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Philosophy club approved for new school year

Marisa Iati | Thursday, August 25, 2011

Members of the Undergraduate Philosophy Club, new this semester, will have a venue to engage outside the classroom with the work of Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche and other philosophy experts.

Senior Katie Finley, club president, said before the Student Activities Office (SAO) approved the club in the spring, Notre Dame’s strong philosophy department lacked a corresponding student organization.

“Looking at other schools that have reputable philosophy programs like Notre Dame, all the rest had undergraduate philosophy clubs,” Finley said. “Notre Dame was the only one of its caliber that didn’t have a philosophy club.”

Junior and club treasurer Cameron Cortens said the organization allows philosophy majors to sharpen skills that apply to their academic goals and enables non-philosophy majors to pursue questions they do not encounter in class.

“Philosophy Club’s main purpose is to provide an informal atmosphere outside of classrooms and grades for Notre Dame students with an interest in philosophy to come together, share ideas, challenge themselves and one another intellectually on their positions and worldviews, and hopefully arrive at some fruitful discoveries in the realm of truth,” Cortens said.

The club consists of students studying philosophy as well as students studying other disciplines, according to Finley.

“We have a lot of people who aren’t philosophy majors,” Finley said. “It’s just kind of a good way to get an opportunity to talk, especially because they don’t get that opportunity in their classes a lot of time.”

Finley said the club would meet once a week to discuss various philosophical writings.

“We’re going to send out a short article ahead of time that isn’t too dry and academic, and then we’re going to discuss it,” Finley said.

Finley said she plans to host monthly movie events at which attendees can watch a relevant film and discuss the philosophical ideas it raises.

Cortens said the Undergraduate Philosophy Club will screen “Fight Club” in September, but the exact date has not yet been determined.

The club will also have dining hall dinners with philosophy graduate students and professors to learn about their research, Finley said. She also said she hopes to organize a spring conference at which a University professor or an outside speaker will address club members.

Last year, Finley said the club met as an unofficial group with between 10 and 15 members at each gathering.

“We’re hoping to get a lot more members now that we can advertise because we’re official,” Finley said.

The club plans to integrate philosophy lovers of all levels of study, Finley said.

“[We hope] to make more of a connection between undergraduate students and graduate students and faculty members, especially for undergraduates that are hoping to go into graduate school for philosophy,” Finley said. “[Another goal is] also to get more people interested in majoring in philosophy, just to show them what studying philosophy is actually like outside the freshmen intro classes.”

Senior Dylan Belton, club vice president, said the club would have fun events in addition to the more serious ones so that members can get to know each other.

“Philosophical discussions become more and more fruitful as the partakers grow in friendship and mutual respect for others involved in the discussion,” Belton said.

Senior Chelsea King, club vice president, emphasized the impact the club has already had on her experience at Notre Dame.

“As a transfer student, it has really proved to be a great place for me to meet many incredible individuals who all share a common passion in discussing very deep and profound questions about life,” she said. “I have made many friends since my time in the club.”