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The Early History of the Philosophical Society

The Philosophical Society at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education started in 1972, when the Department was called The University of Oxford Department for External Studies, located at Rewley House since 1927 (The Department's own history can be found on the OUDCE website). Our mission of supporting all individuals who want to explore the subject of philosophy has not changed since those early days, but the department environment in which we operate has gone through many shifts in the way courses are organised and run. We started as a group of learners interested in expanding classroom learning and interested in pushing the boundaries of philosophy to include contemporary issues. Being our own organisation has allowed us to adapt and expand our methods, while maintaining the core of our existence. The founder, the person who coalesced this enthusiasm into a collective, was Dr Anthony S Chadwick, a lecturer in Philosophy at External Studies. As he says in his memoir linked below, he was responsible for 10 weekly course lectures a year, teaching half of them himself in Oxford, and finding locations for, and part-time lecturers for, the rest, in various venues around Oxfordshire. That hasn't changed much, except that those courses outside Oxford are now online.

As you read his account, you must keep in mind that Dr Chadwick is writing in 1988. Very much has changed in our society since then, but no one has written an account of the following 10 years. This section of the website is waiting for other contributions.

Read Dr Chadwick's memoir here.
Read Trevor Hussey's obituary of Dr Chadwick here.