Godfrey StadlenA discussion group looking at central issues in philosophy from an engaged but definitely non-professional viewpoint.

Group Coordinator: Godfrey Stadlen (click to contact)

Normally at 10.30am on the first Friday in the month — but we consult diaries to try to make sure a majority of the group can attend each month.

Usually in a room in a public venue in Islington.

The philosophy group consists of 'interested amateurs'. We are not seeking the 'meaning of life' (or no more than anyone else) nor are we trying to calculate how many angels can dance on a pinhead. But we are interested in the questions that the great philosophers have asked and tried to answer:
- what is it to be good?
- do we really have free will?
- what is 'mind', is it different from 'brain'?
- can we perceive the world as it really is?
- what is the value of 'common sense'?
- how are we to understand time, and cause?
Most of these questions remain unanswered, though some of the greatest thinkers of the last 3 millennia have tried to answer them. One of the great things about philosophy is that whilst they may not have succeeded they certainly thought some interesting thoughts along the way. And the questions keep on coming back afresh. For example, new research on the brain can appear to call into question not only many past philosophical ideas but also our own common sense. But is the science philosophically robust?

Philosophy is in fact a surprisingly accessible subject. None of the group is a professional philosopher and some of us have no academic background in the subject at all. Yet we all enjoy tackling these big questions and exploring the answers that have been offered in the distant and not-so-distant past.

Our general approach is to agree a subject area and then one of us researches it in slightly greater depth and makes a short presentation before discussion. Sometimes we take note of relevant (free) public lectures at the Institute of Philosophy and elsewhere and some of us go to those either before or after related discussions in the group.

Over our brief existence we have covered a wide range of subjects: aspects of the philosophy of mind, empiricism, time and causation, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics...and more.



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