Philosophy Club Emphasizes Open Dialogue and Conversation to Create Understanding
What is free will? What is freedom? What is purpose? Is everything predetermined, or do things just happen randomly? Is freedom a relative concept? If God were to exist, would they have free will?
For hundreds of years, philosophers have asked fundamental questions not unlike these to help make sense of humanity’s place in the universe. These questions stem from the Socratic method, which looks to stimulate critical thinking and draw out new ideas and thoughts to help shape the way we view our world.
This is the basis of both the field of Philosophy and also LBCC’s Philosophy Club, which seeks to promote free-thinking and open dialogue to anyone looking for it.
The club was brought back from its dormancy by Jacob Tudor, a Psychology student at LB and OSU. Tudor, who was looking to join the Philosophy Club when he arrived at LB a year ago, was surprised to find out that the college no longer had one. It was here that he decided to take matters into his own hands and make one himself. He reached out to Adjunct Philosophy instructor Joey Tuminello to discuss starting a club on campus that used the Socratic method to engage in open dialogue.
“I thought that I could brand the Philosophy Club, and by brand I mean give motive to achieve big conversations in an open dialogue format so that people could get along and understand not only each other, but all of life around us,” said Tudor.
“The act of dialogue is dialogos– two logics, thoughts, wisdoms, two minds coming together. Really that’s where we grow and how we understand life.”
Tuminello, a PhD candidate researching food ethics at the University of North Texas, was all for starting the club back up when Tudor contacted him.
“He [Tudor] said he wanted to bring it back and they needed an advisor so I agreed to do it after he reached out to me. We met up in January and started brainstorming, completed all the paperwork that we needed, and then started recruiting,” said Tuminello.
The group holds its meetings on Fridays from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the DAC. The meetings are set up as a conversation that starts with one topic but is open to branching out into different discussions.
“We try to keep the topics general because part of it is seeing where the conversation goes. We’re not doing formal debates we’re really just a group of people sitting around talking about a particular topic,” said Tuminello.
For the club’s most recent meeting on Oct. 5 they discussed the concept of free will and questioned whether we as humans can truly know if we make our own decisions, or if everything we decide is already predetermined in some grand design.
Tudor wanted to emphasize that the weekly meetings are meant to be as open as possible and that himself and Tuminello aren’t there to provide answers, rather to raise questions around participant’s fundamental thinking.
“We’re not there to stampede anybody, we’re not trying to tell anybody how it is, we don’t expect anything from anybody, by all means just come and listen,” said Tudor.
“It’s just a place to talk about anything that’s important to you. We have these headings [topics] like free will only as a touchstone to begin conversation and to begin the thinking process before people arrive.”
The club has several other weekly events that people can look into. Tudor leads meditation and mindfulness sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 10 a.m. in the courtyard outside of the Memorial Union at OSU. These are designed to help people learn embodied practices that align with topics the group discusses in their regular meetings.
Tudor also holds “Let’s Talk” sessions in the LB Albany Campus courtyard on Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon. These are structured similarly to the regular group meetings but are more open on the subject matter. Tudor encourages people to stop by and have a conversation with him about whatever they feel like.
Tudor has several ideas for the direction of the club moving forward. This includes collaborating with other similar groups on campus like the Civil Discourse Club and Campus Ambassadors’ Circle of Reason. He mentioned plans to work with the Campus Ambassadors to acquire media equipment so that all clubs at LB can create podcasts and upload them onto LB Live or YouTube.
“If you’ve watched any of the recent YouTube videos there’s a big movement towards the long format interview style conversation pieces… We would do that in between meetings on subject matter that the philosophy club members find interesting. We could go and reach out to academics or politicians and just have conversations on that platform,” said Tudor.
Tudor stated that this process is already underway.
“Daniel Pace at Campus Ambassadors, he and I are meeting next week to facilitate an application for that equipment. So if that equipment comes then we’ll put together a package to present to the Council of Clubs,” said Tudor.
Overall the club is looking to help people challenge their way of thinking by asking them to question what they think they know.
“Our critical thinking is never done as humans. Doing philosophy instills this kind of humility and it calls on us to be open to the possibility that we may be wrong about everything we think we know,” said Tuminello.
Story by Josh Stickrod
Photos by Angela Scott
At a glance:
For more information on how to get involved in the LB Philosophy Club contact club advisor Joey Tuminello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Future topics for club meetings will revolve around death, time, the meaning of life, reality, medicine, reason & emotion, and intelligence.