Archive for November, 2010

In Philip K. Dick’s classic novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ” (filmed as the classic sci-fi noir Blade Runner), the lead character wrestles with determining whether others are conscious or not – human or android. Back in reality, this week’s speaker is struggling with the idea that a mobile phone such as a Google Android – indeed, anything electronic – could be conscious. The talk will look at modelling brain behaviour in computers, covering a number of well-known ideas in the philosophy of mind in the process, with conclusions that concern our understanding of human as well as machine consciousness.


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In place of the planned speaker who is unable to attend,  Paul Archer will talk on ‘Evolutionary Psychology and Progressive Politics’.  The theme of the presentation is that evolutionary theory has some very interesting and persuasive things to say about the nature and limits of altruism – and it’s not all good news!

Should this make a difference to our ideas about politics which, in the end, is largely about living together well in large groups?  The grand political theories of the past have rested on rather simplistic concepts of human nature (whether optimistic or pessimistic) and the issue is whether the more nuanced perspective from evolutionary theory might make some difference to how we view practical matters of social policy.


Be there or be… uninformed!

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In this talk, Katherine T Owen draws upon her book It’s OK to Believe, and uses its spiritual philosophy as a springboard to discussing: Is Faith Rational?

Amongst other things, the talk will include:

  • The metaphors we can use to understand belief in what we cannot see.
  • How quantum physics in some ways now mirrors spiritual concepts
  • How philosophers down the millennia have considered the question: Is The World Illusion? and how this connects with the question at hand.

Katherine T Owen built her faith during 14 years of being bedbound with severe M.E.


Do come to what promises to be a fascinating evening.


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This Friday, Dr Rahman Khatabi is speaking on this topic.

Islamic Philosophy revived Greek philosophy after 4-5 centuries of deep sleep, but in a new light. It experimented with significant home-grown ideas and a diversity of Greek doctrines, stretching rationalism but touching on the nerves of orthodoxy.  This created a thriving culture and acted as a conduit to transfer Greek philosophy into Europe.  For some 4-5 centuries there was significant freethinking, but orthodoxy undermined rationalism, and Islamic philosophy moved toward dogma on the one hand and toward mysticism on the other.  However, by the 13th-14th century, this culture moved to Europe in a new light, where science emerged.  So the rational component of the Islamic philosophy was not in vain.  More details will be covered in this presentation.


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