Students gather at Dagny’s for philosophical talk

Maryann Kopp

On the first Friday of every school month, several Bakersfield College philosophy professors and students can be found in the back of Dagny’s Coffee Company, gathered for what is known as “First Fridays.”
“Dagny’s is, of course, a coffeehouse,” explains Bakersfield College professor Michael Einhaus. He also said, smirking, “And philosophy is virtually synonymous with drinking coffee, wasting a lot of valuable time, and, in the case of the French at least, smoking cigarettes.”
“All of these can be accomplished at Dagny’s, which is also esteemed for its counterculture image,” Einhaus said.
Einhaus further elaborated, “Since we philosophers pride ourselves in our chic counterculture image, it seemed like a natural fit for us.”
Along with BC professors Reggie Williams and Rodney Peterson, Einhaus feels as though these meetings are a great opportunity for BC students to get to know their professors better while possibly broadening their understanding concerning different philosophical issues.
First-time attendees and Bakersfield College students, Natalie Larson and Philip Morin, both found “First Fridays” to be beneficial in ways of creating both social connections with people of similar interests as well as develop relationships with professors.
Bakersfield College student Scott Porter, who has been attending the meetings for roughly a year, likes that there is a “free exchange of ideas more so [at Dagny’s] than in most class settings.”
Expanding upon this point, Professor Rene Trujillo, Jr., Ph.D., expresses, “Philosophy is a way of being in the world and of asking questions about the way we intersect with others. Not the only way, perhaps not the best way, but a way that resonates with some people.”
“‘First Fridays’ are a natural extension of this; philosophy and philosophers are what they are best in a more ‘natural’ environment – one which is not overly artificial.”
“The classroom can be made more natural, but nonetheless it presents a more restrictive environment than that of ‘First Fridays,'” Trujillo said.
Initiated by Einhaus about two years ago, “First Fridays” are meant to create more opportunities to meet with people interested in philosophy.
While not an official function of BC, most present are Bakersfield College students.
Professor Einhaus wanted to provide them with the chance to meet other philosophy professors and expand upon what they have already learned in the classroom.
“While it is true that students benefit from these events, I can’t claim that an increased GPA is one of the results,” said Einhaus.
“Perhaps it is best to say that a student benefits most by witnessing people engage in philosophy in a non-academic setting, and thereby can recognize its value.
“I also know that because of this exposure, students can become inspired to further work in philosophy – and anytime a student is inspired to study, that pays off academically in all sorts of ways.”
Williams also believes that the meetings “help keep students motivated when it comes to philosophy.”
Another beneficial element of “First Fridays,” according to Peterson, is students who may feel uncomfortable discussing issues in class can do so without feeling as nervous.
“First Fridays” take place at 10 a.m. Dagny’s Coffee Company is located at 1600 20th St., on the corner of 20th and Eye St.
While specific issues may be presented for discussion by the professors, the meetings are generally open discussion.