Having recently participated in a lively philosophers’ café I started thinking about the history of these informal gatherings which are aimed at a broad public for the discussion of social issues, moral problems, epistemology and the like. I suppose in some way they are a spinoff from Old Socrates who walked around Athens engaging citizens in philosophical discussions.
I have been involved since my SFU days when, with Dale Beyerstein, I participated in a few on the mainland. And then we had several over the years at VIU. [ Here, or here] In BC it looks like SFU is the mother of the cafés:
SFU’s Philosophers’ Café is a series of informal public discussions in the heart of our communities. Since 1998, this award-winning program has engaged the interests of scholars, seniors, students, philosophers, and non-philosophers through stimulating dialogue and the passionate exchange of ideas.
All cafés are free to attend. No registration is required.
Café philosophique (“cafe-philo”) is a grassroots forum for philosophical discussion, founded by philosopher Marc Sautet in Paris, France, on December 13, 1992.
Here in Nanaimo we also have a long (fairly long) history of using these cafés to engage our community. Go here to learn more about current, future and past events.
And they are FUN.