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PhilSoc Members’ Away Weekend
on Revolution

Saturday 8th and Sunday 9thJune 2024

Hotel Collingwood, Bournemouth, UK
or via Zoom

PhilSoc is delighted to invite you to join us in Bournemouth or via Zoom on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June 2024 for a weekend discussing Revolutions. The joining link is at the end of this programme.

As we shall explore during the weekend, the idea of revolution affects all aspects of human striving. The topic, therefore, should have a wide appeal for anyone interested in philosophy. The weekend provides an opportunity to discuss philosophy in a convivial atmosphere and network with fellow philosophy enthusiasts. There will also be optional group meals and excursions for those wishing to extend their stay in (hopefully sunny) Bournemouth.

In our current era, the term ‘revolution’ is perhaps popularly understood as instances of fundamental socio-political transformation usually brought about by violence; as in, for example, ‘The French Revolution’. We might also perceive ‘revolution’ as occurring in the domains of science (e.g. ‘The Copernican Revolution’), technology (e.g. ‘The Fourth Revolution’), culture, art, religion, medicine, industry, sports, social relations, and our understanding of human nature (‘The Human Revolution’).

Philosophical analysis shows that identifying and conceptualising ‘revolution’ involves issues in epistemology, metaphysics, methodology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, political philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of religion, value theory, and more.

During the weekend, six speakers will explore the concept of revolution from different perspectives and help us extract lessons from a wide range of conflicted human striving and endeavour. Is our current cultural climate merely a passing stage in a non-ending series of revolutions, or is the idea of replacement of the old by the new an indicator of a deeper phenomenon which we can intuit but not directly observe?


PROGRAMME

Friday 7th June at 7pm Optional dinner, venue TBA (cost not included in event fee)

Saturday 8th June

12.00 (noon) Reasonably-priced light lunches are available in the Bubble Lounge in the Hotel anytime from noon. (cost not included in event fee)

1.45pm Registration in meeting room.

2.00-2.15pm Welcome and Introduction Fauzia Rahman-Greasley

2.15-3.05pm Talk 1:

The Philosophy of Revolution Barry King

This paper will consider aspects of political revolutions in two parts, the ontology of revolution and the ethics of revolution. The former will investigate how and when the term ‘revolution’ entered political discourse, how we might define ‘political revolution’, the key features of political revolutions and why certain events do not qualify for the term ‘revolution’. The latter will investigate the ethical justifications for initiating revolution, the relevance of these justifications and alternative means through which progressive change might occur. The paper will draw on the thinking of a number of significant players, with a particular concentration on the insights of Hannah Arendt and Edmund Burke. It will concentrate the argument on the French Revolution.

Barry King studied PPE at Oxford 1964-67. He then taught economics and politics in state schools before becoming one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools, working subsequently as a freelance education consultant and inspector. His interest in philosophy was particularly kindled while studying educational philosophy at the Cambridge Institute 1975-76. He contributes to philosophy groups in Bournemouth and the Oxford Philsoc, while catching up with many of the philosophy books he should have read but somehow didn’t!

3.10-4.00 Talk 2:

Political revolutions: causes, processes, and outcomes. Anthony Mayer

The generally accepted ingredients for a political revolution are: an authoritarian regime acting in its own interests; a discontented populace; a non-supportive or even hostile military; a charismatic revolutionary leader; a catalytic event; a philosophical underpinning.

I shall through empirical investigation examine how these ingredients measure against what actually happened in the most commonly listed political revolutions: English; American; French; Haitian; Turkish; Russian; Chinese; Cuban; Persian; Czech.

I will bring together the strands of what happened in attempt to establish consensus on the causes, processes, and outcomes of political revolutions.

Anthony Mayer studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

He spent 17 years based in the Department of Environment, culminating by leading the team which invented Poll Tax. Later he was Managing Director of Rothschilds and a serial Chief Executive at the Housing Corporation (a Government Quango), Transport for London (not for very long) and the Greater London Authority (working for Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnston).

4.00-4.15pm Tea break

4.15-5.05pm Talk 3:

The danger of revolution-envy Edward Hadas

Revolutions are often declared to be happening or to have happened: not merely in politics, but in art, industry, management, science, sex, sport, technology, and even philosophy. The word brings excitement to a description, but its use is frequently more a testimony to the distinctly modern desire to tear up the past than a helpful description of actual changes. Those changes are often better understood as incremental and complex, rather than simple and total. Even the French Revolution, the archetype of modern revolutions, looks less dramatic in retrospect. But there is one truly radical demolition and reconstruction that probably deserves the name revolution. That is the construction of modernity. It has taken centuries, and the premodern past is not totally destroyed, but the modern world as a whole is really something new under the sun.

