We engage together in, and record for broadcast, our earnest philosophical dialogues, so that we may:

  1. Enhance our understanding of life and the world in which we live.
  2. Stimulate intellectual curiosity and philosophical exploration in ourselves and others.
  3. Strengthen our intellectual skills of critical thinking and sound reasoning.
  4. Provide a forum for a diversity of thought from a broad spectrum of independent thinkers.
  5. Connect with and form a network among thoughtful and caring individuals, everywhere.
  6. Enjoy the pleasures of intellectually stimulating and philosophically insightful company.
  7. Promote the pursuit of wisdom in everyone.

Civility - Treat everyone with respect. Use helpful, not hurtful language. Listen carefully and patiently when someone else is speaking.

Sincerity - Honest opinions and innocent questions are more valuable than "scoring points" or "looking smart". Strive for intellectual honesty.

Soundness - Favor sound reasoning over emotional rhetoric or sophomoric obfuscation.

Succinctness - Strive to be brief and to the point using understandable language. Speak loud and clear so others can hear.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Web Site With Added Features

Hello All,

I am pleased to announce that our new and improved web site is ready for you to try out. It is better organized, more interactive and includes many new features. Please visit it here:

The New Citizen Philosopher Site

From now on, all new podcasts, posts and announcements will be posted on the new site. I will leave this old site up for legacy purposes, but will not be updating here anymore. Thanks, and enjoy the new site.



Sunday, August 10, 2008

What Is Liberty?

Greetings Citizen Philosophers,

The latest Thinking Out Loud podcast has been released on iTunes. The session was recorded at our relatively new venue, the Charlottesville Public Library, on Wednesday, August 6th. The topic was:

"What is liberty?"

Participating were veteran citizen philosophers, Billie Lagerwerff, David Rood, Deborah Martin, Derek Breen, John Tytus, Stephen Whiteman, Steven Stokes, Susan Patrick, and Uriah J. Fields. Also joining us for the first time were newcomers, Erica Jensen and Rebbecca Quinn from Charlottesville and all the way from some undisclosed location near Brighton, England, through the wonders of modern Internet technology we had our first international guest, an insightful chap by the name of Luke. A hardy welcome to Luke, Erica, and Rebbecca.

As usual we had a wide ranging and thoughtful discussion that raised as many or more questions and than it answered. Here are some of the questions we wrestled with:

Is liberty just a quaint and outdated word for freedom? What is freedom? Can we talk about one without the other? Is liberty personal, social, or political? Who decides our liberties? Our government? Our culture? Our conscience? What are we to be liberated from? Who or what oppresses us? Can we ever be completely liberated? Can we ever be completely free? Are wild animals free? Was Robinson Crusoe free on the deserted island? Was he liberated? Can we be free if we must continuously struggle for basic necessities? Does society curtail our freedoms or enhance them by providing a structure that eases the burden of survival? To what extent is freedom a question of attitude? To what extent is liberty a question of law? Does freedom for one come at the expense of freedom for another? Is it right to suspend civil liberties in the name of defending freedom? Is fear the enemy of freedom? Do our fears enslave us or protect us? Is it possible to have too much freedom? Does absolute freedom corrupt absolutely? Is liberation always a good thing? Doesn't national liberation lead to chaos? Doesn't personal liberation lead to the anxiety of choice? If we don't exercise the freedoms we have, do they matter? To what end do we seek freedom? Is liberation an ends in itself, or just another beginning?

To subscribe to the podcast with your podcast software (such as iTunes or iPodder) copy and past the following link into your software:


If you have iTunes, you can find us listed in the Apple Music Store directory under Podcasts/Society & Culture/Philosophy, or just do a search in iTunes on Thinking Out Loud People. The direct iTunes link is:


If you don't have iTunes or other podcast software and just want to download the mp3 file directly, use this link:

Listen to the broadcast (mp3)

As always, your afterthoughts are most welcome. I am in the process of reconstructing our Citizen Philosopher web site, which will include an online forum to allow us to continue our discussions beyond the podcast. I hope to have it up soon.

Finally, mark your calendars. The next Thinking Out Loud will be Wednesday, September 3rd, at 7:00 pm. We will select a topic at the beginning of the next session as usual. Hope to see/hear you then, if not sooner.



