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Philosophy Club

Philosophy Club

The Philosophy Club at McNeese State University
Philosophy Club
Philosophy is not limited to the classroom. Discussions on free will, the nature of the mind, and whether truth is absolute or relative do not have to studied solely in class.

Welcome to the Philosophy Club!


The Philosophy Club meets regularly, and encourages everyone to attend, whether you have a formal or passing interest in philosophy. These discussions can help to tease out issues not covered in class, or serve as a chance for you to learn by doing. Philosophy is not a set of facts to be memorized - it is a method of thinking. The more you "do" philosophy, the better your understanding of the concepts and methods will be. Like your muscles, your brain is toned by practice. Many students find philosophy to be the most difficult field they have ever studied, precisely because it teaches you new ways to think. The Philosophy Club gives you the chance to get your feet wet in an environment that is collegial, casual, and, most importantly, caffeinated.

  • Where: New Ranch by Einstein Bagel Bros.
  • When: 3:30 PM every Monday during the academic year.

Recent and Upcoming Events

The philosophy club sponsors events throughout the academic year. Check this page and on Facebook for news and coming events.

Filmosophies
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Dogma and Religious Epistemology Knowledge, Belief and Dogma - The Epistemology of Religion

Dr. Butkus discussed issues in faith and religious epistemology as presented in Kevin Smith's 1999 film Dogma. Frequently, public discourse about religion suggests that human agents are capable of knowing qualities of a reality transcending everyday experience. Many people assume that we are capable of knowing that a deity exists, that this deity possesses specific attributes, etc., but these assumptions are not necessarily warranted. A recurrent issue is the inability of a human agent to transcend his or her particular epistemological framework, meaning that the agent cannot step outside his or her own experience to see whether a particular belief is justified or true. Consequently, a strong argument can be made that the strongest claim that might be warranted is one of agnostic theism - we can express personal beliefs, but cannot justifiably make stronger or absolute claims about the transcendent.
The Ugly Truth About Pretty Woman The Ugly Truth Behind Pretty Woman

Dr. Furman discussed the presentation of underlying themes of female identity in Gerry Marshall's 1990 film Pretty Woman .
A Fish Called Wanda A Fish Called Wanda

Dr. Bulhof discussed Nietzschean philosophy in Charles Crichton's 1988 movie A Fish Called Wanda.
The Crow and the Problem of Evil The Crow and the Problem of Evil

Dr. Butkus discussed the problem of evil, a recurrent issue in philosophy and religion, and its treatment in Alex Proyas' 1994 film The Crow and its origins in James O'Barr's graphic novel. Both media express the author's attempt to cope with a great personal loss, a phenomenon we all encounter in our lives. The recurring challenge we face is finding meaning in incidents that may appear accidental or arbitrary, as well as finding a sense of retributive justice when these losses occur by another's hand. O'Barr's tale of supernatural revenge serves as a catharsis - a means of purging our sense of frustration when evil acts apparently go unpunished. This concept ties into karma in Eastern traditions and theodicy in Western traditions - both of which offer explanations and means of understanding that evil does not go unpunished. Ultimately, the nature of most narratives of tragedy and triumph placates our desire for evil actions to be accounted for, either in this life or the next.
The Philosophical Roots of Surrealism The Philosophical Roots of Surrealism

Jerome Marcantel discussed the development of surrealism from philosophy via a discussion of Monty Python's Meaning of Life.
Star Trek through Time Star Trek Through Time

Dr. Bulhof discussed the grandfather paradox in time travel movies, contrasting the plausibility of different proposed models of time travel in Star Trek and Back to the Future.
Relating to an American Psycho Relating to an American Psycho

Casey Read discussed Nagel's argument about the irreducible subjectivity of experience and its relation to the 2000 film American Psycho, based on the Brett Easton Ellis novel.
Gattaca and Genetic Determinism Gattaca and Genetic Determinism

Dr. Butkus discussed the impact of genetics on personality and self-identity with reference to the film Gattaca. History is replete with examples of efforts to control plants and animals at a genetic level. Humanity has long attempted to promote particular genes and cull others, in an effort to increase food yield and quality, improve livestock, etc. In recent history, we have also made concerted efforts to change the human gene pool, both through the promotion of particular genes and the repression of others. These efforts produced some of history's most egregious examples of unethical scientific research and social policy, including forced sterilizations of "mental defectives" in the United States and Great Britain well before the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Current medical and behavioral health research has repudiated the eugenic claims of the past, but makes genetic claims of its own. Despite the lack of a 1:1 correlation between genotype and phenotype, there are strong genetic and proteomic influences on neurological development, which strongly influence how our personalities and cognitive abilities evolve. Ultimately we can make a strong case that our self-concept is dependent upon our underlying genetics.
The -ism's of Michael Scott The -Isms of Michael Scott: The Office and Philosophy

