A tour of Ottawa meetups: Ottawa Socrates Cafe

Candice So is a  reporter who loves to read, write and meet people who are doing amazing things. Born and bred in Ottawa, on her off time she likes to pretend to cook, to walk her dog and to go for a run, albeit really slowly. 

In the fourth post of a series, Candice rounds-up of some off-beat, yet fun, meetups in our city.

What is life? What is love? What is sacred, what is death, what is globalization, what is revolution?

The Ottawa Socrates Café tries to tackle all of these questions and more, using the Socratic method as a starting point.

Named for the famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, who was accused of corrupting the youth through ideas and then forced to commit suicide by the authorities of his day, this Meetup is about discussing abstract concepts and breaking down assumptions.

So if you’re looking to attend an event, you’ll need to come with an open mind and be ready to think critically, says Kim Kroeber, a regular attendee of the Meetup. That’s something that most people seem to be lacking nowadays, she adds.

“People don’t seem to have the time or the interest or even the ability to be analytical and think about the big issues in life, rather than the minutiae of our daily existence,” Kroeber says. “(Discussions are) something that’s reflective and contemplative and that takes time.”

Yet Kroeber stresses the Meetup is not a debate club, and it tries to avoid heated arguments geared towards picking out winners and losers. The group has a moderator, whose role involves keeping the discussions on track.

Kroeber says one of the things she enjoys most about the Meetup is that she gets to hear from people from all different walks of life. Despite its philosophical roots, the Meetup draws plenty of people from non-academic backgrounds.

“I love the fact that you get this extraordinarily diverse group of people that would not, in the everyday world, even meet each other, let alone be forced to discuss the most profound problems of the day,” she says. “We tend to stereotype people much too quickly, and it’s amazing that you’ll find someone who’s a statistician or a physicist, and you’ll assume they’ll have one particular view on a particular theme, and they’ll completely blow that out of the water … It makes you really re-evaluate people.”

The Ottawa Socrates Café meets every second Monday in the basement of the Royal Oak Pub on Laurier Avenue. Attending a Meetup is free, except for the cost of ordering food and drinks.

The next scheduled Meetup is on Monday, July 22.