Plato famously observed that “philosophy begins with wonder.” Etienne Gilson, in the 20th century, wrote, “Philosophy in its exact sense does not mean a body of doctrine, but a love of wisdom.” These are among many enduring phrases of encouragement in appreciation of reflection and thought. In the spirit of Socrates’ saying that “the unobserved life is not worth living,” many philosophical community discussion groups have formed around this country and throughout the world. Philosophy groups are no longer confined to university campuses.
Here at the Library, we launched Philosophy Forum last August, which is held on the 2nd Wednesdays of the month, in the Portland Room (2nd floor of the downtown library, Monument Square), from 6:30pm-8pm. All ages are welcome, and there are no reading assignments required- nor any prior experience necessary in a philosophy group.
Very much in the spirit of a “Socrates Cafe,” or an informal campus group (I was part of the philosophy Symposium at UMass-Boston, as a graduate student), our gatherings are essentially collaborative discussions, sharing our ideas based upon a central topic open-ended enough to invite the insights of all present! Rather than being a debating society that seeks consensus, our purpose is to inspire Socratic exploration through the discussion of the evening’s question. Thus far, our topics have included such questions as: * How do you discover and define meaning in your life?
* Do each of us have a responsibility to contribute to society?
* What are the best ways to measure or evaluate a society’s well-being?
* What determines our convictions?
* How much of the action in our lives’ paths do we really choose?
* What causes our cultural self-centeredness?
* How can we explain society’s general fascination with “the dark side?”
* What is the significance of discomfort, and what we deem to be “unproductive?”
* Why philosophize? Why ask “why?”
* What is perseverance, and why do we persevere?
* How does life exist without desire? What is significance?
These community conversations have been very enjoyable for the entire group. As moderator I’ve been reminded of how much groups like these added to my education, and how grateful I am to host this at my place of work!
We hope you’ll join us for these monthly gatherings. See you soon!
On July 11th, we lost a dear friend and contributor to the Portland Public Library, William Barnes Jordan Jr., who passed away at the age of 88. Bill was passionately curious about the history of Maine and Portland, and taught courses on that topic at two separate colleges for almost two decades.
Researchers in the Portland Room- among numerous other Maine history resource libraries, make regular use of Bill’s historic writing, including his History of Cape Elizabeth (seen below)
Bill also created an index of articles from several Portland newspaper runs, spanning the years of 1785 to 1835, known in the library by its nickname, the “Jordan Index”. A published copy of the index can also be found in the Portland Room, along with the handwritten reference cards he made and used during the creation of the Index. This is a tremendous source, resulting from his assiduous labors.
Below you’ll find a link to the Portland Press Herald article about William’s life and many good works. http://www.pressherald.com/2015/07/12/historian-jordan-remembered-for-research-teaching.
(Contributed by Marc LeBourdais, PPL Technical Services, and Abraham A. Schechter, PPL Archivist.)
Portland Public Library is a proud participant of Pride Week, and we are thrilled to be presenting an entire day of events dedicated to those affected by HIV/AIDS. On June 17 at the Main Library, PPL will host twelve panels of the AIDS Quilt presented by the NAMES Project of Northern New England. Conceived in 1985, by Cleve Jones, the Quilt was meant to commemorate those who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Sadly, for many, the Quilt was the only opportunity for survivors to remember their loved ones.
For more on the Quilt, be sure to check out the book, The Quilt: Stories from the Names Project by Cindy Ruskin. The panels will be on display in the library for one day only, so be sure to stop by the Atrium and take a look.
Our afternoon author talk for that day is Deborah Freedman, author of Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt: Stories from Maine. Debb has traveled throughout our state for ten years sharing the Quilt and sharing the stories of the Quilt. Deborah Freedman will be speaking at noon in the Rines Auditorium. We are so happy to have her and her stories!
Ralph Cusack, who will speak about activism around HIV/AIDS
Charlie Grindle, who will give the prospective of a first responder
Dr. Lani Graham, who will discuss the public health aspects
Myles Rightmire, who will discuss the medical and health response
Kelly Arbor, who will give a personal perspective
This will definitely be an informative panel, which will be followed by a discussion between the audience and the panelists. PPL is truly excited to be hosting the second annual Pride week history event! For information on other Pride events happening throughout the month of June, check here.
Our June 17 events were made possible by the following great sponsors: