Brown Bag Lunches by the Philosophy Department

By: Yara Enany

The Philosophy department has held several sessions this semester as a part of their Brown Bag lunch series. A Brown Bag lunch is a training or an information session that takes place during a lunch break. It was named after the infamous brown bag school lunches in the United States. These sessions usually take place during assembly hour where food or refreshments are served.

With titles such as, ‘Common Sense Transformed: Plotinus’ Analysis of the Conscious Center’, ‘Manufacturing Body Parts! : Philosophy and Science’, and ‘Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit,’ the lectures aim to educate the attendees in an informal setting, with today’s busy life in mind. With only an hour per lecture, it is not an in depth analysis, but rather an introduction or an overview of a topic.

The phenomenon of Brown Bag lunches has been spreading through private companies and universities as it is a new interesting medium for knowledge. Universities usually make use of these sessions to update their communities, especially graduates, on the ongoing research in their university. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and lectures are usually followed by an informal discussion. The lunches give the professors and the community the ability to share ideas, and are mutually beneficial.

Professor Robert Switzer explains that “these sessions are aimed at bringing back the original purpose of philosophy during the Greek philosophy era which was to bring truth to the people.”

These sessions aim to discuss many topics from a non-biased point of view; they provide the attendees with a thorough view to help them formulate their own opinion without being affected by the marketing from one side or another.

Safinaz Saad, who works at the department, stresses the importance of the lunches when it comes to understanding philosophy and “how it relates to daily life, to the world. [sic]” She believes that there is a misrepresentation of the department. Unlike engineering or other subjects, philosophy is not so specific. However, she explains that the knowledge learnt from philosophy lectures can be combined with many other subjects.

The sessions are not exclusive to philosophy students; they are open to the general public, with the hope of providing the community the chance to learn during their free time and to keep the student body up-to-date with the new research topics taking place at the university.