What we're about

Did you take a philosophy class in high school or college and wish you had taken more? Do you read philosophy texts independently but have no one to discuss them with? Then this group is for you.

The History of Philosophy Boston Meetup is for anyone with an interest in having in-depth discussions about Western/Eastern philosophy, intellectual history, critical theory and more. All backgrounds are welcome! Whether you have a doctorate in the field or are completely self-taught, this group seeks members with an appetite for reading, analyzing and discussing philosophical texts.

This group will center discussions around a single book by a single author. Potential philosophers will include Plato, Averroes, Confucius, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Sartre, Arendt, Rawls, Foucault, and Hume. Many of these philosophers are considered “canonical” (mostly to the Western tradition) but this group is open to including lesser known authors from any culture. To keep things in historical context, we will try to read authors in chronological order.

We currently have a tentative reading list (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NpH48Algm1b4Can7OFNsi4_oxc2K2imMCJiZAlMnG4s/edit?usp=sharing), which is subject to change depending on the expressed interests of the group.

We typically meet in the 4th floor lobby of the Julius Adams Stratton Student Center at MIT. Detailed instructions to our exact meeting spot can be found here (https://www.meetup.com/Boston-History-of-Philosophy/photos/27278903/458598986/).

Tips in Preparing for Meetings

After you have finished the reading, ask yourself: (1) What are the philosopher’s principal ideas? (2) What arguments are used to support them, and are they strong or weak? (3) Who were the author’s major influences, and whom in turn did he/she influence? (4) What was the historical context in which the author wrote, and did this affect what was said? (5) Are the author’s works still relevant today and, if so, how?

To help in answering these questions, attendees are encouraged to consult the secondary resources posted in each announcement. Wikipedia, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are especially useful.

Rules of Conduct at Meetings

Avoid monopolizing the conversation;

Stay on topic;

Challenging arguments and disputing facts are fine; personal attacks are not;

Read least 50% of the recommended selections.

Upcoming events (1)

G. H. F. Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit - Session 1

Online event

Along with J.G. Fichte and F.W.J. von Schelling, Hegel (1770–1831) belongs to the period of German idealism in the decades following Kant. We examined the works of both Fichte and Schelling in recent months as preparation for an examination of Hegel’s project, which is complex and relies on a thorough understanding of the works of his contemporaries. The movement commonly known as German idealism effectively ended with Hegel’s death. He is perhaps most well-known for his teleological account of history, an account that was later taken over by Marx and “inverted” into a materialist theory of an historical development culminating in communism as well as his dialectic analysis of Lordship and Bondage.

Hegel's principal achievement was his development of a distinctive articulation of idealism, sometimes termed absolute idealism, in which the dualisms of mind and nature and subject and object are overcome. His philosophy of Spirit conceptually integrates psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. Of special importance is his concept of spirit as the historical manifestation of the logical concept – and the "sublation" (Aufhebung, integration without elimination or reduction) – of seemingly contradictory or opposing factors: examples include the apparent opposition between necessity and freedom and between immanence and transcendence. (Hegel has been seen in the twentieth century as the originator of the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad, but as an explicit phrase it originated with Johann Gottlieb Fichte.)

Over the course of the next three months we will examine Hegel’s project as discussed in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit can be regarded as a type of propaedeutic or instruction manual to philosophy rather than an exercise in or work of philosophy. It is meant to function as an induction or education of the reader to the standpoint of purely conceptual thought from which philosophy can be done. Its structure has been compared to that of a Bildungsroman (educational novel), having an abstractly conceived protagonist—the bearer of an evolving series of so-called shapes of consciousness or the inhabitant of a series of successive phenomenal worlds—whose progress and set-backs the reader follows and learns from. The progression ends in the attainment of what Hegel refers to as Absolute Knowing, the standpoint from which “real philosophy” gets done, seems to support a culminating narrative of the growth of western civilization combined with the theological interpretation of God’s self-manifestation and self-comprehension.
The three sessions will discuss selected readings from the Phenomenology;
- Session 1: Discussion of the Introduction and the section “Consciousness”, which includes a notoriously complex, but important discussion of the ‘inverted world’.
- Session 2: Discussion of the section B, “Self-alienated Spirit, Culture” and C, “Spirit that is certain of Itself. Morality”
- Session 3: Discussion of the famous section entitled “Absolute Knowing” as well as a final critique of Hegel’s overall project.

For these sessions we’ll be using the version of the Phenomenology of Spirit translated by A.V. Miller (ISBN[masked] -1). For this session we’ll discuss the Introduction (~12 pages) and Section A – Consciousness (~44 pages). I will also be sending out a list of key definitions of terms used by Hegel, where the terms have been defined within the work itself.

Some helpful sites;

Past events (59)

F.W.J. Schelling: System of Transcendental Philosophy

Online event

Photos (68)