• Great Virtues (Andre Comte-Sponville)
    Exploring how we might build space for philosophy to have an impact on our behaviour in our daily lives, and what that might mean and look like, is the goal of this discussion series that I'd like to share with you all. There are likely as many ways to approach ethics and morality as there are people, and my approach will be to explore the role of virtues as a possible practical guide using Andre Compte-Sponville's "Small Treatise on Great Virtues" as the root of topics month-by-month: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58496.A_Small_Treatise_on_the_Great_Virtues While I'll use this book to select topics because it has a great list to get started and Comte-Sponville has done some interesting reflection on the Western tradition of virtue ethics, my goal will not be to argue for whatever he advocates; it will be to use his work as a launch-pad for our conversation so we can explore virtues from many angles and learn from each other. Participants will be expected to have read the applicable chapter from his book to give us all a baseline for common understanding, and beyond that you are more than encouraged to to come at the topic from whatever standpoint you wish. I will open our discussion with a brief summary of Comte-Sponville's chapter, offer questions to fuel dialogue, and moderate as needed. Up first: Politeness as a Great Virtue on October 25. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Royal Oak

    188 Bank Street (corner of Bank and Gloucester) · Ottawa, ON

    10 comments
  • Discuss Nussbaum’s take on Anger and Forgiveness
    We will explore Martha Nussbaum’s treatment of Anger and Forgiveness (2016). Here is short essay on her view of anger https://www.google.ca/amp/s/aeon.co/amp/essays/there-s-no-emotion-we-ought-to-think-harder-about-than-anger Here is another writers take on Nussbaum's view on transactional forgiveness versus simply painful unconditional love: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/randall-horton/martha-nussbaum-and-anger_b_10319842.html Recommend the book but not necessarily needed for the meet. Some suggested framing questions will be posted later, open to online discussion influence. Given our current culture’s apparent intoxication with anger and payback, a reflective investigation of what anger is and how we wish to respond to anger maybe helpful.

    Needs a location

    7 comments
  • Aristotle "On The Soul" Books I and II
    We will discuss the first two books of "On The Soul" or 'De Anima' by Aristotle. These books deal with the nature of a "soul". Aristotle differs from previous thinkers who were either idealists or materialists. For the former, our identity was purely material. For the latter it is non-physical. Aristotle thinks that it is non-material but still physical. That sounds like a contradiction, and maybe it is, but in any case I think that he is on the whole correct. In my view this means that his argument can be translated into modern scientific terms. In spite of this, generations of religious people have found that Aristotle does justice to their idea of what a "soul" is. The need for a meetup on this topic occurred to me during my last series on the Bhagavad Gita. In that series, I tried to make a rather difficult argument, but it was only during the second meeting that I realized that to connect modern science to Krishna's Dharma, I would need to go through Aristotelian psychology. I think that this book really focuses hard on the intersection of natural science and ethics, which is exactly where I want to focus in the next few years. This meeting will read On the Soul Book I. 1,4 Book II.1-5 and Book III. 1-7 Books one and two focus on aspect of the soul that we share with plants and animals, while book three explores the relationship of the soul with thought and ideas. Thus the work spans biology and psychology. We will probably not get to Book III during the first meeting, so I will have a second meeting on July 16 at the same time.

