Evening Class News!

WEDNESDAY 25th April 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

From this Wednesday and for the following 8 weeks, we will be beginning a whistle-stop journey from the pre-Socratic philosophers to present day.

This week we will begin by looking at the thought of Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC), Pythagoras, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Parmenides and Zeno of Elea. Next week we will look at Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Usual time and place: Wednesday 25th April 7:15pm at The South Street Clinic, Dorking.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 18th April 2018 at 7:15pm

Events of Interest
The Soul of Wittgenstein

If a dying man questioned what you were doing with your life, how would you answer? And would it be something that you were willing to admit?

1941.Guy’s Hospital, London. A battered copy of War and Peace, an illiterate Cockney dying of cancer, and a philosopher handing out pills. Is this all that defines them, or could they become something more? Written by Ron Elisha, winner of four Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, The Soul of Wittgenstein is a “perfectly paced … tragically beautiful play” (A Younger Theatre). It is simultaneously pertinent and engrossing, amusingly confrontational, yet tender. Directed by award-winning Dave Spencer, the play asks what happens when we open up, when we put aside our differences, and when we force ourselves to feel.

Please note there will be a post-show discussion hosted by Terri Paddock on Thursday 15th February,. Free to attend for same-day ticket holders.

The Young Wittgenstein

7th February 6:30pm - 8:00pm 2018 at the Royal Institute of Philosophy. Details: Click Here

Royal Institute of Philosophy London Lecture Series

Details: click HERE

Dear All,

Philosophy evening classes will resume this coming Wednesday – 18th April. I have not yet decided the topic! (I’m considering Just War Theory given events in the news)

Usual time and place: Wednesday 18th April at 7:15pm in The South Street Clinic, Dorking.

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 28th March 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

In the last class before Easter, we will be looking at the question of whether the seriousness with which we take a person’s work should be affected by judgements about their moral character. Should we dismiss someone's arguments, music or artwork because of their moral views or lifestyle when such arguments, music or artwork are entirely separate from those views?

 

Would you be happy to buy a Gary Glitter Album? Should people not have been interested in whether Michael Jackson was guilty? If Myra Hindley had produced amazing paintings, would you be comfortable arguing for their worth as art?

Were there any German soldiers in WW1 writing poetry in their trenches? (Or were they not suffering enough to need to?)

 

What if you love a piece of music because nurtures within you a sense of joy, and then you later discover it was written in support of anti-Semitism. Would you go off it? Would it no longer be good music?

 

What a mix of questions! (With thanks to my friend Psara Conway-Clark)

 

Look forward to seeing you there. Wednesday 28th March at 7:15pm in South Street Clinic, Dorking.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 21st March 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we move on from our discussions of the French existentialists Sartre and de Beauvoir, and embrace the question of whether or not we have free will. – Are we radically free as both Sartre and de Beauvoir suggested? What of the idea that we live in a deterministic universe, in which every physical event has been determined by preceding physical causes? – If thoughts are physical events in the brain, surely this means that they are similarly determined? The belief that we have freedom of choice is, itself, a thought and thus answerable to the physical processes that were determined by previous processes and so on.

But perhaps you do not believe that. Perhaps, instead, you believe that we live in a deterministic universe that contains the possibility of freedom within it? Can free will and determinism be adequately reconciled?

Or perhaps you believe we are wholly free? But if that is the case, how can we make predictions (which rely on our understanding that certain things cause other things)?

Or maybe you just believe in fate!

Looking forward to seeing you there! Usual time and place: Wednesday 21st March at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic, Dorking.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 14th March 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will focus a little more on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex before examining some objections to existentialism.

Usual time and place: Wednesday 14th March at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic, Dorking.

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian. 

WEDNESDAY 7th March 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

Just a reminder that we resume hostilities tomorrow (Wednesday) evening after the weather related hiatus of last week.

As part of our exploration of existentialism, we will be looking at 'Myth and Reality' in Simone de Beauvoir's book The Second Sex.

 

Usual time and place – Wednesday 7th March at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic in Dorking.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

Adrian

01/03/2018
Tonight's class has been cancelled due to adverse weather
Next week's class will take place on Wednesday at the usual time of 7:15pm

WEDNESDAY 21st February 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will begin our look at Existentialism through the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre – in particular how it is set out in his lecture Existentialism and Humanism.

