Did you take a philosophy class in high school or college and wish you had taken more? Do you read philosophy texts independently but have no one to discuss them with? Then this group is for you.
Somewhat of a hybrid, it is a combination study group and book club. The backgrounds of our members vary: some have never taken a philosophy course and are essentially self-taught; others have doctorates in the field. We read authors considered "canonical." Although the majority of writers have been European and American, we have read and are open to texts from other cultures. Representative philosophers have included Plato, Averroes, Confucius, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Sartre, Arendt, Rawls, Foucault, and Butler. Most of the time we read a single book by a single author, but if their output has been substantial we will consider an anthology. We started the group in 2010 with the classical period and finished in 2013 with twentieth century writers. In 2014 we returned to the classical period and will repeat the chronology, adding new writers who were missed the first time around (to see the reading schedule, from 2000 to 2017, click here).
Meetings are currently held at the West End Interim Library in DC, located in the Watergate complex on the third Saturday of each month, from 1:00-3:00 PM. Parking is available for free on Virginia Avenue near the library, or for a fee in the Watergate garage; the Foggy Bottom-GWU metro station is nearby.
Tips in Preparing for Meetings
After you have finished the reading, ask yourself: (1) What are the philosopher’s principal ideas? (2) What arguments are used to support them, and are they strong or weak? (3) Who were the author’s major influences, and whom in turn did he/she influence? (4) What was the historical context in which the author wrote, and did this affect what was said? (5) Are the author’s works still relevant today and, if so, how?
To help in answering these questions, attendees are encouraged to consult the secondary resources posted in each announcement. Wikipedia, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are especially useful.
Rules of Conduct at Meetings
Avoid monopolizing the conversation. If you've been speaking for several minutes, and sense others want to get in, relinquish the floor.
Stay on topic.
Challenging arguments and disputing facts are fine; personal attacks are not.
If you have not read at least 50% of the recommended selections, consider skipping the meeting to allow other interested people to attend.
Those who violate the rules of conduct repeatedly will be dropped from the group at the discretion of the organizer.
To remain viable, groups depend on regular attendance. Although everyone is welcome to use our resources, our targeted audience, and membership, is now restricted to people who live in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia area. Those who joined before November 2016 will be grandfathered in.