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Tintern Philosophy Circle ~ Philosophy for All

Meetings in 2017

17 January

John Clarke on Whatever happened to truth? The strange case of a lost ideal

Post-truth is in the news these days. What does it mean, and should we be worried about it? The talk will open up a discussion of contemporary concerns about truth, and of the philosophical arguments that lie behind the quest for truth.

21 February

Steve Smith on 'Well-Being and Self-Interest:

Personal Identity, Parfit, and Conflicting Attitudes to Time in Liberal Theory and Social Welfare Practice

21 March

John Clark on Mind and its Place in Nature: Thinking about Human Evolution

How do we as conscious human beings fit into the standard Darwinian story of evolution? Are we simply parts of the natural physical world, or are we in some way distinct from, even superior to, it? What are the implications of these issues for our understanding of the meaning of human existence?

18 April

John Clarke on Kierkegaard: 'Father of Existentialism'

Kierkegaard's philosophy of passionate commitment to the inner life of human existence and freedom arose out of his own inner struggles and from his emphatic opposition to prevailing philosophical and religious opinions. His work inspired a whole range of twentieth century thinkers, including Heidegger, Sartre, Buber and Derrida, and had an important influence in the fields of theology, psychotherapy and literature

16 May

Andrew Edgar on 'Jurgen Habermas and the Post-Secular Society

The talk introduced some of the core arguments of the German social philosopher Jurgen Habermas.  Andrew outlined his model of society, as a complex relationship between what he calls the lifeworld (our everyday abilities to communicate and interact with each other) and the system (referring, in particular, to administrative and economic structures through which modern societies are organised and run).  Habermas's concern is that systems tend to displace possibilities for communication and critical reflection. Andrew looked at some of Habermas's recent writings on religion, on the question as to whether we live in a 'post-secular' society, and at the relevance of Habermas's philosophy to contemporary social questions, e.g.multiculturalism and the 'war on terror'.

20 June

Bob Clarke on Understanding Life as Self-Creation

The talk examined some scientific and philosophical approaches to understanding life which recognise that all life-forms are self-organising and self-producing, This process is called 'Autopoiesis'  ('auto' = self, 'poiesis' = making) which reconciles both 'Top Down' and 'Bottom Up' understandings of our organic world. In so doing, it encompasses many aspects of life that present philosophical problems, including embodiment, perception, mind, consciousness and purpose in life. The concept of Autopoiesis has had significant influence on contemporary theories of living organisms, on artificial life studies and on the philosophy of mind

18 July Cancelled

19 September

John Clarke on "Has science stolen philosophy's script?"

A discussion of the view of Stephen Hawking (and others) that philosophy has been displaced by science in the investigation of the ultimate questions of life'

17 October

Steve Eddy Angels or Demons?

Rousseau versus Hobbes on the question of human nature

Steve asks: are human beings innately good or bad, altruistic or selfish? He will be making use of the classic contrast between Hobbes, who believed that, in the 'state of nature', humans are engaged in a 'war of all against all' and could only be civilised by strong government, and Rousseau, who believed that humans are naturally peace-loving and compassionate but are corrupted by the development of society

21 November

Tim Cross asks:  'Why did she do it?'   What does it mean to ask such questions and what 'counts' as an answer?

People often ask what is the point of so-called linguistic philosophy. Is it anything more than playing with words? Can it tell us anything about the world or is it like a game irrelevant to the world outside?  Tim will seek to illuminate this style of philosophy by examining the typical use and meaning of  'Why?' questions. What does it mean to ask such questions and what 'counts' as an answer? Does philosophy have any lessons for other disciplines or do other disciplines have any lessons for philosophy? Does the person doing something have special knowledge about why she does it? The talk will highlight in particular different types of explanation, different understandings of the things to be explained, and different conceptions and understandings this reveals of the human mind. It is hoped that this discussion will help to show some of the richness and subtlety of the central lines of enquiry in modern linguistic philosophy. Tim will draw on the works of the following philosophers:

19 December

Herbie Girardet 'The arrogance of humanism'

This talk takes the seminal 1978 book The Arrogance of Humanism by ecologist David Ehrenfeld as its starting point, which is about about a 'religion of humanism' as a source of a supreme faith in human reason, and asks: Is technology's dehumanisation of people and its devastation of the natural world a departure from humanism or at its heart? is belief in our virtually infinite possibilities deeply flawed? 40 years on, answers to these questions are more important than ever. E. F. Schumacher and others have discussed how we need to make a profound understanding of natural systems the basis for human activities. In this age of the 'anthropocene' we urgently need a new perception of human limits, a new applied philosophy of science, and a new ethics of humility and responsibility towards the living earth. Lecture Notes