Every semester, the Philosophy Department at Colby College sponsors an informal faculty-student reading group for philosophers and friends to meet, eat, and philosophize. Although the Robert E. Reuman Reading Group was officially established in 1998, its roots go much further back in the Department’s history to Professor Reuman who regularly organized and hosted similar groups. Bob Reuman was an extraordinary professor of philosophy, combining intellectual profundity and moral integrity with intellectual integrity and moral profundity. The Reuman Reading Group was established by his colleagues, students, prison-mates*, and friends as fitting and lasting reminder of what can be so special about philosophy at a residential liberal arts college.In recent years, typical Reuman Groups have included between 12 and 18 students, and between 3 and 7 faculty members – including faculty from other academic departments, philosophers from other colleges, and even faculty on sabbatical! But perhaps that shouldn’t be much of a surprise because our once a week dinners feature the compelling attractions of jovial camaraderie and lively, free-wheeling philosophical conversation (sometimes even staying on topic).* Bob Reuman was sentenced to a year and a day (making him officially a felon) in a federal penitentiary for refusing to register for the peace-time draft. The draft board could not understand how the captain of a college football team and the president of his fraternity could be, on purely philosophical grounds, a genuine conscientious objector. For full memorial minutes for Bob Reuman, a eulogy can be read here.


What We’re Reading Now:

Marya Schechtman, The Constitution of Selves

An amnesia victim asking “Who am I?” means something different from a confused adolescent asking the same question. Marya Schechtman takes issue with analytic philosophy’s emphasis on the first sort of question to the exclusion of the second. The problem of personal identity, she suggests, is usually understood to be a question about historical life. What she calls the “re-identification question” is taken to be the real metaphysical question of personal identity, whereas questions about beliefs or values and the actions they prompt, the “characterization question,” are often presented as merely metaphorical

What We’ve Read in the Past:

Justice for Hedgehogs