Students openly share their opinions in the new Philosophy Club

The Philosophy Club was established last spring to give students an outlet for their philosophical opinions and beliefs. Sponsored by speech and debate teacher Terry Hunt, the group meets Thursdays every other week in room 110. Roughly 20 students participate in each meeting.

The Philosophy Club was founded by junior Will Conant and senior Mark Gorthy. Both have had experience in speech and debate, which challenged them to deepen their thinking. The knowledge they gained prompted them to establish the club.

“It’s important for Westlake to have a Philosophy Club because it offers them a place to talk about interesting, abstract and practical ideas,” Will said. “It gives them access to the exchange of perspectives they wouldn’t have access to anywhere else.”

In the Philosophy Club, students will discuss current issues on a philosophical basis. First, the session leaders present a topic such as death or economics, then the students share their opinions and perhaps adopt new ones. Students may disagree over certain issues, but in order for the discussions to move smoothly, they must be willing to listen to each other.

“Learning new opinions helps them grow an understanding,” Mark said. “It refines not only what they know about philosophy, but how they see themselves.”

Mark often kicks off the session by expressing his own opinions to stimulate conversation. Though Mark and Will have their own personal views, they said they appreciate everyone else’s, even if they disagree. Dissenting views are welcome. The club encourages civil debate as long as students can support their arguments. Members must be courteous to ensure that no one is judged or mocked during the session.

“I, and everyone else in the club, never put anyone down or make them feel dumb,” Will said. “A big part of the club’s dynamic is espousing your unique opinion and challenging yourself on those views. Critical self reflection is the key to comprehension and understanding. The cool thing about the Philosophy Club is that it’s a non-threatening, judgment-free discussion about interesting stuff.”