HomeNewsArticle Display

Armchair philosophy to help Airmen think critically

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFNS) -- More is expected of Airmen today than ever before, said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, during his recent visit here.

Airmen need to be sharper and more well-rounded because the Air Force has fewer people to accomplish the same mission, he said recently.

The Lakenheath Philosophical Society, founded by Tech Sgt. Jason Harlan, a 48th Munitions Squadron conventional maintenance production supervisor, seeks to develop the critical-thinking skills Airmen need to better themselves, both in their jobs and in their day-to-day lives.

"If you're asked to solve a problem, or you're faced with some kind of decision, the way you approach problems and the way you're able to reason through the consequences are a direct reflection of the discipline you have and your ability to use reason and logic," Harlan said. "If you haven't finely tuned those things, you're going to make poor decisions, and those poor decisions are going to have ramifications."

Harlan created the philosophical society because he wanted to challenge himself, as well as others, to engage in the deeper questions of life: Why do we think and believe as we do?

"I wanted to have a place where people can come together and exchange ideas in a free and open environment," Harlan said. "However, those ideas will be challenged and those ideas will be discussed and debated in a respectful way. When you walk away, maybe your ideas will have been confirmed, maybe you have to readjust them, maybe you have another way of thinking about something. It gives you another perspective."

In order for an individual to experience personal growth, they need to be challenged, Harlan said.

Philosophy is already unwittingly a part of Airmen's lives in the military. The Air Force is replete with rhetoric, or slogans, steeped in philosophical ideas.

"Our slogans, like 'Step Up, Step In,' have some solid philosophical underpinnings," Harlan said. "I know it sounds cliché, but it does. Stepping into a situation and circumventing a potential problem, that's something that we should do. It's a behavior that the Air Force wants to facilitate."

Harlan assured that the subject matter isn't intended to be intimidating. In fact, it's already a part of everyone's day-to-day lives.

"The fact of the matter is, everyone is a philosopher, whether they know it or not," Harlan said. "A lot of the things that we discuss, you've already thought about. You've already been mulling them over your entire adult life and adolescence. Philosophy is not above anybody. Philosophy isn't below anyone either. It's right where everyone's at."

"Philosophy is far from being a futile endeavor or something that has no real bearing on the world," Harlan said on the topic of the upcoming meeting. "It has real applicability in everyone's life. Everybody is welcome to come. If you are able to think, and you're able to treat others with respect when they have differing opinions, then hey, this is the place for you."

Harlan stressed that the Lakenheath Philosophical Society is neither an atheistic nor theistic organization.

"The organization doesn't take positions on philosophical issues, other than the fact that we don't take positions," Harlan said.

For anyone thinking about going back to school, the discussions facilitated by the philosophical society could help Airmen transition back into an academic setting, or it could just be a fun place to kick around ideas, Harlan suggested.

"Plato wrote, in 'The Apology' quoting Socrates, 'The unexamined life is not worth living,'" Harlan said. "If that's true, the question is, have you examined your life, what you stand for, do you know why you are the way you are and why you think the way you do? If you can answer that in the affirmative, or you would like to dig deeper, then the philosophical society is for you."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
One #AirForce family tells the story of their evacuation from @TeamTyndall due to #HurricaneMichael.… https://t.co/o5GltTgu4E
It's time for #WIP! Which one is your favorite? https://t.co/sdX64yLiPQ https://t.co/PQZRKILRzx
RT @WJHG_TV: On-base personnel have been allowed on base the past four days to return to their homes, evaluate the damage, and get some of…
RT @TeamTyndall: Daily progress is being made by Airmen across #TyndallAFB including communications infrastructure coming back online, help…
Cancer is a life-changing experience. Two military spouses told their stories of surviving breast cancer.… https://t.co/tXcZGrCzxK
The CONUS Evacuation Order for #Airmen assigned to @TeamTyndall has been updated: https://t.co/n74gtQ9KTm https://t.co/w1RqiSznFm
The STS #Airmen mission @Hurlburt_Field enables the #USAF access across the globe. By surveying landing zones & com… https://t.co/AXsdhrVGuJ
Master Sgt. Craig Domko, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group #firstsergeant, first look at #Airmen's dormitories followin… https://t.co/s5QZRNHjev
RT @HollomanAFB: The seamless partnership between the 49th LRS & 635th MMG allowed for over 360 tons of supplies to be sent nearly 2,000 mi…
RT @ACC_Commander: Glad to see these Tyndall Raptors getting cleaned off and ready to fly again as part of Tyndall recovery efforts. #Airme
RT @DepSecDef: Great visit to @388fw & @HAFB alongside @GenDaveGoldfein & @usairforce senior leaders to talk #F35 maintenance & performance…
RT @NPR: Hundreds of military families have been displaced from Tyndall Air Force base as a result of Hurricane Michael. https://t.co/zCGM…
RT @TeamTyndall: It's been more than a week since #HurricaneMichael hit the #Florida panhandle & @TeamTyndall, #Airmen are working around t…
RT @LukeAFB: Team Luke was proud to host @POTUS, as well as @DepSecDef & @SecAFOfficial today to showcase defense capabilities. #POTUSatLuk
#Airmen of @116ACW are feeding hope to those affected by #HurricaneMichael by serving food to the #localcommunity,… https://t.co/fNaR8ip52n
RT @USNationalGuard: The worst of #HurricaneMichael brought out the best of the @FLGuard as they conduct wellness checks on residents and r…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Meeting some of the Airmen here @LukeAFB where we train more than 70% of the world’s #F35 pilots. #AirPower https://t.co…
#HurricaneMichael hit the #FloridaPanhandle Oct. 10, w/ @TeamTyndall directly in its path. Active-duty and… https://t.co/yiMUSrnH4h
RT @USAF_ACC: #Airmen from the 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 635th Materiel Maintenance Group, @HollomanAFB, dedicated 7,000+ man h…