Monday, December 08, 2008
There was a lively response to Paul Caddle's session on Paradoxes at the meeting last week. Thank you to Paul for bringing the idea and leading the discussion. The next meeting will be the second Thursday of January. The date is the 8th, in The Gallery Room above the SU Bar at Park Campus. We decided to read "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville and "The Transcendentalist" by Emerson, the essay that inspired Melville to write Bartleby. There are text links and an audio link for the short story and the essay on the blog for the philosophy reading group that Emily set up last year:
We can use this blog for a discussion of our current reading or for any other comments you may have.
If you have any questions contact Shelley s0510427.
Monday, December 01, 2008
This could be a formal fallacy of some sort - such as:
All philosophers are strange
Jeremy is strange
Therefore, Jeremy is a philosopher
As all students will recognise – this is an invalid piece of reasoning. The first statement only tells us that all philosophers are strange – not that all strange people are philosophers. Jeremy might be a strange plumber – a possibility left open by the first line (premise).
We may find more informal errors – such as people claiming that a point of view is correct because it is new, or indeed ‘ancient’ (as in ‘Ancient Wisdom), or popular.
Another popular approach is to suggest that someone is wrong due to their faults. My friend may be an ugly, smelly, and overbearing individual – but my telling him that does not mean that his argument about the matter at hand is wrong.
We might presume (often wrongly) that because one event precedes another – it causes the latter. E.g. I wore odd socks yesterday, then won at tennis: therefore my sock-wearing led to my victory - - this type of causal fallacy is often the basis for superstitions…
I would like to ask students – and other readers of this blog (anyone really) – to find us the worst pieces of reasoning they can find. International examples are welcome – but we will pick the winner from the British examples submitted…
Use the comment facility on this blog ( www.r-p-e.blogspot.com ) to submit them – or email them to me at email@example.com (say if you’re happy for me to post the argument on the blog when you email it).
We may even find a prize under some of the piles of books in my office…
We will post a blog story reporting on out findings (and the winner) in the New Year…
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Need some help / examples?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
We see the launch today a campaign by children's charity Barnados.
The BBC report is at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7732796.stm - and the full video at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7730219.stm - also see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7732203.stm for an analysis of the debate.
Is it too easy to blame children for the rise in crime, the fear of crime and social disorder that many assert is around us?
Friday, November 07, 2008
Whether evolutionary theory is the only legitimate scientific explanation for the existence of life begs the question, 'What is science?' For, if science classes in schools covers that which falls under the remit of science, then creationism and intelligent design must first fulfil the criteria to be a considered science. Otherwise, their place is within religious studies or the general humanities.
Advocates of intelligence design might argue that the problem lies with our education system that delineates so severely between different subjects as if they were self contained entities. The very fact that we place such emphasis on science as a subject that tells us how the world 'really is' assumes that there is something particularly special about its methods and results. Religious studies in contrast, is usually reduced to a minor (and 'easy') subject.
This debate highlights limitations with our education system and the gravitas we give to particular subjects without studying the foundational assumptions upon which they rest. Where, in the national curriculum, is there any real discussion about what is science, and whether scientific methods are better than any other ways of understanding the world? This seems fundamental to the whole argument.
I have no truck with those that believe in intelligent design nor creationism but I do sympathise with their efforts to question the whole system of science education in schools. I would not advocate that either theory gets taught as part of the science curriculum, for they are not sciences, but I do think there should be a place for students to discuss the underpinning assumptions about science.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The law allowed parents and guardians to leave children up to the age of 18 at hospitals without an explanation or interference from the law.
I must admit this seems rather extreme - but it did make me think: who 'owns' children and is responsible for them? Is it just parents - or all of us?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We had an enthusiastic round of idea spinning for this year's reading agenda. Both Dawkins and Dostoyevsky were suggested again. Most thought it would be a good idea to take a subject and find two differing theories to discuss the subject. Following from that idea we decided to repeat the reading set for the first session, as people had missed the links and were unprepared for discussion.
The short story "The Assembly Line" by the writer B. Traven:
The article by Milton Friedman discussing "the business of business is business":
If you have the time (it is 20 minutes) have a look at this smart video. It is worth a look because it throws another light onto Friedman's claim that corporate activity must not be controlled by politicians. Friedman may be right, but this video claims that, far from being controlled by politicians, current corporate activity is instead the controller:
Our meetings are always the first Thursday of the month. The next one will be at 7pm, the 6th of November, in the Gallery Room above the SU Bar at Park Campus.
