Authors and Philosophers Join to Present a Self-Evolution Seminar at Plymouth Harbor Retirement Community

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Local philosopher and sociologist Dr. Bernard Phillips, along with retired sheriff lieutenant and an ordained minister Thomas J. Savage joined minds to co-author Creating Life Before Death: Discover Your Amazing Self. The self-help book, released in 2020, will now have its ideas shared and expounded upon by the authors who'll be organizing and presenting a first-of-its-kind seminar in human development beginning June 7 at Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay. “Just as biological evolution has moved from the one-celled organism to the human being over billions of years, personal evolution has the potential to take the individual to heights so far not even imagined,” explains Phillips. “It's really all about how we can develop ourselves to our full potential.”

As a resident at Plymouth Harbor’s continuing care retirement community, Phillips will be incorporating fellow residents as well as staff, administrators and managers to be the first to conduct an experiment with the efficacy of this approach to human development. The 12-week seminar will test to what degree it is possible to teach people to develop their human capacities by taking control of their personal evolution. 

“Nothing like this type of education has been attempted. It incorporates the best of the self-help literature while integrating the most important discoveries of the social sciences, humanities and biophysical sciences,” says Andy Plotkin, another one of the seminar’s consultants and the third co-author of Creating Life Before Death. “Overall, the seminar will show the participants how to apply the scientific method to develop all aspects of their personalities in order to continually achieve more fulfilling lives.” Phillips, Savage and Plotkin believe that such growth will occur during this seminar and concludes, “When we learn to take our evolution into our own hands, we will be in a position to contribute to the mitigation of some of the world’s most pressing problems," says Phillips. "We should settle for nothing less.”

So, SRQ sat down with the principal co-author of the book and leading organizer for the event to dive deeper into each individual person's own set of awesome intellectual, emotional and problem-solving potentials, which, Phillps shares, are actually powerful language tools in our everyday. 

SRQ: Where did the idea for this seminar spark from? 

Phillips: I'd written many tweets with lots of readers (@Skinofourteeth). But it hadn't resulted in interest in my recently published book with the thorough interdisciplinary ideas necessary to help people actually develop the evolutionary self-images needed to really solve personal and world problems. I slept on the problem of how I can really get people to take seriously the full range of ideas in the book. Then I woke up with the idea: Why not teach a seminar where I'm living at Plymouth Harbor? I've been a professor all my life, so that thought was natural.

SRQ: Do you feel Sarasota is an ideal place, compared to other US cities, to "create a life before death?" How so? 

Phillips: The fantastic arts community illustrates the importance of leisure here.  Retirees have the time to develop themselves, and others are interested in that as well. The Ringling College might well be interested in doing a documentary, and New College is a great school that might well be interested in helping to reverse the trade-school mantra of present-day higher ed and move back to the importance of liberal arts.  But my ideas can be used by the entire population of the world, for every single individual has incredible potential. My colleagues and I can provide the key to unlock that potential.  We are not kidding about the power of our unique interdisciplinary knowledge (no one else has ever published anything like it, as conveyed in the book and two recently published articles in Contemporary Sociology, one forthcoming in a Routledge reader on Mills and the new paper on democracy I've just submitted. We are after nothing less than changing the world. 

SRQ: What is your advice for locals to best live a meaningful life in a world of escalating problems? 

Phillips: The first step is to move from pessimism toward optimism, a very difficult but possible thing to do. Reading some books might help a bit, such as Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now and my own book and Maxwell Maltz's The New Psycho-Cybernetics. But, most important is action, even if it's just lighting one little candle—it could be anything at all, depending on a person's interests—with family and friends, charity, even doing better on one's exercise and diet. Also, getting involved in politics can help—letters to the editor, op-eds, even running for office. People who are interested in my ideas should feel free to write me. They may be able to help me, and vice-versa.

For additional information, photography and interviews, contact Bernard Phillips, Ph.D., at or 941-361-5426.

Photo courtesy of Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay

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