Academically, philosophy is strongly differentiated from the sciences (physics through to psychology and social science) and the humanities (including history, literature and the arts); but in reality it overlaps the theoretical aspects of other disciplines and we follow U3A practice in ignoring strict academic boundaries.
Our aim is for each of us to develop our personal philosophical outlook through studying together clearly written books by reputable philosophers for the general educated reader. Our current text is ‘The Analysis of Mind by Bertrand Russell’. This is based on a series of lectures that he gave in London and China in the 1921.
Books we read previously have certainly provided a basis for interesting and informed discussion and have advanced our own understanding. They have included: Justice: What’s the right thing to do? by Michael J Sandel, Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in the Real World by John Searle, which synthesises his work over important areas of contemporary philosophy; Language, Truth and Logic by A. J. Ayer, published in 1934 and very influential over the following decades; Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Simon Critchley, introducing a subsequent broadening of philosophical concerns.
We follow the U3A’s approach to shared learning: members read about the topic before the monthly meeting, and bring ideas from their wide variety of backgrounds and interests to provide stimulating discussion in friendly company.
The picture claims to be a representation of Thales of Miletus (now Milet in Turkey) who was active about 624 – 546 BCE. Aristotle regarded him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition. Thales attempted to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology. Almost all of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers follow him in attempting to provide an explanation of ultimate substance, change, and the existence of the world without reference to mythology.
In mathematics, Thales used geometry to calculate the heights of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore. He is the first known individual to use deductive reasoning applied to geometry, by deriving four corollaries to Thales’ Theorem. He is the first known individual to whom a mathematical discovery has been attributed.
We welcome new members with an interest in philosophy, or theoretical aspects of other disciplines, and applications to everyday life. If you are not sure whether you would find it interesting, talk to a convenor or come along and try us out.