The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Ancient Greek word translated as philosophia, which literally means ‘love of wisdom’. It is the study of general and fundamental problems such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.
It is with these thoughts in mind that the Philosophy Group meets on the 4th Wednesday monthly, 3.00pm at the Victoria Inn. A few years ago, when it became know that Dee Ellershaw studied philosophy as part of a late learners degree course, she was persuaded to start the group. Consisting of around a dozen members there is plenty of room (at the Inn!) for new members and fresh views are always welcome to enhance the discussions. Normally the meetings last a couple of hours.
For the past two years the group has followed Bertrand Russell’s ‘History of Western Philosophy’. Reviews state this book as being ‘unchallenged as the perfect introduction to this subject’ and ‘exactly the kind of philosophy that most people would like to read’. It is set out in chronological order starting with Ancient Philosophy (Greek civilisation, Pythagoras etc), then Socrates, Plato & Aristotle, Catholic Philosophy, Modern Philosophy and finally Rousseau to the present day. The group have reached the final part. For the most part they have studied one philosopher each month and can prepare in advance, knowing which philosopher comes next. This means that the discussion about the ideas presented is lively and varied. and makes for thirsty work – but the staff at the Victoria Inn are happy to serve tea and coffee or if you prefer, something a little stronger. In fact several of the group members meet beforehand for lunch.
After a few months break the group resumes in September. The philosopher for discussion will be Nietzsche (1844-1900) whom Bertrand Russell confines himself almost entirely to his ethics and his criticism of religion, since it was this aspect of his writing that made him influential. Nietzsche is most famous for the statement, ‘God is dead’ which comes from a story he wrote about a madman who goes around a village shouting, “Where is God?” Finally, the madman answers his own question and says, “God is dead… and we have killed him.” Nietzsche was referring to the great change that had happened in Europe during the nineteenth century. Up to that point, the Christian God had been the foundation for morality and people’s purpose in life. However, science and secularism had grown to a point where many people felt God was no longer necessary.
Nearing the end of the ‘History of Western Philosophy’ Dee is considering discussing Modern Day Philosophers or perhaps Women Philosophers, (names don’t readily come to mind and the only English one I could find was Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1623-1673). In the meantime the philosophers in Bertrand Russell’s book will be followed
If you would like to join this group do contact Dee on 01621 786191 and I know she and the other group members will make you most welcome and as it is not academic with structured learning, you can join at any time.