28th October: Can we view philosophical movements as boom and bust?

Philosophical doctrines lay down a set of constructs and invite us for some sort of mind game: for example, Descartes expounds three substances (God, mind and matter), Spinoza one substance (God or mind) and Leibniz of multitudes of substances (called monads). This is what I call a mind game – you have to condition your mind (or bend them) if you want to make sense of each philosopher accordingly. Religions have no constructs, but rather tenets, and pontificate them; hence, the believers must condition their minds and follow the tenets. Science has no tenets, no constructs and no mind game but is engaged on continually conditioning facts by evidence and data. The evolutionary timeline of each is a fascinating story. My talk will be focused on the emergence of five major philosophies (Chinese, Indian, Greek, Islamic and European philosophy), where the latter four also have theosophies (religious philosophies). Each of these five major philosophies has different characters, e.g. European philosophy goes through “boom-and-bust.” Dr Rahman Khatabi’s talk will explore the breadth of the subject on their characters but not on their depth – so help me God, you know what I mean.

21st October: a Buddhist-inspired counter-strike against Contemporary Spirituality

This week we have a speaker who’s new to the Phil Soc: David Webster, from the University of Gloucestershire.

The full title of his talk is “Death and the Spirit: a Buddhist-inspired counter-strike against Contemporary Spirituality”.
David says: “It’s not uncommon that when I tell people I teach Religion, Philosophy & Ethics, to hear this increasingly frequent reply:  “I’m not religious, but I do consider myself very spiritual.” In this talk, David will unpack this assertion, which he used to find meaningless, and now considers it as much worse than that. In so doing, he makes a tripartite claim: that contemporary models of ‘spirituality’ are in danger of making us stupid, selfish and unhappy.
Controversial or a fresh blast of common sense? Do come and hear what he has to say – and let us hear your own views.

14th Oct: The Old Testament as Political History

Assumptions are changing in Old Testament study. Once it was
assumed that most accounts had some historical veracity, but now this is
increasingly doubted (outside of the conservative Christian and Jewish
writers). The one solid historical ‘fact’ is that someone wrote the material, and we need to know more about why, including of course when. That the main writers were trying to establish the new Jewish
state after the Babylonian/Persian exile is commonly assumed. In their urgent need to establish their legitimacy, they created a national tribal history to solve their short term issues and eventually turned this into a saga. Stephen Bigger introduced this analysis in his book “Creating the Old Testament” (1989) and explores how contemporary scholars have developed aspects of this.