Philosophers’ Café

Any new ones for the summer?

Episyllogism

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…

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Judith Butler: The Early Years By Jules Gleeson

Judith Butler’s famous 1990 book Gender Trouble appears on countless undergraduate reading lists in the humanities. The book’s wide-ranging line of inquiry, unforgiving style, and often abrupt shifts in focus are well known—and widely lamented among readers.

Thankfully, a more rarely read set of texts can rescue a reader from despair. Between 1985 and 1989, Judith Butler published six short essays introducing ideas she would return to throughout her career.

Read more here.

Request answered!

A reader asked me about how to obtain Bob’s book on the  bible. The answer my friend is here:

Download a free copy here.

One comment on the book:

“READING THE BIBLE: Intention, Text, Interpretation was exactly the text I wanted to bridge the ever-widening gap between the ancient stories and contemporary students. I used the book in a second-year university course which studied the influence of the King James Bible on two 20th-century fiction writers: Howard O’Hagan (Western Canada) and Flannery O’Connor (Southern U.S.). Robert Lane has a unique gift for both interpreting key passages/motifs, and putting them into 21st-century perspective. Virtually every student in the class at some point remarked that this book made it possible to finally understand where much of our modern literature comes from. Lane’s style—a combination of meticulous scholarship and humourous personal anecdote—makes it accessible to all students and does much to correct the woeful ignorance in our society about this critical topic. I highly recommend this text for any university course, including graduate level, which is concerned with the literary, cultural, and mythological aspects of the Bible.

Reviewed by Richard Arnold, Ph.D., Professor of English, Vancouver Island University”

Or, Amazon has some copies if you don’t like free!

Exegesis is important!!

Suppose you’re traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do?

That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

  1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.
  2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.
  3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.
  4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn’t bother to read the sign but he’ll stop if the car in front of him does.
  5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.
  6. A preacher might look up “STOP” in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.
  7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:1) Take another route to work that doesn’t have a stop sign so that he doesn’t run the risk of disobeying the Law.

    2) Stop at the stop sign, say “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop,” wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.

  1. A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.
  2. A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.
  3. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called “Q”. There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar’s commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.