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Celebrate life and wisdom!
Topics that are the usual suspects:
What is Philosophy?— Philosophy goes through a series of stages: Aporeia (Greek to mean perplexity); Praxa (from the Greek to mean action or practice); Philosophia (from the Greek to mean ‘love of wisdom’). Philosophy is part logic, part critical thinking, part tinkering and part understanding—as well much, much more. To be a bit more precise Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence especially when considered as an academic discipline. There are several definitive disciplines of Philosophy; Epistemology (taken from the Greek ‘epistēmē’ meaning knowledge) which is the study of knowledge, truth, belief, justification as theories of knowledge; Logic (from the Greek ‘logos’ meaning reason or word) is the study of reasoning, argumentation, validity and certainty; Metaphysics (in Greek to literally mean ‘beyond’ or ‘after’ ‘physics’ taken from a book Aristotle wrote after ‘The Physics’) which is the study of the fundamental nature of reality; Philosophical Morality, where morality is to mean "a class of rules held by society to govern the conduct of its members behavior", thus Philosophy of Morality is the study of those rules of conduct and their justifications as ethical theories; and Aesthetics (from the Greek aisthetikos to mean esthetic, sensitive or sentient) which is the study of art, beauty, taste, perception and the nature of judgments. There are numerous ‘notable to mention’ fields in Philosophy; Philosophy of Mathematics; Philosophy of Logic; Philosophy of History; Philosophy of Law; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Religion; and the Philosophy of Language to just name a few.
Free Will, or 'do we have free will or are we products of determinism'?— That's pretty much a freebie, so to speak. We keep going over the same ground, about how it can be that we have responsibility and apparent choices even though everything we do is inescapably inevitable.
Morality, or 'what justifies morality'?— Closely tied to free will, it comes up a lot these days. Some people have persistent conniptions over the fact that even without ultimate authorities breathing down your neck, most folks still manage to do the right thing, and the conniption sufferers can't seem to figure out why that is or accept it.
Consciousness, or 'what is the mind'?— Seen as something mystic, ghostly and ineffable by some, and straightforward as an adding machine by others, it tends to wane as wine flows and we get closer to the political discussion period (note that political discussion is punishable by severe castigation until after the end of the meeting at 9pm).
What is knowledge?— How do we know what we know? What justifies our knowledge? What criteria is there to determine knowledge from guessing, belief from opinion? Within the spectrum of Epistemology are the questions about induction (The Goodman paradox, or 'The new problem of induction'), belief as knowledge (The Gettier problem) and what justifies them (Plato's theory of knowledge is justified true beliefs)?
What is existence?— Why is there something rather than nothing? Where does existence come from? Is existence a property of individuals or that of a substance? What is matter? Is matter all that there is in the universe? Is reasoning a model of existence or a psychological projection of our own consciousness? The Ship of Thesis problem. The identity of indiscernibles problem. Numerous problems concerning causation.
What is the meaning of life?— What makes life meaningful? Would life lose its luster if nihilism were true? Is there an ultimate end, goal or purpose to human existence?
The existence of evil?— Is evil intelligible or 'unintelligible'? Could there be a third case, evil is neither 'intelligible' nor 'unintelligible'? Is evil a product of ignorance (a Socratic thesis) or a product of intelligence? Is evil nihilism?
What is beauty?— Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is, the question of beauty is a question of whether beauty is 'objective' or 'subjective'? Perfect proportions, the golden ratio, the harmonies of opposites and symmetries of objects consist of what is beautiful, but is that all there is to it?
What is Justice?— Is Justice as a Virtue of individuals, thus of society, or is it a matter of equality? Is it just to punish criminal and wrong doers? Is Justice merciful, or is it blind? Is Justice a romantic ideal, or a possible reality?
Is reality real?— Are you awake or in a lucid dream state? Is there a idiot-proof test to determine reality from projection and fantasy? Is reality a form of idealism or a 'realism'?
The Format of the Meeting:
Topics are suggested and refined by those attending the meeting. Then by pure democracy we collectively vote for the best 2-4 top topics and break into 2-4 groups to discuss them.
Some general guidelines for the meetings:
We tackle philosophical issues casually and informally. If you are into some deep conversation about life, existence and the nature of knowledge and value—this is the group for you. If you are into academic, in-depth, complex dialogue about esoteric philosophical matters—well this group is for you as well.
If you would like a lively discussion to rival those you spent in the wee hours at college, while your brain marinated in substances whose names you can no longer pronounce now that you've taken them, then by all means join us!