Please contact me if you have any queries.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Some of the points we discussed were:
¢ In an ethics class we take students – and don’t in our classes in Higher Education –transmit an ethic.
¢ We school our students in the problems of identifying the good – but we refrain from dictating their conclusions.
¢ They come to us, they ponder the good –then we set them loose..
¢ What have we done?
¢ We ask that they understand, but not that they implement…
I asked whether we ought to see ourselves also as helping students develop their moral character? Unlike a more straight empirical discipline, the teaching of ethics may be an area where we wish to bring about in some sense a transformation of the student: should this be our goal?
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
For those who may be interested but did not receive the email I have set some reading for discussion. I thought an interesting theme may be Business Ethics, as some business students showed an interest in the philosophy group. A very short story by the mysterious writer Traven shows one point of view and the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman shows another.
Look forward to meeting all of you Thursday.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
(spotted via our friends in Florida at http://unfspb.wordpress.com/ - thanks)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The topic to ponder is the question 'What does it mean to call something Natural?'
The term can be explored at http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=natural and follow the links from last year at http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2007/09/natural.html
Some pictures from last year can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/58244916@N00/ - the RPE Flickr gallery... The picture here is the cafe/teashop - where we can shelter if the weather lets us down...
Thursday, September 04, 2008
quiet over the summer - but is ready to get busy for another year: new and existing students are very welcome to browse the archives - and even re-start old arguments and debates!
I found this picture at http://flickr.com/photos/charliebtuna/54336183 - presume it belongs to one of our students?
Well - let's hope FCH campus looks like this for Induction week (which starts 15th September) - new students looking for details of that event should go to http://resources.glos.ac.uk/newstudents/induction/fchinduction/index.cfm
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Everyone seems to have an opinion on what can solve this problem, usually involving a long prision sentence (or worse if you listen to some TalkSport callers) but I found the suggestion from a group called "Churches together in England" to be quite interesting. They are suggesting that clergy move into some of the most badly affected areas and act as role models to those perpetrating the crime and belonging to the gangs.
Could this work? I genuinely believe that one of the major reasons some young people involve themselves in activities like this is because they have not had strong enough role models in their lives, and as such have looked at Gangster rappers and 70's Gangster movies (just two examples) to provide templates, as well as "Ghetto" life in the USA, but I dont believe this is the primary cause.
Could these clergy really have such an effect that teenagers all over London and elsewhere who arm themselves because they are GENUINELY scared would be willing to follow a different path? or would an influx of white middle class men (or women) be seen merely as do-gooders and interferers, and put themselves in danger spreading a message that could be seem as other-wrodlty and completely out of sync with everyday life in these areas?
story can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2307209/Vicars-should-move-to-inner-cities-to-combat-knife-crime%2C-church-report-says.html
The Churches Together report is at: http://www.churches-together.net/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=27798
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
We're hoping to set it up as an official student society which will give us additional benefits, and more importantly, a regular place to meet.
For this to be set up, it needs an official committee (of which Shelley Campbell has kindly volunteered to chair), and at least 10 signed up members.
Can you let Shelley know if you are willing to sign up (obviously you need to be a member of the University of Gloucestershire) by emailing her on firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also hoping to get a stand at the Freshers' Fayre in order to widen our membership.
Please let myself or Shelley know if you have any other questions.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Is it appropriate for us to worry about this? Do we have a duty to take responsibility for the origins of that we buy? I am asking this, first, of some visiting Year 9 pupils (14 year olds) - who will make some comments - but comments from all are welcome..
See http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/06/the-devil-wears.html for some interesting debate on this issue
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
While conflict in the Middle East has a religious undercurrent, Andrew White, uses religion for diplomacy and aid, as a link not a division.
Here is an opportunity to not only hear a crusading humanitarian but also come to sunny Stroud and it's free (with a gift basket).
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was reading Thus spoke Zarathustra, and I am trying to understand what
Nietzsche is trying to say in the entry called, On Reading and Writing, where
Zarathustra says, “I would believe only in a god who could dance.”
