The Houston Philosophical Society was founded in 1920, seven years after Rice Institute opened with a celebration which drew international academia. The then Rice faculty, made up of professors from all the world's great learning centers, taught on the outskirts of a small, almost frontier town. They were set apart from other professionals and creative minds who came to town. This isolation was addressed by the founding of the Houston Philosophical Society and for almost ninety years faculty and community intellectuals have met together for dinner and a provocative program on a substantial matter.
The term philosophy is used in the broadest sense, as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin used it, as other learned groups throughout the world use it, to mean love of knowledge or wisdom and its pursuit
The Houston Philosophical Society has met several times a year for meetings, first at the University Club in downtown Houston and since 1927 at the Cohen House on the Rice University campus. Membership is by invitation.