Edward Hadas is a Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and the author of two philosophical books on economics, one on Catholic Social Teaching, and one, not yet finished, on narratives of modernity. He spent many decades in finance and financial journalism. A selection of his papers and talks can be found by clicking on the following link: Edward Hadas (google.com)

5.10-6.00 Talk 4:

The Dynamics of Scientific Revolution: How Philosophy Influences It

Dr Kanan Purkayastha

Scientific revolution can be seen as an outcome of the so-called Renaissance beginning in fourteenth century Italy. But rationalism – the view that reliable knowledge and ultimate truth is obtained through reason, evidence, and logic – has a root in the Greek heritage. Greek philosophers established an approach to reasoning about the natural and human-made world that later became the basis of Western Philosophy. Kuhn (1962) thought not only that there are scientific revolutions but also that they have a structure. On the other end, Rescher (1978) argues that scientific progress builds the new idea on the foundations of the ruins of the old. Scientific theorizing generally moves ahead not by addition and enlargement but by demolition and replacement. Henry (2002) argues that one of the revolutionary aspects of the scientific revolution was the way in which subjects were redefined. This paper addresses: how scientific revolution needs to be seen; how philosophers influence scientific revolution and vice versa; what contribution French Philosophers made in that revolution; and contributions to scientific revolution from outside Europe.

This paper argues that there are underlying dynamics of the emergence of scientific revolution. The Renaissance, with special reference to Da Vinci’s notebook, Andreas Vesalius’s on the fabric of the human body, Galilei’s Cimento, Bacon’s Inductive reasoning and Huygen’s Cosmotheoros, and the Enlightenment with special reference to Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and Kant also play a part in the dynamics. Arabic and Indian science and philosophy have important influences as well.

The paper concludes that Kuhn’s structure is one way of looking into the scientific revolution. There are underlying non-linear dynamics of scientific revolution. This has been influenced by both western and eastern philosophy.

References

Henry, J (2002) The Scientific Revolution and the Origin of Modern Science, Palgrave, Basingstoke.

Kuhn, T S (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Rescher, N (1978) Scientific Progress, Blackwell, Oxford.

Kanan Purkayastha holds a doctorate degree from the University of Bristol. He is a Chartered Scientist based in UK, who spent the last four decades in academia, industry and government departments. He regularly writes column for various newspapers and magazines including Philosophy Now and has also published books.

6.00pm End of Day 1

7.00pm Optional Dinner – venue TBA

SUNDAY 9th JUNE

O9.55am Welcome back Fauzia Rahman-Greasley

10.00-10.50am Talk 5:

Inner Revolution: Eastern Philosophy’s view of creating revolutionary changes.

Safwan Zabalawi

Revolutionary changes are experienced in each person’s life, physically and mentally, from

birth to adulthood. Society’s history too records dramatic changes. It seems that the occurrence of radical developments over the passage of time is the essential pattern in all aspects of human activity: in science, medicine, technology, the arts and, in particular, in dramatic events that take place in the socio-political domain.

The following study is about the inner powers acting within the individuals who lead the

historical process of great transformation, individuals without whom a revolution could not

take place. I shall argue that before society or a discipline in human activity gives birth to a revolutionary change, its conception must have occurred in the mind of the leaders of that particular domain.

Leaders of a revolution are born in and grow as products of the same society they aim to change. It is only by transcending their own self-interest that they reveal their highest state of their human existence. Revealing the highest state of one’s human existence is referred to - in modern Buddhist movement - as the “Human Revolution in the life of the individual”. Activating one’s highest state of human existence necessitates inner struggle against one’s own negativities and weaknesses and facilitates realising potentials of higher values. The struggle is primarily mental. That is to say, the struggle starts inside the individual’s mind which is then revealed in publicly observable external events.

The process of the Human Revolution of the individual is about overcoming inner limitations

and what holds us back from achieving a vigorous state of life, which enables achievement of goals for the benefit of self and others.

The truth of Interconnectedness of the life of individual and society means that a dramatic change in the life of an individual can radiate out to society igniting a great change, as history records through actual examples.

Safwan Zabalawi was born in Damascus, Syria. He studied electronics engineering in Poland before migrating to Australia. During his work as an information officer in the State Library in Sydney, he was introduced to a vast collection of books on philosophy, which he felt intimidating and beyond comprehension. This impression eased a little after joining three online courses on philosophy and becoming a member of the Philosophical Society (2011). Since then, he has contributed 16 articles to the Philosophical Review.

Safwan has been studying Eastern Philosophy for the past 30 years. He has recently published an e-book in Arabic entitled “The Humanistic Meaning of the Lotus Flower” www.shamslotus.info pertaining to the spiritual interpretation of the flower shared by various cultures, and to the philosophical teaching that carries its name: the teaching of Lotus Sutra.

