May B&N Book Group Meeting

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Hello Philosopher Friends,

Thanks for coming to the Barnes & Noble Philosophy Book Group meeting last evening. We had a delightful and wide ranging conversation on various topics covered in Peter Cave's book, Philosophy. In particular, we gravitated toward the topics of morality and political philosophy, touching on utilitarianism, the "veil of ignorance", morality as instinct, the origin or emergence of morality, the concept of memes and the role of culture.

Next month we will be discussing John Searle's book, Minds, Brains, and Science. That meeting will be on June 26th. (Thank you, George, for volunteering to lead that discussion.)

For July we decided on the book:
What's It All About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, by Julian Baggini
That meeting will be on July 23rd.

I would like to thank Elizabeth for the articles on emergence which I am working through. If anyone else is interested we can make more copies. I first came across the term, emergence, while reading E.O. Wilson's book entitled Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which came out way back in 1998. E.O. Wilson is a accomplished biologist best known for his study of insects and insect societies. Well, as I searched online just now to refresh my recollection of what Wilson had to say about emergence, I ran across a wonderful interview which I would like to share. The interview was conducted by none other than Robert Wright, author of another book I highly recommend, The Moral Animal. The topic of the interview was emergence. Here is the link:

Notice, by the way, that Robert Wright has a number of interesting interviews on his website which he as appropriately calls

Speaking of websites, I managed to resurrect our old philosophy website, Citizen Philosopher. Here you can find recordings of many of our past discussions, including videos on What is Love? What is Evil? and Is Free Will an Illusion? (Long time member, John, is featured on two of the videos, while Billie and George, who joined later, share their insights in a number of our audio podcasts. ) For our current purposes, I have added a special section to the forums page dedicated to the Barnes & Noble Philosophy Book Group so we can continue our discussions online there if we are so inclined. (Elizabeth, we could start a thread on the topic of emergence. Shack, I would be glad to explore the philosophical implications of Bell's theorem and the question of how to interpret experiments that purport to show nonlocal causality.) Let me know if you have any difficulties accessing the site.

So it seems, as Peter Cave rightly points out in his Prologue (p. xv), all things do conspire. That is to say, all philosophy is interconnected. In E.O. Wilson's interview on emergence, at one point he says that it is in his connectedness to the rest of nature (as opposed to seeing man as separate from nature) that he finds meaning in his life (around min 49). He also suggests that morality is an innate instinct (around min 59). And so let our own explorations also conspire as we investigate our favorite philosophical questions. I am looking forward to what insights will emerge from our inquiry into the mind, next month, and the meaning of life in July.




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