Philosophical Explorations

Philosophical Explorations aims to apply philosophical thought and method to any subject matter or topic of concern to society or observant individuals within it. The idea is to approach any aspect of life, wearing a philosophical hat as it were, that is applying a measure of argumentation and justification, adhering to reason and logical precision, making use of cumulative philosophical thinking over the ages, broadening each subject to its full implications above and beyond particularities and contingencies, seeking that which underpins opinion by unravelling undisclosed basic assumptions and formulating an underlying existential position in life. Above all, Philosophical Explorations invites us to subject our stand to a dialogue with others, by opening up a space in the mind as a precondition of careful and considerate listening, an ongoing examination of our opinion in relation to that of others, a willingness and readiness to allow one’s own stand to incorporate, indeed be transformed, by the growing wisdom of the group in the process of philosophical exchange. What is therefore desirable in this group is a philosophical attitude and an openness of mind. The most commonly accepted definition of philosophy is that of “thinking about thinking”, that is a double move at the outset, where all reflections are simultaneously subjected to meta-reflections. This habit of mind, whilst not intuitive or normative in society, is at the very core and an indispensable attribute of Philosophical Explorations.

The group provides an opportunity to engage in philosophy for anyone who likes to think and talk about life’s deepest and most meaningful questions. The well-read are expected to explain things from first principles without assuming prior knowledge. The less well-read of us are invited to justify what we say and not assume that things are self-evident. Those who prefer just to listen are welcome to do so, but everyone should feel free to speak. Whilst it’s fascinating to dig deep and follow lines of enquiry, group members are advised to share their enthusiasm in such a way that others are also able to fully participate in the discussion. We hope everyone keeps an open mind and listens respectfully to world views and convictions which differ from their own. Topics will be selected one session in advance from a list of suggestions provided by members. As the title suggests, we aim to follow specific lines of enquiry, to dig deep and wide, and to question some of our most basic assumptions. We aim for a shared understanding rather than victory or agreement. Everyone is welcome to join in. Some of the topics discussed recently have included the following (some of which have been blogged on the NPS website):

“The future of Philosophy”

“Why is ‘courage’ a neglected virtue?”

“Self-governance”

“The concept of ‘Problem’: do problems only emerge out of dichotomies?”

“Communication: what is it, and can we successfully communicate with one another?” 

“Narcissism: have we become so self-centred as to exclude the other?”

“Philosophical liberties: how much license can philosophy take in order to unravel the world? Should it stick to the rules of the game (e.g. logic) or does only the full spectrum of life enable the unfolding of philosophical truth?” 

“Is philosophy as an ‘intellectual game’ inherently anti-philosophical?”

“Do the 19th century’s notions of ‘the death of God’, the collapse of meaning, the ineffability of life, and the indefinability of God inevitably lead to the Absurd?”

“Are art and philosophy based on different basic assumptions?”

“Does the modern concept of ‘the Self’ add to the long-standing question of personhood?”

“Philosopher King or Perennial Critic: the role of the philosopher in public discourse”

“Power and Oppression in Society”

 

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

Time: 10:30 am to 12.40 pm, 2nd & 4th Saturdays of the month.

See the Calendar on the main page for up-to-date location and time details, as well as what will be happening in the next group.

Discussion: join the online discussion here.

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