Friday 24 Sept ” To Explain the World” John Little

Dear All
This Friday from 7.30pm by Zoom, John Little will be speaking on Steve Weinberg: To Explain the World’.  John says:
The American theoretical particle physicist Steven Weinberg, died at the end of July. He was one of the leading 20th century figures in the field. In 1979 he won a Nobel prize for his work uniting two of nature’s fundamental forces, which became a foundation of the standard model of particle physics, the theory that describes all known fundamental particles and forces in the universe.

In addition to these seminal contributions to research, Weinberg wrote an influential text on gravitation, a masterful three-volume set of textbooks on quantum field theory and was author of the bestselling popular book on cosmology The First Three Minutes (1977). In 1992 he published Dreams of a Final Theory, which has become a classic discourse on the goal of fundamental physics at the cusp of the 21st century.

In his later years he became an authoritative historian of science, his gravitas and wisdom making him a respected commentator on scientific policy as well as social issues, and indeed one of world science’s most respected figures. For him the purpose of science was to explain the world…..the title of his last book.

Weinberg own personal philosophy (the subject of my talk) was somewhat bleak and uncompromising and he often expressed strong views against religion, such as this: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.” But his usual, jovial appreciation of the human tragi-comedy was exemplified by  the way that, given the chance, he would sneak off from stiff parties to play games with the children

To join the meeting, email us at to join the weekly mailing list and we’ll send you the zoom login.

We’re back ! 17 Sept 21 7:30pm – Book Club Evening

yes, summer is over, and the season of mellow fruitfulness is upon us

And its Philosophy time again.

We start off with the traditional book club evening. Our secretary Paul Archer writes:

The philosophy season begins on Friday 17 September 2021.  I am attaching our programme and will look forward to seeing you at future events. 

We are going to start meeting by Zoom but will be having discussions about whether and how we can return to meeting in person as well.  I will send out the first Zoom Link nearer the time.

The first evening is traditionally for Book Sharing and each person is invited to bring along a book of their choosing and say a few words about their chosen book.  It can be philosophy, politics, religion, history, novels or whatever you wish – just any book that you think may be interesting to others.  There is no obligation to bring a book but the more contributions the better!

see you all on Friday!

Fri May 7th…..Festival of Literature

This Friday on 7 May 2021, we are taking part in two events organised by the Swindon Festival of Literature. At 6.00pm, the Festival will be screening the pre-recorded talk of Ollivier Pourriol to the Swindon Philosophical Society on ‘The Art of not Trying too Hard’. Then at 8.00pm, Anthony Costello will be speaking on ‘The Power of Sympathy Groups’.

There is no charge for attending these events. For information about the speakers and how to join these online events, just go to the Swindon Festival of Literature website at:

Fri 30th April “Becoming Human”

Multiple winner of the annual Swindon Thinkslam , John Little , will be discussing the following:

How do children achieve, in a few short years, social and cognitive abilities that took their ancestors a hundred thousand generations to develop?

 Michael Tomasello’s Becoming Human (2019) builds upon and synthesizes an impressive body of work, including his books A Natural History of Human Thinking (2014) and A Natural Theory of Human Morality (2016). His latest book offers an account, based upon a reconstruction of human evolution, of key achievements in human psychological development. Tomasello’s focus is on social abilities and social engagement, strongly influenced by the work of philosopher John Searle  (The Construction of Social Reality (1995) and Making the Social World (2009)). 

Tomasello assembles nearly three decades of experimental work with chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children to propose a new framework for psychological growth between birth and seven years of age. Great apes possess rudimentary abilities but then, he argues, the maturation of humans’ evolved capacities for ‘shared intentionality’ transform these abilities into uniquely human attributes. The first step occurs around nine months, with the emergence of ‘joint intentionality’, exercised mostly with caregiving adults. The second step occurs around three years, with the emergence of ‘collective intentionality’ involving both adults, who convey cultural skills and knowledge, and peers, who elicit collaboration and communication. Finally, by age six or seven, children become responsible for self-regulating their beliefs and actions so that they largely conform with cultural norms. A person.

