Socrates Cafe

"I am the wisest man alive for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing"

                                                                                                                             -Socrates


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed."

                                                                                                                           -Tom Jefferson


"The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect."

-The Problems of Philosophy

Bertrand Russell (1959)


“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

                                                                                                     -Seneca


Inscribed on a New England tomb stone:

"Most of the things that killed me never happened"


Ayn Rand: Essay - Philosophy Who Needs it?

“Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation — or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt.”


Socrates' claim that "the unexamined life is not worth living" is often cited
as a central theme in the activities of philosophy.  By it, Socrates is typically
understood to mean that simply doing whatever everyone else does without
thinking about why we should do what we do can hardly be thought of as
worthwhile, noble, or admirable.

 

Socrates Cafe is a gathering where people from different backgrounds meet to discuss and exchange ideas on existential/philosophical questions and engage in a common quest to gain a better understanding of human nature and a more inclusive world. It entails good discussions about important topics by common people. Socrates Cafe gatherings are open to anyone who wishes to attend to freely discuss a question which is chosen by vote or which is announced shortly in advance. There are no prerequisites, and no reading or other preparation is required. Our gatherings would be facilitated initially by Art Renkwitz, whose main task is to assure that the discussion focuses on the chosen question and that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to the discussion in a most respectful manner. The length of the gathering is from one to two hours.

Documentary on Socrates

Questions Archive
 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017

2018

Question(s) for Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at The Wine Bar 414 Race St, Cambridge, MD 21613

For more information contact Art Renkwitz  renkwitza@gmail.com

Thursday, October 18th:

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Here’s several articles for your edification:

Ordering wine
Here is the link to a chronological list of Western philosophers. Take your pick.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Western_philosophers

 
What is Socrates Cafe?

Where Questions, Not Answers, Rule

Socrates Cafe Questions
 

To know is not the most important thing. Seeking is

-Participants propose and choose the questions, and we will strive to have many different facilitators.

-The Socrates Cafe discussions will not descend into diatribe or polemic. What remains paramount is precision of inquiry, fairness, and mutual respect. If dialogue is the Socratic goal then "polylogue" is the hoped for outcome.

-The bottom line at Socrates Cafe is that what's important is the question itself; conclusions are not absolutely reached; rather discussion widens and widens.

-This is not a place for people with an axe to grind. Interestingly, it does seem to matter what answers emerge. However, it may not matter whether answers are reached.

-Where else do you force yourself to listen, to reflect? You tend to know when you must speak - after a lot of listening. It opens our minds.
 
Questions Archive

2018

January 4th, 2018
  1. Do the men in Waiting for Godot have any sort of character arcs? Do they evolve at all, or learn anything, or change in any way from the beginning to the end of the play?
  2. Why discuss philosophical ideas in a work of fiction instead of, say, a treatise?
  3. If it’s true that nothing happens in Waiting for Godot, how is it that we manage to be entertained as the audience/reader?
  4. Do you think the play would function differently if the characters were all female instead of male?
  5. Do Vladimir and Estragon stand around killing time because they’re waiting for Godot or is waiting for Godot itself just an act to fill the void?
  6. If Waiting for Godot is moralistic in nature, what is the moral? How does the play instruct us to lead our lives? Are these lessons subjective and personal for each viewer, or objective and universal?

January 11th, 2018

Waiting for Godot - Philosophy

Text of Play

Act 1

Act 2

Waiting for Godot-The Play-Youtube

Waiting for Godot-Wikipedia

Camus in 10 Minutes

The Myth of Sisyphus - The Partially Examined Life

*Questions:

Absurdism

Cosmos meaningless but we are forced to find meaning

How should we confront the absurd?

Be an actor

Be another kind of artist

Be political and powerful

Acceptance- the universe is pointless but you live life confronting that idea and accept the pointlessness of things.

                One must consider Sisyphus happy.

