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The Ancient of Days

West Boylston Study Center

The Masonic Philosophical Society has been growing throughout the world steadily. While we offer many different resources for our members to grow and learn online, there is simply no substitute for attending the Study Center nearest you. When you attend a Study Center of the Masonic Philosophical Society you will have the opportunity, not only to hear from a speaker, but to participate in the dialogue.

West Boylston Study Center
Worcester Public Library 3 Salem Square Worcester, MA
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What is the Nature of Man according to Plato?
Date: 9/9/2017 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Philosophy
Presenter: Janet Castro
Synopsis: For Plato man is made up of two parts: body and soul. In The Phaedrus, and through the allegory of the charioteer, he explains what the composition of the human soul is, and how it is tripartite in its nature. Socrates says that to define the soul would be a matter “for utterly superhuman and long discourse, but it is within human power to describe it briefly in a figure; let us therefore speak in that way. We will liken the soul to the composite nature of a pair of winged horses and a charioteer […] one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore […] the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome.” What is soul and what is its nature? Are there any similarities between Freemasonry and Plato’s idea about the nature of the soul?

Is a robot more noble than a human?
Date: 10/28/2017 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Behavioral Science
Presenter: Isaac Levy
Synopsis: Robots in science fiction books have been bound by the Three Laws of Robotics; 1) A robot must not harm a human, 2) A robot must obey all orders given to it as long as they don't interfere with Law 1, and 3) A robot must preserve their existence as long as it doesn't interfere with Laws 1 and 2. A robot must place the lives of others above its own. Generally speaking, human beings value their own survival above others. It seems almost as if we operate on the inverse of the Laws of Robotics. Are robots more noble than human beings and how does Robotics relate to Freemasonry?

How do we make tough decision?
Date: 12/9/2017 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Philosophy
Presenter: Anouk Van Opstal
Synopsis: We spend an inordinate amount of time, and a tremendous amount of energy, making choices in everyday situations. We also manage to often turn trivial choices into a tortured mental task. How do we make hard choices? How does one navigate a world of seemingly infinite alternatives? And what happens when the choice is "made" for us"? We will discuss the relationship between reason, value, and instinct and how we navigate the sea of pros and cons as we make decisions that shape our lives. How does Freemasonry help us in making these choices?

Do the ends justify the means?
Date: 2/10/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Behavioral Science
Presenter: Jeannette Castro
Synopsis: This is a phrase taken from the Latin text "Medulla theologiae moralis" (1645). The phrase found literally says: “Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt tender” which means “When the end is licit so is the mean." The Freemason is inclined to investigate this powerful axiom as both the means and the end carry a moral burden and an inevitable impact. This month's MPS will focus on the different ethical meanings that this controversial maxim contains.

Does Nihilism Lead to a Fulfilling Life?
Date: 3/10/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Philosophy
Presenter: Isaac Levy
Synopsis: Human beings are blessed (or cursed) with intelligence. We use this ability to gain insights into our selves and the world around us and we develop meaning from it. Even if we dont understand something, our brain will make up an answer to justify its existence. The Nihilist will argue that it is better to not believe in anything than to believe in something that is false. Does the philosophy of Nihilism lead to a fulfilling life and is this philosophy in opposition to everything Freemasonry stands for?

Which Age Advanced the Cause of Human Evolution Furthest?
Date: 4/14/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: History
Presenter: Matias Cumsille
Synopsis: The Age of Enlightenment was a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its purpose was to reform the way of thinking by the use of reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advancing knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual interchange and completely opposed any kind of superstition, intolerance and abuses of power by the church and the state. As human evolution is one of the most important aspects to Freemasonry, we will discuss which age advanced the human progression the most and what ideologies we can use in our modern times.

Can People Change?
Date: 6/9/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Philosophy
Presenter: Julia Rousseau
Synopsis: Yes, it is obvious that people can change in some ways. Physically they grow, their brains mature and develop, and some even claim to "change their minds" regarding certain things. But do you inherently change? It maybe that we think we do but maybe we dont. Change can be a property of experience, driving us to become courageous, kind, or bitter or it maybe bringing our original self forward. Can we change or are we expressing the nature within ourselves over the extent of time? Freemasonry is an institution that has motivated changes in countries and men for hundreds of years. Is this noble art uncovering our hidden nature or does nurture propel us to a better version of ourselves?

Was Christine de Pisan a Feminist?
Date: 7/14/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Art
Presenter: Anouk Van Opstal
Synopsis: The French poet Christine de Pisan (1365-1430) was arguably the first female author in Europe to make her living as a writer. Famous for her poetry and love ballads, de Pisan also wrote prose and political treatises. With the encouragement and aid of royals de Pisan completed a biography of Frances King Charles V. Her final work was a poetic eulogy dedicated to Joan of Arc. But the literature for which de Pisan is most celebrated today are her writings that pressed for womens rights. During this M.P.S. we will discover some of her works and debate about how they advocates for womens rights. Lastly, we will discuss the Honorable Order of Universal Co-Masonrys free admission to both man and woman.

Nature vs. Nurture: Does Genetic Determinism rule our lives?
Date: 9/8/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: History
Presenter: Matias Cumsille
Synopsis: For the last century, we have been told by the scientific community that our genes determine everything. Is this a true statement? Are we a slave to our inherited genetic code? Join us as we take a look from a Masonic perspective at how the study of Epigenetics is changing the fatalistic view of Natural Selection.

“The Ugly Duckling”, an initiatory journey?
Date: 10/13/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Literature
Presenter: Jeanette Castro
Synopsis: The Ugly Duckling is a classic-contemporary tale written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843. The story tells of an Ugly Duckling born in a barnyard. Teased by his brothers and sisters as well as by other animals he decided to leave home and run far away. After a series of dangerous adventures and experiencing a harsh winter where the poor duckling almost died frozen; spring came just for him to discover he had transformed into a beautiful swam. The need for acceptance is a basic human instinct. We want to belong, to fit in, … but at what cost? What conditions and attitudes make us embrace a journey for self-discovery?

Does the Bible Have Hidden or Esoteric Messages Within its Texts?
Date: 11/10/2018 3:30:00 PM
Topic of Study: Theology
Presenter: Isaac Levy
Synopsis: Freemasonry relies heavily on symbolism and interpretation. It is therefore the practice by Freemasons to look in to important writings to determine their meaning. However, writings should at times be taken figuratively rather than literally. Other times we may impose our own beliefs on a piece of text that was meant to be literal. The Bible is one mankinds oldest pieces of literature. Are there hidden messages within it? If so, what are they and how can they expand our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us?

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest ... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
Albert Einstien
Physicist
Personal Writings

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