Michael discussed the underlying personal philosophy of Michael Scott, the manager on television's The Office.
Biodiversity, Ethics, and Human Health Biodiversity, Ethics, and Human Health

Dr. Butkus discussed the impact of biodiversity loss on human health and the corresponding ethical obligations to maintain species diversity. There is a significant question of whether we have any obligations to future generations, since they do not reflect the typical moral agents in ethical theory. A number of similarities between the current and future generations makes it reasonable to assume that they will have the same interests in maintaining their health and well-being. Policies that do not encourage protection of biodiversity negatively impact these future generations, as they undermine our ability to combat novel infectious and neoplastic diseases. Consequently, it seems reasonable to promote policies that preserve genetic diversity, encourage commercial development along biodiversity lines, and shift medicinal research back to natural compounds.
Deconstructing the Wall Deconstructing The Wall

Is Pink Floyd The Wall (The Movie) an unintelligible kaleidoscope of music and images or a work containing an insightful and profound message? Dr. Furman argues that it is the latter, proposing that Roger Waters illustrates the everyday battle that would-be free thinkers face. Society has no room for free thinkers and it endeavors to eliminate them or, at a minimum, to break their will, to force conformity with the values promulgated by a capitalistic society. The Wall is a look at the struggle of Pink, a would-be free thinker, and his struggle for freedom and his efforts to enlighten others as to their false consciousness. Ultimately, however, society and mental illness overcome Pink and his message fails to be heard.
The Vampire Problem The Vampire Problem

Dr. Bulhof presented a discussion of philosophical issues in vampirism at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. In Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend Robert Neville, the only human survivor of a vampire plague, slaughters vampires during the day. The vampires, though, turn out to be rational creatures, able to think, speak, reason and make free choices. Do we owe ethical obligations to them, even though they will always use their power to make free choices in a way that will harm us? If not, something may be seriously wrong with a view that grounds ethical obligations on free will, or on rationality.
The Big Lebowski: Dudist Philosophy as a Personal Ethos Dude-ist Philosophy: Laziness as a Personal Ethos

Josh Finnell presented a discussion of the personal philosophy of The Dude in The Big Lebowski. In The Big Lebowksi, the Dude encounters many colorful characters that represent different philosophical systems of thought. The would-be kidnappers are self-described nihilist and espouse a generic nihilist philosophy. Bunny, as a trophy wife and indulger of sensual pleasures, espouses a philosophy akin to the Cyrenaic school of hedonism. Walter, the Dude's best friend, espouses a deontological ethical philosophy in the Kantian tradition. Each philosophy presents a challenge to the Dude's own personal philosophy of laziness, or "dude-ism." Given the philosophical alternatives, the Dude ultimately asks us whether laziness is a preferable ethos.
Buddhism Buddhism

Dr. Butkus gave a talk on Buddhist history, belief, and practice. Buddhism is a syncretic religion, taking on the characteristics of the cultures into which it has spread. Consequently, it is difficult to speak of a "core" Buddhism, as the Theravada and Mahayana schools (and their further divisions) have taken the tradition in very different directions. At the heart of Buddhism is the Hindu concept of samsara - the cycle of rebirth based on karma . Some actions produce karmic effects that require more than one life to purge, necessitating multiple incarnations. Escape from this cycle is the consequent goal of Buddhism, but what this escape really means has produced a number of schools of thought, from extinction to elevation to a higher plane of existence.
Starship Troopers: The New Repbulic Starship Troopers: The New Republic

Dr. Bulhof argued that Paul Verhoeven's cinematic masterpiece Starship Troopers is a showcase for Plato's thoughts on the nature and structure of government. In the movie, the society of the future is broken into the three sections, which match the view of Plato. As each section plays its own role, each section finds its own kind of happiness, one suited to the nature of the people who make up each section. Verhoeven may well capture much of what Plato had in mind.
Political Philosophy and Human Nature in V for Vendetta Political Philosophy and Human Nature in

Dr. Butkus presented a history of the relationship between the citizen and the state germane to discussions of justified anarchism in the Wachowski's film. Political philosophy has noted a constant debate between individual rights and social welfare - the type of society produced tends to reflect our attitudes towards human nature. If we are intrinsically egoistic, there is a need for strict government, as we are likely to fight and kill for the goods we want and need. If we are intrinsically altruistic, there is little need for government, as we are unlikely to fight and kill for these same goods. In V for Vendetta, society has been devastated by a number of global catastrophes, including nuclear war, famine, and pestilence, and a strict, authoritarian government has taken the reins of power. V represents anarchism, a philosophy that seeks to restore the essential liberties of humanity, shifting the balance of power away from fascism. By creating domestic chaos, V seeks to return power to the people.


More information can be found at the Philosophy Club Blog Site: MSU Philosophy Club or on Facebook.