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Philosophy Cafe - Cafe Philosophique Message Board › Events of Interest to Philosophers

Events of Interest to Philosophers

Jeff G
Ulrich
Oakland, CA
Post #: 150
I belong to other groups that have overlapping interests. I am not a jealous philosopher :-) and urge you to keep us abreast of happenings around the bay.

I do explicitly reserve the right to edit this thread for relevance and appropriateness. Also, because the oldest posts will always be at the top, I will delete past posts so as to maintain apparent freshness.

Since I won't be emailing you about these events, you might want to Track This Discussion to get updates.
Jeff G
Ulrich
Oakland, CA
Post #: 226
Deborah is a "refounding member" of Philosophy Cafe (since 2012), but she also has been carrying the load for the very lively SFDebate group, which meets on alternating Tuesdays (just so happens these are the Tuesdays that we do not meet). The Commonwealth Club of SF provides a meeting space that is quiet and noncommercial, as well as conveniently located in front of Montgomery St. BART. There is usually a good turnout for the unstructured debate extension at a nearby pub afterward.

I find this a fitting counterpoint to philosophy, sort of feet-on-the-ground versus head-in-the-sky. Under Deborah's guidance, the flavor of the topics has been shifting, gradually, to more open-ended questions. Whereas a couple years ago topics ("motions") were often fiscal or economic (taxes were a favorite), now anything that people care about is game, and she finds ways to phrase the motion to generate controversy and usually split the vote. Some of my favorites: prostitution, Egypt's coup, selling one's organs, slowing economic growth to combat global warming, taxing the rich, hi-tech gentrification, nuclear energy, Crimea's secession, and Brendan Eich's resignation. Even if people's minds are made up when they arrive, I find it interesting how people express themselves and react to others (and to the motion itself). Sometimes one of the speakers will argue against their own true position, which adds an extra challenge to the job of articulating one's thoughts! If you have an issue you want to debate and are willing to speak for 6-9 minutes on it, there is a very good chance you will be given the opportunity. :)

I used to think that politics and philosophy were utterly opposed: one is about arguing one's "position"; the other, about finding "the truth," the only position worth having. But if we investigate how we have come to "know" the supposedly eternal verities, we realize that "the facts" we have to day are the products of controversies settled in the past. To watch a debate is to observe the construction of facts, before the history of their formation is shoved under the rug. To participate in a debate--to have to make up one's mind on the basis of current knowledge--is to learn regard for this activity (messy as it is), and to see philosophy as not just a way of "thinking to ourselves," but as a way of relating to others.
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