|I’ve posted a couple of times before about philosophy groups that I attend, and I’ve found a new one, which I think is rather good. It’s difficult to go in to much detail about my talk in this post, because although the subject was discussed in a respectful, philosophical and sensible way, my advertisers might deem it to be NSFW.
I first went to this group about a month ago, when the discussion topic was Suicide. I found the conversations insightful and atypical, with a genuine desire to understand a difficult and sensitive topic. I really liked the dialogue and the people, so I came back for another go.
The group meets every week, which is great because I can’t wait too long for mental stimulation… Anyway, two weeks after my first visit to the group, I decided to propose my own topic, and it was a great experience, both in terms of openly discussing a controversial topic, and for public speaking experience. If you’re a postgrad (or undergrad, for that matter), or if you’re looking to gain confidence in presenting and debating in a professional capacity, I’d heartily recommend doing something like this. Get out there, talk in front of a group, and don’t be afraid of looking silly. Act confident and confidence will come naturally to you.
The format of the group is as follows:
Everyone gathers in a circle and the chair introduces the topic. Some handouts are distributed with supplementary information (links to the stimuli that I provided are on the Chorlton Philosophy Group blog, link below).
Each person is assigned a number 1, 2 or 3, and then we split off into three smaller groups according to what number we have.
The little groups discuss the topic along whatever lines they choose. The point of this bit is to explore the ideas in the notes a little more and throw in a few ideas of one’s own, with the aim of coming up with questions for the group to vote on and discuss (this is where it gets good!).
The large group reconvenes and all of the questions are placed on the floor in the centre of the circle. And then we are each given two chocolates (I told you this is where it gets good), and we vote by placing our empty wrappers on the question we’d like to discuss.
With the winning topic selected, people add their names to a list to make a point to the group, by making a thumbs-up gesture. We each talk in turn, with counter-arguments permitted occasionally.
I like the format of this discussion group, because the conversation flows more naturally: people are allowed to interject, and people can talk as many times as they like, taking the discussion to wherever we want to. The only downside is the time constraints, but loads of people usually hang around in the bar afterwards to carry on talking.
The variety of people who turn up is impressive, pretty much all ages (18 to about 80), lifestyles and occupations are represented there, and the diversity of opinions is exciting. People tended not to hold beliefs that I expected them to have, and I think we all learn something from each other – the sign of a good debate.
Questions that were proposed at my talk were:
This group is held in The Lloyds on Wilbraham Road, and they allow us the use of a room beside the main bar.
Here’s a link to the Chorlton Philosophy Group’s blog; my topic was the one debated on 13th January 2015. I enjoy discussing censorship generally, but it is such a broad topic that I decided to make it more specific and cover a topic that’s interesting, current and provocative.