Philosophy Plus Period

Hayley Martens, Campus Life Editor

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Ever open up flexisched dreading the doldrum of plus period sign up? Think again! Every Thursday in in room 110, Mr. Zmolek hosts a plus period based around Philosophy. This weeks’ topic was “the argument against democracy.” He opened this plus period with the term epistocracy written on the board which is defined as “aristocracy of the wise”. The beginning of the period was him explaining his ideas on this type of government and many students added their ideas to this hypothetical system. Ideas ranged from basic government knowledge tests to be able to attain two votes a person, co-presidents one for social issues and one for economic issues, to having negative votes on ballots. It was an open environment and the full classroom of students constantly chimed in with their ideas, which made the experience very comfortable.

Mr. Zmolek started this plus period last year, right when the plus periods started. It was conceived because [Mr. Zmolek] “I had always wanted to give students an opportunity to think hard about things that are important in life, but which they don’t really get the time to slow down and actually think about in depth. The questioning of beliefs and the new discovery of virtues is exciting and terrifying and I think many are missing out on that wisdom. Ancient philosophies can teach us a lot about, ‘How should I live?’”

Future topics in this plus period that are coming up are pessimism and virtue, ethics and the most popular being the passions, which came from Mr. Zmolek introducing stoicism and existentialism. This week was my first time attending and I will definitely be going back.

When Senior Zoe Hamstreet was asked what her favorite discussion topic was she responded, “Epistemology: the study of knowledge. We discussed how nothing is really a fact, and everything is relative. It’s a rather comforting view of the world.”

Calvin Leslie responded to the same question and said, “My favorite topic was the skepticism and knowledge thought experiment we did earlier this year. It’s fun to learn about various philosophical mindsets, and when you figure out which one you belong to it adds a new level to your enjoyment. Learning that you might belong to a school of thought that you had never even considered before is always fun, and this activity really nailed that experience. I often find that discussing things that we discussed during those couple plus periods, such as what we can truly know, pointless when talking among friends. When we did the thought experiment beforehand and found out where we really stand it added a whole other to those topics. What I used to find pointless to discuss has actually become one of my favorite topics.”

The discussion topics come from a combination of introducing some fundamental philosophical argumentation principles and questions along with just going with the flow of the questions.

“Also, Mr. Klass has joined in and he’s great at prodding and poking the bear of conventional wisdom,” said Mr. Zmolek. The student response to this extension has been fantastic sometimes having over fifty people in the room. But Mr. Zmolek said he would be just as happy with five and he is pleased that anyone is willing to think hard about life.

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