  1. Do the men in Waiting for Godot have any sort of character arcs? Do they evolve at all, or learn anything, or change in any way from the beginning to the end of the play?
  2. Why discuss philosophical ideas in a work of fiction instead of, say, a treatise?
  3. If it’s true that nothing happens in Waiting for Godot, how is it that we manage to be entertained as the audience/reader?
  4. Do you think the play would function differently if the characters were all female instead of male?
  5. Do Vladimir and Estragon stand around killing time because they’re waiting for Godot or is waiting for Godot itself just an act to fill the void?
  6. If Waiting for Godot is moralistic in nature, what is the moral? How does the play instruct us to lead our lives? Are these lessons subjective and personal for each viewer, or objective and universal?
January 18th, 2018

Waiting for Godot - Philosophy

Text of Play

Act 1

Act 2

Waiting for Godot-The Play-Youtube

Waiting for Godot-Wikipedia

Camus in 10 Minutes

The Myth of Sisyphus - The Partially Examined Life

*Questions:

Absurdism

Cosmos meaningless but we are forced to find meaning

How should we confront the absurd?

Be an actor

Be another kind of artist

Be political and powerful

Acceptance- the universe is pointless but you live life confronting that idea and accept the pointlessness of things.

                One must consider Sisyphus happy.

  1. Do the men in Waiting for Godot have any sort of character arcs? Do they evolve at all, or learn anything, or change in any way from the beginning to the end of the play?
  2. Why discuss philosophical ideas in a work of fiction instead of, say, a treatise?
  3. If it’s true that nothing happens in Waiting for Godot, how is it that we manage to be entertained as the audience/reader?
  4. Do you think the play would function differently if the characters were all female instead of male?
  5. Do Vladimir and Estragon stand around killing time because they’re waiting for Godot or is waiting for Godot itself just an act to fill the void?
  6. If Waiting for Godot is moralistic in nature, what is the moral? How does the play instruct us to lead our lives? Are these lessons subjective and personal for each viewer, or objective and universal?
January 25th, 2018

POSTMODERNISM: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(Answered by) Adam Blatner, M.D.

Postmodernism-The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

All About God-World View  Postmodernism

All About Philosophy - Postmodernism

Sokal Affair

What is postmodernism?

What does postmodernism have to say about science?

What is deconstruction in literature?

How does postmodernism see truth?

Other questions:

What is a paradigm? How does it influence your thinking? How does it affect the interpretation of data?

Our ability to see patterns in things and build context to explain the pattern we see. Are we manipulating reality by doing that, or are we merely explaining reality?

What is the reductionist paradigm? Is it the best way to explain the behavior of matter?

What is divinity?

What is self?


Thomas Nagel-The View from Nowhere

 How do we square-or even connect- the view from within, according to which we are of overwhelming importance, with the view from without, which sees us as insignificant in a vast universe (reality is not just objective reality)?

February 1st, 2018

Below are some references for Shantung Compound. We will discuss the work at the upcoming meeting.

Here is a PDF file with a summary of the book Shantung Compound that will allow you to participate in the discussion.

If you would like to read the entire work, here is a link to Amazon for the Kindle version of the narrative.

