Philosophy talks in London

Sep
1
Sun
Stop Being Reasonable: Stories of how we really change our minds
Sep 1 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Stop Being Reasonable: Stories of how we really change our minds @ Conway Hall

What if you aren’t who you think you are?

What if you don’t really know the people closest to you?

And what if your most deeply-held beliefs turn out to be … wrong?

In her book Stop Being Reasonable, philosopher and journalist Eleanor Gordon-Smith tells six lucid, gripping stories that show the limits of human reason. She discusses some of these stories with Little Atoms podcaster Neil Denny.

From the woman who realised her husband harboured a terrible secret, to the man who left the cult he had been raised in since birth, and the British reality TV contestant who, having impersonated someone else for a month, discovered he could no longer return to his former identity, all of the people interviewed radically altered their beliefs about the things that matter most.

What made them change course? How should their reversals affect how we think about our own beliefs? And in an increasingly divided world, what do they teach us about how we might change the minds of others?

Stop Being Reasonable explores the place where philosophy and real life meet. Ultimately, it argues that when it comes to finding out what’s true or convincing others about what we know, being rational might involve our hearts as well as our minds.

The perfect counterpoint to ‘ultra-rationalists’ like Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, Gordon-Smith uses ideas from philosophy and psychology to show the ways that our emotions drive our opinions — and why it’s time we started to factor this in to how we approach debate.

Eleanor Gordon-Smith is a reporter, ethicist, and recovering champion debater. Currently at Princeton University, she has lectured on topics from the foundations of the political state to the philosophy of sex. Her latest book Stop Being Reasonable: six stories of how we really change our minds will be available on the day.

Neil Denny is the Interviews Editor of Little Atoms magazine, and for over ten years the producer and presenter of the Little Atoms Radio Show and podcast, in which capacity he has interviewed hundreds of people from astronauts to zoologists, hosted numerous live events at science and literary festivals, co-created an art installation about space travel, attempted stand-up comedy, and in 2012 drove 6000 miles across America interviewing scientists as part of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travelling fellowship

Sep
23
Mon
Plato on Justice
Sep 23 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Plato on Justice

A recurring theme in the dialogues of Plato is the profound relationship between the human self and justice: all ten books of the Republic are dedicated to the examination of this relationship, and although the speakers often turns aside to explore other issues, the central theme is never far away. Towards the end of the dialogue, Socrates says that the most important thing to study is the good life and that, having an eye to the nature of the self, we should comprehend “both the worse and the better life, pronouncing that to be the worse which shall lead the soul to become more unjust, and that to be the better life which shall lead it to become more just, and to dismiss every other consideration.” We notice that the point of focus here is the soul (psyche) – that invisible something that is understood to be the unific seat of selfhood, which gives life to the body, and which has the power to know and to make choices. It is on this understanding that all the important ethical principles of Platonic philosophy are based.

We’ll read an extract from the Gorgias which puts forward profoundly challenging consequences to this soul-centred view of life and its ethical dimensions, and discuss our understanding of the issues raised.

No previous experience of formal philosophy is required.

Entrance in free, but donations between £3-5 will be welcomed.

A PDF download of the text we will be starting with is available on our website together with further details of this and other Prometheus Trust’s activities: www.prometheustrust.co.uk (the PDF is on the “London Monday Evenings” page.)

Sep
24
Tue
The Course/Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 1/10
Sep 24 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course/Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 1/10 @ The University Womens Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

 

Introduction and the Court Artist

Why the arts? What is a Prince? Were they all leaders of taste? We begin by exploring some of the key themes and figures of this series before moving on to examine the qualities, experience and identity of the “court artist”.

Nov
7
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 7/10
Nov 7 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 7/10 @ The Course at the University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Drawing Becomes Art

The emergence of drawing as an art form has always been hard to pinpoint. In this lecture, we will look at Leonardo’s drawings and examine how and why this art form might be attributed to him. We will also look at the Burlington Cartoon in London’s National Gallery, its life, history and production, and ask why this unfinished work has been seen as the earliest example of drawing as art and why it holds such a special place in the Gallery’s collection.

Nov
14
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 8/10
Nov 14 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 8/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Signature Projects

We will look in detail at some of Leonardo’s major projects: the Last Supper, The Madonna of the Rock and The Battle of Cascina and discuss how these works were realised, what was the thinking behind them and how do they compare with works by his contemporaries? We will also look at the work of collaborators on these projects and ask how much is theirs and how much Leonardo’s and why do we care?