    Laurier Royal Oak Pub

    161 Laurier Ave E · Ottawa, ON

    4 comments
  • The "Bhagavad Gita".
    • What we'll do We will be reading and discussion the "Bhagavad Gita", which is the most authoritative and widely-read books of Indian philosophy. It is very special to me, having been the only book I took with me to deploy to Iraq, as well as being one of two official scriptures at the ashram I lived at.I have been reading it for years and it keeps growing on me. I have not decided how many meetings we will divide it into, but it will be at least two. The first meeting we will discuss the background assumptions of the work, which differ significantly from our own. The primary aim of the Gita is to restate the Dharma in a form that can refute Buddhism. It is a synthesis of two different schools of orthodox Hindu thought, the Samkya and the Yoga schools. Whereas Buddhism argues that there is no True Self, either in individuals or in the Universe as a whole (i.e. the theistic "God"), the Gita argues that the Self is a teleological cause that explains the changes of Maya, as well as the nature of value and social duty. It does not predate Maya, but merely supports it in its proper functioning. The date of the meeting is still up in the air; I am only posting this to give you time to read ahead. As I find sources, I will post them here. The final date will be decided within two weeks. Main Topics: 1) The Self/Atman as a physical theory and response to Buddhist "annatta" (No Soul) theory. 2) The political agenda - what is the "good life" according to Krishna. 3) The view of history - cycles of the rise and fall of Dharma and the Four Yugas. 4)The unity of various types of Yoga - Jnana, karma, and Bhakti, and Dhyana. 5) The "Three Gunas" as a physical theory. 6) The "Gita" as a chapter in the "Mahabharata", the epic story of the origins of Indian civilization. • What to bring • Important to know

    Laurier Royal Oak Pub

    161 Laurier Ave E · Ottawa, ON

    7 comments
  • The "Bhagavad Gita".
    • What we'll do We will be reading and discussion the "Bhagavad Gita", which is the most authoritative and widely-read books of Indian philosophy. It is very special to me, having been the only book I took with me to deploy to Iraq, as well as being one of two official scriptures at the ashram I lived at.I have been reading it for years and it keeps growing on me. I have not decided how many meetings we will divide it into, but it will be at least two. The first meeting we will discuss the background assumptions of the work, which differ significantly from our own. The primary aim of the Gita is to restate the Dharma in a form that can refute Buddhism. It is a synthesis of two different schools of orthodox Hindu thought, the Samkya and the Yoga schools. Whereas Buddhism argues that there is no True Self, either in individuals or in the Universe as a whole (i.e. the theistic "God"), the Gita argues that the Self is a teleological cause that explains the changes of Maya, as well as the nature of value and social duty. It does not predate Maya, but merely supports it in its proper functioning. The date of the meeting is still up in the air; I am only posting this to give you time to read ahead. As I find sources, I will post them here. The final date will be decided within two weeks. Main Topics: 1) The Self/Atman as a physical theory and response to Buddhist "annatta" (No Soul) theory. 2) The political agenda - what is the "good life" according to Krishna. 3) The view of history - cycles of the rise and fall of Dharma and the Four Yugas. 4)The unity of various types of Yoga - Jnana, karma, and Bhakti, and Dhyana. 5) The "Three Gunas" as a physical theory. 6) The "Gita" as a chapter in the "Mahabharata", the epic story of the origins of Indian civilization. • What to bring • Important to know

    Laurier Royal Oak Pub

    161 Laurier Ave E · Ottawa, ON

    33 comments
  • The Metaphysics of "Natural Goodness"
    One of the most important trends for ethical theory in recent years has been the resurgence of virtue theory. One of the big players in this resurgence was Philippa Foot, whose major work "Natural Goodness" argued that moral virtue was a natural quality of organisms who cooperate through speech and thought. That is, if we say that a person has bad moral character, we are making the same fundamental sort of statement as the claim that a tree has a weak roots, or a bird has a bad wing, et cetera. While this work is still widely read (it is assigned reading for the PhD candidates at our local D.U.C.), it seems that there are fatal difficulties with it, either one of thses must be true: 1) Either this theory is based on an outmoded biology based on teleology and essentialism. or 2) Modern biology has nothing to support such an ethical theory. In fact most people seem to think that modern biology is thoroughly evil or at best Nietzschean. In this meetup, I will present my case that neither of the above objections are fatal or even applicable. I will not focus on morality itself in this presentation, but will show how evolution fits into Aristotelean natural science, especially the "Four Causes". Since Aristotle considered ethics to be 'naturalistic' in the ancient sense of that word, it follows that natural norms underlie ethics. It is often said that two of these causes "form" and "purpose" have no place in modern biology, but I disagree. The basic underlying metaphysics only needs minor tweaking to fit an evolutionary model. Specifically, each of the Four Causes should be given two separate versions one, "shallow" and the other "deep" in order to describe evolution. Aristotle's concept of "intelligible matter", which he used to explain the artificial creation of linguistic and graphic products is well-suited to describing the design of new species through natural selection. I am calling this meetup to give me a chance to practice my presentation that I am scheduled to give at the upcoming conference for the Canadian Aristotle Society in Ottawa on May 11. In light of this, I would like to follow the format set up by the conference: This will be a presentation of 30 minutes followed by a question and answer session of 15 minutes. After that, everyone can say or do what they like, because i just want to give the presentation once before the big day. This presentation was designed for an audience of Aristotle scholars, but if you have been to any of my Aristotle meetups or read and understood any of him in the past, then you may benefit from this. Or perhaps you area big fan of evolution or the history philosophy of science. Failing that, you could peruse my blog (https://adamvoight.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/ethics-as-physics-part-i/) for something that interests you. In any case, I will be very happy to get even a small audience to help me rehearse for my first presentation at a real academic conference. Thank you in advance for coming. Also thanks for all the encouragement from the members of Plato's Pub and other Ottawa philosophy meetups.

