UA-89062218-1

Food for Thought

Food for Thought (originally Coffee with the Classics) is an informal dinner seminar where students engage fundamental questions in community without the stress of grades or papers. It provides an opportunity to read and discuss some of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the past and present. 

SPRING 2019 MODULES

MODULE VI

Description

In this final Module of Food for Thought in the Spring, we will explore Elaine Scarry’s “brave and timely book,” On Beauty and Being Just.

In On Beauty and Being Just, she not only defends beauty from recent political arguments against it but also argues that beauty continually renews our search for truth and presses us toward a great concern for justice. Taking inspiration from writers and thinkers as diverse as Homer, Plato, Marcel Proust, Simone Weil, and Iris Murdoch as well as her own experiences, Scarry writes an elegant, passionate manifesto for the revival of beauty in our intellectual work as well as our homes, museums and classrooms.

Register: To RSVP and secure your copy of the book, please fill out this quick Google form HERE

Location: Seminar Room M20 at Harrison College House

Readings: If you are able to participate in this 4-week seminar, we will provide you with a free copy of the book. Please register using the form above.

Time:

This module will be split into 4 sessions. They will take place on 4/3 | 4/10 | 4/17 | 4/24 from 5:45pm – 7:00pm with dinner and the reader provided free of charge.

Sessions:

Week 1 (4/3)

Week 2 (4/10)

Week 3 (4/17)

Week 4 (4/24)

MODULE V

Description

Many of us — due to complex identities, competing obligations, dueling loves, and the plurality of social environments — find ourselves leading double lives. How does one cope with a fragmentary existence, and is there hope for unity in the midst of plurality?

In this module, we will consult the experience of racial and ethnic minorities, confront challenges of women and men to balance professional and domestic life, and engage social and moral theory on the formation of identity.

Location: Seminar Room M20 at Harrison College House

Reader: Click HERE for the reader.

Time:

This module will be split into 3 sessions. They will take place on 3/13 | 3/20 | 3/27 | from 5:45pm – 7:00pm with dinner and the reader provided free of charge.

Sessions:

Week 1 (3/13): The One and the Many

Texts: William Shakespeare, “All the World’s A Stage”Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (excerpts); Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (excerpts)

Week 2 (3/20): Experiencing the “Double”

Texts: Carlos Eire, Learning to Die in Miami (excerpt); W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk (excerpt)

Week 3 (3/27): Family and Work

Texts: Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” (excerpt); Christopher Lasch, Women and the Common Life (excerpt)

Register: Fill out the registration form HERE

MODULE IV

Description

Why do we work, and why do we need leisure? Do we really need leisure, or is that just a luxury?  What counts as leisure, and what would we need leisure for?  Just to be able to work more productively and efficiently?  Or do we lose something of our humanity when we become work machines?  For that matter, what is the significance of work for human beings? Would we be less human if we could find others (or other things) to do our work for us?  Is work simply a means to an end or is there something else to it? What can the humanities tell us about the right relationship between work and play, both here on college and thereafter?

Location: Room M20 at Harrison College House

Reader: Click HERE

Time: This module will be split into 4 sessions. They will take place on 1/23 | 1/30 | 2/6 | 2/13, from 5:45pm – 7:00pm with dinner and the reader provided free of charge. 

Sessions:

Week 1 (1/23): A World Without Work? 

Text: Section III, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Derek Thompson

Week 2 (1/30): The Poor Man’s Son – What Do We Work For? 

Text: Theory of Moral Sentiments, IV i8, Adam Smith

Week 3 (2/6): From Work to Play

Text: Excerpts from Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Excerpt from David Steindl-Rast, Essential Writings, Excerpts from Diane Ackerman, Deep Play

Week 4 (2/13): The Meaning of Leisure

Text: “Sleep,” Charles Péguy and Section III, Leisure the Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper

FALL 2018 MODULES

MODULE III

Description

Before 1995 we only knew of nine planets, one of which has recently been demoted to ‘planetoid’. Since then the Kepler space mission has discovered and confirmed 2,327 extra planets beyond our Solar System. On March 21st 2017, Congress passed an act which requested a strategy for “the search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the Universe.” from the National Agencies.