 

How is it that we grasp our own existence? To what extent are we free and, to what extent therefore, do our choices make us who we are? Does what I choose define my essence?

 

Over the coming weeks we will examine these and other questions in addition to looking at the unconventional relationship that Sartre had with Simone de Beauvoir.

 

Usual time and place: Wednesday 21st February at 7:15pm. South Street Clinic, Dorking.

 

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 7th February 2018 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

This will be the last week we concern ourselves with Wittgenstein’s philosophy (at least for the time-being). I was toying with the idea of looking at On Certainty (the last of his three great works) but think it would be good to move away from him for the rest of this year. So, after this week, we will be moving on to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism

 

The topic for this week is Wittgenstein’s work on aspect-perception; we will be tying it in with his thoughts on the possibility of an essentially private language, rule-following and the foundations of language.

What is it that changes when we see an alternative figure in a drawing? – After all, the figure itself has not changed. So we seem to be faced with a paradox (of sorts): when we come to perceive an alternative figure in an ambiguous drawing, for instance, we perceive both that the figure has changes and that it has not changed.

 

In what ways do these changes in perception affect the rules of language? Is our language answerable to such changes of perception and, if so, what are the implications for understanding the world?

 

Usual time and place: Wednesday 7th February in the South Street Clinic, Dorking at 7:30pm.

 

Look forward to seeing you there.

Adrian.

 

P.S. There is no class on the 14th of February as I don’t want logic to ruin the course of true love (or should that be the other way round?).

Happy New Year!
Philosophy Classes Will Resume on 
Wednesday 24th January 2018

WEDNESDAY 13th December 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This will be our final class before Christmas.

As part of our ongoing study of the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, we will be continuing our exploration of why Wittgenstein abandoned Logical Atomism – a central feature of his Tractatus.

We will be looking at the philosophical heritage which dates from Plato and which has informed much subsequent thinking concerning the nature of language; indeed, in academic circles, such thinking is, to a large extent, culturally entrenched and so it is for this reason that Wittgenstein’s later work should be seen as all the more remarkable.

Like the Tractatus, Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations can hardly be described as a typical philosophical text. However, unlike the Tractatus, no theory is advanced and there is no discernible progression of argument within it; instead, one is treated to a series of more or less substantial remarks that criss-cross a particular field of thought, often in ways that seem capricious. This, of course, makes it all the more difficult to grasp, especially as it exists in the shadow of a Western Philosophical tradition used to the assertion of a theory of one kind or another.

Although Wittgenstein is concerned with correcting many of his earlier views as expressed in the Tractatus (those broadly concerned with the nature of language), his discussions and remarks in the Philosophical Investigations are far more wide-ranging and incorporate aspects that pertain to the nature of consciousness, thinking, personal experience, philosophy of mind and, indeed, the nature of philosophy itself.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Usual time and place: Wednesday 13th December at 7:15pm at the South Street Clinic in Dorking.

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 29th November 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

We have now finished our overview of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. In this class we will be looking at some of the specific issues that were raised in relation to the Tractatus and which, ultimately, led Wittgenstein to abandon it and return to Cambridge to work upon what was to become his second masterpiece – Philosophical Investigations.

 

Why did Wittgenstein believe his conception of language as set out in the Tractatus to be incomplete and, in some areas, mistaken? What was it that led him to abandon solipsism and why did he become convinced that solipsism was incoherent?

 

Usual time and place: Wednesday 29th November at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic, Dorking.

Look forward to seeing you there.

 

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 22nd November 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week’s class will be the last we spend exclusively on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus before beginning an examination of that which led to Wittgenstein’s radical change of position which found expression in his later work.

 

In this class we will be examining what Wittgenstein believed to be the limits of our language – as has been seen in the Tractatus, Wittgenstein believed that language is incapable of stating the relationship between what it pictures and reality itself. Now we will look at Wittgenstein’s claim that ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ (TLP: 5.6). What implications does this have in relation to what can be said about ethical concerns, for example? Why did Wittgenstein believe that the most important aspects of the Tractatus were those that he had left unsaid?

 

Usual time and place: Wednesday 22nd November at 7:15pm. South Street Clinic, Dorking.

 

Look forward to seeing you there.

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 15th November 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Having now covered the material that supplied the basis for Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, we will now begin our actual analysis of the text.

