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The Philosophical Society: Seeing through a new lens

The Philosophical Society meets four times a month on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the John Taylor Building 120 to talk about and develop skills useful for philosophical thought and to answer the question: “How do I become a self?”“Philosophy is the foundation and core of all modern methods of inquiry, be it math, science, theology, psychology, economics, medicine, language, education or literature,” according to the Philosophical Society’s mission statement. “It is the fundamental of all our academic fields.”

Brian Merrill, a philosophy and humanities professor at BYU-Idaho, said the society was officially established around 2002 and has undergone many changes while keeping the spirit of the society the same.

There are four principal goals that serve as pillars to the society which are: to increase skills of students interested in society by informing, to bring philosophy out of obscurity by encouraging dialogue, to bring BYU-I out of obscurity by involving and debating with professors, and to provide a safe atmosphere where students can have fun and meet new people, according to the Philosophical Society web page.

Merrill said the topics discussed at each meeting vary from the problems of evil and the nature and philosophy of film to political philosophy and civil disobedience.

The society’s current bylaws, or standard society rules, were established September 16, 2015, but there are no requirements before a student can become a member, according to the Philosophical Society Bylaws web page.

Merrill said the philosophical society also tries to get faculty from other disciplines involved by asking professors to present something from their discipline at the society’s meeting that might relate to philosophy.

“The idea is to broaden the exposure to philosophy and to make connections with philosophy from other disciplines and create a kind of forum where students and faculty can meet and talk about issues,” Merrill said.

There are 108 students studying humanities this Spring Semester 2016, according to the official BYU-I statistics web page.

Merrill said students from all disciplines are welcome and invited to join the society.

Jessica Dutton, a freshman studying English said the workshop that societies support are helpful to her major.

“Philosophical commentary or philosophical points are often the theme of literary pieces, and whenever you’re reading a piece of literature you look at it through different philosophical lenses like feminism and modernism,” Dutton said.

Dutton said she would attend the philosophical society just to see what it is like.

“Societies like the philosophical society infuse life into the students’ intellectual endeavors, if you will,” Merrill said. “It makes the living exchange of ideas possible for them, in a world where, more often than not, we’re just learning ideas rather than living them.”

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