Have you got time?

Posted on: December 1st, 2022 by mlpEditor

Tempus fugit (time flies).  And a new year seems an appropriate time to think about time.  But have you got time?  If you are reading this, then the answer is probably ’yes’.  But have you got time, meaning have you understood it?  Then the answer is probably ‘no’.  Time has been a persistent philosophical conundrum for a very long time (!).  Perplexing, paradoxical and problematic … but a concept we couldn’t manage without.

Our friendly and respectful discussion will focus upon seven possible explorations of time covering the aesthetic, scientific, historical, literary and semiotic.  Is time the only reason everything doesn’t happen at once, as Albert Einstein quipped?  Is it merely a comparison of spatial changes or is it an independent aspect of existence?  What is the relationship between subjective time and chronological time as measured by clocks?

Recommended for background reading are two articles from ‘Philosophy Now’ magazine:

‘Time & Change’ by Raymond Tallis

‘Calling Time’ by Anthony Proctor

Good to know: These two articles are included in the focus material, which will be shared with event registrants.

“Time’s wingèd chariot [is] hurrying near” … so book a place now. It will be time well spent!

Utilitarianism: Can maximal happiness in society be the basis of ethics?

Posted on: November 17th, 2022 by mlpEditor

Utilitarianism is the theory that morality need only be understood in terms of its utility to society. So, what is morality? Is it, as Utilitarianism implies, adaptable to the moods of time? Or is there an impersonal ethical anchor governing us all?

In this friendly and inclusive forum, we will examine Utilitarianism through a short introduction by Pierre Waugh, followed by discussions in small groups.

Utilitarianism seems intuitive in explaining why morality should exist in the first place: bringing about the happiness and fulfilment of the greatest number of people in a world that requires coexistence with others. If we call happiness good and unhappiness bad, then our very social language ascribes the same qualities to morality as it does to feeling. So why not maximise the good?

But can the aggregation of people’s personal happiness be a sufficient reason to govern all our decisions? Or is it more complex than that when different people’s interests conflict with one another? As with any theory, the nature of what it represents must be questioned.

Good to know: All you need to attend this relaxed discussion group is an enquiring mind.  We accommodate different levels of philosophical experience. You may find it useful to watch this 15 minute video published on the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s website beforehand.

Is belief ‘beyond the natural’ beyond belief?

Posted on: October 25th, 2022 by mlpEditor

Why do humans tend to reach for something ‘beyond the natural’ for insight or comfort? Is it justified?

This group discussion will continue to explore the ideas debated by Philip Goff and Jack Symes in our event Between God and Atheism (18th October).

Richard Dawkins made the point that every theist is an atheist of one sort or another. Even devout believers deny the existence of gods other than their own. But gods come in many forms. From the capricious personalities of Greek and Roman mythology and Abrahamic traditions to the god-soaked ‘atheism’ of Spinoza.

However, the supernatural need not be god-like. Some traditions, particularly in Eastern thought, have a less individualistic ‘spiritual’ conception of the transcendental, including pantheism. These days, Western intelligentsia normally contend that the natural is sufficient and other beliefs are unjustified. So why do humans continue to look for something (not necessarily a god) beyond the natural for either intellectual or emotional reasons.

We will explore whether there is a dichotomy between theism and atheism or intermediate stages of belief.

Is there such a thing as physicalism?

Posted on: August 15th, 2022 by mlpEditor

Physicalism is the theory that all phenomena are fundamentally physical in origin.

It argues that anything, from thoughts and feelings to the Aurora Borealis, has a natural and physical explanation whether we as humans understand it yet or not.

During this meeting of the Lit & Phil’s Philosophy Forum, we will explore this theory and its implications, in an accessible and friendly way. Attendees will then be encouraged to investigate and share their thoughts with the group.

Reducing your carbon footprint – air and ground source heat pumps

Posted on: July 13th, 2022 by mlpAdmin

How can air and ground source heat pumps reduce emissions of greenhouse gases?

This online seminar will begin with an interview of Florence Collier by Lit & Phil member Dr Brian Tyler. The discussion will aim to describe types of heat pumps, their availability, installation and implementation, costs and general aspects of use in the UK.

David Heaton, an experienced mechanical engineer, will then talk about his experience of living with an air source heat pump.

In the second half of the meeting, the speakers will form a panel to answer questions from attendees. So come prepared with your questions to get the most out of this seminar.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using the BlueJeans meetings app, allowing all users to be seen and join the discussion.

Between God and Atheism: a live debate

Posted on: July 13th, 2022 by mlpAdmin

If you don’t believe in the God of the Bible or the Quran, then you must think we live in a meaningless universe, right?

People get stuck in dichotomies of thought. If you don’t like Soviet Communism, then you must be in favour of US-style capitalism. Well, not if there are political opinions other than those two (which of course there are).

Another dichotomy is between traditional religion and atheism. Whose team are you on, Richard Dawkins’ or the Pope’s?

In reality, a significant number of people consider themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’. These people find themselves somewhere between Dawkins and the Pope. Somewhere between God and atheism.

Philosopher Philip Goff is currently working on a book which argues for a surprising combination of views: God does not exist and yet there is a purpose to the universe. In this live discussion, Philip Goff and Jack Symes will debate the credibility and implications of such a view. Is it reasonable to claim that “God does not exist” and can we make use of cosmic purpose in the absence of God?

The event will be in the form of a debate, and contributions from the audience will be encouraged.

Reducing your carbon footprint – electric vehicles

Posted on: July 13th, 2022 by mlpAdmin

How can electric vehicles (EVs) reduce emissions of greenhouse gases?

This online seminar will begin with two short talks from external speakers. The first talk will cover the types of EVs, availability, costs and general aspects of use in the UK.

The second will cover the infrastructure required for re-charging, both at and outside of the home.

Two Lit & Phil members will then briefly summarise their experience with their own EVs.

In the second half of the meeting, the speakers will form a panel to answer questions from attendees.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using the BlueJeans meetings app, allowing all users to be seen and join the discussion.

The Glass Menagerie – Theatre Group discussion

Posted on: July 13th, 2022 by mlpAdmin

Find out more about Tennessee Williams as a playwright, the context in which he was writing and the themes he tackled.

This member-led discussion will consist of a short, informal introduction to Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, prior to our visit to see the production at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

A presentation will be given by Tony Jackson, with additional input from Joanna Lavelle. As well as providing the background to the play and Williams, some questions and talking points will be suggested to consider when attending the performance.

The session will be 45-60 minutes long and will include ample opportunity for questions and discussion among the participants.

All welcome, whether or not you can attend the production at the Royal Exchange.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using zoom, allowing all users to be seen and join the discussion.