Premed Science Tutor,
Citizen Philosopher,
Life Coach

Friday, August 01, 2008

Next Live Dialogue - Aug 6th, 2008

Hello Citizen Philosophers,

It's that time once again for your friendly reminder. The next Thinking Out Loud meeting will take place this coming Wednesday, Aug 6th, at 7:00 pm, as usual. Local participants, please remember, we are not meeting at my office anymore. We are meeting at the Charlottesville Public Library, downtown on Market Street, in the Jefferson Rm on the 3rd floor. The circulation desk will validate your parking stub for the Market Street parking garage, if you need it. You can probably find free parking on the streets nearby, as well.

The topic selection process will begin promptly at 7:00. Please arrive on time. Here are some possible topics:

  1. What is liberty? (last time's runner-up, suggested by David)
  2. What does it mean to be reasonable and rational? (also recycled from last time)
  3. How do we distinguish between our wants and our needs? (new, suggested by Steve Stokes)

As always, your topic suggestions are most welcome. Send them to me or bring them with you to the gathering. See you soon.



Steve Donaldson,
Personal Growth Consultant,
Independent Educator,
Citizen Philosopher

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Essentials: Long List of Short Answers

Our recent discussion on the essentials for a good life generated many possible answers. Here is a list of short answers that were suggested, with which you may or may not agree:
  1. Good health.
  2. A sense of moderation.
  3. Flexibility.
  4. Passions.
  5. Breyer's ice cream.
  6. Good relationships.
  7. Peace of mind.
  8. A sense of self.
  9. A sense of purpose.
  10. A feeling of gratitude.
  11. Compassion
  12. Patience.
  13. Love.
  14. Ability and willingness to be content.
  15. Work.
  16. Feeling one has the power to change things.
  17. Hope.
  18. Pleasures.
  19. A forward looking capacity.
  20. Appreciation of the present moment.
  21. Confidence.
  22. Mindful awareness.
  23. A spiritual perspective.
  24. A moral code.
  25. Something to do and someone to do it for.
  26. A philosophical attitude.
I also find it interesting to note what was not mentioned - money, sex, good looks, status, fame, good luck, good genes, good schooling, family connections. Let me know what you think.



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Steve Stokes Afterthoughts

Here are some afterthought from Steve Stokes concerning our discussion last Wednesday:


All in all, I thought it was a very [good] session. I have three points I wanted to share with you.

First: I was not saying that a person needed to have passions or great passions to have a good life, my only point is that whatever passions one has, the fulfillment of those passions is paramount to the good life. I believe the Founding Fathers hit the nail on the head when they identified the pursuit of happiness as one of the unalienable rights of humans.

Second: I think the mode of conversation after the talk was over was more productive towards the exploration of the topic. When we are waiting our turns, the time lag disconnects the speakers from each other, and we are only allowed to make stilted sound bite statements. I don't think David really got a chance to understand that is was my position the fulfillment of personal passion is the one essential for a good life. It seemed as if David didn't think the rest of us were addressing the question at hand. I don't know, maybe it was a matter of semantic misunderstanding, but in any case the mode of conversation blocked us from resolving that difficulty. As I think on this, it seems like maybe David thought we were more answering "what are the essentials OF a good life", and he differentiated that from "what are the essentials FOR a good life", the former being the requirements of good living, and the latter being the resources/tools needed to bring about the good life.

Third: This is just a follow-up: when I reviewed David's six essentials they look more like a list of essentials for living a saintly life or a life that is good, as opposed to the "good life". Maybe in his mind the way to a good life is to live life as a saint, and so they equate.

Thanks, Steve. Dave, feel free to respond.

At some point I plan to implement a bona fide electronic bulletin board or forum site, linked to this site, whereby you and Dave and others can carry on a more in depth, back and forth dialogue. In such a forum you would have ample time to present your arguments and make your case. You would not need to limit your time and wait for others to take their turn, as you do in a one hour podcast. I think that might address some of your concerns in your point number two. (Don't ask me to predict how long that might take me to get up and running though.) In the meantime, feel free to run your afterthoughts through me directly.