Friday, April 15, 2011

Cafe Philo in New York City next week, Thursday, 4/21: Positivism

Cafe Philo in New York City will meet next week, on Thursday, April 21, 2011 for a discussion on the topic of "Positivism." I suggested the topic. As the Wikipedia article on Positivism tells us:
Positivism refers to a set of epistemological perspectives and philosophies of science which hold that the scientific method is the best approach to uncovering the processes by which both physical and human events occur. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, the concept was developed in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte.
Of course, Café Philo being what it is, each participant will bring their own perspective on the topic, regardless of what the "experts" may have concluded. One angle to explore is the limits of positivism, including the value of judgment and intuition, ethics, aesthetics, and how we deal with uncertainty. Another angle is the role of innate human drives, as well as chance.
The suggested topics for the upcoming meeting and their votes (out of 7 attendees):
  1. Role of rhetoric. (2)
  2. Positivism. (3, 3) *
  3. Talk radio. (2)
  4. Does determinism entail predestination? (2)
  5. Is man a social animal? (3, 2)
  6. Do we need dueling in a democratic society? (2)
  7. What can we say about the future? (2)
  8. Is the world overpopulated? (2)
  9. What is a good Café Philo topic? (1)
I have been acting as guest moderator lately. Bernard Roy has been attending as a participant.
Catch up with preparatory online discussions in the Yahoo! group for Cafe Philo NYC.
As usual, the meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the back room at Bamiyan Afghan Restaurant at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and 26th Street in New York City. In exchange for free meeting space, it is expected that each attendee will purchase a minimum of $5 of food or drink. A glass of red wine can be had for $6 (plus tax and tip.)
After winding down our discussion, we entertain and vote on proposals for the topic question for the next meeting.
There are also usually some attendees who go across the street to McCormack's Pub for drinks and food and extended discussion after Cafe Philo, but not limited to the scheduled discussion topic.
There are a number of small groups in the U.S. and Europe who meet regularly to discuss topics related to philosophy. Some of these groups go by the name "Cafe Philo." There is one here in New York City that meets every two weeks, every other Thursday. It is organized and moderated by Bernard Roy, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Each meeting focuses on a specific topic which was suggested and voted on by the participants at the last meeting.
Also, there is an online discussion forum for the NYC Cafe Philo at:
There is also a new web site for NYC Cafe Philo at
I have been attending the NYC Cafe Philo off and on since 2004. Previously I had attended the Cafe Philo in Washington, D.C. starting in 2001.


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