Aug 2022

Heward Wilkinson - Why the cognitive dissonances of Wittgenstein’s philosophy has resulted in massive oversimplification in commentaries upon him – 07/08/2022:

The young Jonathan Bennett (1966) in Kant’s Analytic (Preface) writes:
“I make no apology for this approach, for fighting Kant tooth and nail. Had I instead indulged him, or even given him the benefit of every doubt, I could neither have learned from his opaque masterpiece nor reported intelligibly on what it says.
Like all great pioneering works in philosophy, the Critique is full of mistakes and confusions. It is a misunderstanding to think that a supreme philosopher cannot have erred badly and often; the Critique still has much to  teach us but it is wrong on nearly every page.
I have no feelings about the man Immanuel Kant, and in my exploration of his work I have no room for notions like those of charity, sympathy, deference or hostility.”

By Bennett’s own statement, this argument should also apply to Wittgenstein. I am going to argue that it indeed does. Yet Bennett does not treat Wittgenstein in the above pretty disrespectful way. Notoriously, Derrida was treated with even more hostility in the Anglophone philosophy world. But, on the whole, by his devotees, Wittgenstein is treated with enormous deference, particularly the ‘ordinary language’ Wittgenstein of the Philosophical Investigations. In her book Revolution of the Ordinary Toril Noi (under the benign wing of the revered late Stanley Cavell) writes about Wittgenstein in tones of near rapture:
“Wittgenstein gives us no theory that can be summarized and used, but rather gives us a radical alternative to theory. He teaches us to give up theory’s craving for generality and instead look to examples. He insists that the old scientistic way of ‘doing theory’ simply wont work. And once we have swept away the old cobwebs, we are on our own.”
Wittgenstein’s pupils were often nicknamed disciples, and here too in Noi’s work we seem to have the note of discipleship.

As soon as I had worked my way into Wittgenstein’s later philosophy in the second half of the sixties, I noticed two things: first, a radical contradiction, or rather complex of contradictions, ran right through his work. Second, whenever one found oneself disagreeing with him, it was as if one had burped in church, – to pass over ruder expressions. To disagree with him itself produced cognitive dissonance. To disagree with Kant, with Bennett, apparently does not have the same effect.

My conjecture, which I shall explore on 7 August, is that the two things are linked; the deference and discipleship which has protected Wittgenstein for so long, is itself linked to the peculiar types of cognitive dissonance present in his work. I am not saying Wittgenstein is not a great philosopher; I am saying something profound protects him from criticism in a peculiar way.
A preliminary look at Wittgenstein in preparation for this discussion is on my youtube page at:



We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but Heward Wilkinson is not London based and will present his talk on Zoom.  For details see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Jul 2022

Kieran Quill - The nonverbal world – 03/07/2022:

We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but this meeting will also be on Zoom see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Reality – or “nature,” or “the universe” – does not speak to us. It is radically non-verbal in its “communications” with us.

In physics terminology, “things” “communicate” with other “things” by means of an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of atomic and molecular correlations. A special case of correlation is what we call “subjective experience”, for example, the “redness” of red things; the “sweetness” of sweet things; the “painfulness” of a pain, the haptic feel of a surface, and even more generally the “what-it-is -likeness” of being conscious, or aware, or awake.


A vast philosophical literature (a whole academic and publishing industry) now exists on the subject of “consciousness” (“qualia” being the term of art – “qualitative experience”), especially human linguistically-informed consciousness – with views ranging from radical dualism of physical body and non-physical mind (or soul), to radical “eliminativism” (“consciousness” is an illusion). As an example of the latter: Daniel Dennett: “There seems to be phenomenology…But it does not follow from this undeniable, universally attested fact that there really is phenomenology. That is the crux.”

Something must be going awry here! Perhaps thinking about the non-verbal world can help. One could describe being conscious as “the state or condition of being aware – aware apart from the effects of influence of words” (from: The Center for Nonverbal Studies, Spokane, Washington)

William James called the nonverbal realm a “blooming, buzzing confusion” such as that he thought applied to the experiences of a pre-verbal infant (or animals all their lives). Kant wrote that “intuitions without concepts are blind.”


In this talk, Kieran Quill will explore the topic – verbally! In the meanwhile, you can experiment nonverbally yourself. Try, for example, watching TV with the sounded turned off

Jun 2022

Tim Hodgetts - The interplay between simplicity and complexity in mathematical physics – 12/06/2022:

Scientists and philosophers of science have been fascinated since at least the time of classical Greece by the idea that our descriptions of the universe should in some sense be simple, even if the details are complicated. The Greeks, for instance, were so impressed by the simplicity and symmetry of circles that they expected to find them everywhere in the heavens, and began constructing models of the planetary motions with circles nested in or on other circles. The mediaeval philosophers formulated a simplicity principle, often associated with William of Ockham or Occam, which for our purposes can be stated as “the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be correct”.

