We’re giving a shout out to the longest running casual idea-sharing event in the history of the philosophical man: the symposium.
In Ancient Greece, a symposium was an event where philosophers, scientists, artists and thought leaders came together to discuss a pressing or relevant issue.
Men gathered in an intimate setting with no more than 11 sofas for reclining. It was imperative that everyone could see one another, a symbol of equality and mutual respect. At this time, the only women allowed to enter were Hetairai–high-end prostitutes who were trained in music, dance and fine arts.
With a symposium, the formality seemed inconsistent. While some symposia were semi-structured philosophical discussions, typically centered around a primary topic of concern, others unfolded into flamboyant drinking parties, where there was more yelling than discussion. After eating and drinking, members would play games, listen to music and drink and drink and drink–sometimes forgetting altogether what they joined to discuss.
The symposium was an essential part of Greek problem-solving around 7th century BCE, and its lasting effects on cultural progression led to the marking of conference as necessity, a concentrated step toward innovation.
It’s Relevant, We Promise.
Symposia today are more like conferences (or intellectual theme parks) with workshops, keynote speakers, sponsors, catered lunches and typically a hefty ticket price. They are held among experts within a given industry, or across interdisciplinary pursuits.
Modern conferences have stripped the intimacy (and usually the booze) away from the symposium … lame. Now, we’re calling for a revival of this practice to benefit the philosophers and executors of modern local business. Of course there are elements of the original symposium model we can throw out. For one, we now know there’s a creative, problem-solving sweet spot when it comes drinking alcohol, so the brew stays. For two—and this goes without saying but we’re saying it anyway—we’re welcoming women to the table … because it’s not the 7th century BCE. The third addresses the casual, intimate nature of the symposium. We’re not meeting in a conference room or a stuffy retreat, but we also aren’t likely to set up 11 sofas for each meeting. Be we do want to meet where we all feel comfortable to share our thoughts and ideas.
Join us for a drink? Check out Brewing Up Business every Wednesday at 4pm.