Profile: https://www.darshams.info/welcome/profile.html

10.55-11.45 Talk 6:

Are conventional approaches to ethical assessment effective when applied to the radical technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Andrew Wilson

In recent history technologies such as the telephone, the automobile, and the personal computer have had a significant impact on society and human behaviour and have affected not only how we engage with the world and with each other but also how we think and how we solve problems. The technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as body implantable devices, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and robotics have the potential for even greater impact and, much like political revolution, bring with them incredible opportunity for good but also a corresponding potential for significant harm. This calls for an understanding of the ethical implications of the use of these new technologies but while consensus from ethicists and policymakers exists on the need for achieving this there is little agreement on what constitutes an effective approach for how it should be done or even if one is possible. Ethical practice in fields such as business follows a method in which practitioners reference a list of ‘typical’ potential ethical considerations (e.g. discrimination, harassment, non-compliance) to determine if they apply and if so whether they are being effectively ‘managed. For organisations developing consumer technology a similar approach is adopted with a particular focus on considerations such as safety, sustainability, and energy efficiency. These checklist-based, conventional ethical theory-derived, methods are unlikely to work with the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that are inherently highly complex, widespread, and potentially life threatening - there are already many examples of serious harm and fatality in fields such as robotics, driverless vehicles, and AI. This paper considers how the radical technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution compel us to re-think our approach to the ethical assessment of technology to ensure we have an understanding of the good and, where necessary, introduce appropriate measures (e.g. technological controls, regulatory standards, educational guidelines) to help manage its use for the benefit of individuals and soc style="line-height: 100%; margin-bottom: 0cm"iety.

Andrew Wilson is an independent academic and IT professional who specialises in the design and development of information security and risk management solutions for large organisations. An introduction to computer technology as an undergraduate studying cognitive science led to a career in the computer industry but left him with a nagging sense of unfinished academic business which he has recently addressed through studying Philosophy at the Open University. Andrew’s current research interests include the philosophy of technology, philosophy of risk, ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy of mind. Andrew holds an Honours degree in Psychology from Southampton University, a Masters degree in Risk Management from Birmingham City University, and a Masters degree in Philosophy from the Open University.

11.45-12.00pm Coffee break

12.00-12.50pm Panel discussion

12.50pm Closing remarks

1.00pm End

1.30pm Optional lunch at the venue (base cost £20 for 2 courses)

Afternoon Optional group excursion to Corfe Castle (see below)


Additional Information and Booking

Bournemouth and Revolution?

Wait – is this a category error? As it turns out, we cannot match Paris or Toulouse, but even Bournemouth has revolutionary connections!

Corfe Castle is close by, linked to 2 martial revolutions – the Norman Conquest, and the English Civil War. (We are planning an optional visit there on Sunday afternoon). It was originally built by William the Conqueror, who was himself ‘A Thorough Revolutionary’ according to the BBC. The local steam railway reminds us of the transport revolution.

Alfred Russel Wallace was something of a Victorian-era polymath, who independently conceived Evolutionary Theory and was one of the first environmentalists warning of ecological transformation. He was part of the scientific revolution and is buried in Broadstone.

Of course, Bournemouth played its part in the Victorian-era Rail and Seaside revolution as the idea of holidays for all came to fruition. And Mary Shelley, buried in Bournemouth, created one of the first-ever forms of AI in her ‘Frankenstein’ – at least according to the journal ‘AI & Society’.

England’s 3rd-ever telephone was reportedly housed in Bournemouth Town Hall …. I could go on! But are all these examples true Revolutions? Join us on the south coast, and we can find out together!

Further details and booking:

Optional excursions:

Corfe Castle is a 40-minute drive. Corfe Castle | Dorset | National Trust .

We plan to use members’ cars to take anyone who wishes to visit these spectacular castle remains and local town. Plan 3-4 hours overall from 2 pm.

There is also an excellent local museum Home - Russell-Cotes (russellcotes.com) within easy walking distance of the venue, open both Sat. morning or Sunday afternoon.

Accommodation. Bournemouth in early June is always popular at weekends, and reasonably-priced rooms can be hard to find. The venue Hotel Collingwood | Central Bournemouth Boutique Hotel | Book Direct offers double/twin rooms at £135 (Friday) and £153 (Saturday), incl. breakfast. Parking is included if the room is booked direct. Mention the Oxford booking.

There are many hotels within walking distance. Many do not offer single-night accommodation on Saturdays, so if you plan to stay 2 nights, that should be easier for single bookings. Searching for B&B rather than hotels gives more reasonable results. We encourage early booking for the best availability and price.

2 options:

  • If you may consider sharing a twin, contact me at pephilsoc@gmail.com and we’ll try and match people
  • We have a small number of single rooms reserved in a local hotel at £87.25 B&B for Saturday night. If that appeals, please email me as above.

Transport. Car parking is free for attendees and overnighters (if booked direct) in the Hotel.

I will invite car sharers nearer the time, or email pephilsoc@gmail.com.

The train station is 1.3 miles (30 mins walk) from the venue, but the adjacent bus station is 10 mins ride away - google maps for best option at the time. We encourage early booking of trains for the best price.

Bournemouth has an airport, with a slow bus or taxi to the town centre

Booking. The booking fee is £20 for members and £23.50 for non-members using the link HERE for both in-person and online options.

There will be more detail and a request for numbers for optional pursuits nearer to the time.