What is the difference (and relationship) between facts and things? How does the totality of facts also determine what is not the case in the world? Is there a definite relationship between language and reality? – If there is, what are the limits to our knowledge of the world?

 

Although this topic is extremely challenging, it also demonstrates the levels that human thought occasionally attains!

 

Usual time and place: South Street Clinic, Dorking. Wednesday (15th November) at 7:15pm.

 

Hope to see you there!

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 8th November 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Now that the scene has been set, so to speak, this week we will continue our study of Wittgenstein’s early work by taking a more ‘in-depth’ look at the first three paragraphs of the Tractatus.

 

This will involve understanding the ideas of logical atomism and logical form – these, in large part, provided the basis for Wittgenstein’s early thought about the relationship between language thought and reality.

 

I would really recommend you buy a copy of the Tractatus and also Ray Monk’s biography of Wittgenstein Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. The latter is eminently readable and, as well s being a wonderful biography, also provides lucid explanations of Wittgenstein’s main philosophical concerns.

Usual time and place: Wednesday 8th November at 7:15pm in The South Street Clinic, Dorking.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 1st November 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

             Having more or less finished our work on artificial intelligence, the next few weeks (as requested) will be dedicated to the philosophical work of the 20th Century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is, perhaps, unique in the western tradition for writing two works – the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with which we will be starting and the Philosophical Investigations (which was published posthumously) – the latter of which repudiates the former. Both are considered to be works of genius.

 

This week's class will begin by locating his early work – embodied by the Tractatus – in relation to the development of western thought up until that time.

 

Among the questions we will be examining are:

  1. In what way do the structures of language and the world mirror one another?

  2. Why is the world the totality of facts, not things?

  3. In what way are objects simple?

 

Usual time and place: Wednesday (1st November) at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic in Dorking.

 

Looking forward to seeing you then.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

 

WEDNESDAY 25th October 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week, we will be looking at the controversial issue of consciousness in relation to the possibility of machine intelligence. Can machines ever be conscious? How would we know they were conscious? What is consciousness? What are the theories of mind associated with consciousness?

In relation to this session, I attach a famous paper *What Mary Didn’t Know.* - There is, of course, no obligation to read it but it would certainly be useful. Click here for the paper.

Usual time and place: Wednesday (25th October) at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic, Dorking RH4 2HQ.

Looking forward to an interesting session.

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 18th October 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will continue our exploration of the possibility of artificial intelligence and the relationship between that possibility and rule-following. Can an artificial intelligence follow a rule or merely act in accordance with it? Given that rules require certain things of us, should we consider rules as causes of our actions? If that is so, could there be rules that exist independently of any custom or practice that we have?

The ways in which we think about these questions have profound implications for any answers we might come to concerning the possibility of creating machines that might think like us. Can an artificial intelligence be understood as such, even if it is not considered to think like us?

Usual time and place: 7:15pm (Wednesday 18th October) at the South Street Clinic in Dorking.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 11th October 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

Last week we began to examine what amounts to an argument and how such arguments might be identified and replicated in artificial intelligence; it is now time to explore, more precisely, how it is that machines might be said to follow rules and how such rules might relate to the identification and formation of arguments in artificial intelligence.

In a change from the usual format, in this class I shall be presenting a lecture on the topic which will examine these themes. It will also touch on the thought that it might be possible to create consciousness in AI.

Usual time and place: Wednesday 11th at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic in Dorking.

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 4th October 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

      This week we continue our explorations of the philosophical underpinnings of artificial intelligence by examining Prof. Stephen Hawking’s conception of it. In relation to what he says, we will also examine whether or not empirical discoveries in the realm of science can show our intelligence concepts to be correct or incorrect. Is it the amount that a machine can do, which determines whether or not an ascription of intelligence it appropriately applied? Or is it something else and, if so, what is it? Certainly, we say of a computer if it’s being slow “now it’s thinking” and if our cars are unreliable we often say things such as, “he/she is getting temperamental in old age.”

But are these metaphorical uses of concepts sufficient to grant genuine ascriptions of intelligence to certain machines? Are we in danger of taking our metaphors literally?

