Philosophy Page

Drop In Café.

Drop In Philosophy sessions begin again in July.  Philosophy is largely asking questions, so  what is Drop  In? Drop in is modelled on the overseas Socrates cafes,   It’s a meet—up   where we  discuss  ideas, resolve confusion and strive for clarity.

 We may have an idea that we really want to explore,  but who with? Not always easy to find a sympathetic group but at Drop In we are interested in this.  Then there’s the confusion we experience from the flood of information, misinformation,  spin,   fake news, sound bites,  talk back, conspiracy theories, and  social media. But  it’s  not  just the media and internet  we have to grapple with, there’s  our internal confusion; the social, cultural, racial,  confirmation biases  we inherit or acquire, the logical fallacies we  commit, and  the perils of  thinking fast rather than slow.

Well, what to do?   Hard to grapple with all this?  Drop In can help. We are interested in Socratic method, in logical argument.  Each of us have different backgrounds, biases,  commit different fallacies;  we are often unaware  of our failings  but other Drop In members  readily  pick up on them  and  help  sort us out.  Members bring   topics,  a  confusion   or an idea they want to  discuss. This makes for   interesting   meetings, and you can get coffee (or a beer). 

Drop In isn’t a   forum for debate, for arguing a point of view, or discussing   international or local events, for these the appropriate and popular  session is Dave Smith’s Current Affairs.  At Drop In we are   concerned   with getting the question right, with meaning, with what is, and what ought we to do.  Our aim is clarity, rather than answers:  along with Jimmy Cliff we aim to “see clearly now the rain has gone.”

Drop In is resuming on Sunday 5th July   3.p.m   at the Sprig and Fern,  Tawa.  These fortnightly meetings are open to all. If interested   you can call me on 232 9633 or email me at [email protected]

Don Hunter     

Philosophy after the Covid brouhaha

U3A Philosophy

Now at alert level 2, restrictions eased, time, I’m told, for indolence (is that the right word?) to end  and to  get the U3A courses going again. There are two philosophy courses, Drop In, will deal with that later, and Introduction to Western Philosophy.

We’ll be starting over with Western Philosophy (all going well) in July. A few things to sort out;   venue, class size, what social distancing rules will apply. Regarding the venue, we follow the classical (platonic) symposium tradition.  ’Symposium’ is from Hellenistic  Greek for ‘drinking party’ so we must choose a venue in which beverages are available (ahem!) previously the Roundabout,  now in discussion with Sprig and Fern Tavern, Tawa.

The  course consists of eight units. We work through these at home, in our own time and meet once a fortnight. Discussion is essential, gives us practice in the Socratic  method, the opportunity to raise problems and issues. opens us to  new lines of thought. We learn from each other. The units are:

Unit 1.  Outlines  the main areas of philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and religion and philosophy and science.

Unit 2. The beginning of Western philosophy, questions asked by the ancient Greeks.  The pre - socratics, sophists, life and death of Socrates

Unit 3. Two theories of knowledge, Plato’s forms, Aristotle’s philosophical naturalism

Unit 4.  Epistemology. What is knowledge?  Rationalism  and empiricism, the views of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume.

Unit 5. The question of identity, Who am I?  Major  theories in the ‘mind –body’ debate. Materialism, behaviourism,  idealism, dualism.

Unit 6.   Philosophy   of  religion. Nature of God.  Arguments  for the existence of God, Arguments against the existence of God.  Arguments  from religious  experience, miracles and faith.  Pascal’s  wager.

 Unit 7.  Ethics.  What is it to have a moral life? Facts and values, the language we use, free will and determinism, absolutism and relativism, some ethical theories.

Unit 8.  The meaning of life.  Questions  about meaning and purpose. Religious and atheistic existentialism.

It is important to note the course is at a laypersons level. It will run from July to October.  If you are interested please contact me at [email protected].

Don Hunter

The fertile products of the receding (but may return) lockdown phase as told by Don Hunter

Locked down. This side of eighty we are used to quietness and may welcome it.  Don’t watch much TV, only news and Q&A, but with  books and radio what else do I need?  Well, actually, since retirement I’ve become rather attached to a laptop.  Don’t do Facebook, Skype, Zoom, or You Tube, but there’s three sites that tend to take up my day.

 First the aldaily,  founded by Denis Dutton, a professor at Canterbury Unversity, it gained  wide recognition, is now published  by  The Chronicle of Higher Education,  Aldaily has three columns, Articles of Note,  New Books, and Essays and Opinions. Each column has about 30 articles. It links to  40 newspapers around the world, including the Guardian, New York Time, Japan Times; to 142 magazines, among them Philosophy Now, Philosophy Mag. and Skeptical Inquirer and  to 60 book review journals  including  London Review, The New York Review of Books. and The Sydney Review of Books.   It also links to 16 news broadcasting services including Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN;  has the archives of many years. One can spend many pleasant hours with aldaily.

 When I feel  elderly complacency setting in,  which is fairly often, I go to Aeon.  Aeon has great articles but the fascination is its array of over 90 videos, they run from 3 minutes to an hour. These open worlds and lines of thought that I would never otherwise come across. Some shock the complacency out of me.

Then there’s 3Quarks daily. in-depth coverage of science, arts, philosophy politics and literature;  runs a cartoon and poetry.   I sometimes drift to BBC Radio 4, In Our Time  and  Mervyn Bragg's discussion on a great range of topics including philosophers and philosophy. To get more deeply into philosophical topics I go to the online Stanford  Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  

So in lockdown I am finding the problem is not how to while-away an afternoon, or a week, its how to avoid whiling away one’s life. Oh, and if you are finding things a bit dull, I recommend having a covid-19 test, Creates no end  of consternation and excitement.  

Don Hunter

Philosophy of walking - Socrates he say:




by Anne Doggett


Walking can add minutes to your life.
This enables you at 85 years old
To spend an additional 5 months in a nursing
Home at $4,000 per month.


My grandpa started walking
Five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he's 97 years old
And we have no idea where he is.

I like long walks,
Especially when they are taken
By people who annoy me.

I have to walk early in the morning,
Before my brain figures out what I'm doing...

Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise',
I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

I do have flabby thighs,
But fortunately my stomach covers them.

The advantage of exercising every day
Is so when you die, they'll say,
'Well, he looks good doesn't he.'

If you are going to try cross-country skiing,
Start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise
The last few years,......
Just getting over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older,
Because there's a lot more information in our heads.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Every time I start thinking too much
About how I look,
I just find a pub with a Happy Hour
And by the time I leave,
I look just fine.

You could run this over to your friends
But just e-mail it to them! It will save you the walk!


Hooray!  Bubbles burst tomorrow!      4 Attachments

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