Socratic Society Forming

By Alison Trautmann
News Editor

A new club is forming at Marywood.  The Socratic Society is seeking to become a registered club.  Although it was unregistered throughout the fall in order to see if there would be sufficient interest to keep the club running, the Socratic Society is now seeking membership in the official clubs of Marywood University.

The Socratic Society is an undergraduate philosophy club.   Last fall the option of majoring in philosophy was introduced into the catalogue of Marywood University.  Now that there is a philosophy major there is more interest and need to have a philosophy club.  The club is not restricted to philosophy majors or minors, everyone interested in philosophy is welcome to attend.

Currently the meetings are small and involved 8-10 people but there is hope that the number of attendees will increase.  At the meetings, attendees participate in a discussion style called “Socrates Café” that was developed by Christopher Phillips on the website “The Society for Philosophical Inquiry.”  Philip Jenkins, the coordinator of the Socratic Society, says a “Socrates Café” “isn’t about teaching, it’s about discussion.”

The students involved in the “Socrates Café” propose different questions to discuss during the meeting and then vote on the question that they want to discuss.  Some past questions have been “How much control should a government have over our lives?” and “Is it ever ok to do wrong in order to do right?”  The format of the discussion is flexible and goes wherever the students want to take the discussion.  Jenkins described his role in the “Socrates Café” as one of a facilitator.  The facilitator makes sure that the discussion keeps going and tries to make sure that everyone is involved in the discussion.  However, the facilitator does not control the discussion or guide it in any way.  Often if the discussion goes in a different direction Jenkins says that it often makes the experience richer.  Jenkins also says that he learns a lot about teaching and how to facilitate discussion in the classroom through his observation of the meetings of the Socratic Society.

In the future the Socratic Society hopes to pursue other activities.  They plan on continuing the “Socrates Café” and hope to have other people come in to give lectures and presentations on different subjects.  There is also the opportunity to go on field trips as well as having an undergraduate philosophy conference that will draw together other students.   According to Jenkins, the goal of the Socratic Society is to “become a place where anyone interested in philosophy can come together and take the spirit and tradition of philosophy and experience and contribute to it in a more open setting.”

Meetings usually occur on the second to last Wednesday of each month at 2:00 in the afternoon.  Please contact Philip Jenkins if you would like to be put on the e-mail list to receive information about the Socratic Society.