    The Senate Tavern on Bank

    1159 Bank St. · Ottawa, ON

    2 comments
  • May Day: "Anarchy is on trial!"
    Forget the may pole. Tonight's discussion will look at the [contested] anarchist origins of modern May Day and why our image of anarchism skews so negatively in popular culture and mainstream representations. To prepare for the evening's discussion, please check out the following podcast: The ex-worker podcast: Episode 1 Anarchist origins of May Day in the Haymarket Affair https://crimethinc.com/podcast/1 [story starts at 5:00 and runs about 20 minutes - transcript also available on the website for those who prefer to read] I will post some guiding philosophical questions for consideration soon. And a little punk rock anarchist for fun (and further consideration) https://youtu.be/LYWpFs8Na9k A couple of additional sources if you're curious and want to read a bit more basic introductions. Are you an anarchist? The answer may surprise you. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/david-graeber-are-you-an-anarchist-the-answer-may-surprise-you Anarchism FAQ page https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/the-anarchist-faq-editorial-collective-an-anarchist-faq

    The Royal Oak

    188 Bank Street · Ottawa, ON

    7 comments
  • “What Morality is Not”- against Universalist Morality.
    Another instalment in looking at Macintyre philosophy. In the 1957 paper “What Morality is Not “, Macintyre makes a number of arguments against the position that Morality is necessarily universal and prescriptive. The article can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tvfyo6p8tp5jm8y/What_Morality_Is_Not.pdf?dl=0 Some questions to consider: Q1: Should moral statements have the form of universal and prescriptive based on analytical considerations ( E.M Hare) ? Is Macintyre super hero argument successful in defeating this view ? Is there a personal zone in morality that is not universal ? What does this mean ? Q2: Is it possible to have a universal rational system of ethics which is objective ? For example, recent writers such as Sam Harris and Steven Pinker would argue yes - basically some form of utilitarianism. Do the number of exceptions in these systems render them impractical ? (Think Eugenics etc with utilitarianism, etc) Do the vast number of exceptions ultimately become like positive law and are tainted by the power structures that have ruled on these precedents in the positive law ? Can universal rational principles actually be embodied by a particular person ? Aristotle/Macintyre/Williams/… would argue no. Q3: Are there moral imperatives which are not possible to codify. For example there is Christian Situational ethics (Paul Tillich and co) where “Love Thy Neighbour” is seen as the highest intrinsic good and is inherently uncodifiable. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_ethic Another might be “Be the best you so you can enable others “ There are parallels here to moral heroism case. Q4: Are there some universal moral facts? For example all human being should be accorded some minimum level of respect and dignity. In this view Racism is morally wrong because it is promoting a lie. How do we comprehend a moral fact or moral features in a complex situation ? Can universal moral facts be given consideration in situational ethics ? Q5:Can some moral behaviour come from emotion/sentiment and not moral principle ? Macintyre’s example of Huckleberry Finn comes to mind here, who ultimately decides not to tell on the slave Jim, even though his beliefs tell him he should.. Does Huckleberry Finn become responsive in some way to true moral fact of the dignity of Jim. These ideas are developed further in the work “Unprincipled Virtue” by Normy Arpaly. She explores real world cases and literature cases where individuals move in a moral direction based on intuition rather than on rational reflection. Q6: What role does community play in morality ? Can we be a member of different communities simultaneously ( family, friends, work, city, nation, the planet) and how do we balance the different ethical obligations… Can we layer our ethical obligations in particular situations ?

