Our Symposia biography begins grown up and in existence for centuries. The first sym, "together," and posis, "a drinking," took place in ancient Greece. Hosted exclusively by elite and wealthy men, these private entertainments of drinking games, song and pleasures of the flesh, often featured intellectual sparring. While some favored drinking over thinking, others valued moderation, where philosophical discussions prevailed. In western philosophydom, two texts are still toasted, read and argued over for their enduring insights: Plato's Symposium, primarily a discussion of love; and Xenophon's Symposium, which focuses on beauty and virtue.
The next iteration of the Symposia story favors thinking over drinking. What we know as the contemporary symposium is an academic gathering. An expert on a specific subject gives a keynote address, other experts present their work, panels convene, and discussions erupt, some of them lively and others encouraging everyone to find a couch to lie down on for a snoozzzze.
There are many special topic symposia taking place at any one time in all fields and lines of work. We are "all in," and especially support ethics symposia. We always make it a habit to recommend favorites to our ethics community when we learn about them.
Both ancient and contemporary Symposia have inspired us to envision a new Symposia story. We already organize Big Ethical Question Slams, our community "thinking and drinking" events at local pubs. The Design Your Own (DYO) Ethics Symposia shifts to our online space, and alters the symposium concept in crucial ways. First, the acronym DYO invites nonexperts and self-taught tinkerers, whom we call Designers, to choose a subject and propose several ethics questions for discussion.
Participants, known as the Symposiasts, are equal partners. Everyone is encouraged to listen, learn and reason together...and to contribute their different perspectives, sentiments and experiences.
The DYO Ethics Symposia have big ambitions. Our aim is to promote deliberative discussions about complex, practical and real-world ethics issues--with people we don't always know, yet come to know by the end of the Symposia season.
So...make participation and the practice of democratic conversations about big issues of the day--part of your day. It is all about making deliberation and discussion--a community habit.
For information about the 2023 DYO Ethics Symposia season, click here.
To learn more about how the Symposia work; how to become a designer; and the role of Symposiasts, click here.