Thu 24th January at 7pm
Artificial Intelligence: between Myth and Reality
We often hear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will give rise to machines that will become “smarter” than humans and will dominate the world. Is this real or is it just a product of science fiction? Artificial Intelligence has indeed given us the ability to develop machines that can assist humans in many fields, ranging from medical decision-making to finance, military applications, manufacturing, security, etc. However, the term Artificial Intelligence also gives rise to a full spectrum of misunderstandings, especially when it is connected with artificial entities that possess an advanced intelligence and could supplement or even outperform humans’ own intelligence and take over the world. Contrary to what people claim, machines pose no existential threat to human beings, but we do need to be vigilant towards possible ethical risks associated with the future development of this area. In this talk, we will clarify what AI truly means, by looking at its roots and the purposes for which it was created. We will describe its development through different stages and, most importantly, we will address, demystify and have a philosophical discussion about a set of claims that are currently the focus of much debate and many concerns among people about the dangers of AI.
Fri 25th January at 7pm
The Philosophy of Upcycling
- Barley Massey
‘Upcycling’ is the art of transforming old or waste items/materials into something new, adding value through creativity and design. Items are redirected from landfill, extending their life, creating new purposes and stories in the process. This lively and practical talk will connect this modern-day practice of upcycling to timeless philosophical ideas of transformation and alchemy. During the talk, you will also have the opportunity to stitch a simple embroidered patch based on the Japanese mending techniques of ‘Sashiko’ & ‘Boro’. If you are so inspired by the talk that you would like to put your ideas into practice, you can book one of several workshops with Barley Massey, the speaker and the owner of Fabrications in Broadway Market.
Tue 5th, Tue 12th, Tue 19th and Tue 26th February at 7pm
The Power of Myth II: 4-week course
Over thousands of years, myths have helped human beings to understand aspects of life that the rational mind finds difficult to grasp (love, death, mystery...). Great philosophers like Plato have used myths and fables to explain their key concepts. Still today, we find the archetypal patterns of myth in books like Lord of the Rings or films like Star Wars.
Topics of the 4 evenings
Wed 6th February and Tue 5th March at 7pm
Discover PhilosophyPhilosophies of East and West
Philosophy means love of wisdom (philo-sophia) and is an active attitude of awareness towards life. In this sense, we are all born philosophers, with an innate need to ask questions and with the intuition that there are answers to be found. Every civilization has passed on to us its experience and understanding of life.However, most of us have had little opportunity to learn about the vast heritage of ideas that have inspired and guided humanity throughout history.
This 16-week course will introduce you to the major concepts of Eastern and Western Philosophy and explore their relevance and practical application for our lives.
Ethics: Understanding yourself
Ethics enquires about moral principles and the impact of individuals on their environment. But it is also related to happiness, as it helps us to find the right 'inner attitude' to deal with different life situations in ways that are beneficial to ourselves and to others.
Sociopolitics: Living together in harmony with others
Sociopolitics looks at relationships in society, both between individuals and between the individual and the group. It is concerned with finding principles by which we can create harmonious communities where everyone can flourish.
Philosophy of History: Being part of something greater
We are all products of history and at the same time we all contribute to making history. Philosophy of History seeks wisdom in the study of the past and how to apply the lessons of history to the present.
Philosophy for Living: Practical Application
What is the value of thinking without action? Action is the real measure of what we are, theory and practice inform each other. Each course evening will explore the practical relevance of philosophy and its potential to transform ourselves and society.
First introductory evening FREE. Price for the whole course £190 (£130 concessions), handouts included.
Sun 10th, Sun 17th and Sun 24th March from 4pm to 7pm
3-week course: Plato and the pursuit of truthThree afternoons on the Platonic ways of truth-seeking
- Tim Addey
Drama as an instrument of truth
Plato's dialogues have challenged readers to explore questions of truth and reality for the last 2,400 years: during that time humankind's view of truth and the universe we inhabit has undergone many changes – but Plato's philosophy remains alive with his profound questions.
For many specialists in Platonic philosophy the arrangements of logical questioning in the speeches of the characters of the dialogues constitute the whole of his approach to philosophy: but is this really the case? We need to ask why Plato wrote dramatic dialogues rather than straight-forward treatises, and why the philosophical questions are shaped by his drama rather than by the themes he explores.
In the first of three Sunday afternoons on Plato's approach to truth-seeking, we aim to explore the insights that the dramatic action brings to the dialogues. We will spend an hour looking at some of the most powerful dramatic moments in the Platonic body of work and, after a short break, open up the meeting to a discussion about the ideas we can see emerging from this approach.
Story-telling as an instrument of truth
"Be as children, and listen" – Plato, in The Statesman
In the second of three Sunday afternoons on Plato's approach to truth-seeking, we aim to explore some of the stories his characters tell during the dialogues. What does story-telling add to the rational arguments from which they arise? What advantage is there in myth and story to compensate for the loss of precision when dialogues move from dialectical argument to the strange tales Plato has his speakers relate?
We will spend an hour looking at examples of his stories, and the way they are embedded in the dialogues; after a short break we will open up the meeting to a discussion about this way of philosophizing, and what it adds to the rational element of the dialogue.
Dialectic as an instrument of truth
In the third of three Sunday afternoons on Plato's approach to truth-seeking, we aim to explore the different ways in which careful questioning allows hidden truths to emerge from common opinions, and half-formed thoughts or from conflicting positions and unexamined assumptions. We will also look at the way Socrates in particular approaches different characters with appropriate strategies – for his is a more subtle art than many realise.
We will spend an hour looking at various passages of the dialogues, selected to illustrate particular approaches and after a short break, open up the meeting to a discussion about this form of philosophy.