The topic on the table was "what is propaganda". Jim suggested the topic by asking a couple of specific questions - 1. there are rumors that the United States provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor, perhaps by choking Japan's incoming supply lines; 2. the number of dead Iraqi civilians since the beginning of the war may be greater than one million. In both cases, information on these topics seems to come only from smaller news sources, rather than from major news sources (e.g., CNN or Fox News) - why is this so? The discussion suggested that people in power promote an agenda to either stay in power or to increase their power - this includes major media outlets (I admit there are overtones of conspiracy here). A possible solution is for each of us to get our news from multiple disparate sources and look for common elements to help us understand what's true and complete. The down side is that this requires a lot of work and a lot of critical thinking, especially in the Internet Age.
Next week's topic was suggested by Steve - "are people becoming a commodity?" My own take on this topic is to consider that as corporations have become more powerful, their marketing techniques have grown in sophistication and focus on those groups who will return the greatest revenue or profit for the corporation. We're treated less as individuals and more like members of some demographic. What are the impacts of this phenomenon? What happen to small demographics or minorities?
Steve, please let me know if this is what you have in mind or if you see the discussion differently.
You're invited to join our Socrates Cafe group here in Louisville. The short description of a Socrates Cafe is people getting together to ask philosophical questions with the purpose of (maybe) getting a better understanding of the topic, philosophical inquiry, and realizing our own preconceptions. The discussion begins by people proposing questions to discuss; we vote on which question to use and then simply talk about it. Some possible questions include: "what is evil", "what's the state of the American Dream", and "is the death penalty ethical".