However, the judgment of simplicity is itself far from simple; aesthetics, mathematical probabilities and symmetries all play a part. The role of symmetry, or mathematical pattern, is particularly intriguing, because it is cyclic; it has happened again and again in mathematical physics that several phenomena which have individual simple patterns can be unified using a single but more complicated pattern. It has also happened many times that the new complicated pattern is not accepted by older scientists because it is “psychologically” invisible or incomprehensible to them (the quantum physicist Max Planck was fond of saying that “science advances one funeral at a time”, as inflexibly-minded seniors die off and are succeeded in their positions by younger people who have been familiar with the new ideas all their scientific lives).

Kepler’s laws of planetary motion were rejected by some of his contemporaries, not because they could find any fault with his astronomical observations, but because he had abandoned the divine simplicity of the circle – but he had also replaced a complicated nest of circles with a single ellipse. Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism can be written as a single equation – but it involves a mathematical entity with an internal structure so subtle that it impressed Einstein (never an easy thing to do). And Einstein’s own ideas were rejected by many of the German philosopher-scientists of his day, not because they could find any fault with his working out, but because he had abandoned the Kantian (and Newtonian) ideas of absolute space and time.

Tim Hodgetts will attempt to flesh out some of these concepts and their consequences. For the mathematically-curious, see:


We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but this meeting will also be on Zoom see SLPC Zoom Meeting


May 2022

Nicky Hyman - Burke vs Godwin an unending controversy – 01/05/2022:

Nicky Hyman will speak on the abiding Burke-Godwin Controversy 1780-1867.  Responses to the revolution in France and to widening the vote in Britain and the world

We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but this meeting will also be on Zoom see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Apr 2022

Bjorn Patricks - The Science of Networks – 03/04/2022:

Bjorn Patricks will speak on the book The Science of Networks by Mark Buchanan, with references to Hegel and Marx.

A follow-up to:

Causality and physical history

Casting light on Hegel’s and Marx’s analysis:
Master/Slave Dialectic

Mar 2022

Is it a coincidence that the greatest English poet of the second half of the 19th Century, and our first ‘modern’ poet, was a Roman Catholic convert? – 06/03/2022:

Dr. Heward Wilkinson will speak on Gerard Manley Hopkins and ask the question “Is it a coincidence that the greatest English poet of the second half of the 19th Century, and our first ‘modern’ poet, was a Roman Catholic convert?”

We meet in The Duke of Battersea, but Heward Wilkinson is not London based and will present his talk on Zoom.  For details see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Feb 2022

Bob Clarke - Nature – 06/02/2022:

We use the words ‘Nature’ and ‘Natural’ in so many contradictory ways that their meaning is obscure and their use is obfuscatory! Words like ‘Natural’ and ‘Unnatural’ reveal our attitudes towards aspects of our world, but they are so ill-defined that it is best to avoid them when we need to make policy decisions, especially those relating to Ecological Sustainability, The Biosphere and Biodiversity

This meeting will also be on Zoom for details see SLPC Zoom Meeting

Jul 2021

Gödel, Cantor and Penrose: transcendental numbers, black holes and the limits of thought – 04/07/2021:

By Tim Hodgetts.

Jun 2021

Cognitive dualism and incommensurable ways of thinking - Kieran Quill – 06/06/2021:

We seem to be quite stricken with incommensurate ways of thinking, and this cannot but translate into incommensurate ways of acting. Roger Scruton, echoing Kant and Spinoza, recently made prominent the concept of “Cognitive dualism” (e.g., his book “The soul of the World”, 2014): “the world can be understood completely in two incommensurable ways, the way of science, and the way of interpersonal understanding…that which, from the point of view of the understanding, is subject to biological laws that determine its behaviour, is from the point of view of practical reasoning a free agent, obedient to the laws of reason. These two points of view are incommensurable: that is to say, we cannot derive from one of them a description of the other. Nor can we understand how one and the same object can be apprehended from both perspectives…”

Similar themes appear in Wilfrid Sellar’s “the manifest image” and the “scientific image”, and in the whole notion of “The Two Cultures” of the humanities and of the natural sciences (C. P. Snow). Even at the very basis of modern physics itself, we have, notoriously, incommensurability: the wave ontology and the particle ontology. Though “wave-particle duality” causes little practical trouble for most of physics and chemistry (though an immense amount of philosophical controversy in the infamous proliferation of “interpretations” of quantum physics), cognitive dualism is much more troublesome in the modern world in general, as seen in the cultural, and even medical science and jurisprudence, struggles about neuroscience: the human as a mechanism; the human as a moral, free person, accountable for his actions.


