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Socrates Café
A Fresh Taste of Philosophy
Category: Philosophy
Location: SocratesCafe.com
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I'm the founder of Socrates Cafe -- see SocratesCafe.com -- and a noted author (Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy, The...


by Christopher...
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March 19, 2017 11:58 AM PDT

O'meun Johnson is one of the most impressive young men I've met in many a moon. When I had the opportunity to participate in a Socrates Cafe with him in Gainesille, Fl, thanks to Adrienne Thieke and the nonprofit Hands-On Gainesville, I was hoping for another chance to have an inquiry with him -- and was thrilled when he accepted my invitation to be a guest on my Socrates Cafe podcast. On the Skype account of O'meun, an 11-grader at Eastside High School, there is this quote attributed to Socrates: "The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." And so we delved into how to focus on building the new rather than fight the old. Listen in to O'meun's wise insights -- among others, why it's important to connect with nature, and how this helps us be more civil -- and stirring honesty. (My apologies for one recording glitch near the end of the exchange).

March 17, 2017 10:10 AM PDT

How do we make America again? How do we 'make America' -- bring its promise and practice into ever greater alignment -- again and again and again?

Chris explores this question with none other than the renowned Iraq-American artist, activist and entrepreneur Anas (Andy) Shallal, founder of the extraordinary gathering place Busboys and Poets (often frequented by Michelle Obama, among many others, across the political spectrum -- website at BusboysandPoets.com).

Anas, who came to the U.S. as a child and whose father was Ambassador of the Arab League, was inspired to call his restaurant/cafe/performance venues Busboys and Poets by our incomparable poet Langston Hughes. And at a 'Peace Ball,' Anas included in the program this poem -- 'Let America be America Again' -- by Hughes, which goes in part:

We the people must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again!

And so, rather than explore the (arguably) empty catchphrase 'Make America great again,' Anas and I instead plumb this far more timely and timeless question: How do we make America again?

Listen in to Anas' stirring insights.

March 14, 2017 08:42 AM PDT

How do we become a genuinely integrated self, so we can flourish in ways that forever push outward the boundaries of who we can? How can we sculpt a self that blends the best of Eastern and Western (and Northern and Southern, for that matter) philosophies and perspectives of self -- of human thoughts, sensations, feelings, the mind/body process -- on individual and grander scales? A self that is forever a work in progress, a sculpture in the making -- that forever pushes upward and outward the concept of what a self can amount to? To be all that you can be, do you need to dispense with the notion of 'I'? Michael Ostrolenk has some fascinating insights borne of a world of unique life experiences. A leading expert in the field of transpartisan public policy, program director and master coach for SEALFIT’s Unbeatable Mind Academy (be sure to check out his website at: Michaeldostrolenk.com ), Michael is sure to get your mind and heart working overtime as you mull over his wise words. Listen in.

March 11, 2017 08:32 AM PST

What does it take to make the most timeless music? What part does human suffering have to play in the creation of such music? What kinds of formative experiences do many of the greatest composers and music makers have in common? What lies at the core, the heart and soul, of our most acclaimed music makers and musicians? Those are the kinds of Socrates Cafe questions I put to celebrated pianist and versatile composer Leonardo Le San, who has performed around the world, and at everywhere in the U.S. from the he White House to the Lincoln Center. Listen in. (And then, or beforehand, be sure to check out some of his soul-stirring music. https://soundcloud.com/leonardolesan
https://leonardolesan.tumblr.com/

March 09, 2017 07:56 AM PST

If you lived forever, could life be meaningful at all? If you accept the 'finiteness' of life, then what must you do to engage in a fruitful search for meaning? How do we make our life narrative both intelligible and consummately meaningful? The acclaimed novelist, philosopher, poet, humanities professor, and all-around amazing guy Ron Cooper (oh, and great trivia teammate) -- you must read his 'Purple Jesus,' 'Hume's Fork,' 'The Gospel of the Twin', and 'Heidegger & Whitehead: A Phenomenological Examination Into The Intelligibility of Experience' (see his website at roncooper.org) -- weighs in in a most moving, thoughtful and revelatory way. Listen in.

March 03, 2017 01:05 PM PST

[Note: please forgive the pesky recording glitches, especially between minute 1:27 -- 1:35 seconds]

How do we each best go about repairing the world? With so many wonderful causes to support and dedicate ourselves to, where should we put our focus? Venture philanthropist Gary Lauder discusses in this latest Socrates Cafe podcast how and why he focuses on things that few others, or no one else, is paying attention to, but that affect us all; and how this is in considerable measure driven by the Hebrew concept of Tikkun Olam, "repairing the world."

Gary is the Managing Director of Lauder Partners LLC, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm investing primarily in information technologies. He serves on the board of directors of ShotSpotter, the Technology Advisory Board of Liberty Global International, the Advisory Board of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the Board of Governors of Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation and on the Transportation Committee of the Town of Atherton. He is the co-creator of the Aspen Institute's Socrates Society with his wife Laura Lauder, and he's a member of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program.