    The Royal Oak

    188 Bank Street · Ottawa, ON

    11 comments
  • What sorts of things are "really real"? - according to Aristotle.
    • What we'll do We will be reading Aristotle's "Metaphysics" Book VII (a.k.a. "Book Zeta"), which covers the following: Sections 1-4: Introduction to the concept of "substance" as "what is REALLY real", including various conceptions of what is really real according to the materialists, the idealists, and Aristotle. Skip sections 5 and 6. Sections 7-8: How the concept of "substance" functions in the explanation of the coming to be and passing away of physical beings. Skip sections 9-11. Section 13ff: Why universals, pure forms (apart from matter), random collections of stuff, artificial beings, etc. cannot be substances; only whole natural beings can be substances. Examples of substances include atoms, molecules, cells, organs, organisms, planets, stars, and perhaps Gods. (There may be other sorts of substances.) If you miss one meeting, but keep up with the reading, you should be fine for the next. Having attended previous meetings on the "Physics" and the "Metaphysics" will be very helpful. Even if you have not read any of the assigned readings the discussion will still be awesome, so come anyway. And even if you try to read this and think it is total gibberish, come anyway. My agenda is to combine Aristotle with modern science. I am thoroughly naturalistic in my approach, and think that the subject matter of "metaphysics" is reverse engineering of the most fundamental elements and principles of our naturally-evolved software ("mind"). The basic text: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.7.vii.html My notes: https://adamvoight.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/notes-on-aristotles-metaphysics-book-vii/ (I will be adding to these notes as I read this more.) • What to bring • Important to know

    Laurier Royal Oak Pub

    161 Laurier Ave E · Ottawa, ON

    7 comments
  • Phenomenal intentionality - What it's like and what it's about
    In the original write-up (see below) I recommended reading the first 4 pages of “Consciousness and Intentionality” (http://www.dbourget.com/papers/consc_and_int.pdf). The article points out that many mental states have both intentional properties (“what it’s about”) and phenomenal properties (“what it’s like”). If you read just a little further (to page 6), you’ll learn about three different approaches to this question. Here they are in simplified form: * Representationalism: all phenomenal states arise from intentional states * Phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT): all intentional states arise from phenomenal states * Separatism: neither kind of state arises from the other. Our discussion will consider these approaches and attempt to determine which of them best corresponds to what we know about the intentional and phenomenal properties of mental states. We will also explore the implications of this line of reasoning in regard to consciousness and whether it is exclusive to humans or can be found elsewhere in the universe. -------- For the last 15 years, phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT) has been a very active topic in philosophy of mind, although it can be traced to the work of Bretano (1874) and in embryonic form much earlier. The entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenal-intentionality ) states that: "The phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT) is a theory of intentionality, the aboutness of mental states. While many contemporary theories of intentionality attempt to account for intentionality in terms of causal relations, informational relations, functional roles, or other 'naturalistic' ingredients, PIT aims to account for it in terms of phenomenal consciousness, the felt, subjective, or 'what it’s like' (Nagel 1974) aspect of mental life." An interesting account of PIT is found here: http://www.dbourget.com/papers/consc_and_int.pdf . Before we meet you should read the first 4 pages. If you have time, read more! We'll be discussing PIT and related ideas in connection with some of the fundamental questions in philosophy of mind, in particular consciousness and qualia.

    The Royal Oak

    188 Bank Street · Ottawa, ON

    8 comments