Brecon U3A Philosophy Group
As a group we are currently making our way through A.C. Grayling’s book – “The Meaning of Things.” It covers a wide range of subjects, and is divided into three sections:
• Virtues and Attributes
• Foes and Fallacies
• Amenities and Goods
We are studying part 2 (Foes and Fallacies), which covers nineteen sub-headings, including Depression, Christianity, Miracles, Obscenity and Capitalism. As you can see it is wide ranging! Each section is a brief introduction, inviting the reader to examine more closely the philosophical ideas underlying how we think about a particular subject. In the summer term we will be examining Revenge, Intemperance and Depression. In the Autumn Term we tackle the philosophical underpinnings of Christianity, Sin and Repentance.
What matters is not necessarily the conclusions we reach, but the process of thinking that guides our attitudes and beliefs. We live in an exciting period of history, with new ideas and developments making the news almost every day. Alongside the hope brought by new developments in Genomics, lies the challenge of looking at the effects they will have on humans, and indeed other species. Artificial Intelligence offers many benefits for us, but poses many ethical and moral dilemmas, and has led philosophers to begin looking more closely at the whole subject area of human consciousness.
The philosophy group is an opportunity to get involved in a debate; I normally try and prepare a brief paper setting out the arguments, and importantly linking them to what is happening in the world. For example, Depression is a serious issue for over 7 million people in the UK, and worryingly, 70,000 children are being treated medically for the condition. Why is this happening now, and is it part and parcel of the way we order society? How does an understanding of emotion (emotional intelligence) enable us to understand ourselves better, but also lead us to seek to appreciate why other people think differently.
Socrates sat in the Agora in Athens, inviting people to come and discuss the issues of the day – we do the same, but in the slightly less grand setting of Meeting Room 1 at Theatre Brycheiniog. The aim is the same; even if we don’t reach many conclusions, we can at least ask better questions.