Can you get to Oxford for a weekend?
If so then do come to OUDCE for one of our weekend schools. These are held at Rewley House, start at 3pm on Saturday, and end after lunch at 2pm on Sunday. I chair them. The format is (nearly) always the same: two professional philosophers each give two lectures (including questions), then there is a question and answer session with me and the other two philosophers on the panel.
Our weekends are extremely lively. There can be anything from 30 to 120 participants. Some of these participants will be members of the OUDCE Philosophical Society (who get a discount on weekend schools) and who are very familiar with some aspects of philosophy. Others will be complete beginners. The speakers must try to negotiate their way through their talks keeping each type of participant happy. It is amazing how well they do it.
The weekends are also social. There is plenty of time during the tea and coffee breaks, and at dinner on Saturday night and lunch on Sunday, to meet, get to know and learn to argue with other participants.
Here are the weekend schools (and one lecture series) for the academic year 2018/19. If you’d like to go to one now is the time to book:
Explanation: a Series of Six Lectures
Marianne Talbot (every Monday from 8th October 2018, 2.00 – 3.30 pm)
For human beings the intelligibility of our world is hugely important. We want – perhaps need– explanations for phenomenon that interests us. We want, that is, explanations to everything. But what is an explanation? And what is the process of explaining? Some people believe that all explanations are causal. But if so are there different types of causal explanation? Are reason explanations of our own behaviour, for example, a particular type of causal explanation? Will science ever explain everything? Or are there limits to scientific explanation? Recently it has been suggested that it is not the case that all explanations are causal. This is a live debate with some philosophers arguing that all apparent non-causal explanations are in fact causal, and others insisting that they are wrong. Come and find out more about, and get involved in, this debate. Further information and book here
Philosophy of Art in Classical Greece
20-21st October 2018, Angie Hobbs and Patrick Doorly
In ancient Greek one term, kalon, embraces both aesthetic beauty and the morally fine. Another ancient Greek word aretê, traditionally translated as ‘virtue’ or ‘excellence’, shares a common Indo-European root with the Latin ‘art’ and English‘right’. But are the concepts of beauty and morality really related? What about great, but morally abhorrent, artists? Another conundrum is posed by the status of a work as a work of art. There are many different ways to characterise works of art. Different views may have a different impact on our views on how art and morality are linked, and therefore on censorship. And to what extent can we define the sublime? Perhaps any attempt to define it, or indeed any of our values, will destroy them? Did Socrates’ insistence on definition marginalize the values he most cherished in the Western intellectual tradition? Further information and book here
Scientific Realism and the Challenge From the History of Science
24/25 November 2018, Peter Vickers and Timothy Lyons
Scientific realists claim that science seeks the truth and that we have good reason to believe that our best scientifictheories achieve or at least approximate it. Vickers defends epistemic scientific realism, arguing that we can (at least sometimes) identify the parts of our scientific theories which are (approximately) true. By contrast, Lyons argues against epistemic scientific realism. Both Lyons and Vickers draw on historical examples to support their claims, especially historical episodes where scientists were confident they had hit upon ‘the truth’, but it later turned out that they were radically mistaken. Such cases have often been put forward to challenge the realist claim that the success of science gives us good grounds for believing that science is uncovering the fundamental truths of our universe. Whilst Vickers believes the realist can answer such historical challenges, Lyons is not so optimistic. Lyons does, however, support a realist attitude to when it comes to the aim of science, and he proposes that a refined understanding of the realist aim holds lessons for inquiry in general. Further information and book here
Wittgenstein: Religion and Nonsense
12/13 January 2019, Stephen Mulhall and Mik Burley
Wittgenstein’s ideas about religion have been much more influential than is sometimes thought. The first two lectures will consider this influence, concentrating on Wittgenstein’s remarks on James Frazer’s The Golden Bough and Wittgenstein’s proposal that we overcome the temptation to view certain religious practices as simply confused or nonsensical. We shall look at this through the lens of D.Z.Phillips’ ‘contemplative conception of philosophy’, the purpose of which is to disclose ‘possibilities of sense’ within religious forms of life. In lectures three and four we shall consider the connections between Wittgenstein’s views on ethics and his treatment of value in the Tractatus, and so to his early conception of sense and nonsense in language. It will be suggested that Wittgenstein’s treatment of absolute value in his ‘Lecture on Ethics’, taken together with his comparison of mathematical conjectures with riddles, provides a fruitful way of understanding a range of religious uses of language. It will be claimed that Wittgensteinian sense can be made of the thought that religious language is necessarily nonsensical, but none the worse for that; indeed, if it were not nonsensical, it could not have the significance that religious believers attribute to it, and to the faith it expresses. Further information and book here
The Philosophy of Colour
16/17 February 2019, Derek Brown and Will Davies
What is redness? Is redness the quality of an experience, the property of an object or a property that emerges from the interaction of visual systems like ours with objects that reflect light at a certain wavelength? Could a blind person form the same concept ‘red’ as a sighted person? Does the answer to the second question tell us anything about the answer to the first? During this weekend we shall be discussing colours, our perception of them, our concepts of them, and the philosophy of colour more generally. Further information and book here
9/10 March 2019, Christopher Gill and John Sellars
There has been a resurgence of interest in Stoicism in recent years, with people as varied as cognitive psychotherapists, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, resilience trainers, practitioners of Buddhism, deep ecologists, and even the US military extolling its benefits. Each year thousands of people follow Stoic Week, an experiment aimed at testing its usefulness. But what is Stoicism? What are its central ethical claims? How did the Stoics conceive a good human life? During this weekend we shall examine both the philosophical foundations of Stoic ethics and techniques by which they might be put into practice. Further information and book here
The Status of the Mind-Body problem in 2019
6/7 April 2019, Marianne Talbot
The Mind-Body problem is the problem of how our minds are related to our bodies (and in particular our brains). There was a time when it seemed obvious that our minds could exist without our brains (surely after the death of the body the mind lives on?). Then there was a time when it seemed obvious that mental states are states of the brain. It is today often assumed by the person in the street and indeed the neurologist in the university that the mind is the brain. But philosophers are not so sure. Indeed most philosophers these days would deny that the mind is the brain. But who are philosophers to pronounce on this? Come and find out. Further information and book here
Continental and Analytic Philosophy
18/19 May 2019, Yvonne Sherratt and Michael Beaney
In the western world philosophy tends to divide into two ‘schools’ – the analytic school and the continental school. Although some people successfully straddle the two schools, most philosophers tend to work in either one or the other. During this weekend we will compare and contrast these two schools. We will look at the history and development of each school, and problems that each of them face. There will be plenty of time to socialise and to talk to the speakers. Further information and book here