Philosophy Group

The Philosophy Group meets once a month, always Wednesdays, at the Literatursalon of the Goethe-Institut. Books and authors are introduced in the beginning, and discussions are lightly moderated. All discussions are in English.

Temporary new monthly meeting space during Goethe-Institut renovation:
November 1: Brookline Booksmith,  279 Harvard St., Brookline

Goethe-Institut Boston Literatursalon
170 Beacon St., Boston


  • Winter/Spring 2017: 1/25, 2/22, 3/29, 4/26 and 5/31
  • Fall 2017: 9/27, 11/1
7:00 pm

Moderator Bruce Kaplan is a practicing urban planner with graduate training in continental philosophy and intellectual history. His independent scholarship has focused on modern intellectual history, film, architecture, urban planning, communal studies and Jewish studies. He has presented at more than a dozen academic conferences on 3 continents.

Up-to-date Information + Mailing list:
Literatursalon Philosophy Group Information


Dates 2017

Soren Kierkegaard: The Sickness Unto Death
Paperback ed.

A companion piece to The Concept of Anxiety, this work continues Soren Kierkegaard's radical and comprehensive analysis of human nature in a spectrum of possibilities of existence.

More information about the book:
The Sickness Unto Death
Ernest Becker: Escape from Evil
Paperback ed.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Denial of Death, a penetrating and insightful perspective on the source of evil in our world.

More information about the book:
Escape from Evil
Soren Kierkegaard: Philosophical Fragments
Paperback ed.

In Philosophical Fragments, Soren Kierkegaard seeks to explain the nature of Christianity in such as way as to bring out its demands on the individual, and to emphasize its incompatibility with the theology based on the work of Hegel that was becoming progressively more influential in Denmark. Through Philosphical Fragments, Kierkegaard purports to present the logic of Christianity.

Sigmund Freud: Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Paperback ed.

This controversial 1920 publication marks a turning point in the celebrated philosopher's theoretical approach. Previously, Freud considered most behavior attributable to sexual impulses. In this volume, he expands his theory beyond these creative impulses to discuss the impact on human psychology of the death drive, or "Thanatos," which he defines as "an urge inherent in all organic life to restore an earlier state of things." Beyond the Pleasure Principle is among Freud's most intensely debated works, and the important questions that it raises continue to be widely debated a century later.

More information about the book:
Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Philosophical Fragments
Marshall Berman: All That Is Solid Melts Into Air
Paperback ed.

Marshall Berman examines the clash of classes, histories, and cultures, and ponders our prospects for coming to terms with the relationship between a liberating social and philosophical idealism and a complex, bureaucratic materialism. From a reinterpretation of Karl Marx to an incisive consideration of the impact of Robert Moses on modern urban living, Berman charts the progress of the twentieth-century experience. He concludes that adaptation to continual flux is possible and that therein lies our hope for achieving a truly modern society.

More information about the book:
All That Is Solid Melts Into Air
Roland Barthes: Mythologies
Paperback ed.

Our age is a triumph of codification. We own devices that bring the world to the command of our fingertips. We have access to boundless information and prodigious quantities of stuff. We decide to like or not, to believe or not, to buy or not. We pick and choose. We think we are free. Yet all around us, in pop culture, politics, mainstream media, and advertising, there are codes and symbols that govern our choices. They are the fabrications of consumer society. They express myths of success, well-being, or happiness. As Barthes sees it, these myths must be carefully deciphered, and debunked.

More information about the book:
Plato: Symposium
Paperback ed.

In his celebrated masterpiece, Symposium, Plato imagines a high-society dinner-party in Athens in 416 BC.

More information about the book:

George Steiner: In Bluebeard's Castle:
Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture
Paperback ed.

Four impressive lectures about the culture of recent times (from the French Revolution) and the conceivable culture of times to come.

More information about the book:
In Bluebeard's Castle