The Montparnasse Initiative: School of Thinking

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announcement, call for participants

YouTube video here: The Montparnasse Initiative: School of Thinking

I wanted to make a special announcement about an upcoming summer program focused on thinking that I will be co-organizing with a few colleagues. This announcement is a call for participation with The Montparnasse Initiative: School of Thinking which is focused on building out the foundations for a new type of education and learning. We will be hosted by the Center for Research and Interdisciplinary (CRI) in Paris, France and will be convening between July 12th and July 18th. For more specific details about the program and how to register please see the links at the bottom of this blog post which will take you directly to our program outline and specific information about how to register.

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Foundations for the program

This initiative was started for three main reasons. The first reason is that our standard education functions on a type of background dependence. That means that when we enter formal education we are constantly encouraged to think within a certain background. We are encouraged to think with a physics background, or with a chemistry, biology or history background. This form of thinking has a great utility but it often leaves us without an understanding of the very process and phenomenon that allows for this activity and knowledge in the first place: thought itself. Consequently, the school of thinking wants to play with our assumption of background dependence and open up a new way to think about thought’s relation to these backgrounds.

The second reason, following from the first, is that we want to better understand processes of conceptualization. We want to better understand how concepts emerges and form and relate with other concepts. In other words, we are trying to play with the systems of categorization themselves. Why do we cling so fiercely to the categories we have constructed? What is their function for our identity and for our action in the world? How can we form new relationships to categories and how can we better relate and act in the world with this meta-level knowledge of categorization?

The third reason, is that we want to train the next generation of thinkers to be frame operators; minds that are capable of operating from the perspective of the a priori frame of reference. We want to be able to form an educational and learning environment in which the emergence of new thinking is encouraged and supported. We want to be able to form an educational and learning environment in which the very medium of thought is the ground of analysis. In this way the participants of the program will be even more important than the programs and courses we have developed. Indeed, we have tried to design a program where the subject and its goals and dreams are front and center. This will not be a program for passive reception of information, but a program that attempts to cultivate new thinking from the people who join.

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Core activities

If you take the time to explore our program outline you will find more information about our specific schedule outline. However, here you can see some of the core dimensions of the activities we hope to offer over the course of our week long program. As you can see the level of diversity in terms of both form and content is extensive. We will have workshops that focus on:

  • meditation and reflectivity;
  • mechanics of the brain;
  • communication and interrelating with others;
  • emotional thinking and how to think with our emotions in a healthy and productive way;
  • different useful forms of thinking: from dialectical to complexity to systems to distributed and creative forms of thinking;
  • different core reading materials;
  • making sense of the world individually and collectively;
  • body activities and campfire stories situating our project within its historical and philosophical context

Again, for more information about these different programs and the schedule for the summer school, please refer to the links at the bottom of this blog post.

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Our Team

In order to pull off this operation we have a very competent and diverse staff of organizers who are facilitating the emergence of this summer school. We have professionals from all ranges of subjects and expertise, including systems theory, psychoanalysis, cybernetics, psychology, philosophy, and so forth. We do not plan to teach these courses in a standard format which often becomes structured as a hierarchy or a top-down organization; we instead hope to build more open and heterarchical forms that can reflect the content we are aiming to communicate with our participants. For more information on the specific organizers please see the links at the bottom of the blog.

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The inaugural event

If you choose to join us this summer you will be a part of our inaugural attempt to build a school that specifically approaches thought itself. We hope that this is the start of something new and something special; something that can be duplicated and replicated at other institutions in the months and the years to come. We hope that you will be a part of the birth of this process!

If you choose to join us this summer you will be immersed in an environment that is extremely open and collaborative, both in terms of the courses we have designed and the discourse we hope will emerge. There will be many diverse and creative minds and we feel that this environment will be a place where something special can emerge. We hope that it is an environment that will offer our participants the chance for a connection that aids personal and professional development.

Finally, we will be located in the Montparnasse building in the heart of Paris. We want to take advantage of being in this beautiful European city at a warm and inviting time of the year. We will be hosting some after program events and a day of exploring the city in order to break up the routine of the program schedule.

And that is the announcement. Again, all links are in the description for more information about signing up and joining us this summer in Paris. If you are interested to learn more about thought and processes of conceptualization, we hope to see you in Paris for an event that should be just as enlightening for me as I hope it will be for you!






Our team:

Marta Lenartowicz

Iwona Soltysinska

Helene Finidori 

Genevieve Cron

Stefan Blachfellner

Jon Echanove

Sayfan Borghini

Maciek Swiezy

Balthazar Tirosh

Suzanne Dumouchel

Gael Van Weyenbergh


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