Usual time: Wednesday 4th October at 7:15pm

Usual place: South Street Clinic, Dorking, Surrey

Looking forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 27th September 2017 at 7:15pm

The first class of this academic year will take place on Wednesday 27th September at 7:15pm and will be held, as usual, in the South Street Clinic (28-30 South Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 2HQ). 
 

To begin, we will be looking at progress in artificial intelligence through an examination of some of the ethical presuppositions that are made in relation to its development. – For example, when faced with the unavoidable choice of colliding with a cyclist or a pedestrian, what factors should be at work in deciding the moral emphasis when programming a driverless car? This will involve coming to properly understand ethical theories developed by Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
 

In subsequent classes, we will also be exploring the relationship between the concepts of intelligence and coconsciousness, alongside how they may or may not be related to our moral thought and how that guides the direction of technological progress (both in terms of what we do and the ways in which computers can now ‘self-develop’).

Look forward to seeing you there.

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 21st June  2017 at 7:30pm

Dear All,

             This week will be the last class of the summer term. My aim is to make it fairly light but the idea is that we will be looking at religious arguments of various kinds. I hope also to look over the material we have covered this year.

 

Usual time/place: Wednesday 21st June at 7:30pm.

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 14th June  2017 at 7:30pm

Dear All,

This week we will be continuing our look at introductory logic by examining truth-tables, what they are able to show and what their limitations are. We will also look at Boolean Venn Diagrams and how they can demonstrate validity of an argument.

Date/Time: Wednesday 14th June at 7:30pm at The South Street Clinic, Dorking.

I hope this meets with approval!

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 7th June  2017 at 7:30pm

Dear All,

This week (Wednesday 7th June), we will be looking at philosophical logic. This is one of the core aspects of any study of philosophy (and, as such, the nature of argument).

 

How far can logic take us in the direction of truth? Are validity and truth synonymous? What role (if any) does contingency play in the drawing of true and false conclusions from true premises?

 

Usual place (South Street Clinic, Dorking), usual time (7:15pm).

Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 31st May 2017: HALF TERM! CLASSES WILL RESUME ON 7th JUNE

Dear All,

This coming Wednesday 24th May will be the last class before half term. There will be no class on the 31st May; classes will resume 7th June.

 

This week we will be examining the role of conscience in our thinking.

 

What, exactly, is conscience? From where does it originate? Do animals have it? To what extent does it influence our moral decision making? Should it influence our moral decision making? What have the great psychologists such as Fromm, Piaget and Freud had to say about it? What kind of philosophical underpinnings are they using? What assumptions do they make?

 

After half term, we will recommence with something a little more abstract – an introduction to philosophical logic.

 

Looking forward to seeing you this Wednesday at 7:30pm. Usual place: South Street Clinic, Dorking.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 24th May  2017 at 7:30pm

WEDNESDAY 17th May  2017 at 7:30pm

Dear All,

This week we will look at philosophical issues concerning truth and privacy.

 

Is truth a fundamental human need? If truth did not matter, how would life be lived?

What is the relationship between a need for truthfulness and statements that pertain to individual privacy such as: “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear”?

What about political truth and its relationship with propaganda?

Is privacy a fundamental individual need (regardless of whether one has anything to hide or not)?

Usual place (South Street Clinic, Dorking) on Wednesday 17th May at 7:30pm.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 10th May  2017 at 7:30pm

Dear All,

This Wednesday we continue our exploration of the question “nature or nurture?” with some emphasis on the complex relationship between how we might answer that question and changes in the ways people interact with one another both at individual and political levels.

 

The reading is the same material as last week and can be found here: 

 

https://www.adrianbrockless.com/single-post/2016/10/31/Evolution-Rethinking-Conservation

 

And

 

https://www.adrianbrockless.com/single-post/2016/11/21/Reasons-Causes-Political-Unrest

 

IMPORTANT: This week we will be meeting at the slightly later time of 7:30pm.

 

Usual place: South Street Clinic, Dorking. Wednesday 10th May.

 

Look forward to seeing you there!

All the very best,

Adrian.

Philosophy evening classes will resume on

Wednesday 3rd May.

 

The topic will be:

“Nature versus Nurture?”

 

Further details will be posted next week.

WEDNESDAY 12th APRIL 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

In this our final class before Easter, we will be taking a look at the ways in which objects are classified and named. Through doing this, it will hopefully be possible to shed some light on a number of the controversial issues raised in our recent explorations of Plato and Aristotle, in addition to highlighting some contemporary questions concerning the nature of artificial intelligence.

