Socrates Café

Bust of Socrates

About the Program
How the Group Works
Questions Discussed
Books by Christopher Phillips
Upcoming Meetings


About the Program

The library offers a monthly discussion group for adults called Socrates Café. Based on the work of Christopher Phillips, author and co-founder of The Society for Philosophical Inquiry, Socrates Café groups are gatherings that meet all over the world in which people from different backgrounds get together and exchange thoughtful ideas and experiences while embracing the central theme of Socratizing—the idea that we learn more when we question, particularly when we do so with others. Phillips developed the idea of Socrates Café to do as Socrates did, to bring philosophy to the every day individual.



How the Group Works

The library’s group follows an established format for Socrates Café meetings, and is facilitated by adult librarian Kevin Goody. Each meeting tackles a “big” question, proposed by and voted on by the group at the start of the meeting. Questions are broad and open-ended, such as“What is justice?” “What is leadership?” “Should one give money to beggars on the street?” “Is healthcare a right or privilege?” “What is a good education?” The goal is not to come to a consensus, but to explore different ideas, assumptions, and perspectives.

No background knowledge or studying is required. Participants bring their own thoughts, ideas, and points of view to explore important questions together. In keeping with the spirit of inclusiveness, the group will meet out in the open, in the adult library reading area, rather than in the more closed and formal atmosphere of the Community Room.

No registration is required, and participants are free to come to one or many meetings as they choose. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.


Questions Discussed

As mentioned above, group members suggest questions for discussion at the start of each meeting.  After eight to ten possible questions are proposed, participants vote for their favorite questions.  In the first round of voting, participants may vote for as many questions as they like.  The top two questions are then the subject of a second vote, in which participants may only vote for one.  The questions that receives the most votes in this second round of voting is the one discussed for the remainder of the meeting.

Our group has been meeting since October of 2011. Below is a list of the some of the questions we have discussed since the group began.

  • Is censorship ever justified?
  • What is the purpose of government?
  • Do we have a right to privacy?
  • Do we have a right to die?
  • What is a right?
  • What kinds of limits on free speech can we tolerate in a free society?
  • Why are illegal drugs illegal?
  • Is religion needed in our lives?
  • Do we have a responsibility to contribute to society?
  • How interdependent our we in relation to one another?
  • What should be taught in high school?
  • Does the motivation for act of goodness matter?
  • What is the balance between individuality and commitment to community?
  • What is the source of the divisiveness in our current society?
  • What is the relationship between affluence and generosity?
  • Does evolution (in whatever discipline) necessarily lead to improvement?
  • Is peace attainable?
  • Do we have a right to privacy in the age of technology?
  • Does globalization dilute cultural diversity?
  • What is the value of forgiveness?
  • How do we balance the needs and rights of humans with the needs and rights of animals?
  • What is the best way to measure a society’s well-being?
  • How do we understand poverty?
  • What is one’s responsibility to “the downtrodden,” and how do we define, “the downtrodden?”
  • What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
  • How can we realize in our society the idea that all people are created equal?
  • Does the end justify the means?
  • Should we give money to “pan handlers?”
  • What causes us to be connected to one another, and what drives us toward separateness?
  • Why are we all here anyway?
  • What would be the consequences of stopping the aging process if it were medically possible?
  • What is the primary motivator for human behavior?


Books by Christopher Phillips

Below are books available for borrowing written by Christopher Phillips.  Click on a book cover to go the catalog record for each title.  From there, you may place a hold.  Not sure how to do that? Click here for help!



Upcoming Meetings…

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