This will be an online session on Zoom.  For access please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, but the link will be open from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

May 2021

An introduction to the philosophy of Bergson - Elizabeth Pask – 02/05/2021:

Elizabeth Pask will give An introduction to the philosophy of Bergson

Henri Bergson (1859–1941) was a French philosopher, famed internationally in his lifetime.
The talk will look at Bergson’s overall aim within his philosophy and position this against a background of positivism that Bergson recognised was having an overriding influence in peoples thinking

Further details are available in attached document intro to the philosophy of Bergson.pdf


This will be an online session on Zoom.  For access please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, but the link will be open from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

Apr 2021

"Religion without God" - Reflections on Ray Billington's Book -- Fauzia Rahman-Greasley – 11/04/2021:

Fauzia Rahman-Greasley will speak on Ray Billington’s Book “Religion without God”

“[T]he word ‘good’ is meaningless because it has no content, and will remain empty until agreement can be reached on the nature of the qualities to be exhibited by the object or person under discussion.” (Ray Billington, Religion Without God, 110)

In this talk, I shall explore whether it is true that ‘good’ has no content. Drawing on Ray’s claim of “Only the concept of God sustains that of good in its moral sense, and with the demise of the one, the other cannot be long in following”, along with ideas from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Iris Murdoch, I shall attempt to show how Ray’s idea of “a spiritual dimension alongside the physical” might help us understand the nature of good and its importance for human health and flourishing

This will be an online session on Zoom.  For access please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, but the link will be open from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

Mar 2021

John Clarke - Intentionality – 07/03/2021:

Intentionality. A concept (not to be confused with having intentions) adopted by Franz Brentano to characterise the directedness of consciousness towards objects (whether or not they actually exist), which makes them essentially distinct from physical objects, and hence supports a dualist view. This concept was used by his pupil Edmund Husserl as the basis of his phenomenological method.

This will be an online session on Zoom.  For access please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, but the link will be open from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

Feb 2021

Bob Clarke - The Importance of Metaphor for Philosophy and Life – 07/02/2021:

Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) argues that Metaphor lies at the very centre of our understanding of the world – it structures all of our thinking. In this talk we will see how CMT accounts for its power in our lives and explains why Metaphor causes problems for us by channelling our thoughts, encouraging dogma and empowering social and political rhetoric.

This will be an online session on Zoom.  For access please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, but the link will be open from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

See attached PDF Metaphor References – February 2021

Jan 2021

Tim Hodgetts - The Philosophical significance of Prime Numbers – 10/01/2021:

Tim Hodgetts will speak on “The Philosophical significance of Prime Numbers”

For more detail please see attached  PDF document

This will be an online session on Zoom.  To access the meeting please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, however, the Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to allow attendees to connect before the meeting

Dec 2020

Frank Gelli - Arab Existentialism – 06/12/2020:

Frank Gelli will speak on Arab Existentialism.

“I will begin by seeking to clarify the meaning of that expression in its component terms. I will discuss whether there is actually a philosophy that could be so designated.
I will chiefly consider the thinking of Jean Paul Sartre, with some references to Heidegger and Camus. Why many Arab intellectuals have been drawn to existentialist philosophy as embodied by Sartre and his politics. My discussion will be largely negative but I will eventually come with, I think, might be a surprise: Arab culture and literature disclose to us the presence in them of a key existentialist hero.”

This will be an online session on Zoom.  To access the meeting please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, however, the Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to give time for people to connect

Nov 2020

Ben Basing - Why Aesthetics? – 01/11/2020:

Ben Basing will speak on Why Aesthetics? addressing the increase in the interest in aesthetics ‘recently’.

This will be an online session on Zoom.  To access the meeting please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting.  The meeting starts at 12:30, however, the Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to allow people to connect

Oct 2020

Nicolas Hyman - Is fascism really on the transnational agenda, and what would a 21st century fascisant worldview resemble? – 04/10/2020:

Nicholas Hyman will ask the question Is fascism really on the transnational agenda, and what would a 21st century fascisant worldview resemble?