Anybody have any thoughts
The comments so far are at: http://unfspb.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/problem-with-zarathustra/
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Dalai Lama visited Nottingham at the end of May and I went along with my 13yr old son to hear his talks on ‘Bringing Meaning to Our Lives’. It was pretty overwhelming to see this man, the alleged incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, a broken nation. Personally I was struck by his ease, his intelligence, and his sense of humour with the most contagious laugh.
After listening to 6 hours of this monk talking, it is difficult to pick out which part to write about. Politically, He is the leader of Tibet, a nation that has placed itself back in the world’s spotlight with the troubles since 10th march this year, and whilst this wasn’t what He was here for, it was obvious that people wanted to hear His views on the situation. It was really interesting to hear that He felt that the fight to ‘Free Tibet’ was irrelevant at the moment, that what was really important was that Tibetans were allowed to live as an autonomous people, with their own culture and language being encouraged to be kept alive, and that it was this that He hoped for when engaging in dialogue with Beijing. He also hoped that young Tibetans and Chinese would begin to merge, learn each others cultures and become friends: it all seems so idyllic, I hope His dream can become reality.
In the six hours of talks that I listened to, the main theme that I took away was His Holiness’ notion of anger, fear and suspicion: negativity. In His opinion we need to learn how to deal with negative emotions in order to make the world a better place and thus bring meaning to our lives. He stressed the importance of remembering that these negative emotions are energies, and not to grasp hold of them: that when someone is angry, hateful, to remember that it is the energy that is the enemy and not the person. In His view, negative emotions are connected to physical ills, so what is really important in our lives is happiness, for ourselves and for others. Being the Bodhisattva of Compassion He stressed the necessity of having compassion for all other beings, of remembering our interconnectedness, and that helping others is the best way that we can make the world a better place.
As a meditation, He suggested tuning your mind and body into remembering the feeling of being held by your mother as an infant; when nothing can harm you; when all is safe and well with the world. He suggested that this is the mind state that was preferable to be in, in order to live more positively, and that fear, suspicion and other overwhelming negative emotions are really pointless. This is something I feel is really important for people to try and remember, difficult as it is, for the future is nothing to fear; the future has not happened yet, there is no need to be overwhelmed by negativity when basing yourself in the present, in a safe state of mind. It made me think that hateful, angry people maybe need to be helped to feel safe, that personal insecurity has a lot to answer for.
Negative emotions are those which disturb our inner peace; fear, hatred, suspicion all destroy our inner peace and it is important to remember that they are energies which when confronted for what they are, become weak. The energy is the harmful aspect and not people, so it is possible to love your enemy, develop compassion for your enemy, for it is not them who threatens you, but the energy; actions are harmful, not people. These are wise words that could benefit the world, but difficult to remember in heated situations; on leaving the arena I came face to face with a crowd of angry Chinese demonstrators and I instantly felt the anger rise within me and succumbed to a heated discussion (to put it mildly!) with some Chinese students on the issue of Tibet. Afterwards I realised that I had fallen foul of negative energies, been overwhelmed by anger and had lost any ability to feel compassion for fellow beings: I have a lot to learn!!
Peace of mind is not something that can be bought with money. Peace of mind comes from physical and mental happiness. Peace of mind comes from release from negative energies. Peace of mind is our biological and spiritual right and is there for us to achieve by means of compassion; compassion for all sentient beings with whom we share this planet, with whom we are all interconnected and we would do well to remember this. The way to bring meaning to our lives is to encourage positive emotions of love and compassion, to help others and to show kindness in the face of cruelty. We are all human beings, no different from each other; whether Buddhists or Christians, believers or non-believers, we are all the same on a basic level and need to remember this. It would seem we could all learn from this wise and humble man who I was honoured to have the opportunity to listen to.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There are also video lectures on 'The Philosophy of Love in the Western World' - HERE - which will be of interest to students taking the RPE301, Love Sex and Death course.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
- To what extent can a meaningful distinction be made between the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ athlete?
- Does the claim that we have entered a post-human age have any validity and if so, what are the repercussions for elite sport?
- What are the implications for sport (for instance, the conception of (dis)ability sport) with the development of technology that obscures the line between the organic and inorganic?
For more information please contact me and I would be happy to discuss it further.
Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Care
University of Gloucestershire
We will be discussing Anna Karenina but please still come even if you haven't managed to read it yet as we will be discussing the programme for next year.
I look forward to seeing you all.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Islam and the Veil
14th April 2008: Tiered Lecture Theatre, Francis Close Hall. Tuesday April 29, 10.30am.
Tackling the issue of Islam and the Veil, the annual conference on Islam returns to the University of Gloucestershire on Tuesday April 29.
Organised by the Department of Humanities, based at Francis Close Hall in Cheltenham, the event has been running for more than 10 years and usually focuses on themes which are of contemporary significance. Guests will be welcomed by Dr Keith Sharp, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Sciences and the conference opens with Reverend Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths.
Associate Senior Lecturer and Honorary Research Fellow Dr Theodore Gabriel said: “The issue of veiling has been intensely debated in British society and has implications for religious liberty, inter-communal relationships and cultural interaction.
“This conference hopes to generate open and objective discussion of this highly important, though controversial subject led by knowledgeable scholars including female practitioners of Islam. Provoked by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw this subject has inflamed passions and generated heated debate in the media. This conference aims to look at the historical background, and theological and social factors underlying the veiling of women in Islam.”
Speakers also include Dr Simonette Calderini, Senior Lecturer in Islam at Roehampton University and Mrs Rabiha Hannan, who is vice chair of Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) in Leicester, and a member of the team which led to the foundation of the National Christian-Muslim Forum.
Doctoral student Myles O’Byrne, from the University of Warwick, will be speaking on The Veil in France’s Public Sphere: Conformity in Mind and Body, while Mrs Sariya Contractor, doctoral candidate at the University of Gloucestershire, will be discussing The Hijab, a Symbol of Muslim Women’s Identity. “It is hoped that such discussion will enable the participants to arrive at a well-informed consensus on the subject, or at the least hear well-balanced, unbiassed analyses of this important aspect of Islamic practice,” Dr Gabriel explained.
“Veiling is an important issue in the study of Islam and contributes to a deeper understanding of the faith. This is a subject that comes up often in different contexts where Muslim citizens of this country are involved in, such as education and other public scenarios. Therefore this conference is timely, relevant and though sensitive and even emotive, can play a hugely vital part in inter—communal relations and social debate in this country.”
This event is open to the public. Admission is £16, or and £8 with concessions (students and unwaged).
An application form is normally required, but those who would like to attend can either telephone 01242 714570 or email email@example.com with their address and a form will be sent - or just ring for more details.
Coffee in the morning and tea in the evening are supplied free. A sandwich lunch will cost an extra £5.
Friday, April 25, 2008
As one academic year begins to move towards its conclusion, many of you may be considering future study...
In addition to the research options we offer (from Masters to Doctorate), and the many of our current Final Year students who are off to do a PGCE, we also have an MA programme entitled The Child: Literature, Language and History - the course description reads:
This multi-disciplinary course begins by exploring the idea of ‘the child’ and changing constructions of childhood. Both literatures for children, from picture books to young adult fiction (the child as reader), and literary representations of children (the child as subject), will be considered from a variety of perspectives. Children’s acquisition and use of language, from both linguistic and psychoanalytic viewpoints, the history and theory of childhood, and literary theory will inform analysis of works ranging from fantastic fiction by George MacDonald and Philip Pullman, to fictional engagements with childhood, from Dickens to McEwan, to children’s fiction by predominantly adult writers, such as Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Where the friendly, cofffee-providing staff helped us through a 2 hour session - on life-after-death (though we decided this was a problematic phrase) and religious language.
I was subjected to a range of rather difficult, but insightful, questions: and really enjoyed my visit. I hope to be back before too long.
For something on the philosophy of mind - how it relates to the notion of 'surviving death' see http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2008/02/brimsham-green-school-yate-visit.html or HERE - or the very clear account HERE...
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Among its comprehensive reports on anything from what we Brits eat,buy and enjoy to how many sexual partners we have had, it suggests that despite the average Briton's salary doubling in the last 30 years, we are no 'Happier' - citing only 86 percent of us claiming to be either satisified or very satisified with our lives - the same figure as 30 years ago.
Perhaps most worrying, the survey posits that "only half of 16-21 year olds feel happy with their prospects for the future"
The first thing I found myself asking was what exactly constituted happiness; in this survey it seems to be overall contentment. Is happiness not something more? something harder to quantify?
