Until recently, if you’d told me I needed to spend more of my life relaxing or having fun, let alone…
Following in the footsteps of Marc Sautet’s café philosophique – which was set up in 1992 and is widely credited with bringing philosophy back to the general public – is an English language version run by American expat Michael Muszlak. His monthly meetup at the iconic Café de Flore in Paris’s upmarket 6th arrondissement draws an eclectic group of young and old, professional and amateur, each on a quest – be it for answers, questions or just a good cup of coffee and an argument.
A long-time resident in Paris, Muszlak initially set up the Café Philo around the corner from his Latin Quarter apartment as an addition to his bilingual supper club “TeaTime is TalkTime”.
Five years on it boasts more than 1,000 members and can lay claim to being one of the largest of its kind in the world. In true democratic style topics are proferred by the participants, then put to a vote. This time around “Technological advancements – positive or negative for humans?” beat out “Does class exist?”; previous sessions have covered free will, beauty, the limits of human knowledge, what is a conscience, the rights of the individual and metaphysics.
At the end of an evening of lively discussion, wine and coffee with a group of amateur intellectuals, it’s easy to see why café philos are such a hit around the world. England has its own version in the form of Pub Philosophy, replacing wine with beer but holding on to the rest, meanwhile Australia has various options including Sydney’s Socrates Cafe (founded by New Philosopher contributor Tim Dean), Philo Agora at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt and the Hunter Valley Socratic Society at the East Maitland Library.
See the list below for more options, if you know of another cafe philo please post it below and we’ll add it to the list.
Sydney Socrates Cafe
Meetings are held monthly at two locations – Chatswood and Redfern, see the website for more details: http://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Socrates-Cafe/
Hunter Valley Socratic Society
Meetings are held at 1pm on the first Tuesday of each month at the East Maitland Library, Garnet Road Green Hills (East Maitland). Contact David Atkinson 0408 636 437 or Frank Oakes 02 49 332 956
Held at Berkelouw Books, Leichhardt on the first Thursday of the month at 7:15pm. See the website for more details: http://www.philoagora.com/
Melbourne Existentialist Society
Lectures take place at 8pm on the first Tuesday of the month (except January). All are welcome. Admission is free. No prior booking is necessary. See the website for more details: http://www.meetup.com/Existentialist-Society
Freemantle Philosophy Cafe
Meets each month at the Sail & Anchor pub at 7:30pm. See the website for more details: http://www.meetup.com/FreoCafePhilo/