On Altruism & Self-Interest
Feb
17
4:00 PM16:00

On Altruism & Self-Interest

“Oh, tell me, who first declared, who first proclaimed that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own real interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else… . Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure, innocent child!” ― Fyodor Dostoyesvsky, Notes from Underground

 

Are humans inherently self-interested? Can they ever act outside of their own self-interest? Is self-interest good for society, politics, and the economy, or does it pose fundamental problems that must be addressed through ethics and governance? Do altruistic actions necessarily require sacrifice? Are most altruistic actions just a prolonged path to a self-interested end, or do pure altruistic actions exist? 

From Machiavelli to Hobbes to Smith and Dawkins, we will consider the nature of self-interest and altruism as related to the human condition. We will question our operating  assumptions on this topic and explore the implications that these assumptions may have to the way we live our lives. 

 

Speaker to be announced at a later date. 

Location upon RSVP

RSVP required to justinek@publicspheresalons.com

 

 

 

 

Image Attribution:Jan Wijnants [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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On Death
Mar
24
4:00 PM16:00

On Death

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” 
― Mark Twain

In this salon we will explore philosophical and psychological questions concerning the nature of death. Among them we will consider if we ever truly die, or if we merely enter a different state of existence, how our mortality impacts the way we live our lives, what it means to die a good death, especially in relation to Socratic philosophy, as well as the benefits or problems associated with positive and negative perceptions of death. We will also explore certain philosophical arguments such as Plato's Cyclical Argument (summarized below.) 

Speaker to be announced at a later date. 

Location upon RSVP

RSVP required to justinek@publicspheresalons.com

 

Plato's Cyclical Argument

"Socrates mentions an ancient theory holding that just as the souls of the dead in the underworld come from those living in this world, the living souls come back from those of the dead (70c-d).  He uses this theory as the inspiration for his first argument, which may be reconstructed as follows:

1. All things come to be from their opposite states: for example, something that comes to be “larger” must necessarily have been “smaller” before (70e-71a).

2. Between every pair of opposite states there are two opposite processes: for example, between the pair “smaller” and “larger” there are the processes “increase” and “decrease” (71b).

3. If the two opposite processes did not balance each other out, everything would eventually be in the same state: for example, if increase did not balance out decrease, everything would keep becoming smaller and smaller (72b).

4.  Since “being alive” and “being dead” are opposite states, and “dying” and “coming-to-life” are the two opposite processes between these states, coming-to-life must balance out dying (71c-e).

5. Therefore, everything that dies must come back to life again (72a)."

Excerpt from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

 

 

 

 

Image Attribution: Andrea Mantegna [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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On Nihilism
Jan
13
6:00 PM18:00

On Nihilism

This salon will take place over a seated dinner. Spaces are limited.

Please rsvp to justinek@publicspheresalons.com

A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists" - Albert Camus

Is life without objective purpose? Is it ultimately meaningless? Do any values or principles truly exist? Does morality endure as part of an objective reality? Does a realization of the fact that the world might not hold objective values necessarily lead to a state of crisis? 

In this salon we will consider nihilism, specifically in relation to morality. We will interrogate the questions that philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Heidegger posed on the topic and consider the implications for the way in which we choose to live our lives. 

This salon will take take the format of a debate amongst participants, for or against the validity of a nihilistic worldview. 

Location upon RSVP

 

 

 

Image Attribution: By Paul Merwart (1855-1902) (Agra Art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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