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The meeting place at the Cafe Grande Rue da Pera - scene of passionate but friendly philosophical debate (photo: Hanik Blackman).

The meeting place at the Cafe Grande Rue da Pera – scene of passionate but friendly philosophical debate (photo: Hanik Blackman).

Philosophy and coffee – and more – on the menu at Grand Rue de Pera cafe and shop

Among the varied programme of events at the Grand Rue De Pera shop and cafe on Queen’s Road is the Philosophy Coffee Club. Hanik Blackman has been along for a taste of the debate (not to mention the coffee) and reports back.

At the first meeting I attended, on 16 November, the Philosophy Coffee Club briefly became the battlefield for a clash of opinions on communism, the argument revolving around whether or not communism is a viable and sustainable system.

The main topic for the night was, ‘What is Justice?,’ and this lead to a tangent on human nature, with one participant saying that it was human nature to be selfish. The discussion which followed sparked the argument on communism, which included examples like the fall of the Soviet Union and an indigenous people of the Amazon who live in a society that could be labelled as primitive communism.

The topic of debate at the second meeting I attended, on 30 November, was, ‘Is hope a good thing?’. As expected, the majority of participants strongly agreed that it was. The majority also accepted that hope plays a part in people’s lives, even if only in little matters. One member contradicted this saying that, “You can live life without desiring anything”, and this lead to a tangent about Taoism.

On the two times I attended the club, both the atmosphere and the people involved were welcoming. There were varying views and conflicting opinions, which meant that at times the discussion became heated. The passion involved during these moments only allows members to see more clearly the reasons behind each other’s views.

I enjoyed the club in part due to my interest in both the opinions given and the examples used to support them, as well as because the people involved were friendly straight from the start.

The club is organised by Shelley Feldman, who came up with the idea together with Barbaros, the owner of the Grand Rue De Pera shop and café. This occurred when Shelley and Barbaros began to chat when she had attended another of the clubs hosted at the café.

After realising they both had an interest in philosophy, Shelley having completed a degree in the subject, they decided to try out the idea of hosting a philosophy club, providing an open forum for discussing a wide range of philosophical topics (while enjoying some of the best coffee in Hastings).

When asked what her hopes were for the future of the club, Shelley stated, “I only hope it will continue to remain an open and welcoming group throughout its lifespan”.

There have been three meetings so far, the first one covering ‘What is it to be human?’. At the first two, 10 people attended and at the third there were 15. The club takes place on Thursday every other week from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Attendance is free and booking is not required.

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 14 December when the topic will be, ‘When is truth a good thing?’


Grand Rue de Pera (73-74 Queen’s Road, Hastings TN34 1RL, tel 01424 423427) has a varied programme of events, the next being:

Thursday 7 December at 6.30pm: a talk by well-known local comedienne and writer Sally Holloway on Natural Menopause.
Saturday 9 December at 4.30pm: a talk by Milan Rai, co-editor of Peace News, on 1917: The Nonviolent Russian Revolution.

Other upcoming events include Christmas/Advent songs and carols and two four-week courses on Singing in Pregnancy and Yoga of the Voice. For more information contact Tarquin Rees (

Posted 19:54 Tuesday, Dec 5, 2017 In: Grassroots

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