“Why philosophy?” Seth Tichenor has been answering that question for more than 20 years.
For Seth, it’s just the way he thinks. He remembers having his first philosophical thought at age 3, but it wasn’t until college that he realized it was what he wanted to do.
“I was talking with a friend,” he recalls, “when he pointed out that whatever I do, I’m going to approach it from a philosophical perspective.”
Seth, a 2018 TEDxSalem speaker, realized that he would always ask questions such as “why do we do it this way?” “how might others do this?” and “even if we could, should we?”
Now he talks philosophy to anyone willing to listen, whether it’s part of his work as a philosophy professor, lifeguard, swim instructor or driver for visiting musical acts.
Seth describes himself as an Oregon native and a former All-American swimmer living in Astoria with his partner Gad. He finds a way to use all his passions to better the community. He spends a lot of his time as a lifeguard and swim instructor. With all the water surrounding Astoria, Seth sees it as a public service.
But the Philosopharian project is his passion.
The Philosopharian project aims to bring philosophy into the lives of everyday people. It started with promoting local philosophy talks and grew into a larger project that included a road trip of practicing “guerrilla philosophy tactics.”
Seth bemoans the fact that studying philosophy doesn’t financially pencil out for most students. The Philosopharian vision treats philosophy as a normal part of the real world. It was inspired by students who were interested in philosophy, but who didn’t have room for it in their class schedules and Gad’s background in Alternative Education and Kinesthetic Learning.
In his free time, Seth stays active with hiking and water sports. He is a competitive swimmer in middle distance butterfly and freestyle.
“I’m like Seabiscuit,” he said, comparing his water skills to the race horse. “I’ve got finesse.”
His swim background also influences the way he thinks. Seth describes his world and his philosophy as being dynamic and emerging, much like water.
“Water makes its way into a lot of my thinking,” he said. “My classroom looks out over the Columbia, and I will make a reference to water at least once a week in my lectures.”
Seth also enjoys painting and doing costuming work with Gad. He has been a professor of philosophy for 23 years and teaches at Clatsop Community College. He was named teacher of the year in 2015. He has an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion from Boston University and is a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Comparative Philosophy.
If you have ever wondered how philosophy might be relevant to you, come see Seth at TEDxSalem and experience his guerrilla philosophy tactics for yourself.
Speaker: Seth Tichenor
Favorite Book: The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse: “It really discusses the strengths and limits of formal intellectual academic work.” Or Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.
Favorite Music: Chet Baker’s jazz, Arcade Fire and art rock, old punk, underground hip hop such as Dead Prez.
Favorite Food: “Thai or Indian food with vibrant tastes – I’m aesthetic, but not a good sense of smell. I also got a taste for that kind of food while attending grad school in Hawaii.”
Favorite Drink: “I’m very fond of Fort George Vortex IPA, or a well-made Manhattan or a Moscow mule.”
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