Archive for November, 2013

This  week, Dr David Webster returns to the Phil. Soc. and will be speaking on ‘Happiness and the Truth of Death‘.  David says this will be ‘an examination of the happiness movement, life-coaching, existential dread and human mortality’.


I hope to see you there.


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This week, local author and writer Juliet Platt will be speaking about Marion Milner,  British journal-writer, artist, poet, educationalist and psychoanalyst, in whose work there is renewed interest since the republication of her seminal work A Life of One’s Own, the publication of a new biography and the opening of a dedicated archive at the British Psychoanalytical Society.

Milner examines some important questions about the nature of subjective experience, the influence of our unconscious mind, the role of the body and how we articulate the Inner Fact of being alive. Her feminine approach to writing, self-enquiry and creative expression is fascinating and will make for an interesting evening of discussion and philosophical reflection.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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The week of this talk is also the week of the climate change conference in Warsaw. The prognosis is not good – all previous talks have failed to agree on the actions necessary to tackle climate change and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. To emphasis the magnitude of the crisis, it is also the week that a disastrous typhoon has destroyed much of the Philippines.

In the face of the catastrophe of climate change, can we rely on the existing political structure to deliver the solutions we need in the timescale available to us, or is it and the process being pursued structurally flawed? If these are, what are the options?

In the midst of this crisis, all the world’s most powerful nations are embarking on massive nuclear weapons upgrade programmes in violation of the 1967 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Is there a connection between these?

Kevin Lister, this week’s speaker, has been campaigning with various environmental groups for over 15 years and will be exploring the linkages between nuclear weapons and climate change.

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In this week’s  talk, Professor Alan Winfield returns to outline recent research that has, perhaps for the first time, studied embodied social learning, by imitation, in real-robot collectives. The work has value in extending techniques for robot-robot learning, but its primary purpose is to model and illuminate the processes and mechanisms of behavioural evolution.

Embodied social learning provides minimal but sufficient biological plausibility and embodiment leads naturally to imperfect imitation, which appears to play an important role in the dynamics of behavioural evolution.
Illustrated with results from the Artificial Culture project*, Alan will pose the question, for discussion: “can collective robotics be used to model the dynamics of social interactions in human societies?”


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