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Club Agenda 2021-2022: Hume, Kant, and German Idealism

Ayo! Welcome to the first year of the philosophy club of the abbey. This school year, we are going to tackle the three Critiques of Kant, especially the Critique of Pure Reason.

Though high schoolers in the abbey are expected and provided with mandatory courses of the philosophy of religion, knowledge of general philosophy is not required in order to be qualified to join the club, which is why we start the school year with some general history of western philosophy and random "isms." To me, understanding the historical developments of philosophy is indispensable to understand the ideas of those philosophers who live in their time and are likely to be limited by their time. Plus, learning the idea of a philosopher works the best with learning the history of them as individuals, which helps readers to contextualize in order to understand their meaning in the texts due to numerous changes of the tradition of philosophical language. It would be especially hard and arcane to understand jargon, writing style, and logic used by many philosophers like Hegel without any grasp of what was happening back then, as they originally intended to write for their contemporary top philosophers or college students who were expected with basic understanding of general philosophy.

It seems to make sense for any philosophy club to start the year with the philosophy of ancient Greece. However, Plato, Aristotle, and the medieval successors of their philosophical tradition like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas are quite familiar to most abbey boys through the high school education of the abbey. Philosophy of ancient Greece is certainly worth exploring, but, as philosophy of ancient Greece is, apparently, ancient, it would not be as interesting as gradually progressing to the near-modern and modern philosophy that more directly relate to the life of contemporary people and their ideology. I am totally willing to go back to specialize in some of the Greek philosophers in the future if possible. But the current plan is to eventually get to Freudo-Marxism and modern continental, mostly French, philosophers like Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, and perhaps even Slavoj Zizek; or, the plan can also be to eventually investigate the "near-modern" existentialist philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus(maybe), etc, because topics like these which relate more directly to the popular thoughts of twenty-first century seem to be more attractive and interesting to the club members. I am learning at the same time as well since I personally focus more on the analytic tradition of philosophy with philosophers like Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, etc...

Immanuel Kant is a landmark in the history of philosophy. In my opinion, his works mark a turning point from classical "pre-Kantian" philosophy to "modern" philosophy and have a great historical significance. Thus, starting from Kant can never go wrong for investigating modern philosophical thoughts, whether club members want to explore existentialism, continental philosophy, analytic philosophy, philosophy of mind, or even Husserl's phenomenology. Spending a whole school year on Kant is far from enough. I will try to be as complete as possible to cross "the bridge of Kant" with you guys together in order to go further in philosophy in the future. Descartes, Locke, Newton, Leibniz, and Hume are going to be briefly covered in order to contextualize Kant.

Additionally, teachers of the abbey are going to be invited to talk about philosophy with their professional knowledge in the field. For example, Mr. Jonathan Vaile is invited to talk about Sigmund Freud as a teacher of psychology (RESPECT). Here, salute to all of the enthusiastic teachers who contribute to the philosophy club.

Stay tuned!

Guanyu "Marshall" Zhu '24

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