Meetings in 2015



20 January


John Clarke on Liberté: reflections on the crisis in France'

Recent events in France raise important philosophical questions, above all about the concept of liberty, about secularism, and about the relationship between conflicting values and worldviews, so I thought it appropriate that we should discuss these issues at the meeting on the 20th January. The topic I announced on 'Transhumanism, a philosophy of the future' will be postponed to a suitable date - in the future.

21 February


Steve Eddy on Happiness: What is it, what leads to it, and is it the ultimate goal of life?

Examining the relationship between happiness, pleasure and well-being, starting with Aristotle's view of virtue, passing through Bentham and Buddhism, and heading in the direction of existentialism, with particular reference to Mark Vernon's book Wellbeing

17 March


Rachel Stubley on What is Education for? Transformation, Empowerment,Employability?

As we approach a general election, she will look critically at some of the current discourse around education. She is particularly interested in the "commodification" of post-compulsory education, and the focus on employability in certain parts of the sector. She will explore the relationship between educational opportunities available and an individual's social class, in both higher education and lifelong learning, and will also discuss alternatives to the a skills-based model of education, looking at Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Carl Rogers' Freedom to Learn  Lecture Notes

21 April


John Clarke on Transhumanism: Philosophy of the Future

Transhumanism is a new field of philosophical inquiry, though with historical roots in the secular humanism of the 18th century Enlightenment. It claims that with rapid advances across the sciences we will soon be able to transform human nature and even conquer death. How did this idea arise?
Lecture Notes

19 May


Frank Lyons on Humane Architecture: Reflections on Nothingness

The talk discusses the idea of  'Humane  Architecture', a term explained by Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto as a function of the invisible, a realm of humanity ' beyond all reckoning'' . The talk explores this notion in both design and philosophical terms, drawing on ideas from Kant and Schopenhauer, and using these to explain how ineffable aspects of human experience can be captured by architectural form.  The talk grows out of a much broader examination of meaning and how we communicate meaning in culture.


16 June

Bob Clarke on Denigrating Reason

It is often claimed that our Western society is obsessed by Reason, especially as embodied in science. Compared with 'The East', 'The West' is popularly construed as 'over-rational', fetishizing Reason, and as being over-dependent on it. By contrast with this 'obsession', it has become quite commonplace to denigrate rationality, with the result that in popular culture today any attempts to ground justice, human values and ethics on rational or logical grounds are regarded as being laughably naïve. The talk will examine this tendency to belittle our rational faculty, and will seek to show that anti-Reason arguments are actually ill-founded.

Lecture Notes

21 July


John Clarke on William James and the Exploration of Consciousness

The American philosopher William James (brother of Henry, and a contemporary and acquaintance of Freud) was one of the first to raise the question: What is consciousness? For him the question was central to philosophical inquiry, a key to issues about knowledge, human values and religious belief, and is a subject now back in fashion. James was particularly interested in the varieties of conscious experience, both normal and abnormal, a subject which has recently been pursued under the title Altered States of Consciousness

15 September


John Clarke on Karl Popper on science, the open society and the open universe

Karl Popper is best known for his influential ideas on the philosophy of science, but his importance extends much more widely. His concept of the 'open society' which he wrote about in the dark days of fascist tyranny helped to re-define the ideals of democracy and freedom in the post-war period, and his ideas about science led to his speculations about the central role of the imagination in science and beyond, and to his anti-determinist view that the universe as a whole is in some sense creative.

20 October


Tim Cross on The arts: some philosophical questions

Recognising the wide range of arts covered by members of the Tintern Philosophy Circle, from painting and poetry to garden design and photography, the talk will raise questions such as the following: Why are some things are called 'art' and others are not? Is Shakespeare art but Coronation Street not? Must works of art be beautiful? Must a work of art be durable, not transient? Why is a painting of a landscape 'art', and the landscape itself not? Is a creative process essential for something to be called 'art'? Are there rules for good and bad art? Is art universal, or is it culturally relative? Should the government subsidise art?

17 November


John Clarke discussing Jean-Paul Sartre on Authenticity and Bad Faith

Can we live a life which is fully honest and authentic, or do we necessarily fall into bad faith or self deception in our dealings with other? The ideas of authenticity and bad faith - being true or not true to oneself - have recently come to prominence in the realm of political debate, so it might be appropriate to examine how Sartre understood these controversial ideas, how they relate to his philosophy of freedom, and to his ideas about the nature of the person and our relationship with others

15 December


Dr Derek Stanesby on Science and Religion: How do we do it?

Can we live a life which is fully honest and authentic, or do we necessarily fall into bad faith or self deception in our dealings with other? The ideas of authenticity and bad faith - being true or not true to oneself - have recently come to prominence in the realm of political debate, so it might be appropriate to examine how Sartre understood these controversial ideas, how they relate to his philosophy of freedom, and to his ideas about the nature of the person and our relationship with others.


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