International Foundation established in Nashville to promote new philosophy

Last updated on November 12th, 2019 at 12:15 am

Pictured (l to r): Dr. Werner Stegmaier, Dr. Claudia Welz, Dr. Reinhard Mueller, Mike Hodges, Tina Hodges.

In Nashville inside the world’s only full-size replica of the Parthenon in Athens, ancestral home of Western philosophy, a businessman and philosopher announced to a crowd of 200 invited guests from America and Europe the establishment of a foundation to promote a new philosophy for the 21st Century on Oct. 25.

The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation will support the study of the “philosophy of orientation,” which seeks to provide footholds and clues to living successfully in a world where things are constantly changing due to technology, globalization and other disruptive forces. It is a courageous philosophy of optimism for those who want to fearlessly live life to its fullest according to the namesake of the philosophy’s new foundation, Nashville entrepreneur Mike Hodges, chairman of a rapidly growing financial services firm.

“The philosophy of orientation helped me to frame my thoughts and concepts to meet the demands of a fast-paced life,” Hodges said. “I believe that other people, who also want to get the most out of life, might have the same experience, which is why we have created this foundation.

“The purpose of this foundation (which is not for profit and has no political, religious or ideological motive) is to make philosophy relevant again. Philosophy has become so technical, so entrenched in the academy and dissected by specialists, that it has nothing to do with living anymore. Our foundation seeks to reclaim for philosophy its ability to guide us in answering questions about how we live, and how we can live more successfully in all areas of life – be it at home with family, with friends and colleagues, or in your professional career. We want to move philosophy from the academy to Main Street—to encourage any person, regardless of education or background, to stretch their boundaries and experience the benefits of the examined life.”

In addition to launching The Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation, the ceremony at Nashville’s Parthenon also launched the English translation of the philosophy’s seminal text, What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation, by Dr. Werner Stegmaier. One of the world’s foremost authorities on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, Stegmaier was the founding director of the Institute for Philosophy at the University of Greifswald in Germany. His philosophy of orientation posits that the processes and structures of orientation precede all our thinking, perceiving, and acting and that being aware of these structures offers a more realistic view of our complex and continually shifting world.

“Today, our societies and our communications, nature and our living conditions, markets and politics, morals and religions, sciences and humanities change so intensely in such a short time that we lose track of it. We need a philosophy creating confidence that we, as mankind, will master our new situation,” Stegmaier said in his remarks. “Orientation works under conditions of uncertainty; it does not need full justification; it is able to create its hold by itself transforming uncertainties into certainties that are sufficient for acting successfully. But to this day, it has not been thoroughly and comprehensively investigated how orientation really works. Now is the time to do so.”

Stegmaier noted that the Hodges Foundation’s intention to move philosophical discussions from the halls of higher education into the broader community is as healthy for philosophy as it is good for the community.

“Philosophy can learn a lot from people who are not able to withdraw into quiet rooms for reflection, but are professionally confronted with surprising situations: not only entrepreneurs and people who work in their companies, but also politicians, doctors, lawyers, preachers, promoters, and many others,” he said. “Our Foundation is open to all. As already Emerson has seen, philosophy needs independent institutions supported by people who have gained their own independence.”

Also speaking at the event was Dr. Claudia Welz, a fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Bad Homburg & Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany and founding director of the Center for the Study of Jewish Thought in Modern Culture in Copenhagen.

“How can human beings re-orient themselves in complex situations of crisis or conflict when their familiar world, relational home and previous ‘system of coordinates’ is out of joint?” Welz said. “This is the question to which Werner Stegmaier has provided a strong and solid answer by investigating the history of the concept of orientation and the structures of human orientation processes. Responding to the problem of the ever-increasing complexity of our world, the philosophy of orientation describes ways of navigating through our bewildering world.”

Dr. Reinhard Mueller, executive director of the Hodges Foundation, described the organization’s forthcoming programs and projects to the crowd, which include:

  • Fellowships for Ph.D. students
  • Summer schools
  • Lecture series
  • Podcasts
  • Research clusters
  • Expert discussion rounds
  • Opus magnum program
  • Leadership program
  • Game changers
  • Journal of orientation studies
  • Open access publishing house

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