Past Events

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

Abstract:
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.