Blue Mugge Discussion Notes
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Hate and Anger
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 6 Mar 2017
What does Pottery teach us about who we are?
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 6 Feb 2017
Donald J Trump
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 23 Jan 2017
Poems, Art Works and Archtecture
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 12 Dec 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 28 Nov 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 13 Nov 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 31 Oct 2016
National Identities and Allegiances
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 17 Oct 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 3 Oct 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 19 Sept 2016
The Decline of Religion – and The Future of Churches
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 23 May 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 9 May 2016
How to talk about things we know nothing about
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 11 Apr 2016
Women are different from men
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 14 Mar 2016
Relativity and the Cosmos
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 29 Feb 2016
Philosophy of Truth
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 15 Feb 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 1 Feb 2016
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 18 Jan 2016
Appreciating wine, poetry and art
- a plain wo/man’s guide to avoiding bunkum
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 21 Dec 2015
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 7 Dec 2015
My Favorite Building in Leek
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 23 Nov 2015
The Brain and Consciousness
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 9 Nov 2015
Islam and Women
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 26 Oct 2015
The Experience of Work
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY 12 Oct 2015
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub MONDAY Sept 28 2015
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub Tue 2 June 2015
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub Tue 5 May 2015
Dips at The Blue Mugge pub Tue 31 March 2015
The Super Rich - Class and Status
DiPs at The Blue Mugge pub Tue 17 March 2015
DiPs at The Blue Mugge Tue 17th Feb 2015
Our session will be based on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time broadcast on 'Altruism' about nine years ago.... (This can be accessed via BBC In our Time Philosophy archive).
Those present in The Churchill Room who have listened to the broadcast will summaries key issues for us to discuss in addition to, or qualifying, what's said below.
1. This was a good, enlightening, programme with everybody focussed on important issues which the general listener could follow with interest? Has it dated in any way?
2. Starting with the word itself, coined by an individual, Comte, in the 19th century, conveying the idea that selfless action can be 'natural' - and not inspired by a religious sense of 'duty'....
3. Back to the Greeks, as so often in philosophy, when the idea of Justice and working for the general good in society leads, our philsophers argued, to human happiness... hence the view from Aristotle that human nature is part of the whole 'nature in harmony'.
4. Then with the 'bourgeois democratic revolution' from the 17th/18th centuries the 'individual' and the 'State' often in tension if not conflict. 'How to get people interested in helping others' became a philosophic question, as did the idea of the 'cost' of benevolence and empathy. Does taking account of others necessarily involve a 'cost'?
5. Hume and Kant were quoted engaging with human 'generosity of spirit and action' – this being a basic human moral 'disinterested' response based on Reason and the rational … though each having a different approach to the 'rational' and 'duty'.
6. Richard Dawkins was a participant in the discussion and much of the programme was devoted to Darwin's work on 'natural selection' and the 'survival of the fittest' with the challenge this presents to 'altruism'. On the other hand, reference was made to the 'social insects' - worker ants, bees, and termites (all sterile, no 'children') helping the 'tribe', 'clan' and 'species' to survive. 'Selfless' if you like? Darwin's own views on his theory changed - the 6th edition of Origin of Species could have been sub-titled (as a wit has said) 'Evolution through Natural Selection and All Sorts of Other Things'.
7. On to 'The Selfish Gene' which Dawkins emphasised did not necessarily imply that humans are selfish individuals. The DNA codes that survive are important - in that sense there is 'selfishness' at the genetic level but human individuals are social animals, nurtured in society and culture/s. Dawkins said he is interested in how us humans are so often so 'nice' to each other.
8. Earlier, human 'society' involved contact with close relatives - being altruistic to them was 'natural' and helped survival. Now, with big cities and 'strangers' everywhere, why are we 'nice' to them? Some agreement on the need to look at social history and cultural histories to answer this question. There are 'constantly shifting cultures' and 'a constantly shifting zeitgeist'. Also, the point was made that the 'news' emphasises the negative (wars, murders, atrocities) whereas in everyday life human kindness, generosity and altruism goes on un-remarked and unreported at many levels and in many situations.
David Hume – Philosopher
DiPs at The Blue Mugge Tue 3 Feb 2015
David Hume was born just over 300 years ago. He was probably the most significant figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, with his writings influencing a wide range of later thinkers including Darwin and Einstein. He is now regarded as a giant of Western Philosophy.,
Our session will be based on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time broadcast 'David Hume' in October 2011. (This can be accessed via BBC In our Time Philosophy archive).
Those present in The Churchill Room who have listened to the broadcast will summaries key
issues for us to discuss.
We are likely to engage with these quotes from and about Hume's work:
i) 'Avarice, the spur of industry...'
ii) 'Custom, then, is the great guide to human life'
iii) 'The Christian religion not only was first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.'
iv) 'Opposing one species of superstition to another, set them quarrelling; while we ourselves, during their fury and contention, happily make our escape into the calm, though obscure, regions of philosophy'.
v) Holbach concurred with Hume's low opinion of religion's value as political ideology, observing that it is the hangman rather than the priest who underpins the social order. In any case, he scornfully inquired, who reads the philosophers?'