By John Woolley
Imagine the following scenario: Two astronauts are exploring a distant planet in another solar system. They are traversing a mountainous region when they come upon two aliens of different species at the same time. The aliens have not noticed the humans, but our astronauts are able to see the other two species quite easily. Before either of them realize what is happening, the two astronauts witness one alien kill the other. The two lonely humans in space suits, on a planet located in another solar system, far from any human settlement, now must make a decision. Should they take the chance and try to become friends with the alien who just committed murder, and by doing so informing the entire alien species of the existence of the human race? Or should they hide, and thus prevent humankind from being exposed to a new species? The two astronauts do not know why the alien creature killed the other. It may have been self-defense. It might have been an extension of war between the two different species. Or it might have been a personal vendetta. The two human astronauts do not know why it happened, only that it did. The question remains: Run and hide, or meet and greet?
These are the types of questions that members of the Philosophy Club debate over every Friday at Kent Campus. At any given meeting, you can expect to see anywhere from 10-20 students sitting around a long wooden table discussing topics ranging from “What is love?” to the Socratic Method devised from Socrates. The club is located in building G, conference room 126, next to the cafeteria and student lounge.
“As far as the Philosophy Club goes, it’s a tack on philosophical issues, the existential issues, and trying to crunch the meaning out of questions of life, basically. Trying to figure out moral dilemmas, ethical dilemmas, thinking problems and just flexing logical muscles over perennial problems of humanity,” said John Morgan, a member of the Philosophy Club.
“Irene Luna, SGA President, asked me in Writing Non-Fiction [class] if I wanted to come to a club, Philosophy Club. I was like, ‘Uh, I’ll go to Philosophy Club and Politics and Rational Discourse [Club].’ I’m going and I’m like, ‘I’m not doing anything. Let me go check it out.’ I kind of already had a pretty good idea [that] I wanted to check out any kind of political clubs and groups, and I came and people were just pretty cool. Smart, but really cool,” said Kenneth Ellis. Ellis is now the President of the Philosophy Club.
Kenneth says that the Philosophy Club is an opportunity for students to work on skills that we as individuals do not typically think about. He cites the ability to, “work, think and operate,” in groups of diverse people as being a necessary skill that the club helps to cultivate. He also lists the ability to produce creative strategies, make proper plans and engage in deep conversations as a necessity of being a college student.
“People should be involved in the Philosophy Club, and by involved I mean not just attending–I mean actually participating, because it gets you to think in a critical manner, not just beyond the typical critical thinking skills that you learn in elementary school and things like that,” said Kyle Hodge, an FSCJ alumni and current UF graduate student who also won first place in a philosophy paper conference at UNF.
“So it actually provokes you to have thoughtful reflections about, not just things you interact with on a daily basis, but some really controversial things that you may not question because it’s painful for you to question them, or its controversial for you to openly question them. So it’s going to provoke a more honest and thoughtful discourse from each individual, and it’s going to, I would imagine, help those individuals grow as people in doing so,” said Hodge.
Photo by Matt Neale