Café Philosophique has been the flagship of the Newcastle Philosophy Society since its inception in 2003. More than the weekly study groups, it embodied the spirit of taking philosophy out of academe and into the domain of public interest, combining erudition and argumentation with wider participation, personal involvement, and broadening of scope to include all matters of interest and concern to a growing diversity of individuals and the public at large.
The model of Café Philosophique, as implied by its title, is based on a popular movement in France over the past half century, where people with an interest in philosophy gathered in cafés or similar venues, and took turns to introduce a theme or topic for collaborative reflection and discussion. On occasion, an invited speaker would be invited to focus the debate or draw people’s attention to a particular subject beyond their immediate grasp.
For a number of years, Café Philosophique at the Newcastle Philosophy Society has drawn on the seemingly inexhaustible knowledge and expertise of its regular members. It has also benefited from a range of contributions by guest speakers from university departments and elsewhere. In recent years it has diminished in attendance and stature, and as such has become yet another discussion group in the mould of all the rest. It is now intended to revive the original rationale of Café Philosophique, and gradually restore it to its former glory, insofar as that may be possible, with the help of its participants at large – so you are all most cordially invited to help us realize this vision! A few different formats will be used, including panel discussions (consisting of short presentations by a panel, followed by discussion on the chosen theme), Question Time-like events (where questions on all matters philosophical may be put to a panel, as well as a discussion by the participants at large), the traditional speaker format (but with greater emphasis on the participants fully engaging with the topic rather than deferring to the speaker), as well as Symposium-like encounters with philosophical discussions over food and drink, and possibly with a live musical interlude.
Café Philosophique currently meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month at 2 pm (about 10 times a year), with a break for the Society’s Annual General Meeting in April. Please refer to the Calendar on the main page for up-to-date location and time details, as well as what will be happening in the next group.
There will be a short break mid-way through the programme when tea and coffee will be provided.
There is a £2 charge for waged attendees to cover room costs. There is no charge for unwaged or new attendees.
Image credit on main page (detail) and above (in full): Statue of writer D. Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, created by sculptor Fernando Mayoral in 2000 , and located in the literary café: Café Novelty, Salamanca, Spain. Photograph by ‘Pravdaverita’. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.