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pathways (programs)

Pathways to Philosophy
the pathways experience

Reproduced for their historical interest, these comments compiled from a Pathways student survey reflect the positive experiences of students taking the Six Pathways, as well as the ISFP Associate and Fellowship and the University of London Diploma and BA via Pathways.

For the other side of the story, you can browse through over a thousand reviews of student essays spanning the years 1996–2011 in Electronic Philosopher.

"I feel that you opened the flood gates for the pursuit of learning about Philosophy and when Pathways went onto the web it must have been a radical and constructive move that brought Philosophy to the masses and also the way of learning it in line with the 21st century."

Lynne Beckett
Textile Worker
Lancashire UK
Introduction to Philosophy

"I was looking for flexibility. I also wanted a mentor because interaction is fundamental in Philosophy. Studying philosophy opens one's mind while leaving one with more questions then answers. However the mystery of life remains which is fine for me especially in today's world where many believe it is only a question of time before we have all the answers. Pathways has easy to follow modules focused on philosophical topics rather then on philosophers, and I have had an enriching interaction with my mentor. The Pathways approach means I had to have the self-discipline to complete the modules in a reasonable timeframe without any pressure."

Tony Carpenter
Retired Engineer
Milan Italy
Introduction to Philosophy

"I feel very enthusiastic and energized about my decision to take Pathways. At last I am filling that gap. I am on the path. Pathways is the best way to first test your commitment to distance learning studies if you are planning to apply to a university degree in the future. It has provided a flexible but serious way to concentrate on a field of study I have always wanted to explore. I have a deep feeling of satisfaction that I have finally found a way to begin walking the path of philosophy without the subject seeming too 'untouchable' to embrace. Flexible, mentored, comprehensive and at the same time understandable: the 'user-friendly' first step in the journey of Philosophy."

Carlos Lopez
Human Resource Specialist
Madrid Spain
Introduction to Philosophy

"I started Pathways because I needed more focus in my reading of philosophical works because there are so many. The Pathways materials combined with the essay lists are helping me to gain that focus. The suggestions for further reading in feedback emails is also helping to broaden that focus. I am becoming better able to argue philosophical points which is not the same thing as arguing a point of view at all! It is also having the effect I've heard about, of clarifying my thinking when I come up against a problem, and how to think around the problem. The Pathways course in particular, because of the apparently informal nature of the material, has allowed me to think more creatively rather than getting anxious about logic. Doing the course has also helped my own thinking and how I look at and deal with life in general."

Diane Forest-Hill
Casino Cashier
Southampton UK
Introduction to Philosophy

"I was attracted by the backup by well qualified academic staff and I think this is the central value of the course. The Pathways materials let the beginner start their study in philosophy more easily and break down the wall that exists between the student and the subject itself. The Pathways mentor expresses their view on each piece of a student's work, from different aspects and sometimes disagreeing with the student's view with concrete arguments. This allows the student to review their mentor's comments and think how to improve. Most importantly, the mentor always welcomes questions from their student, and this creates an atmosphere where any matter can be discussed. The student knows that they will get a reply if only they write some lines on paper, no matter what it is."

Francis Wong
Senior Quantity Surveyor
Hong Kong
Introduction to Philosophy

"The focus from the essays I wrote, thinking about 'possible worlds' stimulated my creative side. What also was most encouraging were the comments of my tutor who related very much to some parts of my own life and set me on a track to have more confidence about the validity of my own experiences and to widen my readings in philosophy. The course provided a springboard to a re-evaluation both of my own life and of philosophers that I had not really appreciated."

Colin Amery
Auckland, New Zealand
Introduction to Philosophy

"Pathways is making me start to think very differently about the world. That is what I was looking for. A guided exploration with feedback from someone who can get me to look at things differently. Someone who can prevent me from overlooking things because of my personal prejudices and mindset."

Bill Crowley
Port Lavaca, Texas, USA
Introduction to Philosophy

"I was searching for a philosophy distance learning course. I found the Pathways programs inspiring and compatible with my present circumstances. I did not find it easy, but I did not expect it to be easy. Philosophy is a calling from being, a given from existing. It is a beautiful, complex subject and it is not about to be 'easy' or 'difficult'. The Pathways materials come already interpreted and clarified; it is up to the student to make sense or not. My mentor is supportive and attentive to my needs and difficulties."

Regina King
Essex UK
Philosophy of Mind

"I must confess that I have really been taken back by some of the hidden assumptions that I have been housing, not only about myself but also concerning physicalism, a field in which I am a participant. I am really enjoying this course and am certain that it will be just the beginning of an affair between myself and philosophy. Certainly, it has already been a life-changing experience for me. There is truly a transformative power associated with philosophy."

Marc Evans
Michigan USA
Philosophy of Mind

"When personal judgment (based on experience and expertise) is the prize, it is difficult to show or convince the 'other' the value of giving up his own judgment in order to think differently about a 'thing'. Knowing that, the value of 'not knowing' is the prize. That's what you and your Pathways program has taught me. It is helped me get through my life in the past seven years with a radiance and awe not to be expressed in words."

