Our Story

An unusual story is the background of our foundation. Mike Hodges, an entrepreneur from Nashville, had discovered philosophy as a kind of therapy and, in February 2017, he came across a philosophical article called “Nietzsche’s Orientation toward the Future,” written by Werner Stegmaier, then emeritus professor for philosophy at the University of Greifswald (Germany), and translated by Reinhard G. Mueller, a former student of Stegmaier’s and then Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin. Mike Hodges was deeply fascinated by this paper and especially Werner Stegmaier’s orientation-philosophical interpretation of Nietzsche laid out in this text. After reaching out to both its author and its translator, Mike Hodges flew to Austin to meet with Reinhard; for several hours, the two discussed at a coffee shop Stegmaier’ philosophy of orientation, and the three of them decided to translate Stegmaier’s Philosophie der Orientierung into an abbreviated, updated, and improved English version, which was published in August 2019 as What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation.

In his philosophy of orientation, Stegmaier seeks to establish a new “first philosophy” for our time that connects with the contemporary sciences and explores the complexities of our everyday life (learn more about the philosophy of orientation here). Discovering the immense potential of this new approach, Mike and his wife Tina Hodges decided, during a meeting with Stegmaier and Reinhard in Berlin in July 2017, to support the creation of a foundation that promotes the philosophy of orientation in both academia and the general public. The founding documents of FPO were signed in 2018 in Sils-Maria, Switzerland, where Nietzsche used to hike and spend many of his summers to work (in 2022 FPO helped restore Nietzsche’s room: read more here). Eventually, the Foundation for Philosophical Orientation was born on October 25, 2019, when it was officially inaugurated in Nashville, the “Athens of the South.”

Berlin, July 2017

July 2018: signing the founding documents in Sils-Maria, Switzerland

Mike Hodges, Werner Stegmaier, and Reinhard Mueller

October 25, 2019: inauguration ceremony of the FPO in Nashville’s “Parthenon”