The chirps of scattered conversation begin to dissipate as the club meeting is called to order. The six or seven students huddled around the table sit comfortably, surrounded by a collection of bread, cheese, pasta sauce and binders. This week’s subject: Marshall McLuhan and the effects of technology on patterns of human life.
Held every other Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Papa Joe’s restaurant, the Philosophy Club discusses philosophical writings in a relaxed, informal setting. The club considers this atmosphere to be the most condusive to pressure-free discussion.
McAlister Mallory, senior philosophy major and club vice president, sees value in conversations rooted in deep thought.
“(Philosophy is) one of the most rigorous studies to sharpen critical thinking, analysis skills, argumentation and criticism of dogmatic things,” Mallory said.
In addition to their bi-monthly meetings, the club often hosts guest speakers in the field of philosphy. On Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25, the club will be hosting Brie Gertler, a professor from the University of Virginia, who will discuss the philosophical question, “Does your mind extend beyond your body?”
Gertler will debate the relationship between the human brain and smartphone technology and question the popular argument that smartphones are no longer just daily conveniences, but rather, they have become a part of the human mind.
According to Mallory, these types of discussions prove useful for students with an interest in philosophy. Members are able to interact with visiting professors on a personal level, giving them an opportunity to ask questions about applying to graduate school programs.
Aubrey Balfour, a senior philosophy major, joined the Philosophy Club after seeing all the doors a philosophy degree could open.
“As I got into the major more, and I became more aware of what your options are with philosophy—and the wide diversity of things that philosophers do and talk about—it was just like, ‘Yes, this is what I should be doing,’” Balfour said.
The club also attends philosophy conferences. Currently, five members are preparing for a conference in April at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
The Philosophy Club is always welcoming new members, and encourages anyone—philosophy major or not—to stop by and experience one of their meetings.
“You come out with a nice, useful metaphysical tool kit,” Mallory said.