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Tintern Philosophy Circle ~ Philosophy for All

Meetings in 2021










19 January  

Bob Clarke on Historical Reflections on the 'Two Cultures' Controversy (1959-1962)

In May 1959, the scientist and novelist C. P. Snow delivered at lecture in Cambridge, entitled 'The Two Cultures' -ostensibly they were the Sciences and the Humanities. He argued for a great expansion of scientific education in Britain, but he also deplored the lack of mutual understanding between the two cultures. In February 1962 the Cambridge literary scholar F. R. Leavis responded to Snow via another Cambridge lecture in which he attacked Snow ferociously in terms that most commentators found shocking. As both lectures were published, the controversy became very well-known across the English-speaking world. Through this talk we will attempt to understand the controversy within a broader historical context, delving back as far as 1798. We will see that 'Science vs The Humanities' is not the only Cultural Polarity that is being addressed in this debate. In  our discussion we can reflect on how the individual issues that separately exercised Snow and Leavis retain their relevance today. Notes


16 February

Vanessa Dodd on Iris Murdoch - A very British philosopher

Novelist, essayist and moral philosopher, Iris Murdoch is often remembered for her decline into Alzheimer's depicted in the 2001 film Iris.  In this talk I hope to recover some of her standing as a moral philosopher and philosopher of art by exploring the key philosophies which dominate her thinking including Platonism, on which she builds her moral philosophy, and Existentialism, which she rejects as a worldview, damning it 'an unfit philosophy for the 20th century', despite her being instrumental in bringing it to Britain. I will argue that Murdoch, who taught philosophy at Oxford, was a 'very British philosopher', who forged a middle way between the British Empiricist tradition and the story-rich Continental philosophy, with  special reference to her award winning novel The Sea, the Sea (1978) which platforms her philosophical ideas in story form. Lecture Notes


16 March

John Clarke 'Extinction: The Next Big Issue

The possibility of the extinction of the human species has been around since at least the early 19th century when Tomas Malthus published his Essay on the Principle of Population, and later in Darwin's Origin of Species which broadened this out by considering the elimination over time of species of all kinds to be an inevitable consequence of the principle of natural selection. Scientists have identified five mass extinctions of animal species, and some speculate we are now in a sixth, believed to be largely the consequence of human activity. This activity, which has implications for the biosphere as a whole, involves climate change arising from increasing levels of greenhouse gases from the use of fossil fuels, human population growth, deforestation and overuse of land for agricultural production.  Some predict the likelihood of an environmental catastrophe leading to the extinction of the human species within the next hundred years. This is now a subject of wide-ranging debate. The talk comprises some thoughts on this debate from the perspective of philosophy and the history of ideas.


20 April




18 May




15 June




20 July




21 September 2015




19 October




16 November



21 December 2021