Archive for October, 2013

The week, Chairman Gerry Merrison attempts to avoid controversy with a look at what makes people ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Is it their innate morality (or lack of it)? And to what extent does luck / fate play a role in how we turn out?

So come along this Friday at 7.40 to find out more about the concept of Moral Luck, and to ask yourself the question posed by well known philosopher Harry Callahan: “Do I feel lucky?”


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This week, Guy Robertson, Director of Positive Aging Associates, returns to the Phil Soc to talk on aging. He says:

“Most people view ageing in a passive way, as something that happens to them which they have no control over – apart from doing a bit of exercise.   This talk will argue the opposite case, namely that we can improve our health and wellbeing, and indeed our longevity, by taking an active interest in the ageing process and particularly by paying attention to the emotional and psychological aspects of our lives.  Replacing unhelpful beliefs with more positive ones is an essential part of the process – and perhaps a challenge to the philosophers in the audience!”

Changing your beliefs?? Come along this week to hear more.

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They say all publicity is good…   www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10743082.Everyone_has_a_way_of_thinking/

(For the record, we have not undergone a name change – as spelt out to the reporter, we’re PHILOSPHICAL!)


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“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

The above quote (typically attributed to John Maynard Keynes but probably not originating from him) makes it sound so easy. So why don’t we all act in this way?

This talk from Neil Howard looks at recent ideas about what the brain is actually doing, and relates this to what philosophers think about how we know things, to try explain why we don’t…….. and why this is a good thing.

Sounds fascinating …. come along this Friday and hear more.




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Trystan Swale returns to the Phil Soc this week to talk about ostension.

Ostension is defined variously as “the showing of the sacrament on the altar in order that it may receive the adoration of the communicants”; or as demonstrating / showing by example or pointing. To folklorists, however, ostension is the real-life occurrence of events described in a legend.

Trystan describes his talk as follows:

“When the Ice Cream Man Lost the Death Certificate: an exercise in legend tripping.”

On the night of 13 March 1970, scores of expectant thrill-seekers descended upon London’s Highgate Cemetery. Fuelled by sensational television coverage, they had come to watch a local man destroy the ‘King Wampyr’ haunting the gothic necropolis.

Some forty three years on, having unintentionally walked into the fallout still lingering from that night, Trystan revisits the history, influences, revisionist drama and staggering aftermath from a most curious piece of British folklore.”

Intrigued? Come along to find out more.

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This week, Andrew Pyle returns to the Phil Soc to talk about John Locke and toleration. He says:

English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) published A Letter Concerning Toleration in 1689.

Locke’s work appeared amid a fear that Catholicism might be taking over in England, and responded to the problem of religion and government by proposing religious toleration as the answer.

Unlike Thomas Hobbes, who saw uniformity of religion as the key to a well-functioning civil society, Locke argued that more religious groups actually prevent civil unrest. In his opinion, civil unrest resulted from confrontations caused by attempts to prevent different religions from being practiced, rather than tolerating their proliferation.

However, Locke denied religious tolerance for Catholics, for political reasons, and also for atheists because ‘Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist’.

Come along this Friday to hear – and discuss –  more.

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