Fri 23rd Oct “The Philosophy of the Cooperative Movement”

Dear All

A Cooperator since his early 30s. Steve Allsopp started his involvement with the Cooperative Movement as a Saturday boy in the Cavendish Square Cooperative in the early 70s subsequently becoming President of the Oxford and Swindon Society in the 90s. He continues to be a Board Member of the Midcounties Cooperative Society and also serves on the Members Council of the Coop Group . A founder member of Parks and Walcot credit union he also spent 5 years as Secretary of a Worker Cooperative. He currently Chairs the Board of Cooperative Futures, a small Cooperative Development Agency. Steve is one 1 billion cooperative members worldwide.

Steve will provide a brief introduction to UK  Cooperative History and its Philosophy and its world wide relevance in addressing global concerns.

see your email for zoom link – or email us here

I hope to see you there.


Fri 16th Oct “EMPIRES” Geraint Day and Gerry Hannon – on ZOOM

This Friday from 7.30pm by Zoom, Geraint Day and Gerry Hannon will be speaking on ‘Empires’.  Geraint and Gerry say:

Geraint recalls one Friday evening in late last November just before the start of the Philosophical Society evening, in the midst of election cum Brexit-itis, someone tapped on my shoulder and said something like…Gerry recalls saying something like: “I’ve had an idea – something “about Empires”. Fancy a double hander?” I seem to remember that Geraint then said something like: “Sounds interesting. What might it be about?” I replied along the lines of “It looks like not just the end of the end of the British one … but also the English one?”  The intended structure of the presentation is:

Part 1: Geraint on Empires – definitions; history/overview; ways of building, and a case study: “Accidents and Iconoclasms”.

Part 2: Gerry on Empires – today and tomorrow. And round up the evening with “What about Corporacy?”
ZOOM meeting link in your email – no email!!! -No problem – just click here and we’ll send you one!

Fri 9th October ” The Development of Citizenship in Britain” Stanislava Adamcova

Dear All
This Friday from 7.30pm by Zoom, Stanislava Adamcova will be speaking on ‘The Development of Citizenship in Britain’. Stanislava says:

Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy, and Social Innovation at University College London, says:

“Citizenship is one of those words which goes in cycles…In some periods it lies dormant, but then at others it becomes a prism through which we think about our relationships to each other and to the state.”

In my talk, I will outline the key stages of the development of citizenship in Britain while briefly pointing out the tensions between different sets of rights in relation to liberalism, social liberalism, and neoliberalism. I will talk about Hobbesian and Locke’s examinations of the ‘nature of man’ which were crucial at the point when the feudal order was crumbling down and essentially provided a basis for the concept of citizenship.

I hope to make an introduction which will lead to a discussion about citizenship as a socio-political concept, where we are at the moment, where we should be, and if it is the time to re-think this concept.  

To join the meeting just click on the link in your emails and you will be in!  It is very straightforward and our sessions this Autumn Term have been excellent.

No email – then click here to get in touch and we’ll send you one!

Fri Oct 2nd – Me and the Umwelt – John Little

To get your ZOOM log in for Friday – join the mailing list by emailing

In John Brockman’s book ‘This (Concept) Will Make You Smarter‘ the neuroscientist DAVID EAGLEMAN chose ‘The Umwelt’ writing :

”In 1909, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll introduced the concept of the umwelt. He wanted a word to express a simple (but often overlooked) observation: different animals in the same ecosystem pick up on different environmental signals. In the blind and deaf world of the tick, the important signals are temperature and the odor of butyric acid. For the black ghost knifefish, it’s electrical fields. For the echolocating bat, it’s air-compression waves. The small subset of the world that an animal is able to detect is its umwelt.

The interesting part is that each organism presumably assumes its umwelt to be the entire objective reality “out there.” Why would any of us stop to think that there is more beyond what we can sense? We accept our umwelt and stop there.

To appreciate the amount that goes undetected in our lives, imagine you’re a bloodhound. Until a child learns in school that honeybees enjoy ultraviolet light and rattlesnakes sense infrared, it does not strike her that plenty of information is riding on channels to which we have no natural access; or that the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to us is less than a ten-trillionth of it.

