Every month during the school year the Philosophers’ Cafe is open. UW Green Bay philosophy professor Chris Martin heads the group which meets every month during the school year at a coffee house or bar. Depending on the topic 20 to 40 people attend. They come from all walks of life from neurologists to college administrators to students.
Topics are equally wide ranging. Martin says sometimes it’s a cerebral take on pop culture.
“Science fiction helps us appreciate history, history allows us to do better science fiction. We had a wonderful cafe on reflective discussion,” says Martin.
Of course they also veer toward the esoteric.
“We had one on the extended mind hypothesis which suggests your mind extends well beyond your body to encompass all of the objects that enter your consciousness so that the mind of any given individual extends considerably outside of their physical person,” describes Martin.
As far as Martin knows the Green Bay club is the only organized one of its sort in Wisconsin. It draws people like Hannah Edelglass who came from Germany via the Sheboygan area. She thinks the conversations held by the group are lacking in American society.
“I grew up in Germany, England, Scotland. People are often getting together like this and I’m so glad to see, to find that here,” says Edelglass.
This night’s conversation touched on current events, specifically higher education budgets and social equity. Chris Martin says it fits the club’s bill.
“Underlying the contemporary controversy is a nice philosophical idea, let’s say ‘theoretical’ questions not so much ‘philosophical.’ But a set of underlying questions that are really informative to talk and think about,” Martin says. “We’re not trying to push agendas or have specific views on specific contemporary issues as much as to facilitate a dialogue.”
As the night wears on and the coffee or, in this case, microbrews flow even the most high browed conversation has its moments of levity. Martin regaled the group with how he broke the news to his father that he was pursing his chosen career path.
“And I’m like, ‘Dad’ No joke, ‘Dad I think I’m going to major in philosophy.’ And he was like, ‘What the hell?'” laughs Martin.
The Philosophers’ Cafe will be on a summer break then return for its sixth year in the fall.