What we're about

This group will meet one Sunday per month. Participants will discuss a philosophical issue/problem at each meeting, and the discussion will be moderated by a philosophy scholar. No prior experience with philosophy is required or expected.

Upcoming events (3)

Meeting 85 - Aztec philosophy - on Zoom

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Philosophy PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead this meeting.

It is common to hear talk about `philosophy', and `Western philosophy,' sometimes `Eastern Philosophy', or even rarely `African philosophy'. This week we will turn our attention to the philosophies of the Pre-Columbian Aztec civilization of Central America. Aztec (Mexica) philosophy is presented to us via few texts, so it is appropriate to treat it as largely unified. For the Mexica people, the purpose of philosophical inquiry was to answer questions arising from the pragmatic requirements of human existence. This is best captured by the question: `How can we maintain our balance while walking upon the slippery earth?' We will consider how the Aztecs tried to answer this question, and the metaphysics that encouraged them to ask it in the first instance. The general thrust is this: reality is a kind of dialectical monism (one kind of thing but revealed as two aspects), and truth, knowledge, beauty, and so on, are defined in terms of their role in the objective of humanity maintaining its footing in the slippery world of an eternally self-generating and regenerating cosmos. Join us this week as we attempt to clear our way through the jungle of Aztec philosophy.

Here is a link to the reading:

Meeting 86 - Are we alone in the universe? - IN-PERSON

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Philosophy Ph.D. candidate Liam Ryan will lead this meeting.

Is the universe teeming with intelligent life -- some of it perhaps far more advanced than our own? Does our own Milky Way galaxy, like in the classic 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, perhaps contain a commonwealth of sentient species, waiting for us to attain a minimal level of civilizational maturity before they invite us to join? Many assume the answer can only be yes. “It's so huge. It’s so old. How could we be the only ones?" Yet some of the leading experts in the field of "astrobiology" (a quite unusual area of study since they have literally nothing to study) assert that this is far from obvious, and that it's quite possible (and maybe likely) that in all of space and time life, or intelligent life, has arisen only once, and that we are the only ones.

Let's talk about whether or not we think we are alone -- using only our own logic and the complete lack of evidence. Let's talk about the temporal difficulties, since human civilization is only about 10,000 years old [masked]% of the life of the universe) and it's hardly self-evident that we will last for orders of magnitude beyond that (or even to the end of this century). Let's talk about the upsides and downsides of trying to initiate first contact with any potential alien species out there. And let's talk finally about the intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical implications, for our individual lives and for the meaning of life, of these remarkable twin alternatives -- a universe abounding with other intelligent life, and a universe where we are, in all of space and time, utterly alone.

Here is a link to the reading: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j3ee5hu7q5vharo/Lovejoy%20Plenitude%20and%20the%20New%20Cosmography.pdf?dl=0

Meeting 87 - Philosophy of Sex - IN-PERSON

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Philosophy Ph.D. candidate Liam Ryan will lead this meeting.

What is sex? What should our attitudes toward sex be? This week we will be discussing sex and sexuality as it relates to preferences, expression, and action, and how to moralize about it. We will begin by investigating some conceptual issues: What counts as sexual desire? What counts as a sexual act? When is a pleasure sexual? Why do we have sexual preferences? And more. Following this conceptual analysis, we will ask ourselves when sex is morally permissible and impermissible. Finally, we will discuss what the value of sex and sexuality is: should we be optimists or pessimists about it? Please join us as we debate the varied philosophical celebrations and denunciations of sex and sexuality, from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Kant, de Sade, Russell, Sartre, and more.

Here is a link to the reading: https://www.dropbox.com/s/t7hg4qfweh3ru13/Soble%20Sexual%20Use.pdf?dl=0

Past events (96)

Meeting 84 - I think, therefore I am - IN-PERSON

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Photos (3)