Book Club Potluck - "On Revolution"

  • July 19, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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Shakti will host the July 19 discussion of "On Revolution" by Hannah Arendt. Lincoln suggested this book. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Penguin-Classics-Hannah-Arendt/dp/0143039903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371941764&sr=1-1&keywords=%22On+Revolution%22+by+Hannah+Arendt.

The other option for July is Terry's pick, "Nietzsche: Life as Literature" by Alexander Nehamas. See the July 12 Meetup.

The August poll results are in, and the winners are: my pick "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity" by Richard Rorty, and Terry's pick "The Rebel" by Albert Camus at Marc's. Both Marc and Richard have offered to host in August. Karl and John Hart have volunteered to host in September. Let me know if you'd be willing to host in the future. I need two volunteers per month.

Since we are always planning ahead, I've started the poll for our September selections. You'll find that under the "More" menu at the top of this page. Anyone who is a member of this Meetup can submit a title for the poll. Just send me an email or post on this site, and I'll add your selection. However, I will only include one title from each member. If you submitted a title last month, I've rolled it over into the new poll. If you want to change your recommendation, just let me know.

As always, it's essential that everyone who comes to the meeting reads the book in its entirety. Please also bring a food or drink item for the potluck.

Happy reading!

 

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  • Russell B.

    New book out and not directly related to this meetup book but related to the author Hannah Arendt and her banality of evil concept. Book is "Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments" by Gina Perry. Heard interview on NPR a couple weeks ago. Just recently released in US.

    September 25, 2013

  • richard l.

    I personally have not experienced "political battles" at these meetups. Even though political philosophy is winds its way through much of philosophy in general -- and "On Revolution" is drenched in it -- folks were remarkably restrained, in my view. Regarding structure, I guess I'd be comfortable giving everyone 5 minutes to summarize major thoughts on the reading, just so we could get a "take" on where people were. And perhaps on where certain "sensitivities" might exist. Perhaps an elected "scribe" could could assemble the commerntary into a half dozen areas for future discussion. However, all of this comes at the risk of imperiling the "good" in the quest for the "perfect."

    July 22, 2013

  • richard l.

    Back to Friday, it seemed to me that there were often periods of silence where people just kind of sat there -- and where anybody could have entered the conversation. But this is my reality. It is unfortuate that some felt differently. And for those who felt differently, I cannot readily think of any way to accommodate -- maybe longer periods of enforced silence. Maybe we should restrict the group to people under 50, so we don't get any "old grumpy" types. And keep out the under 30 crowd as they tend to be more "liberal." Sure, I know that I'm being a little edgy here, but structure comes with some downsides.

    July 22, 2013

  • richard l.

    I started my last post with the comment "two things" but it was snatched away by some strange process before I had a chance to get to the "second thing." The other thing I wanted to comment on is about the structure of our meetup. Overall, it was my personal impression that conversation circulated freely and comfortably and was of reasonablly good quality. I have been to a lot of these things, and I know of several individuals who freely admit to dominating discussions -- but neither of them was at our meetup on Friday. And, frankly, both of them usually have quite a bit to say, and I often find myself profiting from their remarks.

    July 22, 2013

  • Shakti

    There are a number of things to respond to here. First of all I very much enjoyed the discussion on Friday so even with the complexities, I feel like it was a great night. Still, I think it makes sense to give some thought to the critiques. I hear two comments. The first is that some people don't have enough opportunity to speak and the second that we need to be sensitive to the fact that people have different views, particularly political views.

    July 21, 2013

    • John H.

      Wow! Very thoughtful and helpful reflection.

      July 21, 2013

    • richard l.

      Two things, I guess. First is about the book. While she has a tremendous grasp of the language (English, that is, I don't know about the other ones) I find her alternately prosaic and arrogantly contemptous of the reader. And some of her run-on sentences are horrific. Her rhetoric is sometimes over the top and she has a habit of making very bold and unsupported assertions. All said, however, her commentary is nothing if not insightful and thought-provoking. It caused me to stop several times on each page to examine my own ideas -- and I found this to be of great value.

      July 21, 2013

  • Marc W.

    This is a very good dialogue after the session. I look forward to more open and honest discussions about this and the philosophers themselves. I'm personally encouraged and look forward to the next one!

    July 21, 2013

  • Russell B.

    I don't think what we have now works all that well for free exchanging of ideas. In a sense what some people do is a form of filibuster. What I mean is one or two people will speak so extensively they shut out any chance of opposing views to be expressed. I'm not talking so much about the emotional state of participates when I mentioned insulting and condescending remarks. I think those remarks distract from having meaningful conversation - e.g. remark saying or implying that if you are critical of Obama then you must be a racist.

    July 21, 2013

  • Marc W.

    Okay, in setting ground rules all we need to do is discuss openly what people's expectations are and do our best to meet them. We can do that once or very briefly at the start of each discussion. I frequently feel there are a few individuals who "dominate the mic" and aren't conscious of inviting others into the conversation. All of them I respect and are my friends. Some folks are more introspective and enjoy listening, but I always enjoy hearing their opinions when they want to speak. We need to do this "live" but let me offer a beginning to our thinking about some ground rules. I'd suggest three to start: 1) no one speaks more than a few minutes (no matter how smart, informed or selfish they are ;) ) in order to encourage a balanced and richer conversation, 2) we need to stop interrupting each other and provide "space" for people to make their points and 3) every once in awhile we need to check in with others and ask people if they want to be heard.

