Published: August 23, 2005
Have you ever wondered why it is we’re here? Do our lives have a purpose? Is there a blueprint for humanity or are we completely free and alone to make of ourselves what we will? Is there a god? Are there moral absolutes? What is truth? What is government’s role in the lives of its people?
These are just a few of the questions posed by philosophy and, right here at PJC, discussed by our very own philosophy club. The club was started last semester and marked the first time in almost a decade that PJC had its own philosophy club.
“I think philosophy is important on many different levels,” said Professor Kermit Harrison, head of the club. “If you don’t ask the tough questions, you’ll find yourself just floating through life with no purpose, no meaning.”
Questioning your life, questioning your surroundings and analyzing them critically is key to living a complete and authentic life, according to Harrison.
Harrison started the club because he remembered being an undergraduate himself and his experience in philosophy classes. He remembered wanting to dive deeper into discussions and ask the tough questions, but feeling like the classroom wasn’t always the right place, either because the rest of the class just wasn’t interested or because they couldn’t always grasp the concepts deep enough to really open up discussion. He found the environment he was looking for in the philosophy club and it was that interaction which he hoped to provide for PJC’s students when he arrived last year.
“I think the first semester went great,” student and club president Kevin Quinn said. There were about a dozen students who attended regularly, with more who came as often as their schedules permitted, and the club hopes to make itself known more around campus this semester to draw new students out. They are planning a barbeque as an ice breaker during the second week of classes, which they hope will attract students interested in the club.
The club met every other week and talked about a wide range of issues last semester, all of which were suggested by students.
“That was the best thing about the club,” Meghan Barton said, one of the club’s founders. “The club was run by the students. All the subjects we talked about were things people had suggested and which everyone had an interest in.”
Barton said the club created an environment where everyone could talk about important issues from a variety of different angles, openly and with no hostility, with no right or wrong answers and with a strong respect for others opinions.
That kind of open, passionate yet respectful discussion is exactly the environment Harrison hoped to create with the club, as well as provide an opportunity for students to be further educated on philosophers and their theories, both present and past, in a manner that couldn’t always be taught so deeply in undergrad classes.
Grady Miller, a member of the philosophy club, loved the open discussions provided in the philosophy club. A person may spend a lot of time on their own thinking about philosophical issues, and mulling over apparent contradictions, only to have someone else shed a totally knew light on an issue for you, according to Miller.
“There is a great value in sharing your thoughts and ideas with others, not just because you can get your own thoughts out but also because it can open you up to a new level of understanding you may never have realized on your own,” Miller said. “It gets you out of the vacuum of your own mind.”
The club also enjoyed its trip to hear a speaker at one of Florida State University’s colloquiums last semester and plans more such trips this fall. FSU has its colloquiums about every other week and brings in some of the top philosophers in the region to speak. Harrison plans to attend at least a few of the colloquiums again this semester.
“We had a good time last semester and are planning even more for the fall,” Quinn said. The club is hoping now that it has gone through the proper steps to become an official club at PJC that it will receive more money to use for its trips and events.
It will be organizing a meeting for the fall semester during the barbeque and encourages any students who wish to attend club meetings to stop by. A date has yet to be set for the barbeque but it will be sometime during the second week of classes in front of the student center on campus. At the get-together those students interested in club meetings will organize a time and a day of the week that is convenient for everyone and will go on from there.