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The next Royal Institute of Philosophy Talk, 'The Common Wealth: A Philosophy for British Politics' , is by Philip Collins, The Times, 11 February

Many thanks to Phil Collins who gave up his time after a day's work and an uncomfortable dentist appointment to talk to the Club.  He gave us some stimulating ideas on a future generated from our political history.  His main argument was that now British politics has 'slipped its moorings'  and that the political affiliations have changed, we might be able to see a way through old traditions to form a new centrist party:  one that would look more realistically at the issues facing us, rather than clinging to the old ideologies.  He delivered all this with clarity and wit. 
Speaker Phil Collins


Thanks also to our members for coming last night: we had over 80 folk who came to hear the talk, one of our largest audiences ever.  And thanks especially to those of you who contributed questions, discussion and ideas -- as a special feature of a special evening, I was able to give away signed copies of Phil's fascinating book 'Start Again', and I hope that those of you who got the copies will enjoy it ! 


Next Royal Institute of Philosophy talk: 'Lessons from History? The Consequences of Plato's Republic for Modern Communism?' by Dr David Preston on 14 January 2020

 Dr David Preston

Our          Speaker - who

gave us a really different and

interesting insight into Plato 


Barnes Philosophy Club Members

Platonic ofcourse

 Very interesting talking of love matches in Plato a sort of sexual communism but as Dave Preston says in his paper,
Plato saw faults with his own proposed society, which strongly suggests he never actually believed such a system could ever be practical in a society ultimately governed by human nature.

More Barnes Philosophy Club Members



Plato’s Republic is perhaps best remembered – or indeed misremembered –  by some for the similarities between the ‘ideal’ (kal√≥s) society outlined in the dialogue and the society proposed by Karl Marx and later supported by Lenin. While there are certainly distinct differences between the conditions of Marx’s Utopia and Plato’s Kallipolis, such distinctions become blurred when we consider the more familiar brand of communism enforced by Josef Stalin – ‘Marxism-Leninism’ - which bears a lot in common with the society proposed by Plato. While such ideology was advocated by Stalin as an ideal solution to the inequality and disenfranchisement resulting from capitalist economies, history has now shown that while seeming perfect in theory, claims that human interference prevents such an ideal from ever coming to fruition.  

This paper will outline similar faults Plato saw with his own proposed society, which strongly suggests he never actually believed such a system could ever be practical in a society ultimately governed by human nature. He also extends communism beyond property to the family; in quite a strange passage in Book V he claims Sexual Communism would be standard in Kallipolis. It does not appear, however, that Plato was unique in advocating the benefits of such a practice, as there is evidence to suggest it was practised by a number of societies in Antiquity. This, perhaps expectedly, raised a few eyebrows and criticisms, the most subtle of which, perhaps unexpectedly, came from the comic poet Aristophanes. 


Next Royal Institute of Philosophy talk is by Dr Stephen Rainey, University of Oxford ‘Somewhere between zombies and neuroscience: Neuro-ethics and the hunger for brains’ 12 November 2019


“An unlikely affinity appears to emerge between two groups: the undead, and the neuroscientist. Each has a seemingly endless hunger for brains. But why? Can each learn from the other? What’s any of that got to do with moral philosophy? And what’s it got to do with us?

In this talk, these questions and more will be answered. Among the topics to be discussed will be mind/brain identity theory versus dualism; a probably dottery (but unreal anyway) afterlife; scientism versus phenomenalism; mind reading and the ethics of neuroscience; and a multitude in between. Bring your thinking caps, and their contents.”

Dr Stephen Rainey University of Oxford



Next Royal Institue of Philosophy Lecture at Barnes Philosophy Club, 'Are we morally responsible for our implicit biases?' by Prof Helen Beebee

Speaker Prof Helen Beebee and our two Speakers together Dr Yasemin J Erden from last month

 Paige our gallant events manager with someone's husband !

Some of our Philosophy Club members

Image result for Prof Helen Beebee        Professor Helen Beebee

There’s a lot of evidence from social psychology that we all harbour ‘implicit biases’: attitudes towards people based on their race, gender, weight, disability, etc. that we are often not aware of, or even that we actively and sincerely claim not to hold. These can have damaging effects, e.g. if a hiring panel judges a woman to be less suitable for a job than a man, or if a police officer judges a black youth to be more likely to be carrying drugs than a white youth. But if we acquire these attitudes unwittingly and are not aware of them, then it seems that the behaviour that they give rise to is not really within our control — so are we really to blame for such behaviour? I’ll argue that we are — at least some of the time.
Prof Helen Beebee


Barnes Philosophy Club - next Royal Institute of Philosophy talk 'Culture and mind in Ethics and Moral Philosophy' by Dr Yasemin J. Erden

Dr Yasemin J Erden 
'CULTURE MIND in ETHICS and MORAL PHILOSOPHY' This was a good start to our new season in what for us is a new venue and venture:  Yasemin was fun, clear and informative - more please

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Next Royal Institute of Philosophy Talk: ' The Religious Roots of Utopian Thinking' by John Madeley

Speaker: John Madeley and some of the club members

Bertie off to Madrid

Dr Barbie Underwood: chair
This is what philosoohy does to you
 a little blurry !

Picture: Phillip Medhurst

This talk draws a ‘history of ideas’ connection between two of the Philosophy Club’s recent major themes: the philosophy of religion and utopian thinking and beliefs.  It addresses the claim made by philosopher and controversial essayist John Gray (eg. in Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia(2007)) of a direct historical connection between religious dissidence on the one hand and utopian beliefs and thinking on the other – from Zoroastrianism and early Christianity through the Anabaptist ‘revolution’ in Muenster twenty years after Thomas More penned Utopia (1516) and on to present times.  While Gray is a non-believer he is an open admirer of the wisdom he sees as nurtured and maintained by most mainstream religious traditions.  On the other hand, he excoriates utopian thinking (in particular the Enlightenment belief in the possibility of humanity’s moral progress) and what he takes to be the disastrous political projects inspired by it in modern times (from the 1789 French Revolution, via socialist, communist and anarchist experiments to American Neo-Con attempts to create a New World Order).  Many questions arise: what is the significance of the long, trailing roots utopianism has in religious dissidence including, in particular, radical sectarian sets of ideas; how is it that these ideas have been domesticated and rendered relatively harmless in adventist sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, while they still remain politically relevant among some Evangelical Protestants, especially in the USA; and does this even tell us something useful about David Khoresh’s Waco and ISIS in Raqqa and beyond?