To access the meeting via Zoom please click on the following link SLPC Zoom meeting

The Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15

Nicholas Hyman Notes 04-10-2020

Sep 2020

Ships that pass in the night. The philosophical implications of the intersection of politics and therapy. – 06/09/2020:

Our September meeting will be presented by Peter Fleming.   This will be an online session on Zoom

Politics could be described as how the world outside of us functions and treats us. Government, the result for better or worse of politics, affects all our lives. It could be said that politics is our external world. Therapy is our internal world. Therapy is about how we live with ourselves and those we love.

There is wisdom and struggle in both the external and the internal. And yet they do not meet. They do not share what they are attempting, how they have failed and how they aspire. A shame. Both worlds have much to offer each other. It seems they are threatened by each other, they do not see each other, they certainly miss the contributions they could make to each other. So, ships that pass in the night.

To access the meeting please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting

The Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15


Aug 2020

Nicolas Hyman - False memories and counterfactuals – 02/08/2020:

Nicholas Hyman will will speak on False memories and counterfactuals.

Nicholas will give his talk in The Draft House for anyone who wishes to attend and it will also be presented on Zoom at virtual-slpc-meeting for those who prefer not to travel.


Jul 2020

The Morality of Assassination Politics: Reflections on the ideas of cypherpunk libertarian Jim Bell – 05/07/2020:

Our July meeting will be an online discussion

Anglican priest  Frank Gelli  will introduce a discussion on  ‘The Morality of Assassination Politics: Reflections on the ideas of cypherpunk libertarian Jim Bell’

To access the meeting please go to the following link http://londonphilosophy.net/zoom-meetings/virtual-slpc-meeting/

The Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to allow us to work through any technical issues

Jun 2020

Concept of human nature: what is it useful for? – 07/06/2020:

Our June meeting will be an online discussion.

Arnis Altens will introduce the topic with a few examples of how philosophers have used the concept of human nature in the past and proceed with pointing to relevant contemporary debates. To start the discussion he will outline a couple of meanings that might be useful in contemporary debates about human well-being and biomedical enhancements

The Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to allow us to get over any technical issues

To access the meeting please click on the following link SLPC Zoom Meeting

May 2020

What are the philosophical implications of the fact that the Covid crisis reminds, or makes many people think, of 1940 – 03/05/2020:


We will have another online meeting at 12:30 on Sunday 3rd May 2020. This will be a discussion titled “What are the philosophical implications of the fact that the Covid crisis reminds, or makes many people think, of 1940”.

Epidemiologists and meteorologists both devote a great deal of thought to devising models, which is not so different from philosophical “thought experiments”. Common to both science and philosophy are the importance of analogical arguments and devising new models (fresh metaphors) as well as being aware of the hidden metaphors that sometimes lock us into models that have outlived their usefulness. We also need to consider the lessons of history and how a historical take on philosophy can help us with the important decisions we have to make today.

To access the meeting please click on the following link http://londonphilosophy.net/zoom-meetings/virtual-slpc-meeting/

The Zoom meeting will be available from 12:15 to allow us to get over any technical issues


Apr 2020

Online Meeting - Covid-19 - cognitive and ethical issues – 05/04/2020:

Because of the current restrictions we will have an online meeting in April at 12:15 on Sunday 5th April 2020.  This will be a discussion with the title Covid-19 – cognitive and ethical issues.  To access the meeting please click on the following link http://londonphilosophy.net/zoom-meetings/virtual-slpc-meeting/

The meeting will start at 12:15 to allow us to get over any technical issues

As preparation for this discussion you may wish to listen to a recent episode of the Radio 4 series The Global Philosopher “Pandemic ethics” in particular the question at around 26 minutes in “How to allocate scarce access to life saving treatments”

Mar 2020

Boycotts? – 01/03/2020:

A group discussion on boycotts.  Nicholas Hyman will give a short introduction

Feb 2020

Nice: the Philosophical Implications of a Four Letter Word – 02/02/2020:

Peter Fleming

There are healing forces in our world that get buried under the way language has to serve power, prestige and careers. Peter will try to explore this issue from his therapeutic learning perspective. Including for this meeting is a particular device he uses in his training programmes.

Jan 2020

Nicholas Hyman – The Eerie and Capitalist Realism from Freud via Russia to Mark Fisher – 12/01/2020:

Dec 2019

Bob Clarke - Postmodernism Revisited via its Altercations with Science – 01/12/2019:

The philosophical and sociological Postmodernism of the 1970s to 90s, most specifically its relativisation of ‘truth’, stands accused by some of contributing to undesirable features in today’s popular politics. We will examine Postmodernism’s past altercations with Science to see how this may have come about. On the way we will look at ‘Modernism’, the Western ‘Postmodern Condition’, the concept of the ‘Social Construction of Science’, the ‘Science Wars’, ‘The Sokal Hoax’ and, in particular, the philosophical and sociological thought of Bruno Latour. Are today’s ‘Climate Change Denial’ and ’Anti-vaxxing’ movements products of late 20th Century intellectual Postmodernism?