How would the discovery of extraterrestrial life affect the beliefs and practices of the human race? Would the discovery of alien life affect our ideas about God? Join us as we look at the modern State of the Universe, its many planets and the implications for religious belief if we find life on one of them.

Location: Room M20 at Harrison College House

Reader: Access the reader HERE

Time: This module will be split into 3 sessions. They will take place on 11/07 | 11/14 | 11/28 | , from 5:45pm – 7:00pm with dinner and the reader provided free of charge. 

Register: If you are a Penn undergrad/grad student, you can RSVP by filling out a short google form HERE

Sessions: 

Week 1 (11/07): The Search for Habitable Planets

Text: Exoplanet Science Strategy, The National Academies, Sep. 5th 2018 (Extract from) (Can be found on pages 3-12 of the reader)

Week 2 (11/14): Religious Belief and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Text: The implications of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life for religion, Ted Peters, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2011 (Can be found on pages 13-24 of the reader)

Week 3 (11/28): Thomas Aquinas and Aliens

Text: Aquinas on Intelligent Extra-Terrestrial Life, Marie I. George, The Thomist, April 2001 (Can be found on pages 25-37 of the reader)

MODULE II

Description

In our pluralistic society, we must learn to live with disagreement.  So why do our disagreements still so frequently devolve into vilification and conflict? And in the month leading up to the midterm elections, it would be surprising if these conflicts did not increase. Is it really possible, now or ever, to disagree constructively about matters of fundamental importance? 

Thus, Food for Thought returns to ask another why: Why are good people divided by politics and religion? This is the question that social psychologist Jonathan Haidt seeks to answer in his recent book, The Righteous Mind

Location: Room M20 at Harrison College House

Time: This module will be split into 3 sessions. They will take place on 10/10 | 10/17 | 10/24 | , from 5:45pm – 7:00pm with dinner and the book provided free of charge. 

Register: If you are a Penn undergrad/grad student, express interest or ask questions to Philippe Becker at pbeck@sas.upenn.edu. Once you register, you will receive a copy of the book.

Sessions: 

Week 1 (10/10): The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail & Elephants Rule

In-sum of Ch. 2 (58-60), Beginning of Ch. 3 (61-64)

*All of Ch. 2 is optional

Week 2 (10/17): Beyond WEIRD Morality

Ch. 5 (112 – 130), In-sum of Ch. 7 (178-179)

Week 3 (10/24): Can’t We All Disagree More Constructively?

Ch. 12 (319 – 366), Conclusion (367 – 371)

MODULE I

 Description:

This Fall, join Collegium in a 4-week Food for Thought seminar dovetailing off of Penn’s Academic Theme Year: The Year of Why. 

In the face of the tragic, bereavement and horror force us to try to make sense of the senseless. Why does tragedy occur? From whence does it come, and what purpose – if any – does it serve? What does it imply about God? To address these questions, we will dive into classic texts stretching from Greek tragedy to Augustine’s Confessions to Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the Holocaust. 

Location: Room M20 at Harrison College House

Time: This module will be split into 4 sessions. They will take place on 9/5 | 9/12 | 9/19 | 9/26 |, every Wednesday of September from 5:45pm – 7:00pm, with Dinner and all texts are provided free of charge.  

Register: If you are a Penn undergrad/grad student, express interest or ask questions to Philippe Becker at pbeck@sas.upenn.edu or Jess Ferro at jferro@sas.upenn.edu. Contact Philippe if you would like to receive an electronic copy of the text. 

Sessions:

Week 1 (9/5) : What is Tragedy?

Selection from Antigone, Sophocles

Selection from Enchiridion, Augustine

Week 2 (9/12): Moral & Natural Evil

“Spring and Fall,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

Selection from Macbeth, Shakespeare

Selection from Eichmann in Jersualem, Hannah Arendt

Week 3 (9/19): Theodicy

Selection from Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume

Selection from “On Providence,” Seneca

Week 4 (9/26): Coping with Tragedy

Selection from Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker

Selections from The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky