The Philosophical Map


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‘Philosophical map’ is a term used by E. F. Schumacher in “A Guide for the Perplexed” to speak about the intellectual frameworks by which we interpret our world. This paper develops the idea of the philosophical map to show how it presents in visual form our personal and social meanings and commitments. Discovering and forming philosophical-values maps help orient us in our world. Because maps can reveal or distort what they depict, the skill and motivation of the mapmaker are vital. Designing a philosophical map is more than a theoretical task. It involves our connection to the physical world. By helping us visualize centers of meaning in our lives, philosophical maps are ways to increase self-awareness and are useful and practical. The paper explains the use of the philosophical map as a classroom assignment and also provides theoretical background for understanding the effectiveness of making philosophical maps. Theoretical examples include Carl Jung's visualization of the psyche using mandalas and Martin Heidegger’s description of dwelling in the fourfold world. Philosophical maps connect theory and practice. They connect mental life to bodily experience. Because philosophical maps can help center and orient our lives, there are many applications for this idea—in teaching, counseling, spiritual formation, and community building, for example.