Gavin Ireland (middle) led the discussion but everyone had something to say on the subject of free will and just what it means to be in a society with varying degrees of free will. Another cafe and another subject will be held sometime later this year.

Gavin Ireland (middle) led the discussion but everyone had something to say on the subject of free will and just what it means to be in a society with varying degrees of free will. Another cafe and another subject will be held sometime later this year.

Everbody’s neighbourhood philosopher

The Philosopher's Cafe is back in Vanderhoof and they really want to keep the conversation going throughout the year.

The Philosopher’s Cafe is back in Vanderhoof and they really want to keep the conversation going throughout the year.

The discussion was held on Wednesday, January 15 at the Neighbourhood Space near Subway restaurant. Gavin Ireland, intern at the District of Vanderhoof office, led the discussion using his background in philosophy.

The discussion was attended by over eight people who got together to discuss the nature of free will, whether it exists and to what extent it does.

Ireland started the talk by explaining the Socratic method where people just discuss things until they figure them out. He drew a picture of the reality of free will using the thoughts of great minds like David Hume, Erasmus and Martin Luther.

He led the informal talk with a conversational tone and backed up his own beliefs with logic and past viewpoints. Although the participants fell behind and flew ahead on the topics, Ireland kept up with a wide variety of viewpoints drawn from all the famous philosophers.

There was also some nature versus nurture debate as well the ramifications of complete or extremely limited free will.

The first Philosopher’s cafe was in 2011 and 2012 when Charlene Smilinski was organizing it. The first session was based on the question: Given the rapid use of technology to communicate and interact, is society benefitting and what consequences does this have for individuals and organizations planning for the future?

That discussion was led by Manu Madhok, Raven and Andy Sundahl, all educators in the community.

Smilinski first got the idea to hold these sessions when she and others were looking at ways to gather the community and improve literacy in a public space. She had seen similar things done in Simon Fraser University and she even attended one in Vancouver once.

This year the program was put forward by the Community Adult Literacy Program as well as the Welcoming Communities program both of which are housed in the Neighbourhood Space area.

“Any form of conversation or knowledge promotes literacy,” said Smilinski. “To become more informed as a citizen and literacy is not just reading and writing anymore it’s about understanding and being able to function and affect change in today’s society. Another reason that we started it because when you do have a passion for conversation or listening to someone who speaks with that passion with knowledge or depth on a subject is incredible.”