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Barnes Philosophy Club present Royal Institute of Philosophy talk, 'Class, Identity and Alienation' given by Dr Neil Williams Tuesday 10 March 2020

 Last evening at the BPC

There were some good stories from the floor too !  Not of class in the same way as in England but in New Zealand, in Hungary, and a story not of class but maybe of priviledge.  Interestingly Dr Neil Williams showed how complex the notion of class is illustrated from both the internalisation of the self as well as external circumstances
 Neil meeting the folk of the club ... and some relaxing ...

Some researching on the Phone !

Some like advertising the club

and ...

 Some love cooking for the club too !!

Meet Vicky the OSO Catering Manager and her husband

The evening was very interesting and made accessible and fun by our
Speaker:  Dr Neil Williams University of Roehampton

In this talk, I am interested in exploring the exact nature of social class, and the role that our social class plays in allowing us to operate comfortably within certain social spaces. In particular, I will focus on experiences of social mobility, and in challenging the modern assumption that moving to a higher socio-economic group is always an unalloyed good. In fact, I will suggest, when we examine the experiences of those who have been ‘upwardly mobile’ in this way, we typically find them pervaded with a sense of profound alienation. Even when they have – by all objective markers – attained socio-economic success, the socially mobile are haunted by what cultural critic Mark Fisher describes as ‘‘[the] sense of not belonging there, of being intruders’ (Fisher, 2013). After presenting and analysing an illustrative range of these experiences, I will argue that to take them seriously we must provide an account of class which places an emphasis on class identity, rather than an account based solely on socio-economic conditions. To end, I will present my own account of class identity in terms of an innate sense of inferiority and superiority.

Chair:  Dr Barbara Underwood


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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