Archive for November, 2011

Ever wanted to do this? Come along this Friday and find out how, as Trystan Swale will cover:

– the difference between conspiracies and conspiracy theories
– the shared features between conspiracy theories
– how to dismantle conspiracy theories using critical thinking

Be there or be gullible!


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this Friday’s talk will be given by New College lecturer David Morrison, and is titled ‘Science, faith and methodology’ – a topic of interest to many if not most of our regulars!

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This week sees a different format for the Phil Soc, in a different place and at a different time.

We are joining with Swindon Quakers for a  meeting on Restorative Justice, with a panel made up of Tim Newell (ex-governor of Grendon Prison), who will chair the meeting; Robert Buckland, former barrister and now MP for South Swindon; and Tony Aldridge, Restorative Justice Facilitator for the Swindon Youth Offending Team.

Restorative justice allows a victim of a crime and the offender to meet face-to-face, enabling both of them to play a part in finding a positive way forward. The practice can empower victims and communities to come to terms with their trauma, and may also help to reduce crime by making offenders understand the impact of their actions. Is restorative justice the best way to change the way wrong doers are punished, so that they “do justice” themselves, rather than “simply having it done to them”? Tony Aldridge will talk about real experiences, and  Robert Buckland will explain what the government is doing to encourage the greater use of non-custodial sentences and the place of restorative justice.

Please note that this meeting starts at 7.00pm and is at the Pilgrim Centre, Regents Circus, Swindon SN1 1PX (virtually opposite the Pear Tree pub at the top of the town).
This meeting has been publicised in the local press with a request for people to apply for tickets, but Phil Soc folk do not need to do this – just turn up.


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This is the talk that was scheduled (but postponed) two weeks ago. The speaker originally timetabled for the 11th has withdrawn… for this week, Rahman describes his presentation in the following terms:
Philosophers lay down a set of constructs and invite us to engage in some sort of mind game, e.g. Descartes proposes three substances (God, mind and matter), Spinoza one (God or nature) and Leibniz multitudes (called monads). This is what I call a mind game – you have to first condition your mind if you want to make sense of each philosopher.
Religions have no constructs but do have tenets (and pontificate about them); hence, believers must still condition their minds and follow the tenets. In contrast science has no tenets, no constructs and no mind game but is engaged in continually conditioning facts through evidence and data. The development of each is a fascinating story.
My talk will be focused on the emergence of five major philosophies (Chinese, Indian, Greek, Islamic and Modern European philosophy), where the latter four also have theosophies (religious philosophies).
Each of these five has a different character and my talk will explore and contrast these characters.

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How did civilisation begin, and why did it appear in the places it did?

Most academics argue that civilisation started as a result of agricultural surplus, population pressure, organised religion or warfare. But all of these reasons fail to explain why the first civilisations are found at points where land, sea and river communication routes naturally converge as a result of geography. This week, Edward Pegler will argue that the first civilisations grew through the control of long-distance trade in small luxury items such as metal beads, precious stones or rare shells. This control of trade provided the wealth needed to organise labour and improve the land, support the growing immigrant population and generate an elite class. Increasing administration, infrastructure and, finally, manufacturing led to the creation of cities and laid the foundations for civilisation today.

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