Consider this: philosophy club

Philosophy club is a club dedicated to educating people about philosophy and discussing dilemmas.

Picture this: a train is headed down a track, and five people are in the way. They won’t be able to move away in time, and the train can’t be stopped. However, there’s one way to save them. You can make the decision to divert the train to a different track with only one person on it. By doing this, you would be actively sealing one person’s fate but would save the lives of the other five. This is known as the trolley problem. What’s the right choice, if one exists?

Would you divert the trolley in the trolley problem?

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If there is a solution, it can be found in the philosophy club; a club dedicated to discussing different fields of philosophy and debating dilemmas. It was founded by Haoran Wu ’23 and is led by him, Nate Weimar ’23 and Aman Reddy ’23. The club meets every Thursday in room 218. Anyone is welcome to join throughout the year.

“The leader [Wu] enjoys philosophy, and we wanted to create a space to discuss philosophy and teach other people about the things that we know. Mike [Haoran] is very knowledgeable about different sets of philosophies. I also know a lot about philosophy,” said Weimar. “We wanted to share that information.”

Club attendance suffered last year because of COVID-19 and lack of promotion. This year, it’s thriving thanks to a greater focus on the promotion, especially after the annual club fair. Each meeting usually has a minimum of 15 students. Changing the weekly meeting time from Friday after school to Thursday after school has also helped participation.

“Last year it was Friday after school, and barely anyone came,” said Wu. “It was mostly a testing phase of what it’s like to run a club, struggles that might come up, and objectives that I need to do in order to make a club successful.”

Each weekly meeting focuses on a new topic. The meeting starts with a presentation given by the club leaders and ends with a discussion about a philosophical question or dilemma.

“There are five main branches of philosophy,” said Weimar. “We mainly focus on ones that we think are interesting. The main sort of issues in philosophy that we’re going to talk about is our morality, and also metaphysics, which are some larger-scale questions of ‘do we even exist?’ And then probably a bit of stuff like epistemology,”

The goals for the club are relatively open and based on individual interests. Philosophy competitions are relatively rare, and those that happen usually have low attendance rates. The philosophy club doesn’t plan to attend any this year.

The goal for this year is to present new perspectives to people.”

— Haoran Wu ’23

It’s like, there’s a perspective that I may have, and now you can analyze and critically evaluate it. It’s not lecture-focused, it’s more of a discussion, something different from what school does,” said Wu. “There’s also breaking down complex concepts into understandable ideas. For example, if there is a very complex argument that some famous philosopher made, with high school students not really having a lot of background knowledge about it, we need to be able to break that down into understandable ideas.”

Other than having weekly meetings, the philosophy club occasionally invites guest speakers from the University of Iowa to give presentations/lectures.

The main communication method for the club is through email, although there is a possibility of switching to discord later in the year. For any further information club leader, Haoran Wu can be contacted at [email protected]