Elans engage in philosophical debate

Habacuc Cruz, left, Haddad Nader and Max Bugrov of the Speech and Debate team won the second ELAC student symposium. COURTESY OF LEON CRUZ


By Vivian Ramirez

The Speech and Debate Team were the winners of last Thursday’s Student Symposium, a philosophical debate competition between student groups.

The five ELAC clubs that participated are the Philosophy Club, Psychology Club, ELAC Students for Political Awareness, Speech and Debate Team, and The History Circle.

“A symposium literally means Greek drinking party,” said Robert John Arias, History instructor and adviser for The History Circle. “Plato wrote about Socrates and his drinking parties and they would discuss philosophical ideas.”

The symposium has taken place every semester for the last two years.

This student symposium was fashioned after the philosophical tradition of debate with large groups of people.

Over 100 Elans were i n attendance, many of which lined up against the walls and sat on the floor.

Each club had two student speakers who took turns at the podium to present their argument.

The arguments were then followed by rebuttals from other clubs.

The three judges for the symposium were Philosophy Chair and Professor Michael Sigman, instructor Gregory Mattson, an assistant English Professor Stanley Oropesa.

The debate was about the topics of self-determinism versus the greater good.

“The judging was very difficult,” said Tim Snead, the host, “I found that the multiplicity of perspectives was really interesting because of the different clubs coming from different angles.

The Psychology Club defended their view with science.

“I would say that self-determinism is an illusion. You cannot perform a greater good because you’re already predispositioned to act a certain way,” said Juan Martinez. “Before you pick up a pen and choose to throw it, 500 to 2,000 milliseconds before you were aware you wanted to do such an act, activity in your prefrontal motor cortex has already initiated. Your biology began before you were even aware of it.”

The History Circle defended the idea of self-determinism with examples from history.

“Self-determination supersedes the greater good because ultimately leaders that are self determined get things done,” said Marlene Buenrostro.

The Speech and Debate Team said that both were too similar to take a side for.

“It’s all basically an outgrowth of individualism or Western Liberalism. You can’t draw the distinction between the greater good and individualism because they’re fundamentally the same thing,” said Max Bugrov.

Many Elans enjoyed  the symposium and developed a stronger interest for philosophical ideas.

“The idea of a college or university is to get people to think and discuss,” said Arias.


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