Shantung Compound

This book powerfully evokes a very civilized despair for the human social condition. It implies that the Western notion of the social contract to be a wistful, romantic notion. I think I said that in a nice way. Shantung Compound was a blunt, clarifying, transformative read.
In Gilkey’s words, “This book is about the life of a civilian internment camp in North China during the war against Japan . . . Because internment-camp life seems to reveal more clearly than does ordinary experience the anatomy of man’s common social and moral problems and the bases of human communal existence, this book finally has been written.”
Gilkey was a 24-year-old American teacher in a Chinese university when World War II commenced. He and about 2,000 others, mostly Europeans including academics, clergy, and businessmen, were imprisoned for more than two years in relatively benign conditions in the Weihsien camp near Shantung. Their Japanese captors provided the bare minimum of food and coal and told the inmates to run the camp inside the walls.
Shantung Compound is Gilkey’s account of the endlessly frustrated attempts, by various camp leaders and elected committees and a few charismatic individuals, to enforce a fair allocation of the smallish rooms and dorm beds, to get everyone to do a fair share of work, to prevent stealing, to settle social disputes, to provide for the exceptional needs of the elderly, the frail, the young kids, the nursing mothers….
The overwhelming truth is that facing the prospective dangers and daily extremities of camp life, nearly all of the internees didn’t “rise to the occasion” to protect the weak and to cooperate rationally for their own good and the common good.
Instead, this is what nearly all of the internees—most of them white, educated, Western—tended to do most of the time: they conspicuously looked out for themselves and their families, declined to do more than a modicum of work, refused to give up some of their “equal” share of food and housing to needier fellow inmates, shied away from volunteer leadership, declined to share the contents of relief parcels sent by their “own” governments, stole food and supplies whenever possible, refused to punish the egregious wrongdoers among them, and rationalized most of their uncharitable, uncooperative and uncivil behavior in complex variations of religious and humanist moralities….
Mind you, this wasn’t humanity in a state of nature. No “. . . Nature, red in tooth and claw” stuff. The Japanese guards remained aloof from the prisoners’ largely autonomous camp administration and permitted black market trading with villagers outside the camp. The internees lived in dismal but not life-threatening conditions. They lived peaceably, often manifesting their shortcomings in a nominally genteel way. In a perverted sense, they were in a protected environment and really didn’t worry much about anything except surviving in a tolerably impoverished condition as part of a generally homogeneous group.
They could have lived an Enlightenment fantasy. They could have established a coherent community with orderly cooperation, consensual leadership and rational allocation of food, housing, and civic niceties to appropriately satisfy the disparate needs of all. But they didn’t.

Postmodernism

POSTMODERNISM: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(Answered by) Adam Blatner, M.D.

Postmodernism-The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

All About God-World View  Postmodernism

All About Philosophy - Postmodernism

Sokal Affair

What is postmodernism?

What does postmodernism have to say about science?

What is deconstruction in literature?

How does postmodernism see truth?

Other questions:

What is a paradigm? How does it influence your thinking? How does it affect the interpretation of data?

Our ability to see patterns in things and build context to explain the pattern we see. Are we manipulating reality by doing that, or are we merely explaining reality?

What is the reductionist paradigm? Is it the best way to explain the behavior of matter?

What is divinity?

What is self?


Thomas Nagel-The View from Nowhere

 How do we square-or even connect- the view from within, according to which we are of overwhelming importance, with the view from without, which sees us as insignificant in a vast universe (reality is not just objective reality)?

February 8th, 2018
February 16th, 2018
February 23rd, 2018
March 1st, 2018

Is  Contemporary Education Obsolete?

What Is Enlightenment?
Immanuel Kant

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) "Have the courage to use your own understanding," is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on--then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind--among them the entire fair sex--should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts.

What does being enlightened mean?

What is the basis of enlightened thinking?

Do you consider yourself to be enlightened?

If you consider yourself enlightened, then what is your paradigm?

As an enlightened personage, what sort of education should be provided for the general populace?

What is deism?

Are you a deist?

Does deism go hand-in-hand with being enlightened?

March 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th 2018

Is  Contemporary Education Obsolete?

What changes do we need to make to education in America?

What Is Enlightenment?
Immanuel Kant

Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) "Have the courage to use your own understanding," is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on--then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind--among them the entire fair sex--should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts.

What does being enlightened mean?

What is the basis of enlightened thinking?

Do you consider yourself to be enlightened?

If you consider yourself enlightened, then what is your paradigm?

As an enlightened personage, what sort of education should be provided for the general populace?

What is deism?

Are you a deist?

Does deism go hand-in-hand with being enlightened?

April 5th, 2018

From Evan,

Admittedly, the article I wrote below is about public policy, not philosophy, but I think some members of the group might fine it interesting if you would care to pass it along.

https://issblog.nl/2018/03/27/deglobalisation-series-backtracking-from-globalisation-by-evan-hillebrand/

Questions for discussion:

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

Do you believe in mathematics?

What is mathematics?

What is the difference between an equation and a verbal description of the equation?

Free speech and political correctness are not mutually exclusive, as many presume, some argue that being Politically Correct is actually a responsible use of that freedom.

Do we really want to just "get away" with saying things, or do we want to raise the standard of discourse?

Saying something repugnant without much thought or consideration may not have legal consequences, but there are social ones.