Nov 2019

'Is There a Case for Slavery?' by the Revd Frank Julian Gelli – 03/11/2019:

This paper is not meant to advocate slavery but to explain possible reasons for it today, morally speaking.

The paper distinguishes between a):involuntary or compelled slavery and b):voluntary or chosen servitude.

After some historical considerations and clarifications, I shall discuss a possible case for voluntary slavery, drawing chiefly on the ideas put forward by the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick.

Involuntary or forced slavery may seem at first morally abhorrent but I shall also briefly explain its possible grounds.

Oct 2019

Is there a way for Liberal Democracy to survive in the 21st Century? - Nicholas Hyman – 06/10/2019:

What is Liberalism and ditto Democracy?

Travails and parallels from 1930’s, contrasts too

Sep 2019

Aspects of Liberalism – 01/09/2019:

A debate on the multifaceted nature of liberalism
We invite attendees to present their views of liberalism (5 min) followed by discussion

Aug 2019

Eric Phipps - Spinoza – 04/08/2019:

This introduction proposes to open the floor for a discussion on the relevance of Spinoza for 21st. century Humankind.


Jul 2019

Peter Fleming - Tenderness – 07/07/2019:

King Lear, Michelangelo, Dr King and what Freud did not know

Jun 2019

Cognitive Biases - Kieran Quill – 02/06/2019:

Kieran Quill will speak on Cognitive Biases

The slant with be towards these universal biases at work in conducting scientific research, and in everyday life.  Are these biases common in philosophy too?  Do philosophers acknowledge them?  Are there corrective mechanisms- as there are in the sciences?  Does it make sense to have “corrective mechanisms” in philosophy?

May 2019

What is the Socratic Method - Nicky Hyman – 05/05/2019:

Nicholas Hyman explores what is called the Socratic Method, akin if not also known as Platonic Dialogue. Drawing out a conclusion is not just persuasive and convincing. We learn why something is the case, not from authority, and still less from pious conformity. Other individuals may then be enlightened, woke indeed.
Richard Price and Plato’s Phaedrus induces how to proceed, ineluctably and with clarity. Divisions between beauty and truth are not to be overcome, contrary to Keats’s exhilarating injunction.

Apr 2019

The Philosophical Implications of March 29th - Iain Orr – 07/04/2019:

Iain Orr will lead a discussion on the Philosophical implications of March 29th

Mar 2019

Karl Popper and Biology - Bob Clarke – 03/03/2019:

In a late change to our schedule Bob Clarke will present a talk on Karl Popper and Biology
Karl Popper had an abiding interest in the Philosophy of Biology. His views on Darwinian Evolution were particularly controversial, but they formed an integral part of his theory of Human Knowledge – an “Evolutionary Epistemology”

Feb 2019

Conspiracies that never die - Nicky Hyman – 03/02/2019:

The age of President Trump, the Brexit campaign and illiberal regimes in Budapest and Warsaw has parallels with the anti-intellectual, fascisant climate of the 1930s.
A cluster of tenets are underpinned by a conspiracy theory, its evidence adaptable to antisemitism, racism or Russophobia. What are the philosophical and historical roots of these belief systems?

Jan 2019

Kierkegaard's Fear And Trembling - Barrie Selwyn – 06/01/2019:

Barrie Selwyn  will speak on Kierkegaard’s Fear And Trembling

Dec 2018

Negative Dialectics - Monica Booth – 02/12/2018:

Part I: Concepts

How does Adorno mark the difference between his materialism and Hegel’s idealism?

You are recommended to read  #5, “negative dialectics” from the Stanford Philosophy website entry on Adorno.  The article points to some of the concepts Adorno raises in his Frankfurt University lectures 1965/66 which be the basis of the talk

Nov 2018

Pride - Peter Fleming – 04/11/2018:

Oct 2018

Socrates, the Hemlock Cup and the Socratic Method - Nicholas Hyman – 07/10/2018:

How do we know about the life and death of Socrates, and what is the Socratic method?