Does the way something is classified affect whether what we say about it is true or false? Can one step into the same river twice? Should goodness be classified in relation to function, conduct, or neither? Does nature take the decision about how we should classify such things in the ways we do? Is how we should classify objects actually given in the facts themselves? If so, what property of a fact is this? If not, what implications does this have for when we are discussing the possibility of genuine artificial intelligence and consciousness?

In other words, we will be asking questions about the human form of life!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Wednesday 12th April, South Street Clinic, Dorking at 7:15 pm.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 5th APRIL 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we conclude our examination of Aristotle by looking at friendship. Is friendship intrinsically selfish? Can one be selfless towards one’s friends? What distinguishes authentic from counterfeit forms of friendship?

 

The reading for this week is Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII chapters i-iv inclusive and Book IX chapter viii (only a very small amount of reading). However, I do not want to restrict our discussion to the ways in which Aristotle writes about friendship. In this respect, I will also be talking about  Raimond Gaita’s story of his father’s life ‘Romulus, My Father’. The book was also turned into a film, which I believe is available on Netflix.

 

A copy of Nicomachean Ethics can be found here.

Usual time and place: Wednesday (5th April) at 7:15pm at the South Street

Clinic, Dorking. 

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 29th MARCH 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we continue with our examination of Aristotle. There is a *small* amount of optional reading for this week (chapters 8 to 13 of Book One of Nicomachean Ethics).

 

Among the questions we will be tackling will be: what exactly is happiness if it takes a lifetime to achieve? Can one be happy as a child? Is the happy life only properly identifiable by others after one is dead?

Usual day, time and place: Wednesday (29th March) at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic, Dorking.

A copy of Nicomachean Ethics is available here

Hope to see you there!

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 22nd MARCH 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

After last week’s final and challenging instalment of Plato in the form of his dialogue Theaetetus, this week sees us move on to his successor and student Aristotle. I plan to spend two or three weeks on Aristotle, so that we can get a sense of how the development of his thoughts can be contrasted with that of Plato – some of the differences are fundamental and illustrate an interesting turn in the evolution of Western thought.

 

We will be looking at extracts from Book I of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. In these extracts, Aristotle sets out his conception of ethics as a rational exercise of virtues within a socio-political context that exists in opposition to Plato’s belief that knowledge of the good was ultimately independent of what human beings happen to think.  In what ways should these virtues be exercised and what does it take to achieve a life of flourishing?

The following week we will examine Aristotle’s conception of friendship (Book VIII).

The reading for this week is much less in quantity (only a few pages) and much easier than last week!! It is chapters 1 to 8 of Book I of Nicomachean Ethics (1094a – 1099b Bekker pagination – the numbers in the margin).

Usual time of 7:15pm in the usual place – South Street Clinic, Dorking (Wednesday 22nd March).

A copy of Nicomachean Ethics is available here.

Look forward to seeing you all there.

Adrian.  

WEDNESDAY 15th MARCH 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This Wednesday (15th March) we move on from Republic and begin an examination of one of Plato’s later dialogues - Theaetetus. This dialogue develops a central concern of Republic – namely, how it is that we can know things? What, exactly, is knowledge? How do we acquire it? What is the relationship between knowledge and belief? What implications might answers to such questions have for our understanding of the ethical and political issues contained within Republic?

 

The recommended reading for this week is Theaetetus 142-148; 152 d-e and 187-210. I know I originally claimed I would only recommend a little reading this week but, on reflection, decided otherwise. Again, I appreciate this is rather a lot and, of course (as ever), it is in no way obligatory.

Usual place and time – South Street Clinic, Dorking at 7:15pm (Wednesday 15th March).

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 8th MARCH 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Once again, this Wednesday (8th March) we continue our explorations of Plato’s Republic. We will examine why Plato believes that his Republic is superior to all other kinds of government. This will involve looking the relationship between the different kinds of government (as Plato conceives them) and the nature of the individual soul, alongside Plato’s particular criticisms of democracy. Within all this, we will also cover perhaps Plato’s best known passage in Republic – the allegory of the cave.

The recommended reading for this week is Republic 543-592 (Stephanus pagination). I appreciate this is rather a lot and, of course, it is in no way obligatory. However, it does cover most of what we are going to do (with the exception of the allegory of the cave which is section 514-521).

