Summer 2012 Philosophy Foosball Dinner Notes

Kyle Derkson, VDB, Harley Dyck
Our number was small but our appetite for food and philosophy huge. After some fine Canadian cuisine (burgers; many thanks to Carla VDB), we settled in for serious philosophical discussion (see photos).  Topics ranged widely and wonderfully.

Near the end of the evening, PFC √úbermensch Mark Jensen suggested that each of us set out a "thesis" (i.e., some philosophical topic that interests us).  Each of us "defended" a thesis, which was great fun.  Some theses included examining the criteria of historicity used in the Jesus quest/s (Jeff Honsberger); studying the logic of language used in God-talk and studying its relevance to persuasion (Kyle Derkson); exploring the philosophy of music (David Ward); defending the notion of objectivity in objective truth (VDB).  Some PFC members (Harley Dyck, Mark Jensen, and Jordan Ross) kindly put their thesis statements to print, so below I publish their thesis statements for the reader's enjoyment.

(Note to Jeff, Kyle, and David: If I have misrepresented your theses, I apologize; it was getting late and I should have been taking notes.)

Harley Dyck, Jeff Honsberger
Harley Dyck

"My thesis would (at this moment) be an exploration of the application of Christian morality to the question of violence.  Is violence ever good or justifiable?  Is there a difference?  What about 'redemptive violence'?  What of the arguments for the just war position?  Is Christianity really pacifistic?  What of Bonhoeffer's idea that following God's will should come before questions of applied ethics?

"I have been contemplating this topic for quite a while now, and am beginning to reach some conclusions.  Interestingly, some of my conclusions have been disturbing and uncomfortable, so more contemplation will definitely follow in this area."

Mark Jensen?
Mark Jensen

"My thesis, which I intend to write in 2012-2013 at CMU, is on the relationship between Immanuel Kant's philosophy of religion and his early upbringing in Lutheran Pietism. More specifically, I want to answer the question of whether Immanuel Kant's understanding of pure religion bears the markings of his earlier religious upbringing in Lutheran Pietism. It is often noted in scholarly literature that Kant has absorbed Christian language and filtered it through his philosophy, but no one has provided more than an assertion to this point. I intend to investigate this question, primarily through looking at Kant's later writings on religion (Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, The Conflict of the Faculties, The End of All Things). 

"Why am I interested in such a subject that seems to be, on first glance, boring and pointless? I think that if such a connection between Kant and Pietism can be demonstrated it can help give us a glimpse into how we got from the German Enlightenment to Protestant liberalism and Evangelicalism. Of course, sketching such a genealogy would be beyond the scope of a graduate thesis.  I only wish to fill in one piece of the puzzle."

Kant, David Ward, Jordan Ross
 Jordan Ross:

"My 'thesis' (not a thesis in a formal sense, but just something that I've been thinking about recently) is simply, 'What is the best way to characterize the relationship between a thinker's biography and his or her ideas?'  On one extreme we have the view, represented by Roland Barthes, that one does not need to know anything about a thinker's biography to adequately understand that thinker's ideas.  On the other extreme we have a view, sometimes seen amongst 20th century psychoanalytic thinkers and some current postmodern theorists, that biography determines a thinker's ideas.  I'm trying to sort through all this and come up with a more moderate, but also a more nuanced view on the matter.  I'm motivated to do this because I think getting this relationship between idea and biography right can help correct misunderstandings of certain thinkers."

Ah, the joys of fine philosophy, fine food, and fine friends!


Ryan Turnbull said...

oh how I wish I was there!

Jordan said...

A great evening, many thanks to the VDBs for hosting!