Past Events

Jun 2017

Has Science Stolen Philosophy's Script? – 03/06/2017:

A Saturday School with Professor John Clarke

A discussion of Stephen Hawking’s view that philosophy has been displaced by science in the investigation of the ultimate questions of life.

May 2017

What is Aesthetic Pleasure? – 18/05/2017:

A general discussion with mini-presentations on different aspects of the question.

Apr 2017

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Poor Poet and Great Philosopher? – 11/04/2017:

Peter Bulmer will be discussing Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he says:

If you thought my fact-packed session last year on the philosopher Boethius was an egregiously amusing way of passing a couple of hours, then come along to my latest extravaganza on the philosopher-poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
“In England,” STC wrote, “I am a poor poet. But in America I am judged a great philosopher.”
But just how important was he? Why isn’t his philosophical writing more widely known? Is he due a revival? Come along to the Adelaide Pub in Teddington on 11th April and find out!

Mar 2017

The Philosophy of William James – 25/03/2017:

A Saturday School with Jane O’Grady, London School of Philosophy

Any philosophy that leaves out subjectivity and our sense of the divine, said William James, is ‘ridiculous’. Pragmatist and psychologist, idealist and materialist, ‘systematically erratic’ – he is closer to the Continentals than to Anglo-American philosophers in tackling lived experience, both immediate and transcendent.

Feb 2017

Recent Philosophy and the Meaning of Life. – 11/02/2017:

A Saturday School with Chris Hamilton, Kings College London

Many philosophers in the analytic tradition have recently sought to explore the question of the meaning of life. In this class we shall discuss one or two important approaches from this tradition and see how plausible they are. We shall then think about the general approach they adopt and seek to explore an alternative approach indebted to the writings of Hannah Arendt in particular.

Jan 2017

Coining, Context, Contingency: Philosophy as History? – 19/01/2017:

Bob Clarke

An Exploration of the Perennial and the Historically Contingent in Philosophy.

What is the most fruitful way for philosophy and history to interact?

Dec 2016

Philosophy and Romanticism – 03/12/2016:

A Saturday School with Barrie Selwyn.

In the so called Romantic era, 1800 – 1850, there was an unprecedented reciprocity between Poetry and Philosophy.   Both Wordsworth and Coleridge had a well documented interest in Locke and Kant/Schelling and there were many philosophical themes running through their poems.

Key themes of talk will be:

  • Post-Enlightment redefinition of reason – new emphasis on feeling and emotion
  • New vocabularies for selfhood and interiority.
  • A secular conception of spirituality outside the confines of organized religion
  • The redefinition of Nature
  • Celebration of excess – anti-puritanism
  • Celebration of artistic creativity


Nov 2016

The Philosopher as Gadfly – 05/11/2016:

The Philosopher as Gadfly:
stimulating dialogue in science and technology
Yasemin J Erden, St. Mary’s University, London
I am the gadfly of the Athenian people, given to them by God, and they will never have another, if they kill me. For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble stead who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you (Plato, Apology, 30e-31c)
While on trial in Athens, Socrates is said to have presented the above defence of his life and manner of living. In so doing he urges his contemporaries to recognise the value of being irritated by philosophers and thereby offers a sort of template for what the role and value of philosophy and the philosopher might be. This talk examines the idea of the philosopher as gadfly, and as one who asks annoying or stirring questions. Within this a distinction between the two is considered, as well as how we might use dialogue as a method in such pursuits. As a way to ground these ideas, I’ll present some of my experiences with interdisciplinary work (specifically philosophy with science and technology) and talk about ethics, creativity, progress, and how we talk across disciplines

Sep 2016

Celebrating Utopia – 22/09/2016:

Gareth Harper will present:

Celebrating Utopia: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ was first published in December 1516. The talk will consider how far the book was a typical product of Renaissance humanism; and whether Utopian communism was just a rhetorical device, or was intended as a blueprint for the radical re-organization of society.

Jun 2016

Karl Popper – 11/06/2016:

Professor John Clarke will present a Saturday School:

Karl Popper on Science, the Open Society and the Open Universe

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’, written in the dark days of fascist tyranny, helped to re-define the ideals of democracy and freedom in the post-war period, and his views on science led to controversial speculations about consciousness and its evolution, about free will and determinism, and to the view that the universe as a whole is in some sense creative.