Reflection & Closure
Café-Salon Philosophique #85 & 86
September 8 & 22, 2001
Note: This will be the final month for Café-Salon Philosophique. This report is a reflection of what has transpired over the past 4 years of Café's existence.)
Topic for Discussion: "Reflection & Closure"
Discussion began with Samuel asking participants to share, "Why they came to Café-Salon Philosophique?"
Dennis comes because he likes to "share new ideas and to explore new ways of thinking." Paul is interested in mime, found Samuel's website on the internet, and wanted to meet Samuel. Damien comes to share in the exchange of ideas.
Mark had previously attended Café meetings, and was surprised to hear that Café would be ending soon. "Maybe I came to help wrap things up," he said.
Sam S. had read an article in the Daily Camera called "Socrates Café Offers Drink for the Mind" by Carl Hartman, and had written a letter to the editor seeking "individuals who might be interested in forming such a group." He was totally unaware that a Café-Salon existed in Boulder until Samuel informed him of such.
So, why was Café-Salon Philosophique initiated?
"The original intention for Café-Salon Philosophique when it opened November 1, 1997, was to provide a platform for individuals to gather and share real life concerns about what is happening in the world today. To create an atmosphere where individuals could be heard, speak freely, and be listened to without interruption."(Guidelines for Cafe-Salon Philosophique)
As a "provocateur extraordinaire," Samuel believes that "philosophy can be a means for provoking thought, expanding creative intelligence, and for lubricating the grey cells." Also, philosophical discussions can be an effective tool for assisting in navigating, provoking, and promoting possible new avenues for those people wanting out of the maze, the rat race.
The love of wisdom, (philo-sophia), was to be our guide in sharing, while attempting to expand our capacity to listen and learn.
The objective was not to focus on the personal, but to engage in a lively discussion in the quest for meaning in the world today, and how as individuals, we can change our way of thinking to make a difference.
All walks of life participated and passed through the doors of Café during its existence. Very few lingered for any great length of time. Only a handful became "regular" participants.
So, did we succeed in meeting our objectives? Was conversation elevated beyond the personal?
Most people are trapped within the small self, are limited by personal histories and concerned for only one's self with total disregard for the other. Very few dare to see or be part of the whole picture. We call this the view from the boat.
Conditioned thinking and "force of habit," seemed to lead most of our philosophical discussions in circles. Half truths and half thoughts were "thrown around," and it seemed as if there was little regard for choosing one's words carefully, in order to make sense of the whole. People tended to talk without thinking, and then didn't understand why they don't understand. (See Samuel's Teaching Words)
Because conversation most of the time was colored by personal experiences, this made it difficult to navigate into new realms of thinking about a particular subject we were trying to discuss. Most people were unable to "get out of their own way," in order to share creatively. Because of conditioning, people are attached to their own way of thinking, cannot respond truthfully, and are unable to freely express what it is they are trying to say.
When Samuel challenged or provoked participants ideas or beliefs, most reacted emotionally, rather than meeting the challenge to think creatively. Often times they regarded provocation as a personal attack. This is why conversation never evolved beyond the personal.
Sad but true, I think the "art of conversation" has been lost....
So, Why is Boulder's Café-Salon Philosophique Closing?
Because of APATHY. It seems we live in a Society that is obsessed with material possessions, and where there is a great pretense for "being spiritual." People are more interested in giving attention to the appearance, while totally disregarding the real meaning of life - the essence of being.
So, mass hypnosis continues. Sheep consciousness remains. The "pretense" of an ever "evolving" society continues.
Is there an answer to, Why we are here? The Quest for Meaning?
Obviously we weren't able to discover one through these philosophical discussions. Maybe later. Maybe at a future date, time, or place. For now, this four year experiment for seeking intelligence within a community has concluded.
After the human catastrophe of September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington and Philadelphia, it seems even more justified to close the doors of Café-Salon Philosophique, so that the gathering would not turn into a political rally or collective therapy sessions.
So, at this time, it feels like words have no meaning, and, personal histories are not that important after this human disaster. After this human tragedy.
There is no need for pretense, no more need for explanations. No room for words.........
We hope that you enjoyed Café during its existence, and we thank all those who actively participated in our Café events.
Reported by Alessandra