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Tintern Philosophy Circle ~ Philosophy for All

Meetings in 2020

21 January  

Herbert Girardet on Beyond Nature? Philosophy in the Anthropocene'

This term 'anthropocene' is now widely used to describe our current epoch when human action has taken on geological dimensions, anthropos being the ancient Greek term for humans. How do we need to conduct ourselves given the unprecedented powers we have over nature?

In his talk Herbie will draw on many years of work in this field as an author, international environment consultant, and documentary filmmaker. He is a member of the Club of Rome (an organisation of individuals who share a common concern for the future of humanity), and a recipient of a UN Global 500 awards for outstanding environmental achievements

18 February 2020 Cancelled

17 March 2020 Cancelled

21 April 2020 Cancelled

19 May 2020 Cancelled

16 June 2020

John Clarke on  Locked down with Sartre : Philosophical reflections on the virus.

This will be an opportunity to discuss some aspects of existentialist thought and writing, and at the same time to relate these to contemporary global events.

21 July 2020

Tim Cross on Tim Cross on What on earth were they thinking of? The beginning of philosophy

The talk covers the so-called pre-Socratic philosophers in the ancient Greek world starting from about 600 BCE. This was a key period in the development of western civilisation, just after the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey (approx. 750 BCE) and the development of coinage (approx. 620 BCE).

25 August 2020

John Clarke on China and the West: Clash of civilizations?

A long time ago John was offered a teaching job in philosophy at the University of Singapore since, like many of my generation, he was drawn to the 'mysteries of the orient'. Alas no mysteries. The philosophy taught there was exactly the same as the philosophy taught in any British University. Even his ethnic Chinese colleagues showed no interest in Chinese philosophical traditions. So it was only on his return to the UK that he embarked on a study of those traditions, and this led him to investigate the relationships and influences between the intellectual cultures of China and the West. He wrote several books on this subject, including Oriental Enlightenment: the Encounter between Asian and Western Thought. This is the context of this presentation which relates specifically to recent political debate of a 'clash' between China and the West

15 September 2020

Herbert Girardet on  A Manifesto for the Coronacene (Lecture Notes)

The talk is based on two articles that Herbie published on the Ecologist website recently: 'Is Nature Taking Revenge?' and  'Manifesto for the Coronacene'. The Pandemic facing us is closely linked to the prevailing 'planetary emergency', impacting people, both present and future. Two urgent responses are needed:

  •  recognition that we may have reached the limits to our reckless conquest of nature;
  • a philosophy that outlines steps towards a regenerative culture and economy.

Can the current pandemic become a 'portal' for a meaningful transition?

20 October 2020

John Clark on the Philosophy of Risk

The talk looked at how people view and balance risks and factor this into their lives and strategies - and also what philosophers/thinkers have had to say on the subject over the ages.

 It is a topical topic in the age of COVID: in USA the deaths from COVID-19 so far is 59 times deaths from terrorism this century, including "9/11" (that in UK is 293 times).  So, in the USA the COVID death rate is equivalent to one "9/11" every 3 days. The Al Qaeda attack changed the world and triggered international wars that are still on-going two decades later; in the case of COVID many people can't be bothered to wear face-masks to fend off the virus.  Why such differences in the responses to different risks?  It is also a subject as old as known history.  Why did early humans shift from hunter-gathering to settled farming some 10-12,000 years ago?  This probably tripled the daily hours worked and made for harder work, but it provided greater security. (Lecture Notes)

17 November 2020

Mark Kirwin on "The skull grins in at the banquet"

Death, the perennial cure for all diseases, has long been a subject of deep fascination for many of us. We're in good company as it's probably the root of all philosophy. Our relationship with death, how we reflect or refuse to reflect upon it, seems key to understanding many puzzles about our species.

 In some ways the under-sense, the sense of an underworld, has been a lifelong obsession for me. As a child the realisation that people die, and also that they could be 'mad', struck me as revelatory, mysterious and horrific, as in all likelihood it is for all of us. Unsatisfying answers to Sunday school questions about the nature of the soul confirmed and sealed my fate. These discomforting facts of life opened up a scent trail of questions regarding the nature of being, society and ultimate meaning which I've been following with my intuitive nose ever since. No final answers are possible of course. (Lecture Notes)

15 December

John Clarke  on “ 'The rise and fall of logical positivism: key issues in 20th  century philosophy

 One of the most contested issues in 20th century philosophy was between those like A.J. Ayer (with his best-selling book Language,Truth and Logic) who sought clarity and down-to-earth empirical certainty at all costs, and those like Karl Popper (with his speculations about an 'open universe') who, while giving science an important role, believed that philosophy should explore issues that embrace wider traditional metaphysical questions. Debates on these issues, which arose out of the work of Russell and Wittgenstein early in the century, ranged from science to politics, from the public world of language to the more private world of mind, and from the turmoil of inter-war Vienna to the relative tranquility of post-war Oxford.

In relation to this topic you might be interested in an imaginary dialogue between Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos (Popper's successor at the LSE) written by Circle member and speaker Ken Binmore. It is one of a series of such dialogues between well-known philosophers by Ken which is being published in book form. You can access this dialogue as a Word document by clicking on the link above.Lecture notes