Rock Inn Discussion notes

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Imagination - Worlds Apart?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 27 Feb 2017

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Genetics

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 13 Feb 2017

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Martin Luther

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 30 Jan 2017

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Film

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 16 Jan 2017

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Universal Human Rights

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 19 Dec 2016

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Alain de Botton

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 5 Dec 2016

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Hate and Anger

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 21 Nov 2016

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Fashion Houses - Enginers of status?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 7 Nov 2016

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Revolution in the UK

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 24 Oct 2016

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Zaha Hadid - a remarkable “starchitect”

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 26 Sept 2016

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The Meaning of Life

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 12 Sept 2016

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The Future of “Work” – what will work look like in a few and lots of years time

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 25 July 2016

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Masculinity - Based upon Grayson Perry’s C4 series “All Man”

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 11 Jun 2016

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All that are Happy are not Equally happy - what is happiness?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 27 Jun 2016

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The EU referendum - in or out?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 13 Jun 2016

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Heidegger –Why is there something and not Nothing

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 16 May 2016

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Heidegger –Why is there something and not Nothing

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 16 May 2016

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Shakespeare sonnets – poems by the most famous playwright in history

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 4 Apr 2016

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Culture is Ordinary – culture is everywhere

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 4 Apr 2016

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Wisdom and Knowledge

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 21 Mar 2016

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Two Poems

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 7 Mar 2016

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Saudi Arabia

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 22 Feb 2016

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History of Number

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 8 Feb 2016

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Grayson Perry - mad potter?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 25 Jan 2016

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Language

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 11 Jan 2016

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Nothing and Chaos

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 14 Dec 2015

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Shame and Trust - pillars of society?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 30 Nov 2015

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We picked a letter by the pin sticking method

which turned out to be "B". We then discussed bees which turned out to be fascinating.

Lazy Trout 16 Nov 2015


Tracey Emin- But is it art?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 2 Nov2015

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What's in a Name?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 19 Oct 2015

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Turkey

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 5 Oct 2015

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The BBC - How should it change?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 21 Sept 2015

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Frida Kahlo

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 8 June 2015

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Crony Capitalism

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) May 11 2015

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Putin

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 27 April2015

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Freedom of Speech

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 13 April 2015

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Is Science a Threat to Humanity?

Lazy Trout Discussion in Pubs(DiPs) 23rd March 2015

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COSMETIC SURGERY
Lazy Trout 9 March 2015
Based on Louisa Peacock – Telegraph 6 March 2015
Eva Wiseman – Guardian 10 June 2012
Louise Foxcroft – Guardian 12 June 2012

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Bertrand Russell


Lazy Trout 9 Feb 2015
From Wikipedia and Clare Carlisle's series of articles on Russell in the Guardian starting 18 November 2013

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (1872 - 1970). His paternal family had a long aristocratic history from Tudor times. His parents were very liberal for the times and agnostic.
His mother(daughter of the Stanleys from Alderley) died when he was 2 and his father when he was 4. His paternal grandparents took him on, however his grandfather - ex PM Earl Russell - died when he was 6. His grandmother, the Countess Russell, was the dominant family figure for the rest of Russell's childhood and youth. She was a Scottish Presbyterian. He was a very shy youth.

Russell was a prominent anti-war activist; he championed anti-imperialism and went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Later, he campaigned against Adolf Hitler, then criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. He did however advocate a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Russia after WWII.

Russell described himself as an agnostic, "speaking to a purely philosophical audience", but as an atheist "speaking popularly".

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

 "In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion ... Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations……"
Russell's support for eugenics in his eccentric and provocative book Marriage and Morals (1929) is one of the more controversial examples of his view that scientific developments could, and should, contribute to social reform.

However…on seeing a friend experience a very painful angina episode Russell experienced an almost religious event.
"The ground seemed to give way beneath me and I found myself in quite another region," he writes. "Within five minutes I went through such reflections as the following: the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable; nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless; it follows that war is wrong, that a public school education is abominable, that the use of force is to be deprecated, and that in human relations one should penetrate to the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that."

In particular, Russell rejects the idea of hell: "It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take him as his chroniclers represent him, would certainly have to be considered partly responsible for that." Evidently he did not spend much time considering this …….. "he does not consider the Catholic teaching that hell is a separation from God that is not inflicted as a punishment, but freely chosen by human beings."

 

"It is dangerous to allow politics and social duty to dominate too completely our conception of what constitutes individual excellence. What I am trying to convey ... is in close harmony with Christian ethics. Socrates and the apostles laid it down that we ought to obey God rather than man, and the gospels enjoin love of God as emphatically as love of our neighbours. All great religious leaders, and also all great artists and intellectual discoverers, have shown a sense of moral compulsion to fulfill their creative impulses, and a sense of moral exaltation when they have done so. This emotion is the basis of what the gospels call duty to God and is separable from theological belief."
Russell is suggesting here that the idea of a relationship to God helps to free individuals from the social pressures of conventional morality. Indeed, the position he is outlining echoes what Kierkegaard famously called the "teleological suspension of the ethical" - a willingness to elevate individual conscience above social duty - which is displayed in the biblical story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. The key objection to this Kierkegaardian view of Abraham - that it might be used to legitimate terrorist violence or delusional behaviour - apply to Russell's position too. It is true that Russell tries to protect himself from such extreme applications of his theory by stating that "society ought to allow me freedom to follow my convictions except when there are very powerful reasons for restraining me". But who is to adjudicate on these ' "reasons" if they are invoked by a society yet unacceptable to an individual's conscience?

 

To our ears, Russell's plea for individual liberty may sound like an amoral "anything goes" ethical stance. However, as well as invoking concepts of God and conscience, he also emphasises self-control. Russell regards sex as a natural human need, which is psychologically comparable with our desire for food and drink - and he argues in Marriage and Morals that over-indulging our sexual appetites is as unhealthy and inappropriate as gluttony:

"Nothing but freedom will prevent undue obsession with sex, but even freedom will not have this effect unless it has become habitual and has been associated with a wise education."

Russell's paradox is based on examples like this: Consider a group of barbers who shave only those men who do not shave themselves. Suppose there is a barber in this collection who does not shave himself; then by the definition of the collection, he must shave himself. But no barber in the collection can shave himself. (If so, he would be a man who does shave men who shave themselves.)