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Great Books Discussion Group

For this month we will be reading selections from Plato'sRepublic.

What is our Great Books Discussion Group and how do we work?

First we use the methods and texts from the “Great Books Foundation.” Our method is called Shared Inquiry and all texts are for this year from the fifth series of the Great Books Reading and discussion program. (You can buy the set of three paperbacks and discussion guide from Purchasing the texts is a prerequisite for joining the group and reading the text is a prerequisite for discussion.

What is Shared Inquiry and how was it developed? Shared Inquiry was developed by Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago in 1947 to help discussion participants explore, interpret and evaluate the sometimes complex and challenging ideas in the great works we discuss. It is an intellectually rigorous activity that focuses on the interpretation of meaning thin the written texts. It is Socratic in style and firmly text based.

In this process participants enjoy the benefits of diverse points of view focused exploration and common discovery.

Each Participant is engaged in and active search for the meaning of the selection at hand. With the energy and encouragement of the group, participants articulate ideas, support assertions with evidence from the text and grapple together with different possibilities of meaning.

How does it work? There is a “leader” for each selection. The leader has read the text at least twice carefully and has developed interpretive questions—things that puzzled the reader (not questions with specific answers).

It is NOT a free-wheeling exchange of opinions and testimonials which go outside the text. Questions and discussions are always firmly grounded in the text itself.

Here are the basic guidelines:

Read the selection carefully before participating in the discussion. Take notes as you read.Support your ideas with evidence from the text.Discuss the ideas in the selection and try to understand them fully.Listen carefully to other participants and respond to them directly.



What do you have to do to join? Starting in September: (For the Summer see the calendar for July and August books)

Please RSVP by emailing Moe-Swe at


Buy the texts from the Great Books Foundation (About $35 for the season) at


For this month you can get a copy of the reading in Moe-Swe's office.


)Read the selection carefully as described above.Come in and share (the first Wednesday of each month from 7:30-9PM at the Society For Ethical Culture at

2 West 64th St NYC 10025

. (Use the central door when entering the building on 64th Street. We’re on the 5th Floor.).

We look forward to meeting you and having you join our discussions.

Entry to our 100-year-old building and meeting rooms is available for most wheelchair users with prior arrangements. Please call ahead  [masked] x 107) for setup of our portable system and plan to arrive one hour before start time.

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