Christopher Phillips

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Christopher Phillips
Christopher Phillips discussing the Bill of Rights with New Jersey High School students in 2008.
Born (1959-07-15) July 15, 1959 (age 57)
Newport News, Virginia
Occupation Author, educator, pro-democracy advocate
Nationality American
Alma mater College of William & Mary (B.A.) Montclair State University(M.Ed) Edith Cowan University (Ph.D)
Period 1996–present
Subject Socratic dialogue, philosophy, democracy, constitution
Notable works Socrates Café

Christopher Phillips (born July 15, 1959) is an American author, educator, and pro-democracy advocate.[1] He is best known for his 2001 book Socrates Café.[2] Public Radio International called Phillips the "Johnny Appleseed of Philosophy."[3]

Phillips's latest book The Philosophy of Childing: Unlocking Creativity, Curiosity and Reason through the Wisdom of Our Youngest was published in May 2016. Foreword Reviews says this about it: "More concerned with opening communication and dialogues than drawing hard conclusions,The Philosophy of Childing is a springboard for debate, addressing everything from moral development and imagination to the idea of “ripeness” as a human being."

Early life and education[edit]

Phillips relates in his latest work, The Philosophy of Childing, that he read Plato's Socratic dialogues when he was about 12. After graduating from Menchville High School, he received a BA in Government from the College of William & Mary;[4] In 1997, he earned an M.A.T. in Teaching from Montclair State University, and studied in the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children.[5] In 2000, he earned an M.A. external degree in Humanities, with an emphasis in philosophy, at California State University, Dominguez Hills;[6] He also has a Master of Science in natural sciences degree from Delta State University,[7] which was the first of his master's degrees.[8] Phillips received a Ph.D. in communications from Edith Cowan University in Australia.[9]


Phillips freelanced for national magazines—and before that was a school teacher and newspaper reporter—before launching Socratic explorations in cafés, coffeehouses, diners, day care centers, nursing homes, assisted-living residence, churches, schools (where the gatherings are sometimes called Philosophers' Club), universities, hospices and prisons.[10] Phillips' idea of having open-invitation meetings in cafes to methodically delve into philosophical questions in Socratic fashion was inspired in part by Matthew Lipman, the founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children who was dedicated to introducing philosophy into schools and under whom Phillips studied,[11] as well as by Marc Sautet, whose Café Philosophique Phillips became aware of after reading an article about Sautet.[12] In his most recent book "Constitution Café," Phillips chronicles his journey across the US facilitating dialogues, with a version of the Socratic Method that he developed for the Socrates Cafés,[13] combined with the Jeffersonian idea of democratic freedom and inclusiveness.[14] His latest endeavor is the Declaration Project, featuring a comprehensive collection of declarations of independence, causes, rights, principles from across the ages and continents, and MyDeclaration, where visitors to the site can post personal declarations.[15]

Academic career[edit]

Phillips was a 2012 recipient of the Distinguished American Leadership Award, along with Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise.[16] He is the founder of Democracy Cafe, a nonprofit dedicated to creating more open and participatory societies, and which includes advisory board member Lawrence Lessig. Phillips has also taught in the graduate program Media, Culture and Communication at New York University,[17] and at the University of Pennsylvania as a Senior Writing Fellow.[18] He has been Senior Education Fellow at the National Constitution Center[19] and 2014-15 Network Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.[20] He also blogs at Huffington Post, as well as on the and sites.[21]

Published works[edit]


The books published by Phillips are (the ISBNs refer to paperback editions, where available):

Children's book:


Phillips wrote, among many others, the following papers:

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Find the deeper meaning at 'Socrates Cafe' / The Christian Science Monitor -
  3. ^ Vasilopoulos, Vicki (June 13, 2004). "IN PERSON; Socrates' New Disciple". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Williamsburg man challenges people to think about the Constitution -
  5. ^ Montclair State University, "The 'Johnny Appleseed of Philosophy' Returns to Montclair", accessed 5 March 2014
  6. ^ Russell Hudson, "Alum Updates Socrates’ Philosophy, Captures International Attention", 2005, CSUDH website, accessed 5 March 2014.
  7. ^ ‘Socrates’ Philosopher to lead events at Delta State, 2008, Delta State University website, accessed 5 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Coffee talk: Are Socrates cafes the antidote to modern life?", The Ottawa Citizen, 30 August 2005, accessed 5 March 2014.
  9. ^ Upcoming Lectures, Iowa State University website, accessed 5 March 2014.
  10. ^ Phillips, Christopher Socrates Café New York: W.W. Norton, 2001, pp. 5.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Montclair State University, Insight, "Alum brings philosophy to the masses" at the Wayback Machine (archived July 21, 2011), 15 September 1997, accessed 5 March 2014; Bill Workman, "San Bruno Thinker Spurs Robust Chatter in Cafes", San Francisco Chronicle, 21 May 1998, accessed 5 March 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Phillips, Christopher Constitution Café New York: W.W. Norton, 2011, pp. 11.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Phillips, Christopher. "Home". 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Phillips, Christopher. "Christopher Phillips". Huffington Post. 

NPR features[edit]

External links[edit]