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user 2948095
Great Neck, NY
Post #: 12
Hi all,

Here are a few guidelines for discussion that explain the general structure of the Berkeley Philosophy meetups and give some tips for presenters.

Guidelines for discussion:

For each meetup, one member suggests a reading which is posted on the meetup website. This member, (the presenter) also writes a short essay concerning the reading and presents this at the beginning of each meeting.

To help aid discussion, we generally follow the format given here:

1. The presenter reads their essay to the group.
2. Each person is then given ~2 minutes in which they may discuss their particular views about the reading and/or the essay.
3. We then proceed to open discussion on the reading, the essay, and the general topic area that is dealt with by both.

Tips for the Presenter:

Here are a few tips for presenters. First, though I would like to emphasize a few things:

1. Presentation is of course encouraged but is entirely voluntary. Furthermore, you can suggest a reading without needing to present on it (usually I will write up something if no one volunteers).
2. Presenting does involve some degree of work, but is often a rewarding experience. This is especially true for anyone who would like to practice critical writing.
3. Ultimately, have fun with it.


Members should feel free to suggest possible readings or topics at meetups or on the message board at any time. If you would like to present, please let me know via email or at a meetup.

Pick a reasonable length

Readings should be of reasonable length. Generally, I think this may fall between 4 and 20 pages, although they can exceed this length it the reading is much easier to read than some typically verbose, labyrinthine works of philosophy.

Know some background (historical context, criticisms, etc.) to the reading

Often, the topic of the reading is one that will be unfamiliar to some group members and this may lead to a stall in the conversation. In case of these situations, it may be good to also have read a little background about the reading. Specifically, knowing the context of the work, supplementary arguments for it, and criticisms against it will help enrich the discussion. Towards this, online resources such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy are invaluable (http://plato.stanford...­. Coming to the meetup with additional discussion questions may also be very helpful.

Avoid readings that may be offensive

Readings should also not be offensive. Of course, I believe that most people interested in philosophy are willing to consider very different viewpoints from their own and are likely accustomed to ?out-there? opinions, and therefore may not be offended easily. However, there are still some things that may not be appropriate and I ask that you simply use your best judgment if you think this could be the case.


Regarding the reading, the essay may argue for or against it, summarize salient points, emphasize particular quotes in it, highlight an interesting interpretation, or simply give one?s personal viewpoint on it. It may be less than one page, or may be several pages long. If possible it is helpful to post the essay on the meetup website before the meetup, and have a few additional copies at the meetup.
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