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Book: The Passion of the Western Mind

At the 12/7 meeting, we discuss Part 1, "The Greek World View," and Part 2, "The Transformation of the Classical Era."

Estimated total required reading time prior to the meeting: 2 - 3 hours.


About the Book

The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View "charts the development of Western thought from the ancient Greeks, throwing a sharp light on ideas central to the modern outlook."

The book is non-fiction, but reads like a novel. It is meant for the general public and therefore does not contain jargon that would require a formal education in philosophy.

There are plenty of inexpensive, used copies of the book available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Half Price Books. Also, the book is available in eBook format (e.g. Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Google Play). (Note: Copies are not available through the Contra Costa County Library system, but it's possible that other library systems have copies.)

Here is a link to the book on Amazon so that you can preview its contents:


RSVP Policy for the Meeting Format

Since the meeting format requires members to obtain their own copy of a reading (in some cases requiring a purchase), this meeting has an open RSVP policy to help ensure that all interested members will be able to attend meetings. RSVPs will be kept open for at least a two-week period. Once RSVPs are closed, the organizer cannot guarantee a spot, but members are encouraged to request a spot by posting to the meeting's comment section. If the organizer is able to change the reservation to accommodate additional spots, the organizer will manually add the requesting members to the RSVP list.


Purchase Requirement

Since meetings are held at a restaurant, each member is required to make a meal purchase of at least $10. Separate checks will be provided to each member.


Guidelines for Selecting a Reading

• Should cover topics in philosophy and / or psychology.

• Can be fiction or non-fiction (books, essays, short stories).

• Consumable by the general public, with little to no jargon.

• Can be read in 2 - 3 hours (in the case of a longer reading, e.g. a book, it should ideally consist of sections / groups of chapters, each of which can be discussed at separate meetings and read in 2 - 3 hours).

Members are encouraged to post reading suggestions at


Pre-meeting Discussion (Optional)

Members who have RSVP'd for the meeting are encouraged, but are not required, to collect their thoughts / questions about what they have read and to post these to the comment section of this meeting post. The organizer will collect these contributions and provide the group with a handout containing them for reference at the meeting.

The most important guideline to follow when posting comments is to be respectful. Whether online or in-person, this group values respect for others' points of view. Personal attacks are not allowed and will be removed from the discussion thread, and members who violate this rule are subject to being banned from this Meetup group.

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  • Garrett W.

    Stimulating discussion of foundational ideas! I was wondering if Aristotle's Telos, or goal, was the first articulation of 'progress'? I wonder what he would think of the modern notion of progress?


  • Dee

    The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds By Michael Lewis Hardcover: 368 pages
    Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (December 6, 2016)
    "This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind."

    2 days ago

  • Jim B.

    Another related: "The Righteous Mind", by Jonathan Haidt. Esp. for those interested in morality. One can see some common themes emerging in these books.

    1 · 2 days ago

  • Jim B.

    Some books you may find interesting based on the Dec. 7 meeting:
    Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
    The Human Advantage, by Suzana Herculano-Houzel
    The Secret of Our Success, by Joseph Henrich
    -Jim Burton

    1 · 3 days ago

  • Michael

    To add to Jim's list, here are two that I mentioned:
    Coming of Age in the Milky Way, by Timothy Ferris, 1988
    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Harari, 2015

    1 · 3 days ago

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