Tue,14th Jan 2014
Jim McCluskey – The Essential Return to Shaminism

Revolt against the devastating effects of the materialist world view on the natural world and our alienation from it has energised a resurgence of interest in Shamanism. The significance and meaning of Shamanism will be explored and discussed

 Sat, 25th Jan 2014
Chris Hamilton – Simone Weil: Gravity and grace, power and beauty

Simone Weil (1909-1943) is one of the twentieth century’s most unusual thinkers. A Jewess who nearly converted to Catholicism, she was also heavily influenced by Plato and Marx. Her writings, profound, troubling and wholly uncompromising, raise fundamental questions about the nature of human existence and religion. We shall explore some of the key concepts of her work, setting them in the context of her life and seeking to assess their plausibility and power.

Tue, 11th Feb 2014
No MeetingSpeaker Unwell

Tue, 11th Mar 2014
Is free will dead; and, if so, does it matter? An open-ended discussion.

Stephen Hawking offers the view that ‘we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion’. His is just a recent example of the many deterministic critiques of free will. But does it make any theoretical or practical difference whether or not we have free will? And if free will does not exist, is there any theoretical or practical role for moral philosophy? 

Several speakers will offer their views

Sat, 22nd Mar 2014
Meade McCloughan – Dialectic: Algebra or Alchemy ?
One strand of Continental thought, most notably featuring Hegel and Marx, sees ‘the dialectic’ as central to philosophy. Analytic Philosophers, on the other hand, have tended to treat it with great suspicion. Are they right to do so ? We will see what sense we can make of this slippery notion.

Sat, 12th Apr 2014
Jane O’Grady (LSP) – You: A Perspective on the Mind-Body Problem

Soon it will make sense to say that computers think, say some philosophers, and, equally, we shall soon cash out the mental in terms of the physical. But, while blaming Descartes for mind-body dualism, they themselves are deeply Cartesian. Their solutions surreptitiously focus on the ‘I’ – what about ‘ you’?

Tue, 15th Apr 2014
Christian Michel – Do we have a Moral Obligation to Obey the Laws of our Country?
There is no human being outside society, and there is no society without rules. These rules, however, unlike the ones followed by other social animals, are not in our human genes and instincts. We make them. Morality, contracts, rights, legislation, all compete for guidance of our behaviour, and sometimes conflict. The talk will examine the foundation of these rules, what claims they may make for our compliance, and will ask whether legislation is not the set of rules with the weakest of these claims.

Tue, 13th May 2014
Ben Basing Ontology of Colour

I want to defend the idea that when I say ‘grass is green’ this is a proposition about the grass, not about my mind, as a proposition it will be true or false, regardless of the observer.  A lot of ideas have been published about colour, but I suspect we will end up agreeing with common sense rather that theories about experience inaccessible to science

Sat, 14th Jun 2014
Prof. John Clarke Order out of Chaos: the Riddle of a Self-creating Universe
The question how order can come out of chaos has been a fundamental issue in philosophy and in science, from Plato to Popper and beyond, and has given rise to theories about God, being, nothingness, evolution, emergence, novelty, complexity, and even to the notion that we live in a self-creating universe

Sat, 13th Sep 2014
Simon Corbin – The Story of Existentialism (from Kierkegaard to Sartre): the Origins, Tenets and Main Proponents of Philosophy’s Existentialist Movement.

The talk will explore the existentialist movement within philosophy – examining its origins (and heyday) in the 19th / 20th centuries and providing an overview of the lives and theories of its four key proponents (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre). The talk will aim to define common themes within the broad (and frequently divergent) existentialist movement and will briefly address the question as to whether existentialism still exists ! 

Tue, 14th Oct 2014
Ruth de Sousa – Martin Buber

Tue, 11th Nov 2014
Jim McCluskey – Democracy and Capitalism

I will speak very briefly about the degree of democracy which we enjoy but the main focus of the talk will be the powerful forces which tend to hijack the democratic process including wealth, corporations, media, and the ‘hidden’ agenda of the most influential politicians

Sat, 26th Dec 2014
Prof  Derek MatraversWhich is More Important: Art or Morality?

Philosophers tend to assume that moral considerations are universal and overriding. That is, no part of our lives is isolated from morality, and moral considerations trump other considerations. This does not seem the case: to take only one example, although there is a strong moral case for selling the College silver to provide grants for poorer students, we prefer to preserve the beauty of the silver. Furthermore, it should not be the case: moral considerations should not be universal and overriding. Reflection on this tells us something about morality (‘That peculiar institution’ as Bernard Williams called it) and helps us answer Socrates’ question: How should one live?

Derek Matravers is Professor of Philosophy at The Open University and a Senior Member of Darwin College, Cambridge. He has published two books recently: Introducing Philosophy of Art: Eight Case Studies (Acumen, 2013) and Fiction and Narrative (OUP, 2014). He is working on another book, on empathy, to be published by Polity in 2015. He is the author of Art and Emotion (OUP, 1998), as well as numerous articles in aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophy of mind.