Source: The Independent, Wednesday 9th April 2008, pg.12
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
This Monday, I headed south to Somervale school, in scenic Midsomer Norton. I talked (a lot!) about Religious Experience, Life after Death and a little about Design and Evil. The groups had, overall, lots to say - and asked some great questions. This set of school visits has been a privilege for me: I have had so many questions put to me that I have not thought of myself - or that have made me think in different ways about topics.
There is a set of links for Religious Experience at: http://post16.reonline.org.uk/tt_alinks.php?123 that may be of interest. Check out http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/986177.stm on Near Death Experiences - and for Evil - well see the links at this post: http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2008/03/evil-stalks-west-midlands-cadbury.html
Hope to see you all again at some point!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Despite the traffic, the day was well spent - the two groups a Y12 and a Y13 cohort) were lively and asked good, difficult questions. The first session was on Free-Will and Determinism. Following this up - I found a really interesting video on this. This is an interview with philosopher Daniel Dennett - most known form his work on consciousness. Although the interview does not touch on the religious aspects of the relation to Omniscience of determinism that we talked through in the session - he does offer a model of compatibilism - that attempted reconciling of free-will and determinism that we covered. It should appear below - but if there is a problem - click HERE
The second lecture was on Freud and religion - and I think, from the comments of the group, that we ended with quite a rounded view of his approach to religion. You could follow this up at http://www.braungardt.com/Essays/Freud.
I enjoyed the visit - and hope to see you again...
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Anyhow, from my research, I remembered a book of short stories by B. Traven, a mysterious German writer which little is known, who lived in Mexico and wrote stories about Mexico and the Mexican Indians. The story that jogged my memory is called "Assembly Line". Here's a link to the story and it is not long to read. http://academics.triton.edu/uc/traven.html Roughly the story runs: Mr. Winthrop a New Yorker is vacationing in Mexico and discovers an Indian making exquisite baskets for 50 centavos (four cents). The Indian is an artist: he collects bast fibers, plants, roots, insects (for dye) equalling a time of 20-30 hours per basket. He does not paint the designs onto the basket, he weaves the designs into the basket. He calls each basket a heartsong. Well, Mr. Winthrop's eyes roll into his head as he calculates the profit he is about to fleece from contracting ten thousand baskets from the Indian. As per norm, while one basket is 50 centavos, ten thousand baskets would cost far less per basket, according to business procedures familiar to Mr. Winthrop - my good lordy, caballero, as the Indian calls him. The Indian who cannot even imagine what ten thousand baskets is, tallies the total like this, "The price is well calculated now without any mistake on my side. If I got to make one thousand castitas each will be three pesos. If I must make five thousand, each will cost nine pesos. And if have to make ten thousand, in such a case I can't make them for less than fifteen pesos each." B. Traven ends the story on a non-Friedmanite note, "And in this way it happened that American garbage cans escaped the fate of being turned into receptacles for empty, torn, and crumpled little multicolored canastitas into which an Indian of Mexico had woven dreams of his soul, throbs of his heart: his unsung poems.
I think the story is worth a read and seasonal as bulk packaging and chocolate consumption (a greatly contested source of exploitation) is synonymous with Easter celebrations.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
It was a memorable trip..
I was almost late due to transport difficulties - and our second session was interrupted by a fire alarm - it has been ages since I have lined up with 1300 pupils and staff in a large sports area.. That was made up for by cake - as one of the group was celebrating her 18th birthday: so on balance an enjoyable visit..
The group asked some very good questions - and it was a pleasure to come and talk to so thoughtful and reflective a class - good luck with the A2 exams!
For more on the problem of evil (buy our A-level Religious Studies Problem of Evil DVD here !) - see the post at http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2008/03/evil-stalks-west-midlands-cadbury.html - and look at the YouTube clip, and the other links in that post. On Buddhism - there are great resources at Access to Insight - I would start with their subject index.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
I found this interesting, the Vatican have decided its time to update the book on what contemporary actions may result in eternal damnation; quite thoughtful of them, really. Among those joining the original seven deadly sins are 'Inflicting poverty' and 'Environmental pollution'
Are these really needed?
