History

Find out more about the origins and the history of the School in the 7 minute video below.
school of athens plato philosophy course
Play Video about school of athens plato philosophy course

“.. an unexamined life is not a life for a human being.. Socrates”

History timeline

1937 School History
School Founded

Henry George School of Economics founded in London by Leon MacLaren. It was renamed the School of Economic Science in 1942.

1954 First Philosophy Courses
Philosophy Courses

First series of Philosophy courses offered, developed from the teachings of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.

1957 Overseas Schools
First Overseas Schools

First overseas school established in Wellington, NZ. Since then associated schools have opened in North America, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Malta, S Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Venezuela.

1959 Meditation
Meditation

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi visits the UK, bringing the next stage of development, Meditation.

1965 Meetings
Meetings

First of many meetings of Leon MacLaren and Shri Shantananda Saraswati.

c1980 Courses in Canterbury
Courses in Canterbury
canterbury practical philosophy courses

Philosophy courses first offered in Canterbury

1994 Mr MacLaren passes away
New Senior Tutor

Mr MacLaren passes away. Mr Donald Lambie succeeds him as Senior Tutor.

1997 Shri Shantananda passes away
New Teacher

Shri Shantananda passes away. First meeting with Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati.

1997 School name change
School name changed

The name of the school is changed to the School of Philosophy and Economic Science.

How it works on our educational courses

A tutor presents material, and leads a discussion based on what arises. Being practical rather than academic, the emphasis is on personal knowledge. Students are encouraged neither to accept nor reject the ideas put forward, but to test them in practice for themselves, in the light of their own experience.

Leon MacLaren…

During the 1940’s and 50’s the founder of the school, Leon MacLaren, began to develop the Practical Philosophy course out of his study of economics and philosophy.

leon maclarenIn the mid 1960’s he was introduced to Shri Shantananda Saraswati, a leading figure of the Vedantic tradition in India.

Over the next 30 years Leon MacLaren paid frequent visits to India; receiving guidance in the study and practice of philosophy from the holy tradition known as Advaita, which literally means ‘non-duality’ or ‘unity’.

Shri Shantananda Saraswati

At the first meeting, Shri Shantananda Saraswati talked about the direction of enquiry and the part he could play in it.

sri shantananda saraswatiHe said “It is not my desire which has to be carried out. The desire, which has to be helped, is that which arises in people looking for the truth, wishing to acquire the divine life, and to make efforts in that direction; and so far as I can, I will always be ready. My door is always open to anyone, known or unknown, eastern or western, irrespective of his upbringing or culture, because in fact we all come from the same stock. As long as that desire and the decision are strong, permanent and stable, the help will always be available.”

The School found this to be so: for the next 30 years he gave fully of his wisdom and guidance upon it through a series of conversations with the School’s leader at the time, Leon MacLaren.

Frequently asked questions

The course is practical in the sense that it takes philosophical ideas and shows how they can be of direct use in our everyday lives. The intention is to stimulate enquiry and through this expand the way we look at the world and ourselves.

Online by clicking ‘Enrol Today’ or email PracticalPhilosophyKent@gmail.com

If you register online, you will receive a confirmation email with your day of attendance. If you register by any means other than online, you will receive a receipt confirming your registration.

Yes, we have a local venue at Maidstone & Tonbridge Kent. There are also many other local venues in other parts of the UK where you can attend the course face-to-face.

No, all you need is an open and enquiring mind. The course is intended for everyone, regardless of education, occupation, race, political or religious belief.

Face-to-face meetings will be held safely following all COVID-19 guidelines for your complete peace of mind.

First you need to enrol on a course. The in-person courses are available in Maidstone & Tonbridge Kent and at many other local venues up and down the UK. Local Maidstone & Tonbridge maps can be found on this page.

A tutor presents a topic, perhaps some material and leads a discussion based on what arises. Being practical rather than academic, the emphasis is on personal knowledge. Students are encouraged neither to accept nor reject the ideas put forward, but to test them in practice for themselves, in the light of their own experience.

In this way, for those who wish, the whole week between classes can become a learning opportunity.

As the course continues, the most vivid and valuable part of the evening meetings is often sharing what has been seen in daily life between individual sessions.

be found on this page.

Just an open and enquiring mind, and an interest in the subject matter. At the end of each evening or via a later email a handout with key points and any quotations used is provided.

Mindfulness is knowledge and love working together. One is mindful  when an action is heartfelt and you know what you’re doing. Philosophy makes mindfulness practical. Throughout the course, great emphasis is placed on the importance of being in the present moment. Exercises and practices are provided to encourage this connection. These increase the value of each weekly session. More generally, they deepen and enrich awareness of the vibrancy of the world around us in our daily lives.

There is much focus on the direct experience of stillness as the underlying basis for clear observation and connection with oneself. However, the practice of mantra meditation as such does not form part of the course. Meditation is introduced a few terms later for those who wish it. Over time it becomes an increasingly central practice. 

Our philosophy tutors have all been studying in the School for some time.  All have considerable experience of applying the lessons of philosophy to their everyday lives. They come from all walks of life and many different professions, but all share the same love of passing on knowledge in order that people can get the most out of their lives.  None are paid for being a tutor.

This is not an academic course. There are no exams.

The course is not religious, but it does address the spirit in Mankind. It is designed to be suitable for people of all faiths – and those who follow no particular faith.

Yes, for those who wish. Some people find that the introductory practical philosophy course, which is intended to be of real value in its own right, satisfies their interest. Others want to continue their studies. The School caters for this, offering additional courses and the chance to penetrate further the great questions of life. This can last for another term, another year, or longer. However long or short a time people may wish to study in the School, the hope is that everyone will find something of true and lasting value.

The basic format of a group discussion remains unchanged.

In terms of content, the next few terms examine the subjects broadly covered in the introductory course in more detail, exploring further ways to make the study practical.

After that, the study increasingly turns to deeper understanding of the philosophy of Advaita. This can go on for as long as the individual wishes. Each term has the capacity to add something of real value to those whose interest persists.

Advaita is the clearest and most systematic expression we have found of the common philosophy that lies at the heart of many of the world’s great religions and philosophies. Literally meaning ‘one without a second’, it is a universal philosophy of great breadth. Its most central tenet is everyone and everything are in essence the expression of one consciousness.

A true appreciation of Advaita allows life to be led more fully and richly, conferring greater freedom on the individual and those around him or her. It is designed to bring out the best in everyone, whatever the part they are playing.

If you have any questions simply email us PracticalPhilosophyKent@gmail.com

What some of our students say...

“Absolutely loving the course!! …Really changing how I think about things and life in general.”
“...I am benefiting greatly from the content and the practical nature of it. Thank you, it is enriching my life.”
“The daily awareness exercises … have changed my thinking and I feel more relaxed about situations in the media and other aspects of my daily life.”
"The knowledge and experience that I have gained from the philosophy classes has helped me to discover more about myself and better prepare for dealing with life's daily surprises and challenges."