Philosophy Book Club

“Why Read Marx Today?” by Jonathan Wolf

Posted on | August 28, 2012 | No Comments

Last night’s meeting was another great success, everyone enjoyed reading Mediations by Marcus Aurelius, we had a great debate on what we believed were his thoughts on the underlying principles of life and how there seemed to be a common thread running through all the stoic philosophers that continues up to today with new (so called new) psychology therapy’s such as CBT and positivism etc.. The more things change the more things stay the same.
It was agreed that the writings of the Stoic philosophers (Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca etc) are probably best read in small chunks, dipping in and out and reflecting on what is being said and how it stands the test of time and on how it can be used in our own lives to make sense of what is going on all around. Philosophy cannot just be read it has to be studied, which means reading, reflecting and in some cases applying what is being written about in our own lives. It was felt at last night’s meeting that it would be a useful exercise for anyone to get down on paper their inner thoughts as a way of looking at our beliefs from a distance and in a collected form.

It was also suggested that the world would be a much better place if politicians read and applied the “Mediations” in their public affairs and that all could benefit from applying them to their private lives.

The next meeting has been set for Monday, September 24th at 8pm, usual place upstairs in the Phoenix Bar.
The book that we have decided to tackle for this meeting is “Why Read Marx Today?” by Jonathan Wolf and here is the blurb on it.

“All too often, Karl Marx has been regarded as a demon or a deity – or a busted flush. This fresh, provocative, and hugely enjoyable book explains why, for all his shortcomings, his critique of modern society remains forcefully relevant even in the twenty-first century.’ Francis Wheen, author of Karl Marx In recent years we could be forgiven for assuming that Marx has nothing left to say to us. Marxist regimes have failed miserably, and with them, it seemed, all reason to take Marx seriously. The fall of the Berlin Wall had enormous symbolic resonance: it was taken to be the fall of Marx as well as of Marxist politics and economics. This timely book argues that we can detach Marx the critic of current society from Marx the prophet of future society, and that he remains the most impressive critic we have of liberal, capitalist, bourgeois society. It also shows that the value of the ‘great thinkers’ does not depend on their views being true, but on other features such as their originality, insight, and systematic vision. On this account too Marx still richly deserves to be read.”

I hope to see you all at the next meetings and remember new members are always welcome.

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

Posted on | July 24, 2012 | No Comments

Last night’s meeting was well attended and I think from the discussion that we had, the book was well received, the idea behind the book club is to give people a goal and a deadline to read a particular type of book (in our case philosophy) something that they may always had in the back of their mind to do, but life being life, and always pressing, may not have found the time to do.

Anyway out of last month’s book we have chosen this month’s book.

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius
Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and Aurelius’s own emotions. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years.

It is available to download for free from here Meditations

I hope that you enjoy the read and that I will get to see you all next month for our next meeting which is on Monday the 27th of August at 8pm, Upstairs in the Phoenix Bar, Union Quay, Cork.

Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations (Jules Evans)

Posted on | June 28, 2012 | No Comments

This month’s meeting was a great success, the book that we were discussing was “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm, and the majority of people present on the night had read all or some of the book which lead to a good debate of the ideas expressed in the book and to the concept of freedom in general. It was acknowledged that even though the book was written in 1942 the ideas are just as relevant today as back then and to a certain extent have always been and will always be relevant.
Originally the idea was to break for the summer months but the majority of people there Monday night wanted to keep it going during the summer so we have decide to do just that.

So we will be meeting again on Monday, July the 23rd, at 8pm, upstairs in the Phoenix Bar, Union Quay. All are welcome and it’s free of charge and remember it is not necessary to have read the book to come to the meeting and participate in the discussion, as the discussion progresses during the evening most people can contribute their own life experiences to confirming or challenging what is being said. The main purpose of the club is the exploration of ideas as a means of getting to the truth rather that a staunch defence of ideas.
I hope to see you all there on the night.

The book we will be discussing on the night is ”Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations” by Jules Evans. This is a much lighter read the what we have had before but it is I think closer to what the club was originally envisaged to be, lessons that we can learn from and apply to living today. As this book serves as an introduction to 12 of the greatest ancient thinkers we may decide later to explore in more detail some of the 12 on an individual basis in later months.
I do hope that you enjoy the read and here is a brief description of the book.

“In his engaging book, Jules Evans explains how ancient philosophy saved his life, and how we can all use it to become happier, wiser and more resilient. Jules imagines a dream school, which includes 12 of the greatest and most colourful thinkers the world has ever known. Each of these ancient philosophers teaches a technique we can use to transform our selves and live better lives. These practical techniques are illustrated by the extraordinary stories of real people who are using them today – from marines to magicians, from astronauts to anarchists. Jules also explores how ancient philosophy is inspiring modern communities – Socratic cafes, Stoic armies, Platonic sects, Sceptic summer camps – and even whole nations in their quest for the good life.”

The Fear of Freedom – by Erich Fromm

Posted on | May 22, 2012 | No Comments

We had the second meeting of the Philosophy Book Club last night and about 20 people showed up, we did manage to have a lively discussion regarding the book despite experiencing some teething problems with our first choice of book, it was difficult to get and those that did get it before last night’s meeting received it only several days before so they did not have an ample opportunity to read it in any great depth. Most people that did manage to read it found it too simplistic and that it did not really address the issues that it lay claim to, it was argued that key elements were simply passed over and that it did not engage in its prime objective to any great extent. As a result it was decided to stay away from books of a religious nature for the time being as religion is very much a subjective matter and does not lead to constructive debate.