Details on the B.B.C website, link below:-
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Even if it is a worthy goal - can we teach people to be happy?
I was there to talk about ethics (as in the AQA Philosophy AS syllabus) - and talked about Kant and also Utilitarianism. We also talked about the nature of moral dilemmas - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4954856.stm for some examples. If you follow the link HERE there is more on ethical ideas - follow the links!
Friday, March 07, 2008
See more on Evil at http://www.rsweb.org.uk/phil/evil.html and also on the 'Irenaean theodicy' at http://www.philosophyonline.co.uk/pages/irenaean.htm
I thought the discussions were very useful - and I liked the points made about the nature of God - indeed, all the questions today showed some real insight: and I hope to be back before too long.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Due to the Easter break, our next meeting will be 6pm, Tuesday 8th April at Bar Ha! Ha! in Montpellier.
More details can be found on our wordpress site: http://readingphilosophy.wordpress.com/
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Contact Patricia Downes firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Or click HERE for the brochure.
The programme includes the following sessions
Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke (Oxford): Respect in a Plural Society
Dr Simonetta Calderini (University of Roehampton): Veiling among Ismaili Women
Mrs Sariya Contractor (University of Gloucestershire): The Hijab, a Symbol of Muslim Women’s Identity
Monday, March 03, 2008
Through the OLI project, Carnegie Mellon is working to help the World Wide Web make good on its promise of widely accessible and effective online education. OLI grew out of collaboration among cognitive scientists, experts in human computer interaction and seasoned faculty who have both a deep expertise in their respective fields and a strong commitment to excellence in higher education. The project adds to online education the crucial elements of instructional design grounded in cognitive theory, formative evaluation for students and faculty, and iterative course improvement based on empirical evidence.
I had a go at Chapter 1, Part 1, of the Logic Unit - good stuff: don't let the diagram at the start of the intro movie to scare you off! As they say: Il y a un chat dans la théière.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Many of the links at http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2008/02/malmesbury-school-visit.html will be useful - as I provide some links there re the Omelas short story - and to a list of ethical dilemmas.
I am also interested in the notion that ethics has some, but rather hard to define (and in some cases spot) impact on those that study it. This topics is one we have discussed at http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2007/02/ethical-decisions-and-study-of.html - though new comments are welcome.
Oh - and if you can't get enough on the Problem of Evil -see the links at http://www.rsweb.org.uk/phil/evil.html
Hope the class there enjoyed the material as much as I enjoyed the visit.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I was not convinced that these meetings had many advantages over more spartan on-line discussion forums - and worried students (and staff) might get distracted by working so hard on their Avatars that they forgot why they were there.. But, as often, maybe I am wrong.
I did find a blog about Philosophy in Second Life at http://secondlifephilosophy.com/ and this links to a philosophy meeting place, and other resources.
I also began to ponder whether we could use Second Life for modelling and playing out ethical scenarios...
You may also be interested in the debate at http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2007/07/philosophy-of-s.html
Is this a wise idea to move in- or a dubious and time-consuming distraction?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This is available FREE on the web. There are also other resources available.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
What is not clear, really, is what he actually said/meant... You can listen to his actual comments via the BBC page at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7233335.stm
Was he suggesting that we allow some communities to opt out of the British criminal law? I don't think he meant this at all. He seemed to actually be referrring to very particular civil matters - like divorce an finance - rather than the caricature of his view that some of the papers have gone for....
He points out that we already have accommodations within the law for Orthodox Jews, and for Roman Catholic views - what he suggests, whether you like it or not (and I am not sure I do), is not a new thing, or a first...
For details on the way in which religious courts are already in use in the UK see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7233040.stm
It is almost more interesting to look at the reaction, than it is is to listen to his actual comments: the word Shariah is so provocative that it causes such a cloud of panic that no one can see through it....
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
I hope they have recovered from a barrage of talk from me (3 hours is a long time) - and thanks for inviting me. I hope you can use the comments here to ask any further questions / post comments. I also wanted to follow up on a few things I talked about.
In reference to Natural Law, I came across a good piece re Aquinas at http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/a/aquinas.htm - and am still mulling over the notion of ethics as relating to the perversion of purpose: and how to translate this into practical terms: how does it help with real ethical situations - other than the sexual ones we discussed (at some length - sorry about that).