Sheldon James Martin
Wisconsin USA
Philosophy of Mind

"I wanted to thank you for your wonderful course. I have truly been inspired to continue with philosophy for the rest of my life. I wish though that I were younger and could go to school and begin filling the holes that have become so clear to me in my education since looking seriously at philosophy. The way you pulled the ideas of these Ancient Philosophers together was amazing. You gave continuity to the development of ideas that was clear and firm. I admit I had difficulty with some parts and some philosophers but with every new lesson I found myself trying hard to focus and develop a philosophical way of seeing and questioning things."

Wilfredo Crespo
Prison Chaplain
San Diego USA
Ancient Philosophy

"I am very pleased I took it on. It has made a big difference to me. My mentor has always been very encouraging and in fact some of his answers were a lesson in themselves. I was involved with a Philosophy Circle which was basically a group of people who would take turns to present a topic and then there would be a general discussion. Good fun but it really didn't change your opinion. The Pathways courses have made me rethink my ideas — surely the very reason to study Philosophy. It is very liberating — even though a little scary."

Katherine Ardizzone
Retired Accountant
Western Australia
Ancient Philosophy

"I was searching through the internet for info generally on philosophy and I found Pathways through Google and I thought it would be great — and it was! I had studied some Nietzsche and some classical philosophers (ancient and modern), but I could not get the big picture. I did not know how to approach the subject. Now I feel more confident. Pathways has enhanced my understanding of some subjects and it has deepened my knowledge of some others. It has also given me a wider perspective on ethical issues."

Stylianos Pantazis
Medical Doctor
Athens Greece
Ancient Philosophy

"My choice of Pathways was job driven, in part. Since I am a police officer much of my work involves using language. Part of my choice was to get a better understanding of language. The Pathways materials were much more helpful than textbooks. Studying philosophy with Pathways keeps philosophy in my mind, and it has given me the sense that with effort it is possible to grasp the basic concepts of just about any subject. I feel that I got an excellent insight into language and thought. It was a jump off point for me, and I don't know if I could have found any other instruction that would have met my interests and my capabilities to take the course."

Larry Barksdale
Police Officer
Nebraska USA
Philosophy of Language

"My outlook was certainly broadened. I must confess that my lack of formal logic training was a major stumbling block. But like everything else, it is the after effects which are more important. As my readings widen in scope I encounter more and more references which now make sense. My mentor was most helpful and encouraging (and I needed lots of that). Unprepared as I was, my almost random readings did indeed open new vistas."

Cornell Jaray
Retired Publisher
Oceanside CA USA
Philosophy of Language

"I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your program. When I first found out about the program I was excited because it seemed to be just what I was looking for. And believe me, I was not disappointed!"

Timothy O'Keefe
New York USA
Philosophy of Language

"Moral Philosophy is one of three Pathways programs I have taken. Some of the units were a little too elementary for perfection, but I have had many years reading and studying Philosophy on my own and so I can understand the need to start simple for those who are new to Philosophy. Pathways is the only online, interactive, means of studying Philosophy that is available. There simply is no competitor."

Stuart Burns
Retired Engineer
Mississauga Ontario Canada
Moral Philosophy

"Pathways contributed to my evolution as a thinker. It has helped me climb higher and gain a better view of the landscape I am part of. I wake up with less maddening confusion in my heart. I am more at peace now. I feel less lost. My actions are better guided now, and more fruitful. I'm navigating this sea better now. I'm more capable of sailing to where I want to sail. Indeed, that is the purpose of thought itself. The purpose of any tool such as philosophy. (philosophy is also an end for me; very rewarding in itself). I think that overall the course was worth it, and I encourage anyone thinking of trying a pathways course to go for it, because you most likely won't regret it."

Richard Grear
Photographer/ Painter/ Illustrator
Lancaster NY USA
Moral Philosophy

"This project is a wonderful undertaking and I have such positive feelings about long distance, electronic learning. The future of cross cultural education is unbelievable."

Patrick Hudson
Plastic Surgeon
New Mexico USA
Moral Philosophy

"Thank you very much for being my mentor for the metaphysics course which turned out to be a fascinating and enjoyable experience. I've learnt a lot about metaphysics, about how to think in a philosophical way, about how to do research, and about how to organize my thoughts."

David Seaman
Software Engineer
Suffolk UK

"I've just mailed to you my last essay for the metaphysics course. It's been a difficult year for me but one of the best parts was struggling with 'The Ultimate Nature of Things'. I enjoyed the readings as well as the essays which were challenging without being overwhelming, at least not too overwhelming ;-) I've appreciated your comments on my essays... your consistently positive attitude as well as your patience."

Jack Tracey
Massachusetts USA

"When I was planning to find out some guidelines on learning western philosophy, I encountered the Pathways website and I was so excited at that time that there is a professional philosophy program through distant learning. I haven't found any better alternative yet. Studying philosophy with Pathways has given me a sense of how philosophy research should be conducted. Also, I'm now eager to write something as means to convey my own thought. I'm the kind of person who finds it hard to live without thinking, and philosophy gives me effective ways of easing my mind and thus better planning my personal life."

