Free Thought Discussion

The Group meets every Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at the home of Hilton Brown in Mountain View. For more information contact Hilton at:

Strictly speaking, this is not a “book group,” since we devote the first Wednesday of each month to discussion of current news events, and, on the other evenings, discussions tend to be wide-ranging, centered about, but not exclusively about, the chosen book.  The word “group” is often used but does not imply that you have to join formally in any sense. Visitors are welcome. Just show up—the more the merrier!

Our current book is “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” by Jonathon Haidt, 244 Pages.

Book Description

In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world’s philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives……. See more on Amazon.

For more See: Amazon “The Happiness Hypothesis”

About the Author

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and then did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. He taught at the University of Virginia for 16 years before moving to NYU-Stern in 2011. He was named one of the “top global thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the “top world thinkers” by Prospect magazine.

His research focuses on morality – its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course……..

From Amazon:

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an “elephant” of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual “rider.” Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate—and sometimes critique—with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s studies into pleasure………. ” For more See: Amazon “The Happiness Hypothesis”


Next Readings

Oct 31 – If you go to the above online link, you can read the Introduction and a good portion of the first chapter “The Divided Self”. That should get us started. Let’s read that for the first week. You can also buy the Kindle Edition. Lets keep this reading short to give folks time to acquire the book and read it.

Nov 7 – Freethought Discussion – Bring your ideas for this open discussion

Nov 14 – Read Chapters 2 (Changing Your Mind) and 3 (Reciprocity with a Vengeance) about 35 pages over two weeks.

Nov 21 – Meeting is Cancelled for the Thanksgiving Holiday

Nov 28 – Read Chapters 4 (The Faults of Others) and 5 (The Pursuit of Happiness) about 47 pages. Enjoy.

Dec 5  – Freethought Discussion, Bring your current News Events or Humanistic Ideas to discuss.

Dec 12 – Read Chapters 6 (Love and Attachments) and 7 (The Uses of Adversity) about 49 pages over two weeks. Enjoy.

Some previously read books

Our customs on book nominations & voting