Sep 2018

Averroës - Ibn Rushd – 02/09/2018:

The philosophy of Ibn Rushd – Frank Gelli

Ibn Rushd – known in the West as Averroës – is arguably the greatest Arab/Muslim philosopher. The important issues he grappled with are still with us today, the age of fundamentalism, ISIS and the so-called ‘clash of civilisations’. I will discuss some key feature of his thought but if you want a brief, fictional and amusing introduction to this great man’s ideas, read J.L. Borges’ entertaining short story ‘Averroës’s Search’, Available in paperback, in any collection of Borges’ works

Aug 2018

A discussion on the family - Introduced by Iain Orr – 05/08/2018:

Iain Orr will introduce a discussion on “The family – a necessary concept in ethics (Confucian, Nicomachean, Kantian and Utilitarian?), political philosophy and epistemology (and even metaphysics), or not?”

Jul 2018

Bob Clarke - Imagination Part 1: The Core Imagination – 01/07/2018:

An examination of the proposition, formulated by Enlightenment Empiricist philosophers and by Immanuel Kant, that our Imagination is central to our very way of being in the world. How does this proposition fare when seen from the perspectives of contemporary neurological and cognitive sciences? It may be that the ‘Creative Imagination’, which is so important for the Arts and Sciences, arises from an ‘overflowing’ of our Core Imagination, which is essential for us to be able to make any sense of the world at all! The talk will fall into three sections: (1) The Productive Imagination, (2) “If”, (3) Causality.

Jun 2018

Causality and physical history – 03/06/2018:

Björn Patricks will present the book Ubiquity.

Narratives of history are always problematic, as they are made after the event, and can offer a very limited number of causal chains. But focusing on the underlying structures and forces at work can help to make sense of historical developments. Mark Buchanan’s book Ubiquity use examples from the physical world to compare with social events to maybe shine some light on their nature.



May 2018

Nicholas Hyman - Tacit and Direct Knowledge – 06/05/2018:

How much of our knowledge is direct? Nicholas Hyman explores the area of tacit knowledge with reference to Thomas Kuhn and paradigms

Apr 2018

Iain Orr - Facts and Truth, Guilt and Innocence - Philosophical Reflections on Jury Service – 08/04/2018:

see attached PDF for further details

Facts and Truth, Guilt and Innocence – Philosophical Reflections on Jury Service


Mar 2018

Philosophical Discussion – 04/03/2018:

We were hoping for a talk from Iain Orr but unfortunately he has been taken ill.   Members will still get together for a philosophical discussion at the Draft House.   Please join us

Feb 2018

Peter Fleming - Truth – 04/02/2018:


Peter’s background is not academic but has been as a practitioner in therapy.
The website of his organisation http://www.pellin.org.uk provides context

Jan 2018

Are fascism and exterminism distinct? – 07/01/2018:

Nicholas Hyman
Are fascism and exterminism distinct – with special reference to Mussolini, terrorism and bellicosity, and nuclear weapons 1912-2018?

Dec 2017

Peter Fleming - If we do not understand each other we do not survive. – 03/12/2017:

This is a continuation of Peter Fleming’s talk on Compassion earlier in the year. He will be looking philosophically at the place of empathy in the human condition and speculating on both the origins and necessity of empathy
Peter’s background is not academic but has been as a practitioner in therapy.
The website of his organisation www.pellin.org.uk provides context

Nov 2017

Monica Booth - Language – 05/11/2017:

Taken as a system of communication between members of multifarious social groups for cooperating, whether spoken, written, or in sign, language between human beings differentiates itself from language between non-human beings by its nature of having infinite productivity and creativity. Yet, at the same time it depends on the unequivocal acceptance of certain notions, standardized in convention by cooperative individuals and members of social groups, especially if progress is to occur.

If progress is taken to mean either positivism or intuitionism, then the nature of relationship between “language” and “thinking” becomes important. “Thinking” itself has a number of linguistic and philosophical presuppositions.

This linguistic phenomenology talk will give examples beginning with an overview of the general functions of language in Western traditions and finishing with the work of J L Austin in everyday language philosophy

Oct 2017

Nicky Hyman - Russia and whether ten days, or ten years, or a century changed the world : Faustian aspects of ascending to power – 01/10/2017:

Sep 2017

Iain Orr - Tiny /Giant Alice in Wonderland – and the Seven S’s: Size, Shape, Scale, Similarity, Senses, Substance and Solipsism. – 03/09/2017:

Aug 2017

Bob Clarke – Radical Agnosticism – 06/08/2017:

The talk will present ‘Radical Agnosticism’, a position which may be distinguished from both Atheism and Belief (religious or mystical) in its attitude towards transcendent worlds and entities, such as Heaven, The World of Forms, God, Spirits, Angels, Souls, Spirits, etc. In the absence of evidence of their existence, Radical Agnosticism withholds commitment to all such transcendent entities, but, unlike some contemporary forms of Atheism, respects many aspects of religion.

