At the start of the year I resolved to make two updates a month to this blog. I have been quite tardy in my updates, but hopefully will maintain some discipline in the months to come.
One notable date in my diary was the Philosophy Now festival on January 20
The initial session “What Is Happiness?” was quite enlightening and , in my mind, thats when the lectures in the main hall only really worked. The sound there was not great and the atmosphere not intimate or comfortable enough for free flowing debate. Richard Barons discussion on Mathematical knowledge was quite well structured (as his lectures usually are) and Sanjay Joshis “Effective Altruism” quite thought provoking. Ralph Blumenau’s lecture on the philosophy of history once again made me thing whether I wanted to study history instead also. They had a good second hand book sale where I picked up Metaphysics by D.W Hamlyn (recommended by Geoffrey Klempner for his Metaphysics Pathways course) and the Philosophy of Language by John Searle, which should be useful for the Pathways Philosophy of Language Course.
I was a bit delayed over Christmas in the Pathways Philosophy of Mind course but am on track now and, as usual, procrastinating on my third essay on Personal Identity over Time (essays on Philosophical Zombies and Their significance and Descartes Sixth Meditation have been accepted into the essay cabinet).
I was a fan. Not a big one, but I read about his 100 favourite book a few years ago and he seemed to have a good eclectic taste. There is a good quote from Andrei Tarkovsky in the article:
” A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books”
This, for me, seems to resonate with the subjective nature of self within us all. We really do live in separate worlds and each have a different perspective.
Speaking of Philosophy Now they co-organised the lecture on Bertrand Russell and Friendship with the PFA London last Friday.
I think, for Christmas, I have to read Russells Conquest Of Happiness. According to Tim Madigan it appears to be a pre-req to reading his new book on
His comments about Aristotles three kinds of friendship (ones of utility, pleasure, and goodness) resonated with me, so I would believe, after I read Russell, that Tims book will be on my reading list.
Peter Stone also edited another Russell book with Tim, which may be of interest if I get into Russells works and this may provide a quick overview of his some of his work:
For a picture of Russell, the man Stone was also pushing his new book (for the dedicated):
(Its a bit pricey so may be wait for the papaerback oir Kindle edition).
My local WH Smith does not seem to stock the paper copy anymore so I have been forced to download the Kindle edition from Amazon. It works quite well actually and I feel I am being coerced into reading the whole magazine.
The last issue I found quite readable and it concentrated on Plato and Socrates, the more readable philosophers in my opinion, especially the article below:
I guess I will leave the automatic delivery and payment of the Kindle edition on. After all its just £2
a month. I am sad the paper copy is so hard to get though. It all seems like a self fulfilling prophecy for traditional media.
As part of my education, I have resolved to go up to London 1-2 time a month for Philosophy related meetups and lectures. I went to one on a Wednesday just passed on Islam and Philosophy, as in the link below:
The presenter made some interesting points in his criticism of current democracy which respects the majority blindly without any moral code or guidance, but I really think there can be no other choice in this world. Islam he said, in one word represents justice while Christianity represents love (fair enough). Sharia law is based on 6 principles which among them include the right to family, education, property, and dignity. All values, he reminded us, were included in the American Constitution. Fair dues for him to do such a presentation though. I left early in the question and answer session as I had to catch a train. One questioner appeared quite irate about his criticism of current democracy, as it appeared that his argument gave no benefit to atheists having any moral code. Overall I preferred the meetups in earlier this year, especially Richard Barons on Thought Experiments in Ethics. Shafeeq did remind us of the debt we do owe to the old Islamic world for reviving the interest in classical Greek philosophy though. Later I listened to two good podcasts from In Our time on
Al Kindi (he translated the old Greek texts to Arabic)
Al-Ghazali (he refuted the sole use of Greek Philosophy, pointing out where it digressed from Islamic teaching)
I read The Birth Of Tragedy By Friedrich Nietzsche as part of the preparation for the Greek Theatre night course in Southampton University. The course has been postponed due to a shortage of students, so I am wondering whether it was worth it. I suppose its my first exposure to aesthetics in Philosophy.
The Birth of Tragedy tells us we should follow the example of the ancient Greeks and have a good mix of the Dionysian and Appollonian (the passionate and logical in us) and poses the theory that the culture went down hill when the Greeks exalted the rational traits of Philosophy too much (aka they listed to Socrates too much). Its is all a bit too overly romanticised and idyllic for my liking. Its a good job the book is quite short! Nietzsche is particularly pithy and I can see how he could be misunderstood. I found him more tiresome and he could have been more brief!
PEL have a good discussion of it on
Thoughts, Background and New Beginnings
I hit 50 this year, and with that, have decided to learn something new and keep my body and mind in good order. I do not want to get old before my time. There is enough time for that in itself, even on our best behaviour. I have lost nearly three stone with Weight Watchers since January and am seeking to exercise my mind outside of work. I work in IT and am interested in it, but there has to be life outside of work. Hence the title Grey Matter. I am not naturally bright, and need to work at it.
In 1999 and 2000 I did the first two modules of an Open University B.A. in the Arts and Humanities. I was going to start my third when life took an unexpected change and I decided to take a busmans holiday to Australia. I met my wife there, came back to the UK for a few years, then went back to Australia until 2015 when we came back to Ireland and then the UK. The OU does not extend its courses to Oz, but I Iiked doing them, so I made enquiries about doing some new ones when I got back. It turns out that the UK government tripled the university tuition fees when I was away and now an OU 60 point module will be nearly 3000 GBP, which is a disgrace.
In looking for alternatives I hit upon the University of London International program. This does not offer tuition, but seems to be a lot cheaper. Cheaper still is the Pathways to Philosophy Program, led by Geoffrey Klempner. As is recommended on his website I have kept a philosophy diary, however on paper, which I do not update enough. As a result I am going to try a blog on my progress instead.
I have to complete my fourth essay in the Pathways course The Possible World Machine. The essay is called
“What Is Perception ? Explain The Role Of Perception In An Account Of The Nature and Limits Of Human Knowledge”
I did the first draft a few weeks ago, but seem to not be getting the time to finish it. The library near me is only open til 6, which never gives me enough time and then if I am busy on the weekend, that’s it for another week.In Portsmouth I could get access to the university library for 50 pounds a year,and that’s open 24 7. When I get home after work I never seem to have the energy, so it may come to that.