Elevate the Debate: Form a Local Politics and Philosophy Group
This website covers philosophical issues but I have also always been interested in political issues. Not only do I enjoy discussing both philosophical and political issues with people, but I also believe that such discussions are important to my life. I can go further and say that I also believe that probably most people should at least occasionally concern themselves with politics and philosophy because they will understand the world better and this will also help them make their lives better.
I read about important political and philosophical issues all the time, but I found that actually finding people to discuss these with is often quite difficult. It is probably inappropriate to get too deep into politics at work, and this is especially true for certain philosophical issues such as those that relate to religious concepts. Within many families, including mine, discussions of politics or religion get way to charged and toxic because there are always people with strong opinions who will want to express themselves and in the process hurt the feelings of other family members. And it is hard to find a group of friends who are interested in discussing politics and philosophy regularly. Sure there are lots of online discussion forums that one can go to, but this is not a substitute to actually meeting people in person and having discussions that cover issues in depth. This is just not possible online.
A few months ago, I was looking for a meeting group in my city that is oriented towards philosophy and politics, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. There were some college philosophy clubs, but these always meet during regular business hours on a weekday. I tried to find a group that regularly meets on weekends, but it looked like there wasn’t one that existed in my city (Sacramento, California, USA) so I took the initiative and created it. I used the site Meetup.com to create the “Sacramento Politics and Philosophy Group” and wrote this for the group’s mission statement:
This is a group for those in the Sacramento area who like to discuss politics and philosophy. We have all had different experiences in life, but we always find that political issues are very relevant to our lives and we want to discuss these issues with others. These days, political discussions are sometimes constructive, but unfortunately they often become hostile when people with differing views are in the same room. It is important for us all to hear views other than our own from time to time, and there has to be a way to have honest, thoughtful discussions on issues important to our lives while keeping the discussion calm and polite. In this discussion group, we try to avoid being overly biased when presenting opinions and we will also work to avoid use of fallacies in making points. We expect that there will be differences of opinion, but as long as we keep a philosophical mindset these discussions should not descend into hostility. Many of us also like to discuss philosophical topics and we will have time for this as well and we will probably find that most philosophical concepts have real-world applications, including political. So this discussion group will hover between these two subjects, and we might even at times focus on other subjects as well.
The group has been going good with regular weekly meetings and enough people in attendence to have good discussions. I have met some very smart and interesting people and I enjoy hearing their views and expressing my own views and being challenged every time we meet. These meetings have covered many “hot button” issues but have pretty much always remained civil.
Since this group has been a success so far, I am recommending people in other cities to start their own politics and philosophy meeting groups. There are already such groups in many cities, but I know that this is quite limited at the moment. I think this is a good idea and I recommend that others try it in your area. See if you can get a few people together to talk about the political issues of the day and also about abstract philosophical concepts such as morality and religion. It should be possible to discuss any issues with honesty and civility. I believe that we can grow as people through these discussions and our society benefits greatly.