! Philosophy in Los Angeles !

moderated - created 08/20/04
A forum for all who want to talk Philosophy. This tribe is also the webpage for the "Philosophy in L.A." Cafe, a discussion group that meets every month (an actual, old-fashioned, face-to-face get together!), usually on the 3rd Sunday at 5:00 PM (though sometimes at 2:00 PM) in Santa Monica (see the event listing on this webpage for location & directions). However, you do not need to currently attend our gatherings, or to live in L.A., to participate in this tribe, as long as you enjoy reasoned, respectful discussion. Debate is encouraged.

Also, check out our group's other webpage,

Feel free to continue discussing any question or issue from one of our meetings, or any other philosophical topic you want to talk about. We discuss all areas of Philosophy and the philosophical aspects of the great issues of the day, though we have a bent towards Value Theory and the Philosophy of Mind, including such subfields and topics as Ethics, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, some issues in the Philosophy of Religion/Spirituality, Phenomenology, Medical Ethics, "Technology and Philosophy," "The Good and the Good Life," questions related to "The Meaning of Life," the nature of Rationality, Wisdom, and similar questions. However, we certainly do not limit ourselves to these areas.

This Website/Tribe also serves as our place to post articles related to topics we have talked about or that you want to talk about in a future meeting, to suggest questions and topics you would like to talk about at upcoming meetings, to let everyone know about movies or books that have interesting philosophical themes or ideas, to talk to people you have met at meetings, or to plan get-togethers with other meeting participants.

Watch the "Listings" area and "Events" area of this web page for announcements of upcoming meetings and other gatherings. You can vote by email for your favorite topic for the next meeting.

We currently meet at the Community Room at the Colorado Center, in Santa Monica. However, if you have any ideas for a hot, new meeting place, we might be open to that, so post it on this page or email it to the moderator.

To give you a more specific idea of what we talk about at our gatherings, here's a sample of our past topics:

“When Is War Justified (if ever)? If so, under what conditions?” (JUNE 2002).

“Why Not Kill Yourself Right Now? Albert Camus believed this to be the most important question in all of Philosophy.” (MARCH 2003).

“Is it a bad idea, or morally wrong, for humans to turn themselves into something that is no longer merely human, by genetic engineering, fusing bodies/brains with computers, or any other technology that becomes available? Would you want to be something other than (better than?) a natural human being?” (DECEMBER 2003).

“What Is Spirituality? What is a Spiritual Experience? Is being spiritual different from being religious? 'Spiritual' is one of those words that gets used in so many different ways; does it have a core meaning anymore?” (MARCH 2004).

“Are We Contradicting Our Own Values By Protecting American Jobs? Is favoring American workers and jobs over foreign workers/jobs consistent with Liberal Values, especially the values of Egalitarianism, and the Welfare and Utility Principles (that is, ‘give resources to the needy, thereby giving greater happiness to a greater number of people, rather than giving resources to those who are already wealthier’)?” (FEBRUARY 2004).

"Has modern life robbed us of satisfaction, meaning and/or purpose? Or, on balance, has technology, civil liberties, and the other benefits and freedoms of modern society enhanced our lives beyond that of our ancestors? How can we compare life satisfaction or happiness between people in one historical era to another?" (JUNE 2004).

What is Faith? Is it always blind? Is irrational to live by faith? And why bother with faith, anyway? (JULY 2004).

What is normality, and what is sanity? Is there such a thing as mental illness? (AUGUST 2004).

Can people be informed, educated or otherwise made competent enough to sustain a democratic form of government? Perhaps the requirements of self-government are more than we can reasonably expect from americans. Are the citizens of any other country better prepared for this task than we are? (SEPTEMBER 2004).

How much can a thing change before it becomes a different thing? (OCTOBER 2004).

War: when is it justified? (NOVEMBER 2004).

Can the sciences help us to make wise ethical judgments? (DECEMBER 2004).

What does it mean to live a fulfilling or happy life? Can the study of philosophy function as a spiritual practice that provides principles that promote personal flourishing and dignity? What principles have you come up with? (JANUARY 2005).