Our discussion about life after death wandered into Philosophy of Mind (see http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2007/10/nagels-bat.html for a link re some of the topics) - but I think that this makes sense. In order to even begin to address whether we survive death, we need to know what we are: and as the body is dead, in the ground, lying in a ditch, or cremated - we need to have some sense of what else there may be that could have the potential to 'survive death'...
We also covered Religious Experience - but I think I may have digressed.. Comments welcome from those at Brimsham Green - and of course any of our students who recall the EdExcel Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics) days of their (relative) youth...
Next week - Wiltshire...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Now, as you will know Barack Obama is one of the two main competitors for the Democratic nomination for the next US Presidential election. Forwarded, sent-on, bulk-posted (viral style) E-mails have been circulating in large number over e-mail networks suggesting that he is secretly a Muslim.
You can read the e-mail itself at http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/muslim.asp There are perhaps two things of note about this. One is the smear campaign itself - but I guess not a great shock - and the kind of thing that happens with the Internet..
Secondly there is the idea that his being a Muslim is something that he would have to keep secret - and that Muslims are people who go about pretending to be Christians in order to deceive and gain power over others. It seems that to buy into the world view of this viral e-mail you have to begin in a culture of fear and paranoia that is itself rather frightening. Also disturbing is the realisation that the authors of this e-mail, while evoking honesty, God and values, are involved in a politically motivated act of deception....
[it is perhaps worth noting that the Fox News network reported these rumours - see HERE, in part, via John Gibson, the same person who openly mocked the death of Heath Ledger - and laughed about his demise HERE ]
To hear the tone of this coverage see http://thinkprogress.org/2007/01/19/fox-obama-madrassa/ and watch/listen to the video clip there of Fox News coverage...
Monday, January 28, 2008
His death is often described in media reports as a 'tragedy' - but how do we balance the value of a young life lost and an old life? Is the length the aspect that prevents us from seeing a death as tragic?
Does the author at UNFSB really think that Heath's death was a 'good' one? Or is the idea of a short, wonderful life being better than a long, but maybe bland one a useful corrective to our usual view - or a naive and overly-romantic notion?
Monday, January 14, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Details are below - but let me (email@example.com) know if you are interested in attending (it is free!).
9.00am – 3.45 pm Thursday 7th February 2008
The Cheltenham Ladies’ College
In Scotland, the Herald newspaper has considered this - causing a number of its online readers to comment HERE about the value of philosophy. The comments are worth a glance as they reveal something of the public attitude to philosophy.
I wanted to ask our students (and other readers) to comment as to:
- Whether there was any value in studying philosophy (to both individuals and society in general)
- Whether academic disciplines such as Philosophy and Religious Studies should have to demonstrate a 'usefulness' in order to be considered worthwhile
- What reasons motivate individuals to study these subjects. [See HERE for previous posts on this topic]
- Why has there been such a rise in the numbers studying Religious Studies and Philosophy (often including ethics) at AS/A2 ('A' level to older people like me) here in the UK?
1. 16th. January, 2008. Chris Eddy, Swindon Philosophical Society. :"Why I am not an atheist".
Chris Eddy accepts Philip Kitcher's challenge, in 'Living with Darwin', to articulate a form of belief in God which makes no occult claims, yet is also clearly distinct from secular humanism. The object of the talk is to counter "the meritocratic, ideological bullyings of Dawkins, et al.".
2. 30th January, 2008. The Annual GPS Dinner will be held in the evening - further details of venue to be circulated.
3. 13th.February, 2008.Dr. Roberta Stevenson, University of Gloucestershire. "The meaning of old age in the 21st. Century: why we need a feminist and literary gerontology".
Roberta Stevenson has been involved in a study of this issue over the past few years.
4. 27th. February, 2008. Leckhampton Seminar at the Brown Jug, Bath Rd. Cheltenham, 10.30.a.m.”Modernisation: a vacuous concept?"
5. 12th. March, 2008. Dr. Roy Jackson, University of Gloucestershire: "Nietzsche and Islam".
Roy Jackson considers the important influences that Nietzsche's teaching has had and continues to have on the evolution of Islamic spirituality.
Meetings scheduled for 16 January, 13 February and 12 March will be held at 7.30 p.m. in room HC203 Francis Close Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Swindon Road, Cheltenham.