Enfield is very fortunate to have a Philosophy Café which is based in the Dugdale Centre. It is the brainchild of Dr Alan Murray who is a gifted poet as well as an excellent teacher of both poetry and philosophy. It is proving very popular with about 30 people attending each time.
Philosophers on the way to the café!
I must admit to being a little apprehensive before my first attendance. Our twin granddaughters live in France and, along with there fellow students, burnt their philosophy books when they left school. An extreme deed but they had been having eight hours a week of philosophy lessons. President Macron, a philosopher himself, says he wants to reduce or ban such lessons as it is having an adverse effect on the French psyche. Philosophy is powerful stuff! Still, I believe it teaches us to think, be precise and to debate issues without resorting to shouted abuse or violence and I love ideas and discussion so I was looking forward to my first session.
French philosopher meditating. Didn’t one live in a bath of milk?
Alan chooses a topic and introduces it in a short lecture using the work of René Girard to illustrate and structure the lesson.
The topic for my first attendance was the concept that desire is mimetic and much must be or how else would advertising work? Some desire, I feel, is hardwired into our brain as a consequence of evolution and natural selection but it was a fascinating concept and the debate was reasoned and disciplined thanks to Alan’s guidance and it has provoked me to a new way of regarding desire; to contemplate the implications of the concept.
I soon realised that a common agreement on the precise meaning of words was needed and I was reminded of someone in the 17th century, whose name I cannot recall, declaring “we need more words”. More new words were added in this century than any other due to an avalanche of new ideas and discoveries.
The average native English speaker has a vocabulary of about 20,000 to 35,000 words. It is estimated that there are 750,000 words in the English language.
Whether or not there is a word for it, things exist and a word can only express a part of something. Light is just a small segment of an infinite range of electromagnetic radiation of varying frequency and wavelength and we only need a word for it as we can “see” it.
A prism will split white light in to different colours. Some people can see more blues than most but there is only one word “blue” Dogs see a limited range of colours and can see UV light which is invisible to us. Apparently their urine fluoresces UV light.
I am getting lost in my argument and thinking and need more visits to the Philosophy Café.
One thought on “The Philosophy Café at the Dugdale, Enfield”
Loved reading this post! Despite the 8 hours of lessons we had a week I’m still happy I studied Philosophy. It does change the way you think about anything and everything. I don’t regret burning my papers! Everything I learnt is still in my mind somewhere anyway. I also love the ‘we need more words’ expression, very true! It makes me think what more we can do and achieve once we have an even better vocabulary to use.