What we're about

The raison d'etre of this group can be found in the word of Adam Smith. He writes,

"When we have read a book or poem so often that we can no longer find any amusement in reading it by ourselves, we can still take pleasure in reading it to a companion. To him it has all the graces of novelty; we enter into the surprise and admiration which it naturally excites in him, but which it is no longer capable of exciting in us; we consider all the ideas which it presents rather in the light in which they appear to him, than in that in which they appear to ourselves, and we are amused by sympathy with his amusement which thus enlivens our own.”

The purpose of this group is to elucidate complex short works of philosophy. The goal is not to observe or give generalized impressions from having read a particular work decades ago or rehash the meaning of a particular phrase that is known universally but to have a book in front of you to cite directly or indirectly after having done the reading. When I conceptualized the group I assumed it would involve individuals talking about certain passages of interest from the first ten pages, the next ten pages, and so on, with conversation being built around it. I also assumed that it would consist of several fairly committed and responsible people who would come each time and become friends in the shared admiration of great and thoughtful masters, NOT in derailing the purpose by veering the conversation off the tracks in full refutation and dismissal of what we are studying, or being fed a few morsels from which you are able to give clever repartees. I saw it as a means to be of assistance to others in this goal to approach truth and understanding of the text.

As Mortimer Adler states it in How to Read a Book the only person who knows a book fully is the author, and so the reader is trying to come as close to reaching the author's understanding as he can do. If you click the button saying that you will come you need to do it weeks before the meeting and that click needs to mean something. It needs to be a solemn pledge that you will read the material to the best of your ability and help the group members in understanding the work. It should not be some lackadaisical idea that if you have time and remember to come you will have a beer and run your mouth. Yes, we have had occurences where the group was hostage to people making long speeches decrying a work and arguing in favor of an entirely different author. These are serious writers, and our group has a serious agenda, so why treat it with such flippant disdain? If your membership was deleted you are welcome to rejoin the group but there are questions that you must answer first. Call it a litmus test or vetting process in a sense, as I want to find out if you have the ability to appreciate the sacrifices these very great men made of their lives to give to you their higher thoughts. A candidate for these meetings must be humbled by this great gift and I want to know that he or she will actually read the material and come into the meeting with it in his or her hands. It isnt a lot to ask for, is it? And if you state that you will come with an RSVP, contribute somehow by at least contributing to the discussion board if you cannot be present.

Upcoming events (1)

Meditations by Marcus Aurellius

Starbucks (upper floor) Ramkhamhaeng Airport Link

Let me make a few cursory comments as a prelude to the discussion and I will correct and elaborate on them once I look at what Max Carey, in his book History of Rome, has to say about Aurelius. Aristotle says that worse than not having a son is having one who turns out badly, and the contemporary "ancient historian," Gibbons imputed the time of the rule of Aurelius' son Commodus as bringing about the slow fall of the Roman Empire (gratuitous sadistic violence and wanton pleasures and greed of Commodus, no longer minting money with substantial value in terms of precious metals, the desensitization of the public toward violence, with even killing emperors seeming like a sport for various legions, and overextension of the empire). Anyhow, Aurelius, often referred to as one of the few "good emperors" had much to reflect on in his book Meditations. The two stages of Roman history are the Republic and the Empire. In the Republic even commoners were given some slight voting rights and a tribune was appointed who was supposed to represent the interests of the masses of commoners. Codified law, the means of conducting trials, aqueducts, sanitation, free trade amongst the various provinces, and respect for provincial laws and gods, and some degree of semi autonomy were important. Power was exclusively in the hands of the Senate, a relic of noblemen when the city state of Rome had kings very early on in its history. As for the Empire, what is its legacy? I don't know--Trumpian presidential Mandates in American politics? Definitely, the widespread use of Latin and trust in its ability to express complex ideas was a fundamental tenet in European society until the advent of English as an international language. I have not read the entire text yet, but one intriguing idea that resonates with me years after having read some of it is that even a man as much of a luminary as Augustus, the first emperor, becomes a meaningless word of no significance with enough time and proof that everything really is relative. Yes, I am going to get myself into trouble with that last comment

Past events (28)

Boethius: Consolation of Philosophy, Plato's Apology, and Open Discussions

Starbucks (upper floor) Ramkhamhaeng Airport Link

Photos (34)