Jul 2017

Perspectives on the Philosophy of Governance – 02/07/2017:

Hartley Millar

Below is the sketch I am currently working to, but there is still time for the focus to sharpen or even for the scope to expand

The talk will attempt to bring together concepts from political philosophy, corporate governance, and management. It will review various manifestations of governance to highlight common factors and sources of puzzlement.
“Human nature” will be considered as a fulcrum on which to leverage theory-building by considering on the one hand our need to deal with people on the basis of reasonable expectations, and on the other our relatively limited ability to predict outcomes even when there is a sincere and skilled attempt to achieve them.
Depending on time, some attention may also be given to the lurking suspicion that theories of governance are part of a discourse that assumes the legitimacy of current power and domination models, and to proposing a clarification of the concepts of law, regulation, governance and governmentality.

Further details are given in the attached PDF

S London Phil 2017-07-02

Jun 2017

The Russian Revolution in Philosophy – 04/06/2017:

Nicholas Hyman explores perceived Russian transitions, including the abolition of serfdom and the abortive 1905 revolution culminating in two revolutions of 1917.

What was the impact of change and of the civil war, on thought about what was possible, and about ends and means, in and beyond Russia, to 1945 and on to the 21st Century?

May 2017

The Philosophy of the Anthropocene – 07/05/2017:

Iain Orr

An introduction to the Anthropocene:

The talk will fall into three sections. First, what implications has the Anthropocene – as an emerging geological concept – for other disciplines: biology, theology, anthropology and philosophy? Second, should Homo sapiens aspire to be the steward of the natural world; indeed, is H sapiens now unable to avoid that responsibility?  Are there non-H.sapiens candidates for that role? Third, what are the political, economic and ethical implications of anthropic global commons? [i.e. What can any human individual, community or country own – and what does ownership mean?] Benjamine Kunkel’s review essay The Capitalocene  in the 2 March 2017 issue of the London Review of Books” is a good introduction to the subject.

LRB · Benjamin Kunkel · The Capitalocene: The Anthropocene




Apr 2017

Peter Fleming - Empathy – 02/04/2017:

Peter Fleming – Founder of the Pellin Institute – pellin.org.uk

Peter a Humanistic Psychotherapist and will speak on Empathy


Mar 2017

Hegel and Progress (with some reference to Kant and Marx) – 05/03/2017:

The idea of progress only became fully thinkable with the French Revolution in history and German Idealism in philosophy.  Hegel was able to develop an explanatory relationship between progress in philosophy and progress in history.  By looking at Hegel, and looking at Kant and Marx, we will be able to see the basis of progress in philosophical truth and historical truth.  Progress must be defended against the pessimists.

Phil Walden


Feb 2017

The End of Art – 05/02/2017:

Ben Basing

‘I studied Art Theory and Aesthetics in the same way that other people might study pyramids. It was assumed by my tutors and the texts we read that the “modern” approach to Art, Culture and a way of thinking had ended sometime after the Second World War. Art still happens, artefacts still exist and have relevance to our lives, Egypt is still an important country with culture and even pyramids- but we don’t do pyramids any more.’

Jan 2017

Aspects of R G Collingwood – 08/01/2017:

Bob Clarke will discuss R G Collingwood.

R G Collingwood was an English Idealist Philosopher, a polymath, active in Philosophy (and Archaeology!) between the First and Second World Wars. One of his main commitments was to the importance of History for Philosophy. What can he tell us about our own ‘Post-Truth’ age? A few ideas will be canvassed …

R G Collingwood 

Dec 2016

Catastrophes and Philosophy – 04/12/2016:

Nick Hyman

Tambora 1815 to nuclear winter, foreshadowed by the Lisbon earthquake, is a trajectory with impact on mentalities, norms and perceived obligations. Why do most people exclude catastrophes from their probability list?

Nov 2016

Coining, Context, Contingency - Philosophy as History? – 06/11/2016:

Bob Clarke

Just how, and to what extent, is Philosophy dependent on History?

Oct 2016

Referenda – 02/10/2016:

Iain Orr

When should we trust people to vote as a way of deciding who is to exercise political power? Is there still life in representative Parliamentary Democracy? Are simple majority decisions the best way to address disputes over constitutional matters?

Sep 2016

Fascism and Philosophy – 04/09/2016:

Nicky Hyman

From 1922 to 1945, Mussolini then Hitler favoured particular contemporary philosophers. Not with a focus on Heidegger, what was the content and style of Fascist or Nazi philosophy, and does it affect us now?

Aug 2016

Abstract Expressionism – 07/08/2016:

Ben Basing

What does Abstract Expressionism express, and where does it abstract if from?

