What Are Philosophy Slams?

Bryan Jones

Photo by Grace Singer

Philosophy Slams are a long-standing tradition at Jacksonville University.  Once every couple of months, the philosophy department finds someone willing to be berated with arguments for a night on a topic of that someone’s choosing.  Over the years, slams have boldly tackled the problems of race in America, good and evil and even the conceptual implications of infinity. Dr. Scott Kimbrough, associate professor of philosophy chair at JU explains the overall experience of a philosophy slam.

“The atmosphere is open, fun, and relaxed,” Kimbrough said. “It’s not a lecture where the speaker dictates the content to a passive audience. Everyone has a say, and there’s never any telling what direction the conversation will go.”

The most recent slam bravely endeavored to cultivate an objective understanding of love.  Adjunct professor at J.U., Dr. Colavito, moderated the discussion where questions arose that challenged, defended and defined love, a word so ubiquitous and accepted in all factions of humanity.  Is it possible to love something that doesn’t physically exist?  Is love conditional?  And ultimately, what happens to the concept of love should the slam be successful at defining it?

Now it wasn’t all intellectual jargon, there were some instances of comic relief.  When one person was asked by Dr. Colavito if they could love a character in a novel, the reply was, “Oh yeah, Denzel Washington!”  Ultimately, the conversation ended in a successful failure of sorts.

Although the goal of gaining an objective definition of love wasn’t realized, everyone can say they have a broader understanding of love because so many people shared their opinions on what they perceive love to be.

Philosophy Slams also have a special place in Jacksonville’s culture as a city.  Although Philosophy Slams are operated through JU, they have a significant following among non-students.  Yes, philosophers from all over Northeast Florida set aside time to pursue a philosophical question. One non-student present at the recent slam voiced his opinion of the meetings.

“The Philosophy Slams are a great venue to have an intellectual discussion that doesn’t get bogged down in politics and/or religion,” he said.

You can find the JU philosophy department on Facebook, subscribe to the page to find out about future slams and discover one of the many treasures that Jacksonville University has to offer. The next slam is Mar. 8 at 7:30 at Jackson’s Grill. Capt. Chuck Berdar, commanding officer of the JU NROTC unit, will lead a slam on the topic “Leadership: A Matter of Character?”