New group explores great philosophers

ENGLEWOOD — Café Athena, a new philosophy discussion group, is looking to expand minds and create enlightened thinkers by exploring various philosophies from around the world throughout the ages.

Joann Reed and Tammie Diehl tried other philosophy groups but said they tend to stray off topic, so they started Café Athena, which will hold its first meeting at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at Elsie Quirk Library.

“Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom,” Diehl said. “She’s very independent and we wanted independent thinkers. A lot of times, she took sides, but we’re not going to take sides.”

In mythology, Athena would be on the Greek side one time and the Trojan side another, Diehl said. “At least it indicated independent thought, considering several sides to things.”

The group plans to have moderated discussions featuring a different philosopher at each monthly meeting.

Reed and Diehl will introduce the subjects, including Francis Bacon, Arthur Schopenhauer, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Baruch Spinoza, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henri Bergson, Bertrand Russell, William James, John Dewey, Thomas Hobbes, Benedetto Croce, George Santayana, and Herbert Spencer.

“Their philosophies are so different,” Reed said. “We are probably starting with … the Garrett Hardin society. The case against helping the poor — it’s an interesting philosophy. It’s not necessarily one that I would accept, but nonetheless it has some interesting points. What I want out of a discussion group is what a person thinks of it.”

Diehl and Reed said their objective is not to endorse a position but introduce ideas and stimulate dialogue with contrasting viewpoints. If the discussion gets out of hand, they have a gavel to keep order.

“It’s definitely not just a social chit-chat group,” Diehl said. “It’s more of something that we hope will expand people’s minds and get them to think and realize that just because somebody says something, does not make it true. To stop and think for themselves.”

While the group is intended to have a diverse set of free-thinkers, it will steer clear of religion and politics.

“We’re not going to discuss them,” Diehl said. “Philosophy sometimes skirts the issues. We’re not going to let it sway off where they start being real right or left wing.”

Diehl and Reed say they realize some people may not have heard of some subjects, which is why they’ll spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting introducing the philosopher.

“I think Neitzsche and Kant, when you first study them, are a little bit difficult to understand because I had to do it in college and I didn’t know what I was doing,” Deihl said. “I still don’t.”

The first meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at Elsie Quirk Library, 100 W. Dearborn Street. For more information, email joannfl@comcast.net or call 941-861-1200.

Tammie Diehl and Joann Reed

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG, tchang@sun-herald.com
SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG
Tammie Diehl and Joann Reed are starting Café Athena, a new philosophy group in Englewood. Their first meeting will be 1:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at Elsie Quirk Library.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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