Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Valencia’s Socrates Café Invites Intellectual Exploration 

Photo of a projector screen with Socrates Cafe “What Is Love?” February topic. (Katherine Johnson)

Led by Humanities Professor Justin Stone, Socrates Café is a monthly open forum discussion on East Campus where participants engage in philosophical inquiry, echoing the spirit of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.

Professor Stone’s journey with the Socrates Café began a decade ago when he read the book “Socrates Café: a Fresh Taste of Philosophy” by author Christopher Phillips and found it “absolutely brilliant.” Reflecting on his inspiration, Stone says, “I come from a deep love of classical thought. I’m a Socratic thinker, and I wanted to share that.” With a desire to foster intellectual discourse, Stone started hosting a Socrates Café at Valencia College. What began as an invitation-only affair has since evolved into a popular monthly forum open to all Valencia students.

Stone is clear that the Socrates Café is not a lecture. Instead, it serves as a platform for individuals to share ideas and pose questions to deepen their understanding of a topic. He emphasizes the importance of active listening, stating, “The key is to honestly listen without your own intentions.” 

Previous discussions have centered around such questions as “What is justice?”, “What is gender?” and other aspects of the human experience. For the month of February, the topic was the age-old question: “What is love?” Attendees eagerly engaged in thought-provoking conversation diving into the complexities of love and human connection. The topic of love inspired a range of responses as participants delved into its meaning, demands, and essence. Attendees raised fundamental questions: “Is love unconditional?”, “Does it require sacrifice?”, “What does love want?”

Students shared their questions, ideas, and perspectives with examples of the nature of love ranging from the timeless wisdom of Saint Augustine to the silver screen romance of 1989’s “Say Anything.Among the voices contributing to the discourse was Ricky Eschenbach, a 29-year-old Nursing student, who said, “When you love someone, you understand yourself better. I think love is an end in itself.”

Other guests, like Lucas Dapaixao, 19, Biology, arrived without an answer in mind, simply curious as to where the discussion would lead. He stated, “I came here wanting to ask questions and to see what kinds of questions other people would ask,” – an open-minded attitude that exemplifies the spirit of the Socrates Café.

Despite the hour-long forum concluding without a concrete definition of love, guests left satisfied. “It’s great to have a chance to talk about big-picture things like this,” said Eschenbach. 

Students hungry for further intellectual stimulation are welcome to join Valencia’s Philosophy Society. The group meets every Tuesday at 1 p.m. on East Campus in Building 2 Room 304.

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