Our unawareness of the limits of our umwelt can be seen with colour-blind people: until they learn that others can see hues they cannot, the thought of extra colours does not hit their radar screen. And the same goes for the congenitally blind: being sightless is not like experiencing “blackness” or “a dark hole” where vision should be. As a human doesn’t miss a bloodhound’s sense of smell, a blind person does not miss vision. They do not conceive of it. Electromagnetic radiation is simply not part of their umwelt.

The more science taps into these hidden channels, the more it becomes clear that our brains are tuned to detect a shockingly small fraction of the surrounding reality. Our sensorium is enough to get by in our ecosystem; we sense only those aspects of reality that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce their genes.

I think it would be useful if the concept of the umwelt were embedded in the public lexicon. It neatly captures the idea of limited knowledge, of unobtainable information, and of un-imagined possibilities. Consider the criticisms of policy, the assertions of dogma, the declarations of fact that you hear every day — and just imagine if all of these could be infused with the proper intellectual humility that comes from appreciating the amount unseen.”

In this talk I want to look at the many ways philosophers and scientists have raised the issue of (and sought to transcend) our sensory and cognitive limitations. Perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.

Or perhaps they are much, much worse. I will critically examine Donald Hoffman’s recent book ‘The Case Against Reality’.  

Meeting starts at 7.30 on Zoom…..

Fri 25 Sept “The future is Nigeria” – Paul Archer on ZOOM

There are many reasons why the future is Nigeria most obviously that it will be the third most populous country in the world by 2050 and because it already contains more than one in seven of the people of Africa.

  There are more extremely poor people in Nigeria (over 100 million of them) than in any country in the world – many more even than in India. 

Given that the country of Nigeria is a colonial creation of the British, we might imagine that some solidarity is called for with the 206 million people who already live there.  In any event, much depends on the future of Nigeria.  In the midst of all the challenges facing Nigeria, what is there to be optimistic about?

I look forward to seeing you there.

Paul Archer

(to join the ZOOOOM meeting just click here for contact details )

Fri 18th Sept – Members Book Choices

Rose        The Gate of Angels – Penelope Fitzgerald

Sue          The Jewel in the Crown – Paul Scott

Geraint   Mozartiani – J. Solman

Chris        White Fragility – Robin Diangelo;       Cynical Theories – Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay

Matt        Enchantment – Patrick Curry

Daniel     Burmese Days – George Orwell

Janie       Plato’s Laws;        The Ground of Being – Joseph Milne;     Plato at the Googleplex – Rebecca                      Newberger Goldstein;     Prisoners of Geography – Tim Marshall;   Doughnut Economics – Kate Raworth

John        Fall of Civilizations (podcast) – Paul Cooper;     Plagues and People – William McNeil;    Straw Dogs –    John Gray

Paul         A Little History of Religion – Richard Holloway

Matt 2    The Little Book of Humanism – Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts;     A Saint in Swindon – Alice Jolly

John 2    Human Kind (A Hopeful History) – Rutger Bregman;    The Kindness of Strangers – Michael McCullough;  Survival of the Friendliest – Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

And here is a link to Fall of Civilizations (podcast) – Paul Cooper







Fri 18 Sept “Book Sharing Evening” – ZOOM 7:30pm

This Friday is the beginning of our Autumn Term philosophy meetings by Zoom –

The first meeting this Friday, from 7.30pm on 18 September 2020, will be a book sharing evening.  The idea is that each person who attends may, if they wish, bring along a book which they can share with everyone.  The book can be of any description including science, politics, novels, history or wherever you wish.  Each person will have a few minutes to say a few words about their book if they would like to do so.  There is no requirement to bring a book or say anything about your book and it is fine just to come along and hear about the choices of others.  It is always an interesting evening and I look forward to seeing you, at least virtually, on Friday.
The meetings this term will begin at 7.30pm rather than 7.40pm and we anticipate that the meetings will be a bit shorter. 

To join the meeting, you just click on the Zoom link in your email.

No email? – just email us at or use the contact page and we’ll soon sort you out.

If you do not have Zoom on your device then it will ask you at the time if you want to download Zoom and this normally takes only a minute or so.

I hope to see you on Friday..