Click here for an electronic copy of Plato’s Republic

 

Click here for a nice plasticine animation of Plato’s allegory of the cave

Same time, same place: The South Street Clinic - Dorking at 7:15pm on Wednesday.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 1st MARCH 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will continue our examination for Plato’s Republic by looking more specifically at the relationship between his conception of soul and the just city state. In what ways can the social divisions within the state (rulers, military classes and working classes) be said to mirror the soul? How are the soul and swollen city state interwoven?

Do Plato’s thoughts on these topics have any relevance today? Does he provide the basis for the development of psychology (and a philosophy of psychology)? How should we judge the ethics of some of the more controversial dimensions of Republic, such as his opposition to democracy and support of eugenics?

Once again the class will take place in the South Street Clinic in Dorking. 

 

Usual day and time:  Wednesday (1st March) at 7:15pm. Here is the address: South Street Clinic, 28-30 South St, Dorking RH4 2HQ

 

Here is the suggested reading, along with a link to an electronic copy of Plato’s Republic: sections 435-445 and 451c-462d of Republic. (As ever the numbers to which I refer are the universally recognised Stephanus pagination (the small numbers written in the margins of the text), as opposed to the page numbers of this, or any other, particular edition.) 

Click here for electronic copy of Republic

 

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 22nd FEBRUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This Wednesday (22nd February)  we move on to Plato’s most famous work – Republic. It is a work that covers just about every area of philosophy, along with readdressing in a different fashion some of the topics covered in earlier dialogues. Overall however, the entire work is dedicated to establishing the nature of justice and the formation of a just state (or just society).

In this class, I am going to take a slightly different approach. To begin, I will take us through some of the early parts of work, which cover themes concerning morality and goodness (327-354b) in ways we have encountered to some degree in The Apology and Gorgias. This will be followed by a brief discussion of Glaucon’s challenge to Socrates (354b – 367e); it is a challenge that sets much of the agenda for the rest of the work.

The main focus, in terms of the actual text will be 368-376c; this small passage begins to look at the practicalities required to realise a just state.

As ever, there is no obligation to read any of the text, but should you so wish then concentrate on section 368 – 376c. 

Once again, we will be at our new venue - *South Street Clinic* 28-30 South Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 2HQ at 7:15pm

Looking forward to seeing you there.

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 15th FEBRUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Exciting times!

 

We have a new venue in the form of South Street Clinic, the entrance to which is between Fullers (the fishing tackle shop) and the cafe Two Many Cooks (in South Street). The class will be held at its original time of 7:15pm. Parking is available in Waitrose or, if you’re lucky, in the parking bays directly outside the clinic. 

 

This week, we will be continuing our discussion of Plato’s dialogue Gorgias and will also begin to explore the first parts of Republic. The non-compulsory reading for this week is the same as last week (which I attached to last week's email).

 

Look forward to seeing you in our new home: Wednesday 15th February at 7:15pm in the South Street Clinic.

 

All the very best,

Adrian. 

 

Map for new venue here 

WEDNESDAY 8th FEBRUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will be looking at themes from Plato’s dialogue Gorgias.

 

The Gorgias is a very rich dialogue, touching on many important philosophical questions, especially in ethics and politics. Given its bitter tone, it is a dialogue that was probably written shortly after Socrates had been put to death.  The central question, if there is one, concerns how one should live, and the place that morality and happiness, however conceived, should occupy in the good life. But there is much more to this dialogue. In this class, I also want to explore Socrates’ claim that the evil doer is miserable and pitiable, that it is better to suffer evil than to do it, and Callicles’ (implicit) claim that the study of philosophy is only a worthwhile pursuit as part of a liberal education. 

 

Looking forward to seeing you at the Oddfellows Hall at the slightly later time of 7:30pm. I will update everyone about the new location for the following week’s class as soon as I can.

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 1st FEBRUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will be looking at Plato’s dialogue Meno. This dialogue is generally considered to be a transitional dialogue, lying between the early and the middle periods of Plato's works. It actually comes later in Plato’s oeuvre than Gorgias which we have yet to look at. 

