NASHVILLE, Tennessee — A broad spectrum of people from students and professionals to intellectuals gathered at The Parthenon Friday night for the launch of a new foundation dedicated to the pursuit of philosophy.
In particular, the foundation is interested in a “philosophy of orientation,” a new set of terms based on the work of Drs. Werner Stegmaier and Reinhard Mueller, two Germans old and young who piqued the interest of entrepreneur Mike Hodges.
Hodges and his wife, Tina, launched the Hodges Foundation for Philosophical Orientation Friday night trying to pursue their philosophical interests. Tina described her husband to The Tennessee Star as a “life-long learner, and philosophy enthusiast” as the two said the philosophy of orientation acted as a “positive response to the dreaded nihilism” of our world.
“It doesn’t, therefore, assert that there are no objective truths, but rather accepts the uncertainties of the world and aims to use them creatively,” Stegmaier said during Friday’s event.
Mike began his philosophical journey back in 2014 when his therapist turned him on to the “life of the mind.” This therapy led him to contemplate the ideas of stories and storytelling in his life.
“I believe stories are everything, the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we tell each other,” he said.
This new line of thinking introduced Mr. Hodges to Stegmaier who attended the event Friday night, where both men promoted the idea of “living dangerously.”
With the launching of the new foundation came Stegmaier’s English translation of his book What is Orientation: A Philosophical Investigation. The book, translated into English by Mueller, details the foundational elements of orientation philosophy and how many decisions are made under uncertainty and “the pressure of time.”
Stegmaier said his philosophy is “risky, dangerous, but hopeful as well” and called the orientation philosophy a “stimulus for life,” which reorients Nietzsche’s philosophy. Even though Stegmaier found it “surprising” that American colleges are hesitant to deal with orientation philosophy, he approved of it being supported in a non-academic way.
Carlin Romano, a journalist, professor, and author of the popular America The Philosophical, came to a similar conclusion. Romano said the humanities departments are “under siege” and advocated for a broader acceptance of philosophy.
“If philosophers don’t convince deans, and provosts, and so on that they’re a key part of education at the college level in particular, departments are going to shrink and prestige is not going to matter.” he said
Romano said he supports the Hodges Foundation and stressed the importance of business owners “who care about philosophy and want to support it.”
Notable attendees at the event included Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who looked on during Stegmaier’s speech.
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[Editors note: Mike and Tina Hodges are chairman and CEO, respectively, of Advance Financial, an advertiser with The Tennessee Star.]