Fri 2nd Feb – Money – Chris Turner

Money – What is it?
What was it?
Where does it come from?
Where is it going?
Can you just print it?
Is it real?
Can you just make it up?
Who controls it?
Can it be controlled?
And what the hell is a bitcoin?

Fri 26th Jan – Desert Island Books – Marina Strinkovsky

Marina will be revealing and discussing the books that she would take to her Desert Island.

Her choices were

1.  Thais of Athens [in Russian] –  Ivan Efremov

2.  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

3.  Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

4.  Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

5.  Defenders of the Truth – Ullica Segerstale

6.  The Value of Nothing – Raj Patel

7.  Bloodlands – Timothy Snyder.

{8.  Middlemarch – George Eliot}

Music – Voce Abuso (a Brazilian pop song)




Fri 19th Jan – Why Do We Have Ethics? – Dr Don Cameron


Following Hume, no conclusion about a value can be derived by reasoning about facts alone; at least one value premise is required. From this it can be shown that all the values that arise in society must “boot up” from genetically programmed values. The mechanisms by which these have evolved during our long past as social animals are reviewed, together with the processes of the continuing social augmentation of values.

Our values may have been originally determined by selection of those leaving the most descendants, yet they do not do that in the modern world. To judge what is correct now, we have no criterion other than our existing values. This question may have no solution, but it is (or should be) the most important in philosophy today.

Dr Don Cameron is convenor of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.

Fri Jan 12th – The Wisdom of Uncertainty – John Little

“Know thyself,” is a precept as old as Socrates. But cognitive researchers from Freud to Kahneman have shown just how difficult this can be. Not only is the mind now seen as a veritable hodgepodge of evolutionary adaptive modules* (the purpose of which is not to establish truth or to reason effectively) but the capacity of human beings to spin and believe stories borders on the truly bizarre. It is this ability to confabulate that I want to explore, using examples from hypnosis, past life regression, split brain research, recovered memory, brain damage, the fantasy life of children, and religion (not to mention ordinary, everyday life).

I want to argue that confabulation (and its cousin, rationalisation) is not confined to the clinically ill or the exotic beliefs of the more simple minded, but is a universal (I almost said defining) feature of the human intellect that we have at least to be aware of, and preferably be on our guard against.

*”All natural selection “cares about” is what traits will get an animal’s genes into the next generation. If having an illusion, having a distorted view of yourself or of other people has helped get genes into the next generation, then distortion can actually be built into the human mind.”                     Robert Wright – Why Buddhism is True.


New Programme – Winter/Spring 2018

Date             Speaker                               Subject

5 January      Bishop Lee Rayfield                 Paying Attention to the Soul

12 January    John Little                                 The Wisdom of Uncertainty

19 January    Don Cameron                            Why do we have Ethics?

26 January    Marina Strinkovsky                   Desert Island Books

2 February    Chris Turner                               Money

9 February    Chris Eddy                                  Evidence-based Ethics

16 February  Jeremy Holt                                Your Personal Data

23 February  Rahman Khatibi                          Fundamentalism

2 March        Alan Winfield                               Post Work

9 March        Professor Zhang                         Will the Rise of China lead to War?

16 March     Juliet Platt                                   TBC

23 March     Peter Von Lany                           A New Philosophy of Engineering