By Carson Cook, Chattanooga, Tenn.– Over the last three years, the Philosophy Club has grown to give more students the opportunity to learn and talk about philosophy in an informal environment.
The philosophy club was originally founded at least 40 years ago; however, by 2012 the club had fallen out of fashion.
“It had become sort of defunct. It wasn’t really happening anymore, and that made my heart hurt,” said Brandon Jones, current president of the club.
Jones has been working to revitalize the club and create new traditions since he returned to UTC three years ago. Now, club participation is higher than he’s ever seen
The Philosophy Club meets at 3 p.m. every Friday in Holt 204. Usually a meeting will begin with watching a short video, or sometimes a brief reading. Then the attendees will sit in a circle and discuss philosophy for about an hour.
“We try not to make it feel like a class … we’ll let you talk about whatever you want,” said Jones.
Past topics for meetings have included Camus and “The Absurd Hero,” Plato and justice, and “What is Human Nature?” according to the club’s Facebook page. Jones said he tried to pick topics that can be made applicable to current events.
The club is open to students of all majors and even members of the community. Jones said the club has seen attendees studying in economics, history, English, physics and more. The club leaders work to explain concepts and jargon to make it accessible to all students no matter their experience with philosophy.
“We will bend over backwards to make the club approachable and fun and interesting,” said Jones.
After the official club meeting, most members go out to a restaurant or bar and continue their discussions. Jones said the members jokingly refer to this as a “symposium” in the Ancient Greece sense, meaning a drinking party.
The UTC Philosophy Club also attends conferences with philosophy clubs and departments at other universities. In the spring, they will be attending a conference at Kennesaw State University, in northern Georgia.
Since Jones began revitalizing the club, they have been trying to be more involved in the Chattanooga community. Jones has written a grant for a program called Philosophers in the Classroom, which would work with middle school students for an hour a week
A similar program has been created in the UK, and has been shown to improve verbal reasoning, higher-order thinking, oral communication, confidence and behavior.