Had a meeting in February. Discussion centered around Hume, Kant, and Hegel.
Hume argued that we get all our ideas by means of the senses. That throws into doubt the validity of some very useful ideas, like "cause - effect," "matter," "self," "necessity," etc., because they are not (in any obvious way) derived from sensory impressions. Kant acknowledged that Hume was right in pointing this out, but he couldn't accept the implication that the non-sensory character of these ideas weakened their validity. (What conclusions would we have to draw if we discounted the validity of the concept of "cause/effect"?) Kant argued that these ideas were supplied by the subject; however, he was far from thinking that this subjective origin makes these concepts (or the judgments we make with them) "subjective." By a turn of argument that delivers us into a wholly different paradigm than Hume's empiricism, Kant argued that these ideas--again, "cause/effect," "substance" (matter), "necessity," etc.--are necessary conditions for the very possibility of "experience." And, as necessary conditions for the possibility of experience, these ideas have a different kind of validity than Hume looked for.
Kant's argument has this going for it: Experience, it would seem, is never just a succession of sensory impressions; we have experience of "objects" (itself not a sense-based concept) in a "world" (not a sense-based concept either). Thus, if the unity of experience (i.e. "world") and the non-empirical discriminations we make (e.g. "objects") are necessary to making our sensory impressions into "experience," Hume's sensory impressions are an inadequate basis for experience; and Kant's account would seem to supply that deficiency.
However, Kant's argument has some serious problems. For one thing, it seems to imply that we are enclosed within our subjectivity and, therefore, that we stand at a permanent remove from the world as it really is. After considering this objection, there was some discussion that Hegel might offer the way forward from this skeptical standpoint. And there was some discussion that Hume might have been right all along, since his account of human judgment ultimately points away from the notion of objectivity and towards the simple holding of belief. No agreement was reached between these sides of the issue. (Hey! it was our first meeting.)
For March, we've chosen Charles Taylor's Hegel and Modern Society. (Another acceptable book would be Terry Pinkard's biography Hegel.) Date and place of meeting yet to be fixed.