 

The early period dialogues (e.g. the Laches) were dominated by what is now thought to be the thoughts and methods of the historical Socrates. The middle period dialogues (e.g. the Republic) present much more of Plato's thought, although still delivered through the (by then) fictional character of Socrates. Where many have criticised Socrates for being intellectually negative, in the Meno we see the beginnings of some of Plato's positive doctrines, especially those of the immortality of the soul and of Recollection (anamnesis). The Meno is also more concerned with epistemological and metaphysical questions than were the earlier dialogues, reflecting Plato's belief in the importance of examining the bigger picture to answer the same ethical questions raised by Socrates.

 

A link to the dialogue can be found here, but it is longer than those we have looked at thus far – please don’t feel obliged to read it. I will take you through its most salient philosophical aspects on Wednesday.

 

Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday. Usual place (Oddfellows Hall, Dorking); usual time (7:15pm)

 

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 25th JANUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week, we will be looking at the early Socratic dialogue Laches.

 

This dialogue is one of five or six early, so-called 'critical' dialogues which aim to define some key concept, in this case courage. The pattern is typical: Socrates asks a supposed expert – here a pair of generals (but most often it is sophists) – to define the concept, and Socrates proceeds to expose the contradictions and absurdities entailed by such a definition. The process is repeated until Socrates’s interlocutors are reduced to perplexity (aphoria), and the dialogue ends, unresolved.

 

A copy of Laches can be downloaded here.

 

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 18th JANUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will get a fuller sense of Socrates by considering Plato’s account of the defence Socrates gave of himself at his trial in The Apology. We will discuss the charges brought against Socrates, and how they relate to the work of the sophists – what (if any) similarities are there with contemporary political debates and the figures which characterise them? We will also look at how Socrates’ profession of ignorance relates to his distinctive method of enquiry and how the story Socrates tells of the results of his method trails some of the major themes of future dialogues.

 

You can download a copy of The Apology here.

 

Look forward to seeing you on Wednesday – usual time: 7:15pm; usual place: Oddfellows Hall, Dorking.

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 11th JANUARY 2017 at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

Happy New Year! 

 

For the first half of this term we will be looking at themes in Plato’s dialogues (basically following a modified version of my LSP lecture course from a couple of years ago); rest assured we will cover a wide range of questions!

 

As ever, at the beginning of each session I will assume no prior knowledge. Classes will continue to take place on Wednesdays at 7:15pm in the Oddfellows Hall in Dorking. The first of which is this Wednesday 11th January. 

 

Hope to see you there.

All the very best,
Adrian

2016

WEDNESDAY 21st DECEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This coming Wednesday (21st December) is the last philosophy class of the term (and, indeed, of 2016). We will be taking our final look at the problem of consciousness and how it is related to the possibility of artificial intelligence, by specifically examining the role of algorithms in computer technology. Are there any differences between such algorithms and the rules that we follow on an everyday basis? Are they related to our ability to recognise and identify things? – If so, how? What is the relationship between our ability to recognise and conscious experience? How is it that an infinite series of mathematical steps can be contained within a formula?
 

There will also be mince pies!
 

Looking forward to seeing you for the last class before the New Year!

Usual time and place: 7:15pm at the Oddfellows Hall, Dorking.
 

All the very best,
Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 7th DECEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will be tying together themes in philosophy of mind relating to consciousness and the possibility (or otherwise) that such themes provide for the development of artificial intelligence.

What is the relationship between experience and intelligence? – Is the qualitative nature of experience (qualia) essential to the possibility of artificial intelligence? What is the relationship between experience and our ability to recognise?

In this class, I will take a slightly different approach by offering you a short lecture on such questions which we can then discuss.

Usual time: 7:15pm; usual place: Oddfellows Hall, Dorking.

All the very best,

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 30th NOVEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week we will continue our philosophical exploration of matters relating to the problem of consciousness and the relationship between this and concept and development of artificial intelligence.

 

I will also be covering three prominent theories in philosophy of mind – one of which (Functionalism) provides much of the theoretical basis for the development of AI.

 

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow (Wednesday 30th Nov at 7:15pm in the Oddfellows Hall, Dorking).

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 23rd NOVEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

This week we are going to be rather thin on the ground, as some of the class are attending the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s annual debate. So, what I propose to do is make this session more of a discussion relating to what we have covered so far in the development of western thought and introduce what we will be covering next week – namely, ideas surrounding artificial intelligence.

