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Tintern Philosophy Circle ~ Philosophy for All

Meetings in 2022

18 January  

Dr Vanessa Dodd What's in a Story? A Philosophical Investigation

Stories are so commonplace that most people never give them a moment's thought, or dismiss them as mere entertainment. Yet stories and story-telling are fundamental in all cultures and play a role in all aspects of life. In this talk Vanessa will explore the ways in which stories have blossomed into a variety of forms and media, especially in our postmodern age when stories and narratives have become central to philosophical and social concerns. She will even attempt to deconstruct one or two

15 February 2022

John Clarke on: Beyond the Brain: the Mystery of Min

Modern philosophy has given special attention to the relationship between the body and the conscious mind, and this talk will examine a variety of views on this topic, some identifying mind with brain, others arguing that conscious mind transcends the body in certain respects, and is even a reality that is essentially different from the material world.

15 March 2022

John Clarke  on “The Enlightenment: Did Russia Get It?”

The philosophical background to the ongoing catastrophe in the Ukraine.

19 April 2022

Juliet Trewellard  Nature, Memory & the Imagination: The English Romantics. 1790 - 1820

Juliet looked at the Romantic movement, its origins and its art, both the visual arts and poetry, and in particular she will look at the notion of the Sublime, essentially a rapturous response to Nature, or a representation of nature which could lead to a transcending of the mundane and the earthly. It was a passionate response which Edmund Burke, who developed the theory, called it "the strongest emotion the mind is capable of feeling". In England, especially with the first-generation Romantics - Wordsworth and Coleridge - the response to the Sublime was a focus on the idea of the power of the imagination, which they felt could reflect a kind of animated spirit in nature to produce emotion. This remembered emotion can act as a later force for good and for the expansion of the mind. Coleridge's theory of the Imagination proposed that it was an active power, which could reconcile opposites - the link between man and the world. In response to this Juliet looked at the ideas, the paintings and the poetry of this dramatically changing period in cultural history.

17 May 2022

Prof. Simon Cottle  On Nature, Crisis and Hope

We are all intimately involved in the world of nature; our lives depend on it. And yet, today, the world it seems is in peril because our relationship to nature is breaking down. This talk first briefly sets out some of the rapidly accumulating evidence that points to a 'world-in-crisis' and which underpins projections of probable 'civilizational collapse,' before exploring the possibilities of 'hope' and where and how this may still be found. The etymology of 'apocalypse' tells us that its original meaning does not simply refer to a cataclysmic event such as the end of the world, but also to a momentous uncovering, disclosure or revelation of some deeper truth. Philosophers, including Hegel, have sometimes remarked, 'The owl of Minerva only takes flight at dusk.' Perhaps there is something of this in the 'enforced enlightenment' of a world-in-crisis and today's 'civilizational community of fate' (Beck 2009), and in the rise (or return) of ecological consciousness in a time of impending civilizational collapse? As well as thinking beyond ideas of the Anthropocene and Capitalocene to the Symbiocene, we consider the widespread 'existential aversion' or denial and disavowal of today's planetary emergency in the world of journalism and, surprisingly, some parts of academia, before considering various formulations of hope amidst the dark telos of despair. (Lecture Notes)

21 June 2022

John Clarke on Religion without God: Spirituality in a Secular Age

This is the first of two talks to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Ray Billington. With his partner Hatti Pegram he founded the Tintern Philosophy Circle along with a number of other philosophy-for-all groups, as well as teaching philosophy at the University of the West of England in Bristol. The first talk will use some of his writings to address questions about the relevance of religious belief in our increasingly secular age.

19 July

Bob Clarke on Varieties of Authenticity

This is the second Ray Billington memorial lecture. He held the French Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in high esteem. Why was this? Sartre was a philosopher who promoted the priority of 'authenticity' in one's life (or, rather, he inveighed against 'Inauthenticity'), and so I suggest that Ray, very much an authentic philosopher himself, admired Sartre as a man whose own life could be seen as having been lived in an authentic way. But authenticity'- arguably, living one's own life in accordance with one's own principles - is a many-sided and highly contentious philosophical subject. Arguably, it can lead to morally compromised, even reprehensible, actions! The talk will therefore look at varieties of authenticity, largely as exemplified by three Twentieth-Century philosophers: Jean-Paul Sartre, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ray Billington himself.

20 September 2022

John Clarke on The Beginnings of Modern Philosophy:  the 17th Century Revolution

This is the first of a series of a series of six talks on the history of modern Western philosophy, spread over the year and interlarded by other talks and speakers. In each of these talks I will concentrate on two significant philosophers, beginning with Descartes and Hobbes, and will show how philosophy responds and contributes to the unfolding of broader historical developments over the modern period up to and including the 20th century.

18 October

John Clive on "An artist's perspective on paradox"

John will examine some of the paradoxes that are known to lie at the foundations of Western philosophy, mathematics and physics - all viewed from a perspective outside of those disciplines. The justification is that an edifice's foundations are no more visible to its occupants than to an outsider. His own perspective is of someone whose entire professional life has revolved around the enchantment of representations. He will attempt to show how paradoxes arise when representations are identified with reality.

15 November 2022

Dr Fauzia Rahman asks "Can there be justice in an unequal world"

Justice is a central concept in ethics, law, and politics. Yet defining justice, as the attached handout shows, is notoriously difficult and the subject of on-going philosophical debate. What seems undoubtedly true is that there are numerous instances of inequality and injustice in our world.

In her talk Fauzia will attempt to show that justice can be achieved in an unequal world by eradicating a particular type of injustice. She will present some real-life cases of inequality and injustice in order to investigate why injustices happen.  The answer might surprise and awake us from our 'dogmatic slumber'. Finally, she will suggest what we, collectively and individually, could do to promote justice in an unequal world.

20 December

John Clarke on History of Modern Philosophy 2: The 18th Century Enlightenment

The aim of this talk is to outline some of the revolutionary ideas that were emerging in the thinking in the 18th century and to explain the implications of these for the Enlightenment quest for liberty and social justice, as well as for a better understanding of our place in the natural world. In my talk John will draw on philosophers such as Leibniz, Hume and Rousseau.