Abstract Expressionism is a modern art movement, epitomised by large American paintings with no discernible subject matter.  Epitomised by works like Jackson Pollock’s canvases covered with drips of paint, or Barnet Newman’s enormous pictures with just one vertical stripe.  As these were clearly not trying to depict a physical object were they trying to express something about the world, or the artists’ minds, or make some phenomenological comment about the spectator’s observation of the world?

Jul 2016

Does social class dissolution equate with social class revolution? – 03/07/2016:

Dr. Helena Marconell

The concept of social class is changing rapidly with many mainstreams influencing the way we view it not only on ourselves but in others too. You might have less means than others but you still think you’re fine, in a normal kind of class; you go by, you like what you like and this is fine, should you need anything else?
And this seems to apply to poorer and richer alike. The feeling of being more or less seems to have transformed onto ‘I’m fine, I survive, I make ends meet’. However, before the advent of media platforms and hidden investments in tax havens, people had a more rigid way of who was who with a regular tension in the middle and poorer strata of society.
Let’s face it, the rich have always been the rich and like a plague, they pass it on to their descendants. The problem I see now is that the rich are continuously being richer and the poor are poorer than ever. This is baffling in an era of equality and supposedly more work, shouldn’t it be easier to be upwardly mobile? This is reinforced by the fact that the middle class seems to move like a wave according to the job availabilities, property prospects and so on. You might have a job today, and be in the street tomorrow, literally in the street and suddenly become as poor as you could be with many people ending up going back to parental homes in order to survive. And then going to the parental home does not make them any richer, they still feel poor, without the means to be independent. This is what I call a social dissolution, one day you‘ve got money, a rented or a mortgaged flat, the following day car is gone, even the door mat disappears. But the rich seem to be doing alright, as long as there are tax heavens to hide their wealth and create these massive black holes where the wealth of the whole world is being absorbed into, they are fine. Do you think that we need a social class revolution?

I will also bring a little quiz to prove some of these points and more, see how we all fair. For instance, would going to the opera make you feel more ‘upwardly mobile’ than you are now? Do you like going to the opera? Would you go if that was considered the ‘thing’ to do in the new group you just joined in that big promotion at work?

Jun 2016

Ayer's Hume and Other Humes – 05/06/2016:

Nicky Hyman on Ayer’s Hume and Other Humes

A J Ayer’s book on David Hume, now in the Oxford Very Short Introduction Series, has been influential. We will discuss Ayer’s reading of Hume and examine other interpretations for the 21st Century.



May 2016

The Caring Professions – 01/05/2016:

Peter Fleming

Supplementary material:
Pellin Institute

Apr 2016

Islands - Why do they matter philosophically? – 03/04/2016:

Islands – Why do they matter philosophically?

Iain Orr

Mar 2016

Public Intellectuals Part 2 (Chomsky) – 06/03/2016:

Public Intellectuals, Bourgeois Intelligentsia, or Rooted Cosmopolitanism Rides  Again 1800 – 2016

Nick Hyman

Feb 2016

Life – Part 3: Autopoiesis. – 07/02/2016:

Bob Clarke

This will be the third and last of our philosophical investigations into how we can go about understanding Life on Earth. We have been looking at both ‘Top Down’ (e.g. cultural) and ‘Bottom Up’ (e.g. materialist, reductionist) ways of understanding Life and focussing on intellectual movements that are seeking to reconcile these two approaches. In this meeting we will investigate the concept of “autopoiesis”: the idea that the major concern of lifeforms is self-making. We will also look into the “Four E’s” that have come to be associated with autopoiesis: Embodiment, Enaction, Embeddedness and Extension.  The presentation  will summarise the discussions held in Parts 1 and 2, relating autopoiesis to them in a broader context, but will be self-contained so that those who missed the earlier discussions should have no difficulty following the general line of thought here and can be encouraged to attend.

Jan 2016

No SLPC Event – 03/01/2016:

There will be no meeting of South London Philosophy Circle on Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Dec 2015

Is Psychotherapy taking over the world? – 06/12/2015:

Heward Wilkinson will speak on

Is Psychotherapy taking over the world? How Psychotherapy became the foundational paradigm for our time

Nov 2015

Russell and Chomsky – 08/11/2015:

Nick Hyman presenting:

Russell and Chomsky.
Enlightenment and World’s Tuning

As with Voltaire earlier, Russell then Chomsky were widely influential public intellectuals, whose dissent became a new consensus, if not orthodoxy. How came this sage role, and did it detract from other work each achieved ?

Feb 2012

Denigrating Reason – 05/02/2012:

Bob Clarke