April 12th, 2018

There are two contextual items here that will aide us in our discussions on AI and our current concerns on the Enlightenment. I encourage you to take the time to view and read them. Hopefully, they will enlighten you. Pun intended.

Here's the AI documentary Elon Musk thinks is essential viewing

The documentary - Do you trust this computer? - is particularly relevant given Facebook's ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal. With so much data being pumped into companies like Google and Facebook, the world has to wonder just what those companies are doing with that information. Elon's tweet even goes as far to say "Nothing will affect the future of humanity more than digital super intelligence." So should we be scared? 

http://bigthink.com/news/heres-the-ai-documentary-elon-musk-thinks-is-essential-viewing

From Evan,

Admittedly, the article I wrote below is about public policy, not philosophy, but I think some members of the group might fine it interesting if you would care to pass it along.

https://issblog.nl/2018/03/27/deglobalisation-series-backtracking-from-globalisation-by-evan-hillebrand/

Questions for discussion:

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

Do you believe in mathematics?

What are numbers?

What is mathematics?

What is the difference between an equation and a verbal description of the equation?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

Free speech and political correctness are not mutually exclusive, as many presume, some argue that being Politically Correct is actually a responsible use of that freedom.

Do we really want to just "get away" with saying things, or do we want to raise the standard of discourse?

Saying something repugnant without much thought or consideration may not have legal consequences, but there are social ones.

April 19th & 26th,  2018

From Steve Heyneman:

In light of the flood of news and information that is now available: Is it possible to determine what is true or what is false?

 __________________________________________________________________

What are your intentions for the rest of your life?

How do we know what words really mean?

http://www.dictionary.com/e/semiology/

From Joel: What is a cat?

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

What is a paradigm and how does it influence your thinking? How does it affect your interpretation of data?

What is the difference between an equation and a verbal description of the equation?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

Published on January 1st of 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been a fixture in the general thinking about science and responsibility.

 Victor Frankenstein creates a life, but does not take responsibility for having done it. He runs away from his creation and his “Adam” follows his own instincts.

What are our responsibilities as creators? Should there be any?

May 3rd & May 10th,  2018

From Steve Conn:

Where do our morals come from?

Are they emotional, or reasoned?

Use this article as context:

http://theweek.com/articles/675625/where-morals-come-from

__________________________________________________________________________________

From Steve Heyneman:

In light of the flood of news and information that is now available: Is it possible to determine what is true or what is false?

 __________________________________________________________________

What are your intentions for the rest of your life?

From Joel: What is a cat?

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

What is a paradigm and how does it influence your thinking? How does it affect your interpretation of data?

What is the difference between an equation and a verbal description of the equation?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

Published on January 1st of 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been a fixture in the general thinking about science and responsibility.

 Victor Frankenstein creates a life, but does not take responsibility for having done it. He runs away from his creation and his “Adam” follows his own instincts.

What are our responsibilities as creators? Should there be any?

May 17th,  2018

Questions for discussion:

Published on January 1st of 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been a fixture in the general thinking about science and responsibility.

 Victor Frankenstein creates a life, but does not take responsibility for having done it. He runs away from his creation and his “Adam” follows his own instincts.

What are our responsibilities as creators? Should there be any?

____________________________________

What are your intentions for the rest of your life?

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

What is a man?
May 24th,  2018  

Questions for discussion:

Published on January 1st of 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been a fixture in the general thinking about science and responsibility.

 Victor Frankenstein creates a life, but does not take responsibility for having done it. He runs away from his creation and his “Adam” follows his own instincts.

What are our responsibilities as creators? Should there be any?

____________________________________

What are your intentions for the rest of your life?

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

What is a man?
May 31st,  2018

What is guilt?

How does guilt affect your life?

The Definitive Guide to Guilt


What is freedom of speech?

-Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-A defense of free speech in an open society, the wall behind the statue of George Orwell at the offices of the BBC is inscribed with the words :

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, words from George Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm (1945).

