Philosophy discussions emerge at the Gnu's Room

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The first Philosophy at the Gnu's Room meeting of the semester kicked off with a discussion on virtues and vices Tuesday.

The six-person panel, comprised of philosophy professors and students, discussed the virtues and the vices as they were explained and understood by different thinkers, philosophers and theologians.

Philosophers ranging from ancient Greece to modern times were cited.

Questions the group examined were what it means and requires to be virtuous, whether true virtue is attainable, if virtue requires a person overcome temptation and the relationship between virtue and grace.

The panel also examined vicious acts and how they relate to virtue.

The panel consisted of Kelly Jolley, Roderick Long, Nina Brewer-Davis and Howard Hewitt, professors of philosophy at Auburn.

Also on the panel were Rob Wallis, senior in philosophy, and Megan Robinson, senior in philosophy.

Both Wallis and Robinson are members of the philosophy club.

"One major goal that these panel meetings have is to spark questions that anyone can get excited about and get interested in," said Kristin Courtney, graduate student in math.

The goal of the Gnu's Room series is to be general enough for people who are not philosophy experts to participate in discussions.

"What we want is really ideas and problems and issues in philosophy that someone can really grab onto and have an emotional response to and have an opinion on and talk about that opinion," Courtney said.

Courtney said the most regular attendees of the meetings are actually people from the community as opposed to students and professors.

"We come to better understand the topics through talking about opinions that we feel strongly about," Courtney said.

Courtney said the idea for the meetings formed when she and Karen Gorodeisky, assistant professor in philosophy and adviser of the philosophy club, were having independent study at the Gnu's Room, and regulars in the Gnu's Room started showing an interest in the conversations they were having.

"Students are not the only members of the community that are interested in philosophy, and so the Gun's Room panel kind of developed as sort of a philosophy club for the community," Courtney said.

Wallis said the meeting topics are selected to encourage more community participation in philosophy.

"We're always looking for ways to have events in the club that somebody that's never been exposed to philosophy can join in on," Wallis said.

"We also do a film series where we just invite people to watch a movie and then see what they think is philosophical about it," Wallis said. "It's a good way to expose people to philosophy without the uncomfortable sting that being thrown into it will have."

According to Gorodeisky, the attendance for Tuesday's meeting was less than average, which was probably because it was the first meeting of the semester.

In the past, 60 or more people have attended the meetings.

The Gnu's Room meetings began in Fall 2009 and have continued to take place every semester.

Meetings typically last two hours with a small break for coffee in the middle.

The next meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb. 3, with the topic "language and logic."

Meetings are also scheduled in March and April.

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