The Club's Guest Speakers
Professor Aleksandar from Santa Clara University gave a talk to the West Valley Philosophy Club on Chaos Theory, Metamathematics and the Limits of Knowledge: A Scientific Perspective on Religion. This talk generated a lot of interest and questions from students concerning some paradoxical results in modern math and physics.
Silicon Valley insider and pundit Andrew Keen spoke at West Valley in the Fall of 2008 as part of the Philosophy Club's Guest Speaker Series. Keen's speech was on the danger's associated with the democratization of technology and included an exposition of the central themes of his newly published The Cult of the Amateur .
On Tuesday May 2, world-famous philosopher Richard Rorty of Stanford University spoke at West Valley College. His talk was titled "Is Religious Belief Compatible with Modern Science?" Professor Rorty got us thinking about pragmatist epistemology, and the different functions of religious versus scientific discourses. He posed the case of a biology professor who is also a practicing Catholic. Should we be disturbed by the contradictions between her scientific beliefs and her religious beliefs? Should we accuse the professor of inconsistency, and urge her to clean up her logical act? You can view a videotape of Professor Rorty's talk in the AV room of the WVC Library. We'd like to thank the philosophy teacher Barbara Upton for arranging the event with professor Rorty.
On Thursday December 3, 1998, West Valley students heard Professor Dagfinn Follesdal of Stanford and University of Oslo. LA 10 was again filled to capacity. Professor Follesdal's talk was entitled "Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy." The talk explained clearly the influence of Husserl on both "Continental" and "Analytic" philosophy. Although these two kinds of philosophy are often considered very different, Professor Follesdal showed how both owe much to the pioneering work of Husserl on intentionality. Professor Follesdal's talk delighted and inspired us!
On Thursday May 21, 1998, the West Valley Philosophy Club was proud to present a talk by a world-famous philosopher, Professor John Searle of UC Berkeley. It was a standing-room only event. About 200 people attended the talk, which was held in WVC lecture hall LA 10. Professor Searle spoke on his book The Construction of Social Reality. West Valley Philosophy Club co-president and 1997-98 Outstanding Philosophy Student Nathan Smith welcomed the crowd. Nathan graduated from West Valley in 1998 and currently attends UC Berkeley as a philosophy major. WVC owes a big debt of gratitude to Christy Aguirre and Chad Irvine, WVC graduates currently majoring in Philosophy at Santa Clara University, where Professor Searle is currently the Austin Fagothey Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy. Christy and Chad are co-presidents of Santa Clara's philosophy club. Barbara Upton, adjunct instructor in philosophy at West Valley, handled many of the set-up details. Jamison Wieser, a WVC philosophy student, videotaped the talk. Professor Searle captivated the crowd. He is masterful lecturer -- clear, erudite, and humorous. Many non-philosophers in the crowd had been lured by the promise of seeing a "world-class philosopher". They were pleasantly surprised that philosophy could be such fun.(Obviously, these folks haven't yet taken a WVC Philosophy class.)
After the talk, Professor Searle and his wife Dagmar were taken out to dinner, courtesy of funds provided by the WVC student government. Pictured left to right are Chad Irvine, Dagmar Searle, Christy Aguirre, Sean Oliveira (partially obscured), Nathan Smith, Sandy LaFave, Professor Searle, Barbara Upton, and Don Ciraulo.
The WVC Philosophy Club was proud to host a lecture by Prof. Hubert Dreyfus of UC Berkeley on February 26, 1997. Don Ciraulo, Prof. Dreyfus, and Sandra LaFave Students filled room LA 10 to overflow capacity for Prof. Dreyfus' presentation on the failure of "strong AI". The lecture was particularly interesting for students of Sandra LaFave's Philosophy of the Person class, who have been discussing philosophical questions on mind and machines all semester. They have been reading essays by Prof Dreyfus as well as John Searle, Daniel Dennett, Donald Davidson, John Perry, Valentino Braitenberg, and others.
A good friend of the Philosophy Club is Peter Hadreas from the San Jose State Philosophy Department. Professor Hadreas gave a wonderful lecture on Wittgenstein and pianist Franz List. He also wrote and performed in his play, "Diogenes."
San Jose State professor Tom Leddy presented an engaging lecture for the West Valley Philosophy Club on Martin Hiedegger's The Origin of the Work of Art. Thirty students were in attendance and were quite engaged with questions after the lecture.
San Jose State professor, Richard Tiezen, provided a lecture for the West Valley Philosophy Club on Husserl and Phenomenology.