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Seminar: Hume on Character and Free Will

At each seminar, we discuss a short philosophical text, or tackle a philosophical question. This month's text is an extract from section 8 of David Hume's book. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The extract is available here:

http://www.rbphilo.com/hume_liberty_necessity.pdf

We want to keep these events reasonably small, so that we can keep the discussion focused, and so that everyone can participate. Please book your place by using the RSVP button. If you book and then find that you cannot make it, please cancel your booking, so that someone else can take your place.

The venue is the Long Bar in the main foyer of the National Theatre on the South Bank. It is a big bar, but we are generally in the vicinity of the Lyttelton Theatre cloakrooms. We will normally start at 7.45 pm, but when the main theatre's play starts at 8, we will start at 8.15, so that the foyer is clear for us. Please check each event, to confirm the time.

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  • Michael

    Wandering around the National Theatre like a lost soul.... It could have been made clearer as to where the event actually is.

    July 24, 2013

  • Michael

    I am at National Theatre, but no idea where to go now. It is a big place. Where is the talk?

    July 24, 2013

  • nisha p.

    Sorry, unable to attend this evening. Hope someone else can take my place.

    July 24, 2013

    • Richard B.

      Thanks for letting us know, Nisha. The computer has automatically moved someone up from the waiting list to take your place.

      July 24, 2013

  • mark g.

    I wish I could make this one. The more I think of the problem the more elusive there is to a meaning. I no longer know what I mean by free will even though it underwriters most of my ideas. Anyways enjoy the talk.

    July 24, 2013

    • Richard B.

      Thanks, Mark. In the unlikely event of our reaching agreed conclusions, I shall report them here.

      July 24, 2013

    • Gary

      I think being clear on what you mean by free will is the first task of tackling this :) interesting point you make about not being sure. Personally i think i subscribe to degrees of free will relative to individual conditions ; although when various parts of the brain fire prior to a conscious region activating it does make you wonder! Then again does free will exist from somewhere outside of the brain? And merely communicate into that organ???! All interesting stuff. :)

      1 · July 24, 2013

  • Gary

    What a shame this event is full, its the subject that first got me interested with philosophy! Have a great time everyone :)

    1 · July 24, 2013

  • Anja S.

    Sorry, won't be able to make it after all!

    July 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The event is full :(

    July 20, 2013

    • Richard B.

      Yes. sorry about that. As I said in the description, we want to keep the group small enough to have a well-focused discussion with everyone having plenty of opportunity to participate. (We also cannot impose too big a crowd on the National Theatre's foyer.) But this is the first event of this type we have organized, so we will see how things go.

      July 21, 2013

  • eeL J.

    OK, well now , David, if we're in the ditty business:

    - - - Baa-baa Black Sheep,
    - - - Ha’e ye any wooool?

    - - - Aye, Sir, och aye, Sir,
    - - - A zillion bags fooooll.
    - - - But none for the Master,
    - - - But none for the Dame;
    - - - The lot’s for some Philosopher
    - - - Wi’ Ed’nb’ro’ as hame.


    - Anon (admirer of Hume)

    I’m sorry, I’ll punctuate that again:

    - (A non-admirer of Hume)


    The interview continues:

    - - - Baa-baa, can ye tell oor viewers why that is?

    - - - Well, apparently, every line this Philosopher writes, of every page he writes, of every book he writes, is pure wooool - so he needs staggering quantities.

    - - - Baa-baa Black Sheep, thank ye.

    - - - Och, ye’re welcome. (Nae hoots mon, where’s ma interview fee, the noo??)

    Footnote: it is thought very possible, in Certain Quarters Not A Million Miles From Here, that the origin of the word ”exHume“ lies in the tradition of the perpetual need to disinter Hume’s thrust from all his wooool.

    A non-admirer of Hume.

    July 20, 2013

  • David L.

    Someone wrote a helpful limerick about free will, character, etc:-- "A cynical sage with a kink / Said between thought and deed there's no link / I think what I ought / But don't do what I thought / So it's best to do naught, and not think." Hope this is useful. Cheers.

    1 · July 6, 2013

  • ANA R.

    sorry still on holidays for this one

    July 3, 2013

  • ANA R.

    out on holidays in Spain till mid August , will be looking forward to this interesting gatherings from mid august ownwards

    July 3, 2013

  • eeL J.

    Part 3 of this comment (an update):

    I have now created a new extract from my alternative (Bennett) rendering, available at

    http://db.tt/xYTRKnX2

    This has the following improvements (in the context of this Seminar) over the Bennett base version:

    * It is reduced from whole-book length to only the portion specified for this Seminar (plus a very few introductory paragraphs).
    * The sections are now numbered, with numbers which match the numbers in the original version specified for this Seminar.
    * Further, the numbering system is extended to provide extra numbers on each subsequent paragraph of any multi-paragraph section, so that individual paragraphs can be referenced.
    * It is EDITABLE (with just about any Word Processor) rather than just browseable ... so you can add your own personal notes / comments / font changes / whatever to your own copy. [This results from a format conversion, from PDF to RTF].

    If I make further significant improvements, I'll post a further update here.

    June 26, 2013

  • eeL J.

    Part 2 of this comment (1000 character max):

    Furthermore, the rest of the material on that first page (ie, the stuff which directly precedes the given extract) provides an extremely helpful context-setting overview of Hume's objectives in writing the given text. In particular, I would draw attention to the paragraph which *immediately* precedes the given extract - the paragraph which begins as follows: "There is my project, then: to show that all men have always agreed about both Necessity and Liberty ..."

    Hope this helps - John.

    June 9, 2013

  • eeL J.

    Part 1 of this comment (1000 character max):

    For a "translation" into English (!!!) of the Seminar's given extract,
    - - - - -> http://www.rbphilo.com/hume_liberty_necessity.pdf ,

    I can recommend
    = = = = => http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/humeenqu.pdf .

    In this alternative rendering (which is of Hume's whole book), the relevant pages are: pp40-48 (original page numbering) / pp42-50 (pdf page numbering), starting with the final paragraph on the first of those pages ("Everyone agrees that matter ..."), and ending where "Part 2" begins.

    I (for one) find this alternative (Bennett) rendering to be greatly more lucid than the (Hume) original. Other attendees might also. (Hopefully, there will be some Other attendees!!)

    June 9, 2013

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