Talk by Ronen Grunberg at the Fall Philosophy Social Party, 12.10.2023

Talk by Ronen Grunberg

(API Fall Social Party @ Aw Shucks, Aurora 12.10.23)

Hi Everyone,

When John asked me to say a couple of words tonight I thought that it might be a good idea to tell you the story of the Tuesday Night Philosophy Club and how it gave rise to the Aurora Philosophy Institute.

So it’s been quite a journey.  I can hardly believe that it began more than 15 years ago.  I’ve always had an interest in philosophy.  As far back as I can remember a central word in my vocabulary was ‘Why’, which was a little frustrating to my teachers and parents. When I got into my teens I started reading a lot of philosophy. Unfortunately there weren’t a lot of people who shared my fascination with asking questions, which, for the most part had no answers.  Trying to initiate a truly philosophical conversation often had the effect of creating a glazed-over look.  That led to me sitting at home alone a lot reflecting on deep philosophical problems.  So the reason I founded the Aurora Philosophy Club, was not because I had any grand plan but because I was tired of nodding sagely at my own musings.  Frankly, I was in dire need of someone to argue with - preferably, real people and not just the walls of my office.

So there I was, a lonely incipient philosopher in search of intellectual companionship.  And then one day I had this great idea (actually, I think maybe my wife Sara had the idea) – why not start a philosophy club at the Aurora Public Library.  I went in, pitched the concept to Bernadette, and happily she thought it was a great idea.  And so the Aurora Public Library opened its doors to what became the monthly Tuesday Night Philosophy Club.

Amazingly the club was a great success and for the next 11 or 12 years I met all sorts of like-minded, sometimes very eccentric people, who were just as interested as I was in asking questions for which, more often than not, there were no definitive answers. Many of the people who showed up had minds as sharp as Occam’s Razor, even though they weren’t experts in philosophy.  The bottom line is that we were learning things together and had a ton of fun in the process.   When I look around tonight, I can’t help but chuckle at the randomness of fate. If it weren’t for this club, I might still be talking to my cat about Nietzsche. And let me tell you, my cat's understanding of existentialism is rather limited.

Fast forward about 11 or 12 years into the Tuesday Night Philosophy Club.  I made what I thought was the wise decision, after so many years, to call it quits. The Aurora Philosophy Club had run its course, or so I believed. However, not everyone shared my sentiment, especially not Alla.  As some of you already know Alla can be a force of nature. She started coming to the Tuesday Night Philosophy Club rather late and loved it.  She was determined that the club would not fade away into the annals of history.

So, with the tenacity of Socrates in a debate, Alla single-handedly resurrected the club.  Along the way came John Smithin, the yin to Alla’s yang, the Descartes to her Rousseau (although I’m not sure John would want to be referred to as Descartes). Together, they didn’t just revive the club; they injected it with a newfound vigor, a zest for philosophical inquiry that surpasses even our early days. The Aurora Philosophy Institute(the API) is like the phoenix rising from the ashes of its former self, spreading its wings wider and higher, exploring realms of thought we hadn’t even dreamed of.

So I want to say thank you to Alla, John, and to all of you who love philosophy.  I fully expect that the Aurora Philosophy Institute still has a bright and long future.

So let’s give thanks to knowledge, arguments, and questions for which there are no absolute answers as well as to the occasional existential crisis.  Here’s to many more years of spirited debates, enlightening conversations, and, of course, the occasional chuckle at the absurdity of it all.