how they perform a modeling function, in the sense of being both a model of and a model for philosophical thinking. In addition, I attempt to locate through this theoretical rendering the place that Lipman’s novels occupy in the history of written philosophical discourse, and argue that the novels are simultaneously retrospective and futuristic: harkening back to a time when philosophical texts served as a technology with which we form our philosophical thinking, rather than as an exposition to which, as readers, we are merely exposed; and, at the same time, I suggest that Lipman’s novels point toward a hoped-for future in which narrative discourse might once again establish a position of priority over exposition in the development of philosophical curriculum.