Philosophy forums to confront big questions of life

The big questions: University of Sydney's Professor Mark Colyvan is the first guest speaker for the Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum on February 25.

The big questions: University of Sydney's Professor Mark Colyvan is the first guest speaker for the Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum on February 25.

As John Lennon sang: life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Port Macquarie will host the first of 10 planned philosophy forums on Sunday February 25.

The guest speaker is University of Sydney's Professor Mark Colyvan who will speak on The Wisdom of Crowds and Mindless Mobs.

One of the organisers, Carol Baker, said the public forum will provide a venue for philosophy enthusiasts and those with a general interest, to hold discussions and hear lectures about philosophy.

"We are planning to have one event a month between February and November this year," she said.

"Guest speakers from universities, and other relevant institutions, will be sought to speak on the big philosophical questions of our time. 

"Members of the forum from the local area will also be invited to lecture and participate in debates and discussions."

Ms Baker said the genesis for the forum was set in the U3A-inspired philosphy courses over the last few years.

"But we saw the opportunity to take philosophy to a broader demographic," she added.

The organising group, which also includes Gary Dowling, Joan McKain, and Dave Smith, contacted universities and philosophy professors to gauge their interest.

"There is plenty of support from the academic world. We have three guest speakers booked."

There are already 50 registrations for the first event on February 25.

Ms Baker said the group was surprised and delighted by the obvious interest in the event.

We need to hone our critical thinking skills to work our way through to a better understanding.

Carol Baker

She said there are two reasons behind the high interest in philosophy.

"I think we live in an age of fake news and false advertising and people are confused and don't know what to think or believe," she said.

"We need to hone our critical thinking skills to work our way through to a better understanding.

"You have your job, family life and you get involved in the day to day details of living your life. Sometimes though, life can feel quite small and you can feel quite restricted.

"And you can suddenly be facing those big questions in your life: pondering things like how do we know what we know, how to think more clearly to make better decisions in your life, what's a good way to live your life or what's a good political system for the good of all.

"These forums are designed to get you engaged in these big questions in your life."

Ms Baker said philosophy opens up a world of engagement and exploration of life so 'your life can be meaningful and purposeful'.

"We want to explore those intellectual avenues," she added.

The forums are non-dogmatic and will help guide participants to think critically.

The inaugural Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum is on Sunday February 25, from 6pm until about 7.30pm, Port City Bowling Club.

The cost is free but donations welcome to help cover room hire costs

Email enquiries to philosophyforumpmq@outlook.com

You can register for the forum here.

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