Here are links to Gary's transportation-related wonderful TED talks:

http://bit.ly/GML-TED
http://bit.ly/GML-TEDx
http://bit.ly/GML-GSB

Here are links to other intriguing and informative presentations of Gary's:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r18F08S9MfA&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk21pjeihdY

http://lauderpartners.com/gadgetoff_presentation/lauder.mov

http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_lauder_s_new_traffic_sign_take_turns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2lZbW5olt4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLsKW7A-4cs&feature=youtu.be

February 28, 2017 08:58 AM PST

Pink Floyd sung, "Money, get back.
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack." And Dire Straits opined, "Money for nothin'....Now that ain't workin', that's the way you do it."

What is money? What has to happen, what conditions have to be fulfilled -- in this "Post-Truth Era", or any other -- for money to fulfill its ideal role in society? And in that vein, does Donald Trump have any, or would his IRS records reveal that his version of money is chimerical?

Such are the kinds of questions I pose in this two-part Socratic exchange to Wolfgang Somary, a retired private investment banker, an economist, poet, musician and astrologer. Born in 1932 of Austrian parents in Zurich, Switzerland, Wolfgang graduated from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. and from Trinity College Dublin University, trained for banking at Warburg’s in London and New York and had a career as investment banker at Blankart & Cie. Inhaber Somary & Cie., Zurich, at Bank Sarasin & Cie., Basel and Zurich, and at Salmann Investment Mangament Ltd., Vaduz and Zurich. He founded the Intercultural Cooperation Trust in New Delhi, India, and was keynote speaker at the annual symposia on economics in the Churburg Castle, Southern Tirol. Wolfgang has published in German numerous articles on the quality of time for the Novalis Journal of Philosophy, a book on the Cosmology of Money and another book called Dealing with Events (Mit Ereignissen Umgehen), being an history of investment 1900-‐2010. His latest book of English and German poetry was published with the title “Windstill”. Wolfgang has received poetry awards in England.He makes his home in Meilen, Switzerland.

Listen in to Part 1.

February 28, 2017 08:52 AM PST

Pink Floyd sung, "Money, get back.
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack." And Dire Straits opined, "Money for nothin'....Now that ain't workin', that's the way you do it."

What is money? What has to happen, in this "Post-Truth Era," for it to fulfill its ideal role in society? And in that vein, does Donald Trump have any, or would his IRS records reveal that his version of money is chimerical?

Such are the kinds of questions I pose in this two-part Socratic exchange to Wolfgang Somary, a retired private investment banker, an economist, poet, musician and astrologer. Born in 1932 of Austrian parents in Zurich, Switzerland, Wolfgang graduated from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. and from Trinity College Dublin University, trained for banking at Warburg’s in London and New York and had a career as investment banker at Blankart & Cie. Inhaber Somary & Cie., Zurich, at Bank Sarasin & Cie., Basel and Zurich, and at Salmann Investment Mangament Ltd., Vaduz and Zurich. He founded the Intercultural Cooperation Trust in New Delhi, India, and was keynote speaker at the annual symposia on economics in the Churburg Castle, Southern Tirol. Wolfgang has published in German numerous articles on the quality of time for the Novalis Journal of Philosophy, a book on the Cosmology of Money and another book called Dealing with Events (Mit Ereignissen Umgehen), being an history of investment 1900-‐2010. His latest book of English and German poetry was published with the title “Windstill”. Wolfgang has received poetry awards in England.He makes his home in Meilen, Switzerland.

Listen in to Part 2, this version a video podcast.

February 25, 2017 07:28 AM PST

Jena Cane makes me want to be a better person, and she continually inspires me to be that better person, not just for myself, but for my family, country, the world at large, for now and generations hence. In this Socrates Cafe podcast, Jena and I explore: How do we human beings best go about blooming where we're planted? How do we best go about discovering and then doing the work we need to do -- for ourselves and our society -- right where we are? Today is Saturday: no better day to air this exchange with Jena, an accomplished actor, teaching artist, and civic activist and organizer extraordinaire. Jena has had a pivotal role in spearheading in Seattle, since the November presidential election, Civic Saturdays (you can read all about them, and join up, at http://www.citizenuniversity.us/programs/civic-saturday/ ) which are now blooming in Seattle and soon should be replicated far and wide. Jena relates the unique formative experiences that have led her to be the awesome change she aspires to see in the world at large -- and relates how this change begins in her own backyard, but by no means end there, as the projects she and life partner Eric Liu (author of the new book 'You're More Powerful Than You Think You Are') have an incredible ripple effect. Listen in.

February 22, 2017 08:59 AM PST

How do we get the courage to live a consummately creative life, regardless of our background, our unique talents and resources? Leila Noone offers some exhilarating insights in this Socrates Cafe as she shares her fascinating personal story. Leila is a performance artist and creative collaborator based in Austin, TX who has a passion for combining movement with other forms of expression. A nationally ranked level 10 gymnast, a three time finalist on American Ninja Warrior, and a two time USA Yoga Asana champion, Leila is a trained acrobat, hand balancer, dancer, contortionist, aerialist, part of an adagio duo, and  an experimental theater performer and practitioner. And she's one of the kindest people, with one of the greatest senses of humor, I've had the privilege to know (she was my student way back in 2010 when I taught the thesis writing seminar at New York University's graduate program in Media, Culture and Communication). Listen in.

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