Cafe Philosophique

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Date(s) - Saturday, May 20, 2017
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

St John the Baptist Church Hall


When: Saturday 20 May, 2 pm until 4 pm.

Please arrive a few minutes early for a prompt 2 pm start.

Where: St John the Baptist Church Hall, Grainger Street (on the corner of Grainger Street and Westgate Road), Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5JG. Tel: 0191 232 0483.

Please note that the entrance is through the church hall door, which is on the side of the building (and not through the main front church door).


The Enlightenment may have occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it continues to raise controversial issues today, not least about the proper place of reason in human life. This talk will discuss contrasting views on the topic of reason and knowledge put forward by two of the leading philosophers of modern times, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jürgen Habermas, and their implications for current political debate.

Peter Morris, a retired journalist and press officer, has been a member of Newcastle Philosophy Society for eleven years. He studied human rights and global justice at Newcastle University in 2015 as part of an MA course. He is a member of Amnesty International, the European Movement and the Joseph Cowen Lifelong Learning Centre.


The task of the audience is to attempt to be Socratic, as it were, in exploring philosophically the basic concepts being presented, their underlying assumptions, coherence, and viability. We invite you to join us in this exciting and challenging endeavour.

There is a £2 charge for waged attendees to cover room costs. There is no charge for unwaged or new attendees.

Reading for the session

The following resources, available on the internet, may prove useful when preparing for the session:
The Postmodern Condition, a seminal work of postmodernism by Lyotard, is not long or hard going (for a book of philosophy). The whole book can be read here, free:

There’s a student summary/review, followed by various comments, here:

Summary: The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry is here:

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a section on Lyotard, including The Postmodern Condition, here:

The Stanford entry of Habermas is here:

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Habermas is at:


Café Philosophique has been the flagship of the Newcastle Philosophy Society since its inception in 2003. More than the weekly study groups, it embodied the spirit of taking philosophy out of academe and into the domain of public interest, combining erudition and argumentation with wider participation, personal involvement, and broadening of scope to include all matters of interest and concern to a growing diversity of individuals and the public at large.

The model of Café Philosophique, as implied by its title, is based on a popular movement in France over the past half century, where people with an interest in philosophy gathered in cafés or similar venues, and took turns to introduce a theme or topic for collaborative reflection and discussion. On occasion, an invited speaker would be invited to focus the debate or draw people’s attention to a particular subject beyond their immediate grasp.

For a number of years, Café Philosophique at the Newcastle Philosophy Society has drawn on the seemingly inexhaustible knowledge and expertise of its regular members. It has also benefited from a range of contributions by guest speakers from university departments and elsewhere. Café Philosophique currently meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month at 2 pm (about 10 times a year).

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