What we’re about
This group is for people that want to meet new people in Kingston AND engage in deep, meaningful conversations about topics in philosophy, ethics, politics, science, etc. "The unexamined life is not worth living" is the motto of our group. If you are interested in living an examined life, please consider joining us for some fun, deep conversations.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”. Those were the words of my intellectual hero Socrates, shortly before the Athenians sentenced him to death for challenging their beliefs. Socrates was considered a bit of a pain in the butt to his contemporaries because he was always asking deep questions like “What is the good life?” and “What is justice?”. Not everyone appreciates having their ideas and beliefs questioned. But the members of The Philosopher’s Club (Kingston) embrace, indeed celebrate!, the inquisitive mindset. We long for substantive conversations about all topics- ethics, politics, art, science, religion, law, evolution, economics, psychology, etc. We believe that the life of the active mind is the good life, and we want to continue to grow, learn and develop by engaging in civil discussion and debate with kindred spirits that live in our fine city.
Who am I? I’m a professor at Queen’s University. I am a secular humanist with a PhD in philosophy and I have had the good fortune to teach thousands of bright students in England, Scotland, Canada and the United States. While not a luddite, I will admit I loath the erosion of real (vs virtual) community and “cognitive presence” I see rampant in the hyper-social-media connectivity of the modern world. Very few people have the time or desire to meet in person and converse any more. A “re-tweet” or FB “like” are inadequate substitutes to meet our desire for substantive connection that is engrained in our evolved, pro-social biology.
People are often too busy texting away with their nose glued to their phone to meet and converse with new people in “real life”. Well, I have opted out of that virtual rat race, and this meetup group is my attempt to help forge an authentic, “conversationally-present” community of like-minded Kingstonians. I hope you will consider joining me!
Why join this group?
Answer #1: To meet new people! You like people, right?
Answer #2: To be happier! You like being happy, right? Science has shown that people are happier when engaging in meaningful conversations vs making small chat.
Format of the Group.
This meetup group is a social experiment. As such, the nature and frequency of our meetings will evolve depending on the size of the group and people’s interest. But at the moment I am planning on running two styles of meetings, what I shall call “informal” meetups, and “formal” meetups.
“Informal meetups” will take place at least once a month, at a pub, coffee shop or (when weather permits) a scenic location for walking. There will be no size limit on these events, or set topic to discuss. Just show up and chat about whatever deep topics or ideas you would like to discuss and debate.
“Formal meetups” will take place once a month. These will be lunch or dinner events, with an attendee limit of only 4 people. A table reservation for 4 people will be booked in advance. And with only space for 3 other people (besides myself), please be sure you attend an event you have booked to attend (or if you have to cancel, update it so someone else can take your place). For these formal events there will be a set “Conversation Starter” topic, to try to get people’s ideas going in advance of the meeting. The topics will be detailed on the event listed.
Hope to see you at an event soon, and we can engage in some substantive conversations together! I accept requests to join the group from people who (1) are local to Ktown and (2) have a clear profile picture of their face. A sense of authentic community is important to the group.
Upcoming events (2)See all
- The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement lecture #1 (Ever Scholar Online course)Link visible for attendees
I am teaching a 4 week online course for Queen's Ever Scholar program through the Faculty of Education on "The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement". It is free and open to members of the public.
This course runs for 4 weeks online from 5-7pm on Monday Apr 22, Apr 29, May 6 and May 13. Please note: you have to officially register through this link here to be able to access the free zoom link.
Here is the official course description:
Recent advances in biomedical knowledge and innovation- such as sequencing of the human genome, gene therapy and genome editing, the biology of aging, behavioural genetics, etc.- raise the prospect that science could be utilized to “enhance” our biology rather than simply search for treatments for specific diseases. In his book Beyond Humanity? (Oxford University Press, 2011) the philosopher Allen Buchanan defines biomedical enhancement as “a deliberate intervention, applying biomedical science, which aims to improve an existing capacity that most or all normal human beings typically have, or to create a new capacity, by acting directly on the body or brain”. This course will introduce students to both the science and ethics of biomedical enhancement, covering a range of topics like eugenics, genetics, the therapy/enhancement distinction, procreative liberty, aging, and memory modification.
I would also recommend you watch this documentary entitled Human Nature in advance of the course, to give you a sense of the incredible pace of discovery that has been made in the last few decades in biomedical research. Hope to see some of you there!
PS: please remember to register through the Queen's link above to attend this session. You can click "attending" on this app to just let me know you are interested in attending. But to gain access into the zoom link you will need to register through the Queen's link above.
- Bertrand Russell's Marriage and Morals (Reading group meeting #1)Lake Ontario Park, Kingston, ON
This spring/summer I will be running an outdoor reading group on Bertrand Russell's 1929 book Marriage and Morals. A PDF copy can be viewed here.
A book review at the time described the book as " a mixture of sense and nonsense that it is difficult to distinguish them". Russell is one of the giants of analytic philosophy of the 20th century, and I have been meaning to give this book a read for a long time.
The reading group will cover the book in 4 meetings, meeting on the last Sunday afternoon of the months of April, May, June, and July at Lake Ontario Park. We will be sitting in some shade under a tree just past the sheltered area where the bathrooms are located. Please be sure to bring your own lawn chair as that helps ensure we can move to sit where it is quiet as the park can get loud when there are public events being held at that some time.
Hope to see some of you there to discuss and debate these issues. Here is the game plan for dividing up the chapter topics per meeting:
Meeting #1 (April)
2. Matrilineal Societies
3. Patriarchal Systems
4. Phallic Worship, Asceticism and Sin
5. Christian Ethics
6. Romantic Love
Meeting #2 (May)
7. The Liberation of Women
8. The Taboo of Sex Knowledge
9. The Place of Love in Human Life
Meeting #3 (June)
12. Tribal Marriage
13. The Family at the Present Day
14. The Family in Individual Psychology
15. The Family and the State
Meeting #4 (July)
19. Sex and Individual Well-being
20. The Place of Sex among Human Values