Philosophy July

The first session was held on Thursday 15 July with seven members present at the Tawa Union Church.

The central aim of the sessions is to work carefully through the two millennia after that star-studded trio of Socrates Plato and Aristotle faded from the intellectual scene after laying wonderful groundwork for others to mine.

Philosophy is the refined art of  thinking about thinking. At its best it supplies ever-sharper tools to grapple with real world problems through a contemplative rather than knee-jerk/reactive approach. Philosophers by the million have been born over that time. This is an opportunity to consider where resort to Philosophy has permanently improved the lot of human beings and, maybe, where it went awry producing various sad outcomes.

In this session, emphasis was placed on examining the Aristotelean gift of logic that has been polished and improved upon over many centuries often by highly cerebral Catholic Popes and others in Christian churches. The present social and political scene worldwide is now riddled with dangerously muddled concepts (e.g. "fake news") that offend against basic logical principles. It was fun analysing several common logical fallacies such as: "If aliens didn't steal my newspaper then who did?" The so-called Dark Ages (approx 3 AD to 1400 AD) were trawled to discern the powerful contributions made by such epochal thinkers as Thomas Aquinas, William of Ockham, Duns Scotus and the great Galileo Galilei.They all got some things wrong but got many more right; even though their resources were dauntingly scant.

It was sobering to see that these worthy people nutted out mechanical clocks, glass spectacles, a decent assessment of the circumference of the Earth, accurate pre-Newtonian theories of motion, discovered new metals and authored complex logical proofs of the Deity. There was nothing at all dark about the "Dark Ages". That towering genius Isaac Newton gladly confessed that he "saw further" in later centuries because he stood on the shoulders of these philosophical "giants".

The next session will examine the many philosophies inherent in all the main historical periods of Art (painting, sculpture, novels, plays and music) up to present day.    

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