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Photo credit: Tebben Gill Lopez

Students and faculty philosophize. Photo credit: Tebben Gill Lopez

Three students and two faculty members gathered to discuss the meaning of mind and body in Donnarumma Hall on Tuesday night.

A little-known hub of intellectual discourse, Socrates Café is a meeting of the minds that convenes to tackle philosophical questions.

“I think ultimately the notion of the mind is a notion of ideas and language,” said philosophy major Luke Record ‘14. “The mind is so intricately linked with language and ideas, it cannot be reduced to matter because there seems to be a fundamental separation between ideas and matter.”

“We meet once every two to three weeks,” said Dr. Toby Svoboda, assistant professor of philosophy. “We might have something like four to five meetings a semester.”

Regarding the lack of attendance, Svoboda said, “We have a committed core so far [this semester] it seems.

“The nice thing about Fairfield is that everyone has to take some philosophy courses so every student at some point will be exposed to philosophical questions,” he added.

The conversation took on a casual tone, coupled with dramatic gesticulation and periodically punctuated by chuckles. It covered a wide range of topics, such as defining consciousness, the potential for scientific innovation, dualism of the mind and body and even the nature of happiness.

Socrates Café began in 2007 and was founded by Dr. Steven Bayne, assistant professor of philosophy, and Matt Ryder ‘09. Last year’s discussion on the philosophical implications of pornography drew a “good turnout” with approximately 25 students, according to Bayne.

Svoboda said: “One thing we hope [is] to build some sort of community among students that have some interest in intellectual questions of this kind. In my classes I run into some people that are genuinely interested in intellectual questions that this supplies a place to talk about those issues.”

When asked why more students haven’t attended the Café this semester, Record seemed stumped.

“The conversations I have with people always tend to gravitate toward questions of meaning or, you know, the deep questions,” Record said. “Maybe people don’t like the structured format or there’s a certain stigma associated with intellectual discussions, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a matter of publicity.”

Sophomore Brett Ubaldi said he found out about the event from a professor, who “said it was an interesting time and there’s free pizza.”

Students interested in participating in such discussions should contact Svoboda at tsvoboda@fairfield.edu for more information.

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