What do you think?

A groundbreaking new animation project

The ability to think critically, apply logic to problems, and tackle philosophical questions are some of the basic skills necessary for citizens in a democracy to make well-informed and thoughtful decisions about key issues.

Yet in today’s world of constant distractions, information overload, and intense marketing, these fundamental skills are rarely taught or modeled in our communities or public discourse. The end result is impatience, bias, overconfidence, a low tolerance for uncertainty, and the inability to assimilate “inconvenient” information, all exacerbated by the internet and modern media.

The Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz is helping to combat this problem with What Do You Think?—a pioneering digital humanities initiative that employs character-driven animations to inspire people to think about their own thinking.

Drawing content from four areas of contemporary philosophy—epistemology, political philosophy, cognitive science, and the pedagogy of critical thinking—the center is creating a series of short animated videos, designed to nurture strong analytical skills and cultivate an inclination to reflect upon one’s own thought processes.

What Do You Think? aims to introduce the general public to the relevance and importance of philosophy and critical thinking—by posing fundamental questions from the study of philosophy, and bringing to life its most influential historical and contemporary figures,” says UC Santa Cruz associate philosophy professor Jon Ellis.

What Do You Think? aims to introduce the general public to the relevance and importance of philosophy and critical thinking–by posing fundamental questions from the study of philosophy, and bringing to life its most influential historical and contemporary figures. —UC Santa Cruz associate philosophy professor Jon Ellis

“Each animation will introduce a concept, question, or theme in philosophy, as well as a noted philosophical thinker—such as Plato, Lao Tzu, Simone de Beauvoir, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thich Nhat Hanh, bell hooks, Hannah Arendt—and, through an informal dialogue with its central characters, present the viewer with a set of provocative questions with which to wrestle.”

Ellis notes that what makes the project groundbreaking is the combination of engaging and relevant philosophical content with an accomplished team of experienced, creative, and cutting-edge animators.

“The initiative is supported by a broad array of professionals—philosophers, humanists, historians, educational researchers, artists, and digital experts,” adds Ellis.