CapU’s Philosopher’s Cafe: A Place to Expand Horizons

Looking to discuss metaphysics in a friendly setting? Seeking to understand morality? The University’s Philosophy Club could be the place for you!

Nirosh Saravanan, Contributor
Photo by Nirosh Saravanan

Once an informal discussion group created by Capilano University students Coby Derban and Daniel Ryder, Philosopher’s Cafe has evolved into a formal club through approval from the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU). The club has a fairly informal setting, with a rather open and guided discussion taking place each week. Topics cover a vast range, including free will, knowledge and Eastern philosophy – they really do have something for everyone. During the school year, the club meets on Tuesdays from 11:30 to 1 pm in LB 214. In addition, the club also plans a few outings throughout the year for walks and drinks.

“There needs to be [a willingness] to hear out disagreements, regardless of your moral intuitions,” said Derban, the club’s president and a student of philosophy at CapU. The Philosopher’s Cafe demonstrates this process by sitting together in an open circle, exchanging ideas back and forth. Discussion groups are typically made up of 10-15 people, some who are more seasoned members and others who are just beginning to dive into the realm of philosophy. Anyone is welcome to come to meetings, whether or not they want to exchange ideas or contribute to the conversation. “[It used to be a progressive idea that] the best way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas,” said Derban. “You have a bad opinion, it can get push back… and if others have bad opinions, that can get push back [too].”

Derban explained his view that students are quite apathetic when it comes to their campus experience and points to the club as being a way of changing that. “ I feel like a lot of students, especially at Capilano, don’t really [care] about what they’re doing. They’re just kinda there as a default”, he said. “But what people can get out of the Philosopher’s Cafe, or what they should get out of it if they participate, which I encourage, would be an honest engagement with ideas. Which as far as I can tell is often lacking.”

Derban, a true logician, also finds himself pondering the importance of the study of philosophy. “The importance of philosophy is itself a philosophical question,” he said. “[It’s] trying to figure out what questions you should ask.” To Derban, philosophy is also “incredulity towards the world”.

With philosophy being such a broad and abstract topic, it can be intimidating in terms of an active discussion. Despite this, CapU’s Philosopher’s Cafe is a welcoming environment for both beginners and those with more experience, and Derban strongly encourages more members of the CapU community to give it a try.

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