 

It will also serve as an opportunity to go over aspects of what we have covered, which you may have found difficult or which you would like to revisit and clarify.

 

See you Wednesday!

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 16th NOVEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Tomorrow (Wednesday 16th)  we will be examining the development of religious thinking in the west and comparing it with the development of moral thought and scientific progression.

 

Philosophers we will be looking at in particular include Plato, Epicurus, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume and Immanuel Kant.

Should questions relating to the existence of God be treated much as scientific questions? Is the existence of God a scientific question? How would science establish it beyond doubt?

 

Next week will begin to move away from moral and religious questions and return once again to scientific thought – although this time with a twist. We will be examining the development of theories of mind and how they relate to how we conceive of artificial intelligence.

 

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow – usual place (Oddfellows Hall in Dorking) and time (7:15pm)

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 9th NOVEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

This week we will be continuing our examination of the development of moral thought and discussing whether or not it has changed in ways answerable to scientific practice, before looking at how religious thought has developed in tandem with these things.

 

Looking forward to seeing you there – Wednesday 9th November  7:15pm at the Oddfellows Hall in Dorking.

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 31st OCTOBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

This week we will continue our examination of the development of Western thought by looking at the development of moral and religious thought and the ways in which we have come to justify our beliefs in this realm. Are our moral and religious concepts grammatically equivalent to our mathematical and scientific concepts? If so, can we, therefore, establish moral and religious facts? If not, in what ways do they differ and how are they meaningful? What provides the grounds for moral and religious concepts?

 

In relation to these questions, we will be looking at the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Mill among others. This is a vast area of study, so I suspect we will continue it at least into next week!!

 

Look forward to seeing you there. Usual time (Wednesday 7:15pm); usual place (Oddfellows Hall, Dorking).

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 26th OCTOBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

 

As part of our exploration of the history of western thought , this week we will be returning to the time of Plato and Aristotle in order to begin an examination of how the development of moral and religious thought proceeded in relation to scientific thought. What distinguishes moral and religious thought from scientific thought? Are there different modes of truth and falsity in relation to each? What are the similarities and differences between religious and scientific thought? Do they get confused? Do we sometimes treat religion as we might a science? And do we sometimes treat science as we might a religion? Do some worship science as others worship God?

We will be examining the various approaches of different philosophers and scientists to these questions.

 

Look forward to seeing you there!

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 19th OCTOBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

This week, we will be continuing our study of the history of western thought by examining the philosophy of science of both Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. When we have completed the philosophy of science we will, once again, go back in time and examine the progression of religious thought. Are there, for example, similarities between the progress of science and the character of religion? Has one impacted the other (and in what ways)? However, these questions will, largely, have to wait until the following week but we may get onto a few of them this week!

Look forward to seeing you there!

All the very best,

 

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 12th OCTOBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

We ended last week (after a lengthy but interesting diversion concerning the status of psychology among other things!) by looking at the scientific method as advanced by Aristotle.

This week we will look at developments in scientific thought that took place post-Aristotle. This will include, by popular demand, a sketch of the work of Francis Bacon but will be more focussed upon the notion of paradigm shifts as exemplified by the change from the Ptolemaic geocentric model to the Copernican heliocentric model. In this respect, we will be looking at two specific philosophers of science – Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) and Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994)

Looking forward to seeing you then,

All the very best,

 

Adrian

WEDNESDAY 28th SEPTEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

Just a reminder that the second philosophy evening class of this academic year takes place on Wednesday 28th September at 7:15pm in the Oddfellows Hall.

This week we will be continuing our exploration of philosophical aesthetics by, among other things, focusing on the musical and philosophical work of the Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache within the context of performance art.

 

Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

All the very best,

Adrian.

WEDNESDAY 21st SEPTEMBER at 7:15pm

Dear All,

The first philosophy class of this academic year will take place on WEDNESDAY 21st SEPTEMBER at 7:15pm. We will be starting by addressing questions in the philosophy of aesthetics: what is beauty? What makes something or someone beautiful? Should we think that there have to be similarities between Doric columns, poems, mathematical equations, sunsets and people if we are to understand each of them as beautiful? Or is beauty a criterion for saying that they are similar?

 

As promised an answer (of sorts) will be forthcoming about the mystery woman in Raphael’s painting The School of Athens.

 

All the very best,

 

Adrian.

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