-In Evelyn Beatrice Hall's biography of Voltaire, she coined the following sentence to illustrate Voltaire's beliefs: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hall's quote is frequently cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

-John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) argued that without human freedom there can be no progress in science, law or politics, which according to Mill required free discussion of opinion. Mill's On Liberty, published in 1859 became a classic defense of the right to freedom of expression. Mill argued that truth drives out falsity, therefore the free expression of ideas, true or false, should not be feared. Truth is not stable or fixed, but evolves with time. Mill argued that much of what we once considered true has turned out false. Therefore, views should not be prohibited for their apparent falsity. Mill also argued that free discussion is necessary to prevent the "deep slumber of a decided opinion". Discussion would drive the onwards march of truth and by considering false views the basis of true views could be re-affirmed. Furthermore, Mill argued that an opinion only carries intrinsic value to the owner of that opinion, thus silencing the expression of that opinion is an injustice to a basic human right. For Mill, the only instance in which speech can be justifiably suppressed is in order to prevent harm from a clear and direct threat. Neither economic or moral implications, nor the speakers own well-being would justify suppression of speech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech - cite_note-69

What are your personal standards on speaking freely?


What are your intentions for the rest of your life?

What do you believe in?

What is belief?

Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?

What do people strive for after enlightenment?

What is a man?

June 7th,  2018

Here are a couple of links to articles that are pertinent to the consideration of the freedom of speech:

'Cultural Marxism' Is Not the True Culprit of Our Cultural Decay

Psychologist: Rejecting Values and Responsibility Was a Big Mistake

What is freedom of speech?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

A defense of free speech in an open society, the wall behind the statue of George Orwell at the offices of the BBC is inscribed with the words :

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, words from George Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm (1945).

In Evelyn Beatrice Hall's biography of Voltaire, she coined the following sentence to illustrate Voltaire's beliefs: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hall's quote is frequently cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) argued that without human freedom there can be no progress in science, law or politics, which according to Mill required free discussion of opinion. Mill's On Liberty, published in 1859 became a classic defense of the right to freedom of expression. Mill argued that truth drives out falsity, therefore the free expression of ideas, true or false, should not be feared. Truth is not stable or fixed, but evolves with time. Mill argued that much of what we once considered true has turned out false. Therefore, views should not be prohibited for their apparent falsity. Mill also argued that free discussion is necessary to prevent the "deep slumber of a decided opinion". Discussion would drive the onwards march of truth and by considering false views the basis of true views could be re-affirmed. Furthermore, Mill argued that an opinion only carries intrinsic value to the owner of that opinion, thus silencing the expression of that opinion is an injustice to a basic human right. For Mill, the only instance in which speech can be justifiably suppressed is in order to prevent harm from a clear and direct threat. Neither economic or moral implications, nor the speakers own well-being would justify suppression of speech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech - cite_note-69

What are your personal standards on speaking freely?

___________________________________________

What is a man?

What really defines a man as a "man"?-Quora

June 14th,  2018

I received this email a few days ago and thought it might be an interesting reference for discussion. Rather than an ad for buying the book, read the sample meditation and then let’s discuss its ramifications in your philosophical thinking.

Do you subscribe to its implications?

My name is Dr. William Ferraiolo. I have twenty five years of experience teaching, researching, and publishing articles in academic journals. I have authored a book which contains a collection of meditations in the Stoic tradition that I believe would be an excellent addition to your library (or your own reading material). This collection is unique in that each meditation is presented in the second person, encouraging the reader to examine their struggles and failures in the pursuit of self-improvement and enlightenment. The following is a sample meditation that illustrates this:

“Everything that can suffer, does suffer. Everything that can die, will die. You have suffered, you will suffer much more, and a lifetime of your suffering will culminate in your death. When you can muster genuine gratitude for all of that, then you will have made the kind of progress that is not easily reversed. To develop sincere appreciation for this opportunity to be born in a brutal world, not of your making, to struggle and fail time and time again, to feel repeatedly lost, bewildered, frustrated, and hopeless, to swim in this ocean of misery, and, ultimately, to drown in it—this is the beginning of wisdom. You must embody overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to fail repeatedly, with no guarantee of eventual success, and to wade cheerfully into a doomed struggle against time and your own limitations. You clamber toward your own death across a landscape of thorns, broken glass, and the corpses of those who have gone before you. Would you have it any other way?”