Le Deng
Software Testing Engineer
Shanghai City China

"I am full of admiration for the courses I have taken. The courses were interesting, thought provoking and taught me a lot. The extensive comments on my work taught me to be precise and careful about what I said and how I said it."

Kay Critchett
Retired Teacher
Wales, UK

Associate, Fellowship, Diploma and BA

"My mentor inspired me, reflected my own passion and was living proof of how the study of philosophy could pan out. Mentor interaction regarding my philosophical development was perfect at the time, because I was able to bounce ideas off an accomplished philosopher and receive essential criticism. Most importantly, I felt understood and my mentor was able to articulate complex ideas very well to me. Pathways gave me the experience and confidence to start philosophy at university, regarding how I develop ideas, articulate them, follow them through, have them criticised. It motivated me much more to 'do' philosophy and pursue a career involving philosophy and to get involved in its promotion. I have learned that it is not good enough to read and think about philosophy, or even to discuss it with people. You need to appreciate that articulating a sustained argument in written form is a development multiplier in your philosophical development and essential to making a cogent philosophical impact upon your working and studying life."

Justin Woods
Strategic Policy Officer, Dept of Defence
Canberra Australia
Associate Award

"I have appreciated your rigorous, inspiring, challenging, patient approach. I am glad that I took the risk of studying with Pathways. The portfolio of essays that I produced for the Associate Award stand as the most satisfying pieces of writing that I have done: I am very proud to have passed. The certificate is one of my most treasured. Philosophy is a difficult and often frustrating subject, but ultimately deeply rewarding — my teaching has been given a new dimension as a result of studying it. Like you, I value the freedom to pursue themes in which I am most interested: that Pathways allows students to do this is, for me, its greatest feature."

Andrew Watson
Teacher, George Watson's College
Edinburgh UK
Associate Award

"The feedback has been very detailed and informative. My main problem has been to isolate and develop properly single themes, and the mentor feedback has helped guide me back on track. However the final choice of theme is still left up to me, and while this makes the task harder, it is better for my philosophical development that this is so. I find the Associate Award very challenging, much more so than any other course I've done. This has changed my outlook of what philosophical skills I need to develop, and thus opened up a whole new range of challenges. I have also obtained a great sense of achievement from the course."

Mark Hegarty
Digital Design Engineer
Dornbirn Austria
Associate Award

"I am working on a Fellowship dissertation involving Justice and legal philosophical theory. My mentor is first class. He is thoughtful, insightful, and treats those of us who are not at his level in philosophy with dignity and respect. After reading my dissertation my mentor made some very perceptive comments as well as suggestions all of which I found useful and extended an excellent learning experience. If one wants to learn philosophy, and is willing to work at it, Pathways is a wonderful opportunity. If you are studying philosophy in school Pathways is the best tutor available at the cost. All in all I say go for it."

George Brooks
Retired Lawyer
California USA
Fellowship Award

"I needed something like this at a stage in life when I had given up hope. The challenge was enormous and I relished it. Excellent interaction with tutor, satisfactory end result and finally re-admission to Australian institutes to complete a course of study to PhD. Pathways provided so to speak the fuel for me to bring the engine back to life."

Jurgen Lawrenz
University Tutor
Sydney Australia
Associate and Fellowship Awards

"You have helped my studies enormously. Firstly by reading and providing feedback on my efforts. And secondly by pointing out the connections between the topics I am covering and the rest of philosophy. Your comments are always highly accurate and actionable. There are many ideas which you have pointed out to me that have come up later in exams! I find my study of philosophy rewarding and helpful in all sorts of unexpected ways. I recently imported Plato's views on Love into a presentation at work, which raised a few eyebrows! Thank you for your contribution, and I look forward to working together with you during the rest of my course."

Julian Plumley
Executive, Proctor & Gamble
Geneva Switzerland
University of London BA Degree in Philosophy

"I feel this is a unique and very valid program that more should be exploring. The structure of the program allows freedom to explore yet staying on topic. My mentor is very honest and straightforward. I am grateful he took me on, as honest feedback is great therapy for me. Philosophy has opened my mind to question the premises of life. It changes understanding of the world and the actions myself and others make within it."

Alfred Murray
Merchant Marine Officer
Mississippi USA
University of London BA Degree in Philosophy

"It has been an enjoyable and enriching experience. I am a neophyte in this area, and over the past 6 months, since I started, I have been surprised by how much I have learned that has changed some of my attitudes and has broadened and deepened my understanding of certain issues. I have found each topic I have studied absorbing. I wanted someone knowledgeable to ensure that I had understood what I had read and that I was on the right track. I also wanted my essays writing skills assessed. I could not have managed without my tutor's guidance. The responses to any queries that I have had have been prompt and helpful. The mentor's comments on the essays have been to the point, insightful, detailed, constructive, and thought-provoking."

Mark Selikowitz
Consultant Paediatrician
Sydney Australia
University of London BA Degree in Philosophy