Blue Mugge Discussion Notes

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Hate and Anger

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 6 Mar 2017

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What does Pottery teach us about who we are?

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 6 Feb 2017

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Donald J Trump

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 23 Jan 2017

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Poems, Art Works and Archtecture

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 12 Dec 2016

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Internet Trolls

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 28 Nov 2016

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Saudia Arabia

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 13 Nov 2016

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Martin Luther

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 31 Oct 2016

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National Identities and Allegiances

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 17 Oct 2016

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Brexit Issues

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 3 Oct 2016

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The Family

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 19 Sept 2016

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The Decline of Religion – and The Future of Churches

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 23 May 2016

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Philistines

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 9 May 2016

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How to talk about things we know nothing about

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 11 Apr 2016

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Women are different from men

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 14 Mar 2016

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Relativity and the Cosmos

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 29 Feb 2016

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Philosophy of Truth

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 15 Feb 2016

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Fracking

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 1 Feb 2016

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Commemoration Overload

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 18 Jan 2016

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Appreciating wine, poetry and art
- a plain wo/man’s guide to avoiding bunkum

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 21 Dec 2015

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Heidegger

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 7 Dec 2015

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My Favorite Building in Leek

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 23 Nov 2015

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The Brain and Consciousness

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 9 Nov 2015

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Islam and Women

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 26 Oct 2015

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The Experience of Work

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY 12 Oct 2015

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BBC

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  MONDAY Sept 28 2015

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Cosmetic surgery

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  Tue 2 June 2015

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Secularism

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  Tue 5 May 2015

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Zionism

Dips at The Blue Mugge pub  Tue 31 March 2015

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The Super Rich - Class and Status

DiPs at The Blue Mugge pub  Tue 17 March 2015

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Altruism

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?'