About the School of Philosophy

The School of Philosophy is a registered not-for-profit organisation and has been offering courses in Belgium for over 40 years. Founded on the principle that everything stems from unity, the School’s courses explore how anyone can achieve self-knowledge and inner peace. From there, anyone may find true happiness, live more consciously and fulfil their potential.


The principle of "learn and teach"

In a spirit of enquiry, the School encourages an exploration of philosophical principles based on personal experience. Emphasis is placed on putting the knowledge gained from philosophical inquiry into practice, rather than allowing it to remain as an academic exercise. On the principle of "learn and teach", tutors are appointed on the basis of their knowledge and practical experience as students in the School.

The universal concept of Non-Duality

Courses are inspired by the ancient concept of Non-Duality (Advaita), or "unity", and they embrace a very wide range of philosophers, thinkers and writers. This simple but powerful concept is that an essential unity underlies everything. And within each of us, this unity can be accessed as an essential source of nourishment, well-being and understanding - the key to a happy, fulfilling and peaceful life.

All are welcome

The School is not exclusive, students include followers of the world's great religions and equally those who follow no religion at all. Students are asked not to criticise others, but always to practise tolerance and respect. Classes have always been conducted through discussion, and there are no written examinations or certificates.

MEDITATION and further


Students who choose to follow the Practical Philosophy course beyond the introductory course can take up meditation - see the Meditation page for further information. In the long term, meditation is an essential part of the development of inner life and the discovery of oneself.

Voluntary Service

An additional feature at this stage is the invitation to help in the operation of the School, such as preparing and serving of refreshments during the break for example. Here we have the opportunity to work with others in the School, and can apply the philosophy in practice. Tutors are also students of philosophy in the School and do not receive remuneration for their services. Practically, service allows the School to keep its course fees to a minimum.

Residential Events

The next stage for meditating students is the opportunity to participate in residential study events. There is generally an introductory weekend followed by a full week.

A range of courses

While practical philosophy plays the major part in the School's work, other optional groups have been formed at different points to study economics, Plato, Sanskrit, calligraphy and dance. These activities illustrate how philosophy can be inspiring in practice in all areas of life.

Our growth

Founded in London in the 1930’s to explore economics

The School of Economic Science – forerunner of the School of Philosophy - was founded in London in 1937 to promote the study of the natural laws governing human society. At that time the central subject was economics, arising as a response to the great economic depression of the early 1930’s.

Fundamental questions led to the study of philosophy

Studies led to fundamental questions about the nature of the world, of society and of the real essence of a human being. These led naturally to the study of philosophy. In the early 1950s, stand-alone philosophy courses were first offered by the founder Leon MacLaren. These remain the core subject in the School.

Guidance from an ancient philosophical and spiritual tradition

In 1961 the founder and head of the School, Leon MacLaren, made contact with a leading figure of an ancient philosophical and spiritual tradition in India, Śrī Śāntānanda Saraswatī. First meetings in 1965 opened a major new dimension to the School's studies and practices, including the introduction of meditation. Ongoing contact yielded a wealth of deeper knowledge, a vital part of the material used today. The School maintains regular contact with the current leader, Śrī Vasudevananda Saraswatī.

International expansion

Expansion of the School internationally took place mainly through the enthusiasm of School members who, for professional or personal reasons, moved abroad. With over 40 School centres worldwide, the School is currently overseen by Donald Lambie, who took over leadership when Leon MacLaren died in 1994.

The School in Belgium

In 1970 Henri and Joan Schoup founded the School in Brussels, then in the 80’s the branch in Antwerp. The School now organises courses in French, English and Dutch. In 1995 Henri Schoup passed on leadership of the School in Belgium to Mr. Alain De Caluwé.

Other languages?

The Practical Philosophy introductory courses are given in English, usually on Monday evenings, and are held in-person at the School house in Brussels. Separate courses are also available in French and Dutch. Visit our French or Dutch language websites for more information.

A real taste of philosophy

The next 10-week introductory course in Practical Philosophy starts September 16, 2024, at the School house in Brussels. 

Sessions are interactive, encouraging discussion with the tutor and between group members. The course fee is €90 which covers the 10 week term. Under-25 rate, €40.