    July 21, 2013

  • Shakti

    My priority here is not as much the emotional state of each member of the group as the richness of the conversations. That people feel invited to speak and that we are encouraging diverse views both affect that richness. All that said, I'm not interested in making any big changes because I very much like what we already have going and I don't want to risk losing that - even if the conversation doesn't work for everyone all the time.

    July 21, 2013

  • Shakti

    The second point is a bit more complex. I think allowing opposition and conflict in a conversation is part of what makes it interesting and pushes us to new realizations. As part of that I think people need to take responsibility for defending their own views. That's part of the process. However, if someone pushes too hard it offends people and makes them withdraw which ultimately reduces the richness of the conversation. So in addition to taking responsibility to speak we need to moderate ourselves some, particularly when discussing politics and maybe also religion. Which is to say I think there is a balance. By moderation what I really mean is saying what you believe but also making conscious room for opposing views, maybe something like "I think this but I understand that reasonable people feel otherwise."

    July 21, 2013

  • Shakti

    On the first point, I do think it is important that everyone feels authentically invited to speak. However, I also think it is important that we don't jump into some new system if most members of the group wouldn't prefer it. I think some discussion of ground rules at the beginning of the night could be good as long as it doesn't last too long. In my mind the guiding principle would be what most people want with a real effort to also be sensitive to the minority. Speaking for my self as a person who is sometimes quiet, overall I prefer the unstructured conversation though sometimes I like to also throw some structure in. Part of this is because sometimes I would rather not be speaking. It does matter to me that when I try to speak people give me room to be a part of the conversation and for the most part I feel like that happens.

    July 21, 2013

  • Marc W.

    This is a wonderful idea, Charely. I can see the start of the meetings having a minimum amount of structure while focusing on a more thorough, academic, review of the book and then finding our free flowing discussion once we're satisfied. People can split after that (if desired) while benefitting from the book and group discussion.

    We want ground rules for this revolution! :)

    July 21, 2013

  • Charley H.

    I have really enjoyed all of the three or four meetings I've been to, and I hate to see anyone leave early because it's good to hear many points of view.

    I have an impression that there are some ground rules already established. Should we review them at the start of each meeting and discuss a simple way we can reign ourselves in when we stray from the rules? Perhaps there could also be a provision for structuring the early part of the meeting so everyone has a say and then at some point opening up to a more free-flowing "feast of reason and flow of soul" that others (including me) enjoy.

    In the spirit of Arendt's councils (?) maybe everyone in this group could get engaged in working this out. This can be our own revolution!

    1 · July 20, 2013

  • Russell B.

    This reading and meetup was just a horrible experience for me and has left a bad taste in my mouth. I've been looking for something or some way to clean my palate. I think 3 things contributed to my bad experience. First, things changed in my life and work and I got very busy after starting book, but decided to finish it and come to meeting. I should have done what Lincoln did for my book and dropped out. Second, the book is not written very well or clearly and French, Latin and Greek thrown in. Then since that was the case it left a vacuum for a couple of grumpy old liberals (GOLs) to take over conversation and to threw out many insulting and condescending remarks the way many liberals have the tendency to do. But I'll add that Shakti was a wonderful host and it was good to see some of you. Sorry Kate left the group. I appreciated her attempts to get us all in conversation and not have meetup dominated by 2 or 3 talkative folk. I will miss her.

    July 20, 2013

  • Orson

    Cameron - please add my selection to the next poll, Thomas Sowell's
    "A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles."

    This ought to belong to every educated person's 'intellectual furniture,' as Jonathan Haidt almost makes plain.

    Here is an able and concise primer: http://www.amazon.com/review/R31TS02TW2NC5J/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0465002056&nodeID=283155&store=books

    1 · July 19, 2013

    • Cameron K.

      Done! Thanks for the suggestion.

      July 19, 2013

    • Russell B.

      Thanks Orson, Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors. I've read several of his books, but not this one. I hope it gets voted in soon!

      July 20, 2013

  • John H.

    I am so disappointed that Kate as become a "former member". Maybe Cameron would know of a way to contact her; bit of a rigid temperment apparently, but very bright and challenging. We should try to get her back with us.

    July 20, 2013

    • Cameron K.

      Sorry, John. I don't have any info for you.

      July 20, 2013

  • Karl K.

    Good news for modern man (or, at least, for someone on the wait list). I have a conflict and will not be able to attend. Bummer.

    1 · July 15, 2013

    • Marc W.

      Maybe an older modern man? I've got a ten spot in it for you Karl if you deliver you're marked up book, summary notes and planned questions . . . Otherwise I'll just fake it like ussual.

      July 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I got the book and read it. I feel sorry for the trees cut down to make the paper this book uses for no good reason.

    1 · July 18, 2013

  • dennis c.

    The DPL has no copy of On Revolution, and it'd take too much time to get it before the meeting.

    July 18, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      There is a free copy online - see my earlier comment for the link. :)

      July 18, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sorry my teacher instincts are kicking in. One day is a very short time to finish a book...

      1 · July 18, 2013

  • John H.

    I saw the film yesterday @ Chez Artiste. The film plays only @ 4:30 pm. It is an amazing film about an amazing woman.

    July 9, 2013

  • Marc W.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the new film, "Hannah Arendt". I think you'll find this to be an interesting critique of Arendt and Eichmann. Enjoy.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/the-stone/

    July 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    FYI, you can get a free copy of the book on http://archive.org/details/OnRevolution

    June 24, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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