Fri Nov 2nd – Mental Health – Geraint Day and Gerry Hannon

The human brain is but an organ of the body. Subject to malaise like any other part of the anatomy it is also uniquely the seat of our consciousness, of our thoughts. Mental health and mental ill health depend not only on organic influences like that on any other body part but also on the very functioning of those thought processes.

Healthcare services exist to intervene to help treat mental ill health. There are also attempts to maintain good mental health and wellbeing. But what constitutes good mental health? Or for that matter mental ill health?

Just as with physical health there are external and environmental influences.

We shall touch on a few aspects of these topics. And we shall attempt to use at least some brain activity to do so.


Fri 26th Oct – Inequality and the Inner Level – Tom Wilkes

Why do some societies have much higher levels of mental illness than others?

From ‘The Spirit Level’ to ‘The Inner Level’ the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett has explored economic inequality and the impact it has on all of us.

Is economic and social inequality inevitable?

Can we do anything to reverse it?

Fri Oct 12th – Pacifism – Elspeth Wollen and Friends

Sydney Bailey, a notable Quaker peacemaker wrote, “Peace is a path, not a possession”.  Quakers are well known for their longstanding commitment to the path of peace, but it is not uncommon to hear doubts expressed about our “peace testimony”


A mistaken idea is that pacifism is passive: a refusal to take action in the face of of evil. This is far from the case.  There are numerous examples of Quaker work to help prevent violent conflict; of individuals’ courage when caring for victims during war or mediating between warring sides, and of effective programmes of trauma healing and reconciliation after the initial cessation of violence.

On Friday, three members of Swindon Quaker Meeting will explore and describe some examples of non-violence, relief work and peacemaking.  We’ll also tackle the question of whether  pacifism can work in the ‘real world’.  Is a refusal to fight an escape from responsibility in international affairs?  And is it possible to hold to a peace testimony when none of us knows if we can, or should, always act peacefully in all circumstances?

Fri 5th Oct – Elites, Elitists and Elitism – Neil McCallum

Accusations of Elitism and denunciations of elitists are a regular part of current political dialogue. Are these always and inevitably negative terms? On Friday 5 October I hope to discuss with the Philosophical Society the origins of Elite Theory and explore how it has developed. To what extent does it help us understand our current world and perhaps more importantly, could it suggest what the immediate future may hold?