Attraction (A Salon)

Some more starting points (these from, with the ones readers were more attracted to listed first)...

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”
― Alain de Botton

"Westcliff had learned that the mysteries of attraction could not always be explained through logic. Sometimes the fractures in two separate souls became the very hinges that held them together.”
― Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Winter

“There was a tinge of evil to it, a lot of sex, but under that was a
little boy peeking out, an uncertain little boy. That was it. That was the attraction. Nothing is more appealing than a handsome man who is also uncertain of himself.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Guilty Pleasures

“All war will end when women cease to find men in uniforms attractive - discuss.”
― Bill Drummond, $20,000

“It’s the unknown that draws people.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly


Why shouldn't attraction be a central philosophical concept?  Didn't Newton revolutionize our understanding of the universe by positing gravity as the force every body exerts on every other body?  By doing so, he put each of us at the center of a world view.

And also at the periphery:  every other body is influencing our own.  The trajectory defined by opposing forces is easily computable when one is the Sun, but the dance of human attraction confounds us with its unstable balance.  Can we "resist" attraction or only counterbalance it with other attractions?  How do we come to know "what" attracts us?  When we think we have knowledge of what in ourselves others are attracted to, what responsibility does that entail, if any?  Is there an interpersonal analogue to the physical phenomenon known as "orbit"?

A tantalizing, yet difficult, theme.  Who wouldn't spend an evening on it, even if it yielded only a shred of illumination?

The format we used successfully last time, of a series of distinct, shorter discussions with individual focal points, seems especially appropriate for this theme.  Your focal point, which you should identify beforehand, could be any of the following:

  • a quote, originated by you or by someone famous
  • a small object, perhaps beautiful or curious
  • a question, for which you have some answer
  • a Top Ten List title
  • an under-a-minute story from a book, film, or personal life
  • an invented obstacle or constraint, such as plays a part in most games (to be combined with one of the above)

Please give some thought to how your focal point will serve to generate an inclusive discussion, one that stays tethered but doesn't land quickly.  Feel free to run it by me via email.  There won't be time for every one to supply a focal point, but it's stimulating practice to think of one.

See you Tuesday, February 12!


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  • Jeff G

    It's okay to be contrarian, Dan. Habits are hard to change. Although you haven't yet been to a meeting, a look at past themes would tell you that we prefer to explore new areas. Nevertheless, I will bite:-). Traditionally philosophy is obsessed with shame and lies, which are ways that others can hold power over us. So why not attraction, when we spend at least as much time worrying about our beauty (inner or otherwise) as about our innocence and honesty?

    February 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      No, Jeff, traditional philosophy is not remotely "obsessed" with shame and lies. (It is, however, obsessed with the issue of what constitutes truth -- unlike your assertion.)

      March 14, 2013

  • Jeff G

    Like many of our meetings in past months, this one at first struck me as interesting–and then grew on me even more in the days following, as I thought about what we discussed. Significant connections were forged between previous (and future!) meetings, all without any prompting by me. An "intimate" theme, like Charity and Incentives, Attraction overcame our initial unfamiliarity with one another and the lack of ready-made "professional" opinions, to pull us closer together and elicit contributions from everybody, often utilizing popular cultural touchstones. Flexibility with recent tweaks to the format paid off, while still providing more ways and more occasions for people to bring variety to the conversation.

    February 17, 2013

    • Jeff G

      Oh, and I figured out what Leuky is really for.

      February 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Not trying to be a contrarian, but my thought upon reading "Why shouldn't attraction be a central philosophical concept?" is "Why *should* attraction be a central philosophical concept???

    I'm curious what the connection with philosophy is. Yes, Isaac Newton indeed discovered the law of gravity, which expanded our understanding of the universe, but that was physics. Attraction between humans seems more like psychology and sociology. What is the connection with philosophy?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    February 11, 2013

    • Jeff G

      A more general answer is simply that there's no way to know in advance of examining a concept whether it is philosophical, other than to examine it–and that is what the group does. That is what keeps (or could make) philosophy a lively discipline. Having finished the Last Word questions, I think attraction does qualify as a topic in the philosophy of perception.

      February 15, 2013

  • Marla

    A late entry...

    February 11, 2013

  • Jeff G

    I'll be there about 6 pm, watching the State of the Union before our meeting. I'm more excited than ever about philosophy, even though I'll admit whatever happens tomorrow will be a complete surprise!

    February 11, 2013

  • Deborah B.

    conflict with work

    February 7, 2013

  • Max

    cool topic, but i'll be out of town

    February 4, 2013

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