Wat we doen

This meetup is meant for anyone who wants to philosophize and who loves the experience of philosophizing together in an informal setting. Philosophy lives not only in the written word, but also in the spoken word.

The spirit of these meetups is to explore in depth and in breadth themes and topics we might consider important and meaningful, using the tools of critical and creative thinking.

Although some/many of us may have studied philosophy at university or elsewhere, this meetup group presupposes no formal study of philosophy or of the history of philosophy. Nevertheless, ideas of great thinkers of past and present will and do end up naturally in our talks and these of course always serve as valuable material during our discussions.

Note: although we use English as our common language, it is not at all necessary to speak it perfectly. 90% of our participants speak English as a 2nd language. Our meetups have proven to be wonderful opportunities to meet philosophical others from many diverse backgrounds!

Follow our group also on Facebook: "The Brussels Philosophy Meetup"

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Free Will

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In this session's discussion we'll be considering Sam Harris' reflections on free will and his ultimate arguments against it. (I truly beg you to choose, if you will, to listen to this podcast before we meet up.)

Some of the questions/claims he brings forth that we might want to critically examine include:

Is the feeling of having free will directly connected to the feeling of being a self?

Do you agree with Sam Harris' claim that our popular conception of free will rests on 2 assumptions: 1) we could actually have made different choices in the past than the ones we did make, and 2) we are the conscious source of our conscious thoughts and actions?

Do you agree furthermore with his arguments that both of these assumptions are false?

Do you agree with his argument that neither determinism nor randomness can give us free will, yet both are compatible with our feeling of having free will?

Is our feeling of having free will an illusion? And, going further, is the "illusion of having free will" itself an illusion, as he argues?

What do you think of Sam Harris' core argument that there is no experiential reason to believe in free will?
"You are part of the universe and there's no place for you to stand outside of its causal structure...You're not on the riverbank watching the stream of consciousness; there is only the stream, and you are identical to it."

Finally, what do you think of his argument that recognizing both self and free will as illusory would in fact carry positive ethical implications?
"It's the only view of human nature that cuts through the logic of retribution."
"There is no free will, but choices matter."
Does this latter make sense?

Other questions we might want to consider:

Would it not be useful to consider volition to be a form of sensing, akin to seeing, hearing, proprioception etc.? A way to be aware of and to orient oneself - in the best case survive - in a situation/environment?

Alternatively, do we in fact not phenomenologically feel volition in a similar - or even same - way that we feel our emotions? When we feel happy we laugh; when we feel sad we cry; when we feel want we take action.

If free will is an illusion, what implications might this have on religion? What would "the will of God" mean?

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Rational Ignorance

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