Students get philosophy lessons at on-campus colloquium

Kieran Kuehn
Staff Writer

A philosophical colloquium was held at Minnesota State University, Mankato Thursday, Feb. 6. Roughly 40 faculty and students attended this event.

The topic of this colloquium was on the philosophy and science of the early modern period. This period took place within the 16th, through the 18th century. However, the key focus of this is that of American pragmatism, which came into being in the latter half of the 19th century.

A variety of philosophers’ teachings were discussed with iconic figures within the teachings of pragmatism such as William James, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Alaine Locke, with special attention being given to the works and life of Irish philosopher George Berkley who lived on Rhode Island for three years, and his correspondence with Samuel Johnson who both paved the way for early American identity, fermented revolutionary fervor, and inspired the future of pragmatic philosophies in the United States.

The event kicked off with the keystone speaker Dr. Geoffrey Gorham -chair and professor of philosophical history, metaphysics, and American philosophy at Macalester College- speaking to the audience for about the history, merits, and philosophical ideas of George Berkley. Discussion soon followed wherein both faculty and students had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss in-depth the topics covered.

When asked why students should care about philosophies and which philosophy the average individual should study, Dr. Gorham said, “One should focus on American Philosophy, especially the pragmatism of James, Dewey, Addams, A. Locke, etc. is immediately accessible to any American (native, or immigrant like me). But then one should consider the roots of pragmatism in various sources going back 200+ years, including African American, Native American and colonialism.”

In addition, when asked about the role of students, college experiences, and their individual futures, Dr. Gorham said, “At college, students should take the opportunity to pursue their intellectual interests and explore otherwise, Students should not get sucked into the lie that a college education is ‘vocational’. You should be aiming to change the world, and yourself, not conform to existing conventions.”

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