The next book we have decided on is “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm , here is a brief description “Erich Fromm sees right to the heart of our contradictory needs for community and for freedom like no other writer before or since. In Fear of Freedom, Fromm warns that the price of community is indeed high, and it is the individual who pays. Fascism and authoritarianism may seem like receding shadows for some, but are cruel realities for many. Erich Fromm leaves a valuable and original legacy to his readers – a vastly increased understanding of the human character in relation to society. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is more important than ever to be aware of his powerful message. Listen, and take heed.” I expect that this book is more readily available so hopeful we will not run into the same issues as with our first book. If I could ask people to please leave comments on the book here on the website that way it will give us a better idea on how to structure the meeting we will be having to discuss the book. (Your email address will NOT appear on the site if you leave a comment)

The next meeting will be on the 25th of June at the same location, upstairs in the Phoenix Bar, Union Quay, Cork. All are welcome. I hope that you enjoy the book and look forward to reading your comments.

Dialogue on Good, Evil and the Existence of God

Posted on | April 24, 2012 | No Comments

Description

The author revisits the cast of characters of his well-known Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality in this lively and absorbing dialogue on good, evil, and the existence of God. Does evil in the world present a problem to those who believe in the perfection of God? What is the nature of human evil? Can fully rational actions be intentionally evil? Gretchen Weirob and her friends tackle these questions and more in a dialogue that exemplifies the subtleties and intricacies of philosophical reflection. Once again, Perry’s ability to get to the heart of matters combines with his mastery of the dialogue form.

Notes from Lilian about the book.

The dialogue deals with the so-called “problem of evil”, an old problem in the philosophy of religion and theology. “Evil” refers to suffering rather than extraordinary malevolence etc, which is what we often have in mind when we use the term. One way to think of the problem is as follows: Is it consistent to believe both that
(i) God, a being who is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent, exists and that
(ii) there is great suffering in the world.
If God is omniscient, then God knows about our suffering, if God is omnibenevolent, God is motivated to stop it, and if God is omnipotent, God is able to stop it. But we keep on suffering! So, should we conclude that God does not exist?

Miller offers a theodicy, a somewhat weaker defence than you might like or expect, but he seeks to show only that holding both beliefs is not inconsistent.

His theodicy (the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil) relies on the claim that we have free will. Whether we have free will is a hotly debated topic and the debate about free will gets quite complicated. He focuses, at the urging of his interlocutors, on whether our free will is compatible with God’s omniscience.

First Meeting

Posted on | April 24, 2012 | No Comments

Well last night was a great success there was nearly fifty people at it and I would like to thank everyone that did attend for making it such a success. And a special thanks to Lilian for her talk which I (and I think everyone there) found most enjoyable.

The venue was a bit of a squeeze last night, but I think that it is the ideal venue for us, the owner as agreed to provide more seat for us next month and usually numbers tend to fall off a little for events such as this, so I think that we will stick with the Phoenix for the next one or two meetings at least and see how it goes. It is great to have a bar downstairs that we can meet in a more informal setting and it gives the whole event a more social feel to it which I must say I like.

The first book as we said last night is “Dialogue on Good, Evil and the Existence of God” by John Perry at can be bought at Click Here. Remember to use the Coupon code “APMA12″ to get a 10% discount, the price of the book works out at €5.17 and that includes postage to Ireland.

As I said I will put up a section on the blog here for the book and would encourage people to make comments or leave feedback for others as you read the book.

Here is a list of books that we hope to cover in the future and I would encourage people to suggest books to add to this list and for people to suggest books from the list as our next read.

The next meeting will be on Monday the 21st of May, upstairs in the Phoenix Bar, Union Quay and I hope to see you all there.

I will be updating the site over the next couple of days so keep coming back to check.

Book List

Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche
Utilitarianism/The Subjection of Women, Mill
Crito/The Republic, Plato
Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes
The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals/Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume
Existentialism and Humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre
The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus
Second Treatise of Civil Government, John Locke
The Prince, Machiavelli
The road to serfdom, F.A. Hayek
One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, Herbert Marcuse
The fear of freedom, Erich Fromm
To have or to be, Erich Fromm
Why Read Marx Today? Jonathan Wolff
One of Peter Singer’s books, e.g. Animal Liberation
Free Will, Robert Kane
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Bernard Williams
Mortal Questions, Thomas Nagel

Photos of the venue before people started to arrive.

Welcome

Posted on | August 19, 2011 | 2 Comments

Hi welcome to our website, the idea behind the philosophy book club is to gather like minded individuals together in a social setting once a month, to discuss a different philosophical work each month, explore what it is it says, and its relevance to today’s world and society.

All that is required of you is an enquiring mind and a readiness to engage with other likeminded individuals in the exploration of great ideas.

We have secured a venue, it will be held upstairs in the Phoenix Bar on Union Quay in the centre of Cork City and our first meeting will be on Monday the 23rd of April at 8pm.

I am expecting someone from the Philosophy Department in UCC to come along and address the meeting, to suggest our first book and to give us some pointers as to the best way to read a book of a philosophical nature.

I am looking forward to meeting people on the night and I’m hoping that a big crowd will attend.

 

If you are Interested in coming along, please email me at dave@philosophybookclub.com, or just come along on the night.
 

We are now on facebook, I would urge all of you interested in the club and that use facebook to visit us and like us, so that you can be kept up to date on any developments. You will find us at Philosophy-Book-Club It will also give us an idea of numbers that might attend.

All are welcome.
 

Dave McInerney

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This is the website for the Philosophy Book Club a group of people that gather once a month to discuss great philosophical books.

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