Philosophers are worm can openers!

Some of you may occasionally wonder about things. Philosophers do it non-stop. At their best, they make trouble in the world of ideas. Come, bring your can openers, and let's open some cans!

We have explored or will (or will again) explore age-old topics like God's existence, the nature of people and things, morality, free will, fatalism, birth, death, the right way to live or die... as well as theories in core areas of philosophical thinking such as logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics (which are central to understanding what is really going on in the more accessible topics). But we'll also cover more current and concrete controversies such as abortion, infanticide, capital punishment, suicide (physician-assisted and otherwise), equality, justice, criminality, genetic engineering, neuroscience, over-population, war, terrorism, human "rights," animal rights, the "rights" of (or to) anything whatsoever!,... as well as important issues in medical ethics; environmental ethics; bioethics; philosophy of law, of art, of literature, of religion, of science; artificial intelligence, scientific method; social and political philosophy... and topics as yet uninvented.



In fact, "inventing topics" is a side effect of asking hard questions, which inevitably lead to still harder questions. Often enough, "new" topics are not really "new" but old, even ancient, unsettled concerns resurfacing. And it is those unsettled issues that are the real philosophical problems. As a philosopher once said, "If it has a solution, it was probably just science anyway."

Any important subject whose fundamental ideas invite critical examination is ripe for our can opener... eventually we may work our way up to the really big can: the point of it all!

But don't expect pat answers---we don't do self-help.

What characterizes the analytical approach to philosophy is attention to clarity and as much rigor as we can muster in our concepts and arguments---while hopefully keeping one foot in reality. So we will try to stay focused on the topic under discussion, realizing that this is difficult. We draw on the insights of some of the brightest thinkers we know, both living and dead. Being bright is no guarantee that any of these people are right. In fact, we already know at least half of them must be wrong because the other half disagrees with them. But which half? (And even to assume only half are wrong is being optimistic.)



Though we may range widely in the topics we cover, we try not to let anything go in our discussion. The point is to rise above the level of BS that too often passes in informal discussions for philosophy. Beyond a certain respect for clarity and rigor, we do not have an axe to grind. You may bring your own axe, we may sharpen it for you or we may grind it to a stump. We mostly open worm cans, remember? You decide what to do with the worms!

--vm

Philosophical Resources Online

One of our first meetups... (early) pre-Socratics.

From the original founder's description:

 

Analytic philosophy is, by far, the standard type of philosophy taught in Philosophy Departments throughout North America, Britain, Scandinavia, and beyond. Analytic philosophers aim for perspicuity and results. Core areas of analytic philosophy include ethics, epistemology (knowledge), metaphysics (e.g., free will, theism/atheism), philosophy of mind (e.g., consciousness), philosophy of science, and political philosophy.

However, this group will discuss the lighter topics and presume little or no background in formal philosophy. If you want a taste of 'the real stuff' and/or aim to become (or wish you had been) a philosophy major, then our group will be of use to you.

This club was founded by Alex Novack in 2010.


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Founded Aug 5, 2010

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