You can purchase my book through Amazon (see link below):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1785355872/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1510265657&sr=8-1#featureBulletsAndDetailBullets_secondary_view_div_1527522634362

Thank you for your consideration,
Dr. William Ferraiolo

June 21st,  2018

Jacques Barzun: Observations on Culture

Jacques Barzun (1907-2012) was one of the preeminent historians of the 20th century. Valedictorian of the 1920 class at Columbia, where he also received his Ph.D., Barzun wrote extensively on culture and education while serving in professorial and leadership roles at Cambridge and Columbia. His magnum opus, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), which traces the history of Western culture from 1500 to 2000, is required reading for anyone serious about understanding Western history.

Below are 10 observations from one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century:

1. “Philosophers no longer write for the intelligent, only for their fellow professionals.” — The Culture We Deserve (1989)

2. “Finding oneself [is] a misnomer: a self is not found but made.” – From Dawn to Decadence

3. “We seem to live mainly in order to see how we live, and this habit brings on what might be called the externalizing of knowledge; with every new manual there is less need for its internal, visceral presence.” — The Culture We Deserve

4. “Individuals of ordinary talent or glibness were encouraged to become professionals and thereby doomed to disappointment; and too many others, with just enough ability to get by, contributed to the lowering of standards and the surfeit of art.” – From Dawn to Decadence

5. “Since William James, Russell, and Whitehead, philosophy, like history, has been confiscated by scholarship and locked away from the contamination of general use.” — The Culture We Deserve

 6. “Greatness of intellect and feeling, or soul and conduct — magnanimity, in short — does occur; it is not a myth for boy scouts, and its reality is important, if only to give us the true range of the term "human," which we so regularly define by its lower reaches.”—Berlioz and the Romantic Century (1969)

7. “The need for a body of common knowledge and common reference does not disappear when a society is pluralistic. On the contrary, it grows more necessary, so that people of different origins and occupation may quickly find familiar ground and as we say, speak a common language.”— Of What Use the Classics Today?," Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning (1991)

8. “Among the words that can be all things to all men, the word ‘race’ has a fair claim to being the most common, most ambiguous and most explosive. No one today would deny that it is one of the great catchwords about which ink and blood are spilled in reckless quantities. Yet no agreement seems to exist about what race means.” — Race: A Study in Modern Superstition (1937)

9. “The truth is, when all is said and done, one does not teach a subject, one teaches a student how to learn it.” – Op-Ed, New York Times (1988-10-11),

10. “Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”— Teacher in America (1945)

June 28th,  2018

What does it mean to have an existential crisis?

What does an existentialist believe?

What is the existential question?

What is the existential risk?

What is the existential dread?

What is an existential nihilist?

What is the opposite of a nihilist?

What is the opposite of an existentialist?

What is an essentialist view?

July 5th, 12th, 2018

A new link to investigate:

https://aeon.co/philosophy

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Eating

Thinking philosophically about food, its production and its rituals  

Whether you a carnivore.omnivore or vegetarian,you deal with food on a daily basis. 

This Thursday, we will dive into a stew of ideas about food...some history, some rituals,

production, breeding animals, and a small excursion into the treatment of the topic in literature

and politics. Your own ideas are needed.

I am sending you this Kumin poem for you to chew on...so bring your thoughtful or ornery selves to the topic and attend.

1.   Taking the Lambs to Market

All due respect to the blood on his bandsaw,

table, hands and smock, Amos is an artist.

We bring him something living, breathed, furred

and meet it next in a bloodless sagittal section.

Amos, who custom cuts and double wraps

in white butcher paper whatever we named,

fed, scratched behind the ear, deserves our praise:

a decent man who blurs the line of sight

between our conscience and our appetite.

2   Check it out if you have time.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle   

The site indicated is a look at Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle.   It led to changes in the meatpacking industry and the forming of the FDA with President Teddy Roosevelt.

The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968).[1] Sinclair wrote

the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar

industrialized cities. His primary purpose in describing the meat industry and its working conditions was to advance socialism

in the United States. However, most readers were more concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices

in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, greatly contributing to a public outcry, which led to reforms

including the Meat Inspection Act.


Sinclair famously said of the public reaction,

"I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

Sinclair admitted his celebrity arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef".