Join the email list for your zoom login

Fri 23 April “God, Gaia, or Goldilocks” Dr David Waltham

This Friday from 7.30pm by Zoom, Professor Dave Waltham will be speaking on God, Gaia, or Goldilocks.  Dave Waltham is Professor of Geophysics at Royal Holloway, University of London. You may remember his talk about whether we should go to Mars, a year or so ago. This time he’s going to discuss 20 years of research trying to establish whether Earth is a fairly typical rocky planet or one of the weirdest worlds in the Universe. In this talk he’ll update us on his progress so far. To join the meeting, just click on the link below and I will let you in from the waiting room:

I hope to see you there.
N.B. Dave Waltham’s book, Lucky Planet, published in 2014 is available on Amazon (and elsewhere) at:

Fri 16th April “The Bahai Religion” Sahba Badii

This Friday at 7.30pm by Zoom, Sahba Badii will be speaking on ‘The Bahai Religion’.  Sahba says:
I am an engineer by training, and have lived in Swindon for nearly 40 years. Born in Iran, my parents brought us three brothers to the UK for university education. But Islamic revolution intervened and the resulting persecution of Baha’is forced us to seek refuge in the UK and unable to return to Iran. My talk will be about the Baha’i Faith in terms of the story it tells of humanity’s past, present and future.
To join the meeting, just click on the link below and I will let you in from the waiting room:

Finally, for those who missed last week’s meeting, see below the link to a video of our interesting debate on why the Labour Party keeps losing General Elections.  It is fine to share this video as you wish.

Fri 8th April ‘Why the Labour Party keeps losing General Elections’ Paul Archer

Dear All
This Friday from 7.30pm, we will be having a discussion about ‘Why the Labour Party keeps losing General Elections‘.  Paul Archer will introduce the discussion with a summary of the polling research and a number of local Labour Party members and ex members will share their views.  
The background to this discussion is that the Labour Party has now lost four General Elections in a row in 2010, 2015, 2017, and 2019 and the present polling does not suggest a return to power any time soon.  What went wrong?  Are there longer term underlying causes as well as shorter term issues like Brexit?  How does this compare with the experience of America and Europe?
To join the meeting just click on the Zoom Link below and I will let you in from the waiting room:

I hope to see you there.
We have recently changed our Facebook page (the old one got hacked 😦 ) it would be really helpful if you visit, like, review and follow and repost the talks wherever you can!  thanks

Fri 2 April “The French Art of Not Trying Too Hard” Ollivier Pourriol – Festival of Literature

Dear All – A special TREAT!

This Friday on 2 April 2021 from 7.30pm by Zoom, Ollivier Pourriol will be speaking on The French Art of Not Trying Too Hard.  This event is presented in association with the Swindon Festival of Literature and is a free advance viewing just for us.  The event will be recorded and then form part of the Festival.  Matt Holland, organiser of the Festival describes Ollivier’s presentation in the following way:

Is it possible to succeed more when you renounce perfectionism and generally loosen up a little?  Could we all benefit from a bit more irreverence and lighter touches?  Is there any truth in the notion that some of the best ‘books are made out of wasted time, daydreaming, and thinking about nothing.’ And what about love, or at least seduction?  Even though it could be said that one garcon’s joie de vivre is another man’s promiscuity, it’s convincingly argued that that falling in love should never be hard graft.  Philosopher, writer, lecturer at the Paris Philharmonie, and prize-winning novelist Ollivier Pourriol has, for many years, been exploring the art of living, ambition, creativity, and easier ways to reach our goals.

To join the meeting just click on the link below and Matt Holland will let you in from the waiting room:

I hope to see you there


Fri 26th March “‘Life is for Learning, right?” Matt Holland

This Friday from 7.30pm by Zoom, Matt Holland will be speaking on ‘Life is for Learning, right?’  To join the meeting just click on the link below and we will let you in from the waiting room.

Matt says: 

Two year olds say ‘What’s dat? What happened? Who’s dat?’ — which suggests that an appetite for learning, finding out about things, is a natural part of being human.  

As we grow up, and older, what happens to that appetite? What continues to constitute learning? As well as ‘places of learning’, where formal education usually happens, what other places of learning are there? What’s the difference between acquiring knowledge and learning to think? Is what a mastermind or quiz champion can do a sign of learning? To what extent is ignorance really bliss?  If a little learning is a dangerous thing, how much learning is safe? Can we over-examine life, to our detriment? How much of what we want to say is utterable in words?  What of vocational learning and learning for its own sake? How does learning relate to knowledge and wisdom? Are there really more questions than answers? What was Mark Twain driving at when he said ‘All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.’? Any other questions?

I hope to see you there.  In the meantime, if you missed last week’s event on Thinking Fast and Slow then here is a link to the presentation and discussion.  The first few minutes are tied up with getting the powerpoint working but after that it seems to be good.