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Philosophy Club PLUS FREE DINNER!

  • Jan 4, 2014 · 2:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

What: Philosophy Discussion Group

When: 1st Saturday of each month, from 2pm – 5pm
(3 hours, including a break)

Where: Justin & Tammy's house in Richardson [*BYOD&S]

How: Readings discussed in-depth amongst the group. No tests, no lecture… we help teach each other in a spirit of learning.

We will usually be reading from a book one will have to purchase, but sometimes there will be articles provided online.


Meeting Topic & Reading List

Topic: Concepts

People have kindly agreed to work through a book manuscript Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis by our own Justin Fisher, along with other readings that provide background and alternative points of view.  This book involves issues in philosophy of mind and language about how we can discover the meanings of various words and concepts, as well as issues in "meta-philosophy" involving the methodologies that philosophers might use to uncover the meanings of philosophical concepts like knowledge, freedom, or meaning itself.  Justin welcomes ideas about how the manuscript could be improved to be more clear, more readable, or more correct.

Since we'll be talking so much about concepts, it makes sense to start out by looking at what some philosophers and cognitive psychologists have to say about the nature of concepts, our topic for this month.

Note: Afterwards, many of us will walk to the nearby Madras Pavillion Indian restaurant for dinner that will be paid for largely or entirely (depending on our numbers) by a generous gift certificate Phil Club people gave Tammy and Justin in thanks for offering their house as venue -- what better use for such a gift certificate than to take a bunch of friendly philosophically minded people out to dinner?


(1)  Fisher - Preface and Sections[masked] -- we'll leave the rest of chapter 1 for next time.  (available here -- log in as philclub, password is the name of the street we'll be meeting on, single word, all lowercase)

(2)  Margolis & Laurence SEP article on concepts (available here)

(3)  Ruth Millikan - On Clear and Confused Ideas - Chapter 1 (available here, same login and password as above)

Meeting Format

10 minute introduction to the material

Depending on attendence, we may split into smaller groups (4 - 8 people)

2 part group discussion of readings with a 10 minute break in between

Reconvene into large group to share highlights of small group discussions





Readings are not neccessarily required, but we ask that you please stay on topic during the discussion.

We are teaching each other in a "spirit of learning": we should be humble (we do not know everything), eager to learn, and willing to challenge each other while being kind and considerate.

There will be people of various backgrounds in philosophy — you do not need to be an expert in philosophy to be in the group (e.g. I'm not; Justin is).  If a topic is new to you, here are some good resources, if you are interested:
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy





[*BYOD&S] "Bring Your Own Drink & Snack".  You might get thirsty or hungry — feel free to bring whatever (non-alcoholic) drinks and snacks you'd like (preferably something shareable with the group).
— A note to those with cat-related allergies: Justin and Tammy have cats — one of whom will be rather happy to mingle with all the nice people who came to see him....
>^. . ^<



In a post on Common Sense Atheism, "How to Do Philosophy Better", Luke Muehlhauser summarizes an essay by Paul Graham. In that essay, Graham proposes the following:


Here's an intriguing possibility. Perhaps we should do what Aristotle meant to do, instead of what he did. The goal he announces in the Metaphysics seems one worth pursuing: to discover the most general truths. That sounds good. But instead of trying to discover them because they're useless, let's try to discover them because they're useful.

— Paul Graham, "How to Do Philosophy"


Given a lot of our common values, I think we can study philosophy in a way that helps us, that is useful to us, rather than as something that is considerably esoteric or futile.


Join or login to comment.

  • Clayton S.

    I like your idea. There are hard science and soft science concepts which don't mix well. Hard Science uses objective metrics while soft science uses subjective metrics. Science is essentially logic applied to observation. Plenty of philosophy is outside of scientific methodology and concepts function in any case.

    January 5, 2014

  • Jean W.

    Sorry I had to miss the discussion. Sounds like there was a lot to be learned.

    January 5, 2014

  • Skip K.

    Enjoyable, free-range discussion.

    January 4, 2014

  • RICH P.

    Like to attend, but have no way, no wheels,I live around SMU,if you want to share ride,carpool, let me know.

    January 4, 2014

  • Gregg

    Unable to add to guests, so indicating here I am bringing a guest.

    January 4, 2014

  • Clayton S.

    Hello - I'm new and looking forward to meeting. Intelligent conversation is something I enjoy. My father was a intelligent arm chair philosopher so philosophy was on my mind from the start. After my degree in electrical engendering I read his favorite book "Science and Sanity" and it was a great help and through epistemology a great guide to philosophy in general. "No matter what you say it has philosophy behind it whether you know it or not" was something heard repeatedly. Everybody knows things but for me philosophy allows to understand what I know.

    January 4, 2014

  • Skip K.

    Mi volas, tro.

    January 4, 2014

  • Sally R.

    I will pitch in!

    January 3, 2014

  • Justin

    Robert, your tepid yes is perfectly fine! It's up to you if you want to tag along for dinner after. Looks like there may be enough of us that we'll outrun my gift certificate, so it'd be great to have some diners (those with the means) to pitch in.

    January 3, 2014

  • Robert S.

    Hello Freethinkers, I plan to attend for now but it might depend on some other life deadlines and family stuff. If so, please note I am new and would not want any free stuff bestowed on me if I do show up. Let me know if such a tepid "yes" is a problem for you. I would not at all want to cause the hosts any inconvenience. Thank you.

    January 2, 2014

  • Betty A.

    I've meant to attend the phil club for quite a while and I'm finally going to make it this Saturday. So I'll read as much as I can before the meeting. Sorry I can't make it to the dinner as I have another commitment later on.

    January 2, 2014

  • Keith K.

    "Readings are not neccessarily required, but we ask that you please stay on topic during the discussion." Since we are evaluating a particular document (Justin's book) would this be a good time to say: Readings Required?

    January 1, 2014

    • Sally R.


      January 1, 2014

    • Gregg

      I wouldn't want to discourage someone who hadn't done the reading to come and listen to the discussion. But if they tried to continually dominate the discussion without having even read the readings, that could be (and has been) a problem.

      January 2, 2014

  • Jean W.

    Noticed name change for January meeting. Anything changing or just marketing term? :-)

    December 29, 2013

  • RICH P.

    Darn,so into deep thinking Humanoids and Me with a SpaceShip to engage them with, what better entrance but to arrive from outer Space in My very own Enterprise. Oh well,such is some of the lives we Live. Like the Indian too, well if anyone lives near Mockingbird and Greenville going, why just swing on by and I shall jump aboard. Just let me know your time and we'll coincide. Cheeros

    December 28, 2013

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