Philosophical Inquiry

  • Everyone positioned in a circle, able to see each other
  • Having a starting point: a text, a poem, one sentence, an art work, a dance…
  • Focusing on the questions that come up from the starting point
    • Each participant thinking and writing down 1-2 questions that come to mind
    • Writing the questions on the blackboard, one question at a time
      • Slowing down, focusing on each question
    • Eventually, looking at what relationships may be found between the questions. Are there some similar questions?
    • Looking at the topics and questions, not trying to find answers


  • Looking at things in different ways.
  • Finding out how other people see things.
  • A structure for looking into things.
  • A starting point for discussion: thinking together.
  • Finding out what arises from the group, not pushing the teacher’s ideas.
  • Practicing how to ask questions.
    • The aim is to learn to ask open questions, to see deeper, problematize, conceptualize.
    • It takes training to ask substantial questions.
    • Building up trust, at the start allowing all kinds of questions.
  • Developing critical thinking.
    • Often people may think a lot, even if they don’t seem to participate.

Who with:

  • People of any age or background


  • A starting question with the starting point, for example: “What do you think is happening in this artwork?”
  • Adjusting the text/artwork/question to suit the group.
  • With children: allowing any questions.
  • Embodiment as a focal point:
    • Moving in the space – going to a specific spot if all the participants agree, if they don’t agree completely not agreeing, going to the opposite side of the space.
    • Ask participants do justify why their position in regard to the question.
    • Discussions may prompt participants to change their mind and express that by moving to a different spot in the room.
    • Imagining things that are present in the room, looking at them differently.


  • 1 hour

Author: Ingimar Olafsson Waage, Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavik.