• INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Authenticity

    The Westgate Pub

    Authenticity Melvyn Bragg In Our Time Radio 4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00035z4 This programme is used as the starting point for a discussion on philosophers’ ideas about being authentic. The views of Aristotle, St Augustin, Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Kant, Nietzsche, and Heidegger are discussed concluding with Sartre. Simone de Beauvoir is also mentioned in the programme, her ideas and interaction with Sartre. More recent ideas about authenticity within psychology (Donald Winnicott) are touched on. Identify the philosophers/ thinkers who have expressed views on the questions below and form your own responses. Does social existence corrupt human beings and stifle compassion and consequently our authentic response? Does Christianity/ monotheism make us act in servile fear and not act in accordance with our own belief of right and wrong? Do pressures to please others or to gain respect by society stop us acting authentically? Consider the questions below for our discussion: Do any of the philosophers follow their own views on authenticity in their everyday lives? Is it possible to live in society and be authentic? Is authenticity a valid goal to be pursued? Is authenticity a modern fixation on self, borne out of capitalism? Is authenticity something to be striven for? To what extent are we free to be autonomous? Is an authentic self a myth? Contribution by participants to cover meetup fee cost: £2

    5
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil

    Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher, born in 1844, died in 1900. In this meetup we will look at his book Beyond Good and Evil, published in 1886. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/beyondgood/ In the Sparknotes link under Summary first read Context on Nietzsche's life. Then read Summary and Overall Analysis and Themes to get a general idea of the main themes in this particular book and Nietzsche's philosophy. Beyond Good and Evil consists of 296 numbered sections and an "epode" (or "aftersong") entitled "From High Mountains". The sections are organized into nine parts. We will focus on three parts that discuss similar/related themes. This will help look in more depth at certain aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy, those that tend to set him apart from other philosophers. They include discussion of his concepts of Will to Power, Sublimation, Perspectivism and Free Spirit. Read On the Prejudices of Philosophers The Free Spirit We Scholars Unlike previous meetups I am not including questions and comments of my own. Instead, I am asking attendees to choose 3-5 points from the 3 sections above which they would like to raise for comment, support, expansion, critique, clarification and relevance to today's world. Depending on time we may not be able to discuss all the points but everyone will be asked to raise a couple and everyone will be given equal time to talk. Contribution by participants to cover meetup fee cost: £2

    2
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Immanuel Kant (part 2)

    The Westgate Pub

    In the meetup last January 11th and 15th, we examined Kant's philosophy on knowledge and understanding. This time we will look at his ethics. Knowledge of the ground we covered in the first meetup is desirable before Kant's ethics are discussed. People who didn't prepare for/attend the first meetup now have the opportunity to become familiar with Kant's theories on knowledge and understanding as well as his ethics. They therefore could look at the blurb for that meeetup (go to Events, then Past Meetups) before tackling what follows below regarding his ethics. Those who attended the first meetup could refresh their memories by going back over that material. In the first half an hour or so we will go over what we discussed in the first meetup and the rest of the time will be spent on Kant's ethics. In the Sparknotes link under Summary read Critique of Practical Reason and Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals. http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/kant/ Consider these concepts in Kant's approach to morality. The questions that follow are to guide our thinking about them. the importance of reason in making moral decisions motives and consequences categorical imperative VS hypothetical imperatives free will VS determinism universalism VS moral relativism Is there a clash between the use of reason and the role of God and human laws in moral decisions? Why is Kant insistent that the motive behind an action, not its consequences, should be the measure of its moral value? 'We can never know if we have free will but we can act as if we did'. Can we? What's the relationship between Kant's morality and religion, specifically Christianity? What have criticisms of Kant's ethics been by later philosophers? To what extent does Kant's thinking on ethics overlap with his thinking on knowledge and understanding? How do you think Kant's approach to morality is viewed in today's societies? To what extent does our moral behaviour today follow Kant's maxims? The Wikipedia link gives more details and is more demanding. Only for those who can spare the time and energy. Optional. Read Moral Philosophy up to and including Religion Within the Limits of Reason. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant In the same Wikipedia link further down read Influence. It summarises briefly Kant's influence on western thought in the centuries that followed. Reminder: This is a learning group, which inevitably involves 'homework' for all of us. This particular meetup would seem to involve more than usual, especially for those who didn't attend the first discussion on Kant. However, the Sparknotes link above on his ethics is quite short and straightforward. Happy reading, note-taking and learning! Contribution by participants to cover meetup fee cost: £2

    4
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    The Westgate Pub

    The writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Genevan,[masked]), especially his political philosophy and his theories on the nature of man, are believed to have had a great influence on the development of the Enlightenment in Europe at the time, as well as on events preceding and following the French Revolution. In this meetup we will examine his ideas on human nature and his political theory. In the Wikipedia link read the introduction for general information on Rousseau. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau In the same link under Philosophy read Theory of Human Nature (in Discourse on Inequality) and consider the following: What do you make of these claims by Rousseau In the state of nature man knew uncorrupted virtue. Human nature has been corrupted by civilisation. Morality is not embued by society but is natural, in the sense of innate. The natural goodness of humanity is the goodness of an animal, which is neither good nor bad. What's Rousseau's definition of the 'noble savage'? To what extent is the term morality applicable to humans in the state of nature? How does 'amour de soi' differ from 'amour propre'? How justified is Rousseau's argument that the arts and sciences have not benefited humakind? To what extent can justice (in society) be equated with instinct (in nature)? What was the effect of the development of agriculture, private property and division of labour on human nature? In the same link under Philosophy read Political Theory (in The Social Contract) and consider the following: What's the political order described by Rousseau in The Social Contract? We can discuss this by referring to and defining these terms general will, sovereignty (both terms as defined by Rousseau) To what extent do you think Rousseau's political philosophy could lead to a workable, fair society and what evidence is there of it in the centuries that followed? What about today? The Sparknotes link summarises the same ground with a slightly different emphasis and detail. Recommended. Under Summary read Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/rousseau/

    2
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    The writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Genevan,[masked]), especially his political philosophy and his theories on the nature of man, are believed to have had a great influence on the development of the Enlightenment in Europe at the time, as well as on events preceding and following the French Revolution. In this meetup we will examine his ideas on human nature and his political theory. In the Wikipedia link read the introduction for general information on Rousseau. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau In the same link under Philosophy read Theory of Human Nature (in Discourse on Inequality) and consider the following: What do you make of these claims by Rousseau In the state of nature man knew uncorrupted virtue. Human nature has been corrupted by civilisation. Morality is not embued by society but is natural, in the sense of innate. The natural goodness of humanity is the goodness of an animal, which is neither good nor bad. What's Rousseau's definition of the 'noble savage'? To what extent is the term morality applicable to humans in the state of nature? How does 'amour de soi' differ from 'amour propre'? How justified is Rousseau's argument that the arts and sciences have not benefited humakind? To what extent can justice (in society) be equated with instinct (in nature)? What was the effect of the development of agriculture, private property and division of labour on human nature? In the same link under Philosophy read Political Theory (in The Social Contract) and consider the following: What's the political order described by Rousseau in The Social Contract? We can discuss this by referring to and defining these terms general will, sovereignty (both terms as defined by Rousseau) To what extent do you think Rousseau's political philosophy could lead to a workable, fair society and what evidence is there of it in the centuries that followed? What about today? The Sparknotes link summarises the same ground with a slightly different emphasis and detail. Recommended. Under Summary read Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/rousseau/

    12
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Immanuel Kant

    The Westgate Pub

    Immanuel Kant (German,[masked]) is considered by many the most important philosopher in the history of modern philosophy (from the 17th century onwards). In this meetup we will examine his theories on knowledge and understanding and how these apply in the individual way we understand the world around us. We may also consider how other philosophers' theories and beliefs were affected/determined by the way Kant claims we understand the world. Note: We will not examine Kant's ethics on this occasion. Read the introduction in the Wikipedia link for general information on Kant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant To consider the points and questions below read these sections in the link above: Philosophy, Theory of Perception, Categories of the Faculty of Understanding and Transcendental Schema Doctrine. The aspects of Kant's philosophy covered in the questions and points that follow are all interrelated and we will inevitably approach them not necessarily in the order they appear here. We should, however, try to refer to Kant's terminology to become acquainted with it and to help understand the concepts better. 1. In the battle between the rationalist and empiricist approach to knowledge and understanding where does Kant come in and how? 2. In Critique of Pure Reason Kant claims that 'although our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it all arises out of experience'. What do you understand Kant means? 3. What's Kant's definition of 'critical philosophy'? Where does the emphasis lie? 4. Kant's 'transcendental idealism' of our understanding of the world stresses the subject-based component as opposed to the world as it is in itself. What's the significance of this? 5. While dealing with the questions above we should try to use the following terms as defined by Kant in his philosophy intuitions concepts of understanding the principle of contradiction necessity universality the thing in itself analytic knowledge a priori synthetic knowledge a posteriori synthetic knowledge a priori substance and causality judgement This Sparknotes link gives a concise summary of some of the ideas above bringing them together and clarifying them. Under Themes, Ideas and Arguments read Philosophy as Critique, the Philosophy of Transcendental Idealism and the Category of the Synthetic a Priory. http://sparknotes.com/philosophy/kant There is of course a lot more on Kant on the web to read and on Youtube to listen to.

    4
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Immanuel Kant

    The Rope Walk

    Immanuel Kant (German,[masked]) is considered by many the most important philosopher in the history of modern philosophy (from the 17th century onwards). In this meetup we will examine his theories on knowledge and understanding and how these apply in the individual way we understand the world around us. We may also consider how other philosophers' theories and beliefs were affected/determined by the way Kant claims we understand the world. Note: We will not examine Kant's ethics on this occasion. Read the introduction in the Wikipedia link for general information on Kant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant To consider the points and questions below read these sections in the link above: Philosophy, Theory of Perception, Categories of the Faculty of Understanding and Transcendental Schema Doctrine. The aspects of Kant's philosophy covered in the questions and points that follow are all interrelated and we will inevitably approach them not necessarily in the order they appear here. We should, however, try to refer to Kant's terminology to become acquainted with it and to help understand the concepts better. 1. In the battle between the rationalist and empiricist approach to knowledge and understanding where does Kant come in and how? 2. In Critique of Pure Reason Kant claims that 'although our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it all arises out of experience'. What do you understand Kant means? 3. What's Kant's definition of 'critical philosophy'? Where does the emphasis lie? 4. Kant's 'transcendental idealism' of our understanding of the world stresses the subject-based component as opposed to the world as it is in itself. What's the significance of this? 5. While dealing with the questions above we should try to use the following terms as defined by Kant in his philosophy intuitions concepts of understanding the principle of contradiction necessity universality the thing in itself analytic knowledge a priori synthetic knowledge a posteriori synthetic knowledge a priori substance and causality judgement This Sparknotes link gives a concise summary of some of the ideas above bringing them together and clarifying them. Under Themes, Ideas and Arguments read Philosophy as Critique, the Philosophy of Transcendental Idealism and the Category of the Synthetic a Priory. http://sparknotes.com/philosophy/kant There is of course a lot more on Kant on the web to read and on Youtube to listen to

    3
  • INTRODUCING THE PHILOSOPHERS Michel Foucault (part 2)

    The Westgate Pub

    Details Michel Foucault [masked]) is a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist and literary critic whose work has both been strongly praised and criticised, which in itself is interesting to consider . One way or another he has been very influential and it seems his influence is increasing with time. We are looking at his work in two meetups. In Part 1 we discussed his four major books written in the 1960s and now in Part 2 we will look at his two main works from the 70s. People who didn't attend Part 1 please read only the introduction in the wikipedia link for some general information on Foucault and his life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault Discipline and Punish (1975) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline_and_Punish What's the relationship between knowledge, power and identity according to Foucault? An answer to this should come out of the answers to the questions that follow. What's Foucault's motive in comparing the intended purposes and unintended consequences of torture? Foucault argues that punishment became more gentle but not for humanitarian reasons. Whether he is right or not, what has the wider outcome of this change been since then? Discipline in prisons is largely made possible by observation/control of prisoners in a way that creates 'docile bodies'. What's Foucault trying to say by making this point? What about when this applies to other institutions, such as schools, factories, hospitals, the military? What are the main criticisms of Discipline and Punish? To what extent do they undermine Foucault's arguments? 'To claim that a statement is true is also to make a claim to power because truth can only be produced by power'. Let's discuss this with reference to the Human Sciences (psychiatry, psychology, criminology, medicine) in the context of the prison system and society in general. Do you think there is a case for abolishing prisons? Note: 'In a later work, Security, Territory, Population, Foucault admitted that he was somewhat overzealous in his argument that disciplinary power conditions society; he amended and developed his earlier ideas' (quote from Wikipedia)'. The article in Wikipedia on Security, Territory, Population is very long and difficult to study or fit in in this meetup. However, during our discussion we will consider whether Foucault was overzealous and whether this undermines his arguments. The History of Sexuality (1976, 1984, 2018) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sexuality The wikipedia link concentrates on Volume 1 The Will to Knowledge (1976). Read Parts I, II, III, IV and V and consider Foucault's analysis with reference to these concepts: the repressive hypothesis confession in the Catholic Church labelling ars erotica scientia sexualis power biopower Read Reception in the Wikipedia link. We will briefly discuss the various views of the work. The link below from SparkNotes gives a concise review of the Will to Knowledge including criticism. Read only Plot Overview and Analytical Overview. (optional but a clear brief summary) http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/histofsex/ Volumes 2, 3, 4 of The History of Sexuality are only touched on in Wikipedia. We can briefly refer to them, time permitting. Note to attendees: It's only 3 weeks till the event so please start preparing bit by bit to be ready for a more satisfactory and satisfying discussion. If you leave it till the last couple of days you will drop out and this is disappointing for everyone involved.

    13