“WHY IS IT THAT WE GO TO A PLAY OR READ A BOOK, AND FEEL DEEP SYMPATHY AND AFFECTION FOR THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR STRUGGLES; YET WHEN WE WALK HOME FROM THE THEATER OR BOOKSTORE, WE SHED NO TEARS AND FEEL LITTLE SYMPATHY FOR THE PEOPLE SUFFERING IN THE STREET?” [this is a loose paraphrase of a question asked by St. Augustine]. For that matter, why do we typically feel more sympathy for the suffering of fictional characters than we do for the people in our own lives? Or even for our own suffering? (FEBRUARY 2005)

Do humans have Free Will? What is Free Will and Autonomy, anyway? (MARCH 2005).

Death: what is the significance of death to us, and does death somehow add meaning to life? Why are we frightened by our knowledge that "I, myself, will die one day-- and perhaps soon?" If, like most people, you believe in an afterlife (and that you will be going to a better place when you die), then why don't you look forward to you own death? (APRIL 2005).

Is it ethically wrong to believe things that are not based on good evidence? Is it irrational, or even unethical, to have beliefs that are not scientifically or rationally supported? Is believing something on faith or on insufficient evidence and argument sometimes or often justified? When? (MAY 2005)

Tolerance: what kind of tolerance, and how much of it, can and should a Democracy encourage and allow? (JUNE 2005)

A Philosophical Counselor and Professor explains what "Philosophy Therapy" and "Socratic Dialogue" is all about. (AUGUST 2005)

A brainstorming session on the nature of Utopia and the kind of Utopia that might be achievable. (SEPTEMBER 2005)

What are the limits of Reason or Rationality? What are the limits of Scientific Knowledge? Why are these limits there? (OCTOBER 2005)

What is Evil? Is "evil" just another word for "wrong" or "immoral," or is there something more to it? Does Evil even exist? (Note: we don't need to assume that evil is some kind of supernatural force; perhaps a mundane, worldly kind of evil exists.) (NOVEMBER 2005)

What is the definition and meaning of "philosophy?" (JANUARY 2006)

What Things Are Intrinsically Good Or Valuable In Themselves? (FEBRUARY 2006)

What is your most Dangerous Idea? (MARCH 2006)

Religion: What Use Or Value, If Any, Does It Have In Your Personal Life? Is It Replaceable? (APRIL 2006)

Why Be Moral? (JUNE 2006)

What is the Nature of Understanding? (OCTOBER 2006)

What makes something funny? What is the nature of humor? (DECEMBER 2006)

Buddhist Theories of the Mind (MAY 2007)

What does it mean to be Irrational? (NOVEMBER 2007)

Can one rationally convert to a religion? (MARCH 2008)

What's the meaning of life? (APRIL 2008).

moderated by

Los Angeles
Does The Universe Have A Purpose - w/a God or not?  topic
Thought Experiments: controversies, uses, defi...  topic
Moral Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism  topic
Economic Inequality: bad in itself? Or is it ju...  topic
Utilitarianism, Consequentialism & their Critics  topic
Gun Control: arguments Pro & Con  topic
Are You Responsible For Your Unconscious Biases?  topic
In Search of the True Self (if there is one)  topic
Loyalty - the Philosophy & Ethics of  topic
What Limits Should We Place On Laws?  topic
What Scientific/Philosophical Concept Would Imp...  topic
A Precising Definition Of Substance  topic
Notes On The Ontology Of Time Intervals  topic
A Causal Predisposition Towards Acquiring Order...  topic
Moral Responsibility (concepts of), & connectio...  topic
Hypocrisy: what exactly is it & why is it wrong?  topic
Moral Luck: should luck affect moral judgments?  topic
Envy, Jealousy & Resentment  topic
Surviving On The Lifeboat; Kill One To Save Many?  topic
Restricting Freedom Of Speech to Prevent Violence?  topic
Why Can Mathematics Understand the world so well?  topic
What are Desires?  topic
SUICIDE: Ethics and Rationality of  topic
PERSONAL IDENTITY through Time And Changes  topic
Addiction: disease, disordered choices, or what?  topic