Reading Group

Hey guys!  This post is going to be fairly short, I just wanted to keep you all updated on what we’ve decided to do regarding the monthly Reading Group.  I’ll also copy/paste this directly as a post in the discussion forum on the MeetUp website so you can see it and, if you like, respond to it there as well.

In any case, we will be having a reading group once a month, probably the 2nd or 3rd Sunday afternoon of the month.  We will be reading a mix of articles and sections from books.  We will try to keep them to a maximum of 12 pages so that they can be read fairly quickly and we can all take our time to think about them.  So even if you don’t have a lot of time to read in your busy schedule, that’s no problem: even just a weekend should suffice.  🙂

We are going to rotate between social issues, soft sciences (psychology, anthropology, etc), hard sciences (physics, biology, technology, etc.) and philosophy every month, so hopefully we will cover some topics that everyone can enjoy.  The topics will be largely accessible (so probably no metaphysics or quantum theory!) but with the intention of challenging preconceived notions of those topics.  For instance, we may bring up discussions about problems with the golden rule or the scientific method, or pros and cons of universal healthcare.  The intention is to broaden our minds about different sides of certain issues, as well as take them into consideration and develop stronger arguments for or against certain issues through productive and civil discussion and reading.

As far as specific material, I will be choosing it every month, but I am very happy to include your suggestions if you have any.  Alternatively, if there is a specific section of a book or an article that you would like to read as a group, I’m very, very happy to help you organize a reading group on a day and time of your choosing for the purpose of reading and discussing it.  In fact, I encourage you all to do so!  I would love to see multiple Reading groups (as well as other groups!) every month.

If you would like to join but are having trouble with the material, that’s fine!  Another purpose of the group is to help each other under the material, so please prepare some questions to bring to the discussion or, if you’d prefer, you can simply email me and I’ll try to answer your questions – as well as post them in the meet up details – as best I can.

For now we’re going to keep the group size fairly small (six members) but if it seems doable we’ll expand it in the future.

The expectations for this group are pretty minimal:

1. Please read the material (duh).

2. Please prepare at least one question and/or one comment about the material for the group.  If you didn’t understand something or want to get other people’s opinion on something, a question would be great.  If you want to share an understanding or interpretation of the material, or want to express something you agreed with or disagreed with, a comment would be great.  Of course, you are more than welcome to offer multiple questions and/or comments.

3. If you organize the meet up, then it’s your job to prepare a number of pertinent questions regarding the topic, as well as some back up material that you think may be of use for discussing or presenting multiple sides of the issue.  For instance, if you are going to use a section of Descartes Meditations, you might want to have some additional material (videos, articles, etc) that discuss dualism vs. monism, philosophy of mind, etc.

The tentative format will be as such:

1.  The organizer very briefly summarizes the Reading Discussion topic (what the material was, who the author was, some basic points brought up).

2. The organizer first fields all questions (no responses yet, just get them all down on paper first).

3. The organizer first offers some preliminary questions, or questions that are necessary for everyone to understand the material (please save more discussion-oriented questions for the end!)

4. The members all present their comments and everyone freely discusses the material and the comments that have been presented.

5. Finally, if any remain, the organizer presents the more discussion-oriented questions that have not been answered yet.

That’s a wrap!  Let me know if you have any questions about it, and I hope to see you at a future Reading Discussion Group!

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