July 19th  2018

Here’s a couple of articles for your edification:

Why Deep Thinkers Are Often Societal Outcasts

Like Thinking For Yourself? Think Again

A video for your consideration:

It’s Possible to Live Without Philosophy-But It Wouldn’t Be Wise

Question:

How do you respond to tragedy?

July 26th, August 2nd, August 9th, August 16th,  2018

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Here’s several articles for your edification:

Natural-born Existentialists

Why Deep Thinkers Are Often Societal Outcasts

Like Thinking For Yourself? Think Again

A video for your consideration:

It’s Possible to Live Without Philosophy-But It Wouldn’t Be Wise

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Ideas to consider:

'The Uselessness of Half and Opinion''

from Tom Donaghy

“When we were talking about atheists, and who is an atheist, most have never given it a thought. Most people reached their

comfort zone and stop eliminating Gods when they get to the one they want to believe in. If you apply the argument, ''Why don't

you believe in Thor?'', and apply it to the bible-god, you get the same result.  So, it is half an opinion."

Why don’t you believe in Thor?

_________________________________________________________

What Makes People Distrust Science? Surprisingly, not politics.

Cosmic Apprentice: Dorion Sagan on Why Science and Philosophy Need Each Other

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality

…from The Demon Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark

-Carl Sagan 1995

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a

service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands

of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question

those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's

true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously

influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and

superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. As I write, the number one video cassette rental in America is the movie Dumb and Dumber. Beavis and Butthead

remains popular (and influential) with young TV viewers. The plain lesson is that study and learning - not just of science, but of anything - are avoidable, even undesirable.

We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements - transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting

the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting - profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science

and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

More questions…

Is it possible to prove a negative?

Which is more important, intelligence or creativity?

If you could go to the past and bring something with you, when would you go and what would you bring?

Are all cultures worth preserving?

What is quality?

What defines success?

Why do we tend to believe what we think?

Why do we experience the world in a certain way if it's not really like that?

What is human nature?

What can keep a civilization from stagnation?

Are we asking the right questions?

What is the purpose of asking questions? What's the goal of "this"?

August 23rd,  2018

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Here’s several articles for your edification:

New report shows democracy is in decline everywhere—including the United States

A Wild Muddle

The ethical formation of citizens was once at the heart of the US elite college. Has this moral purpose gone altogether?

A video for your consideration:

It’s Possible to Live Without Philosophy-But It Wouldn’t Be Wise

What is the big synthesis?

Here are some thoughts to ponder for this this week:

Cosmic Apprentice: Dorion Sagan on Why Science and Philosophy Need Each Other

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality

…from The Demon Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark

-Carl Sagan 1995

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a

service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands

of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question

those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's

true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously

influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and

superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. As I write, the number one video cassette rental in America is the movie Dumb and Dumber. Beavis and Butthead

remains popular (and influential) with young TV viewers. The plain lesson is that study and learning - not just of science, but of anything - are avoidable, even undesirable.

We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements - transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting

the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting - profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science

and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

More questions…

What do you mean by God?

-God is “how we imaginatively and collectively represent the existence and action of consciousness across time.”

-God is “that which eternally dies and is reborn in the pursuit of higher being and truth.”

-God is “the highest value in the hierarchy of values.” God is the “voice of conscience.”

-God is the “source of judgment and mercy and guilt.”

-God is the “future to which we make sacrifices and something akin to the transcendental repository of reputation.”

-God is “that which selects among men in the eternal hierarchy of men.”

These definitions are not how most people most of the time are using the word, and there’s something misleading about that.

What do you see as misleading?

If all humans disappeared overnight, would God still exist?

_____________________________________________________

In the realm of identity politics, is it possible to discuss topics as individuals rather than representatives of a tribe?

“Destroying kids’ sense of certainty and autonomy, inculcating them with the belief that any innate drive to succeed and obtain a higher status among their friends is shameful,

and that the people of the world should be seen first and foremost as part of their respective identity groups and not as individuals who have wildly more in common

with each other than any externally perceived differences is a horrendous thing to do, and I fear it’s had many negative real-world consequences.”

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