Philosopher’s Corner

Philosophy – U3A – 2024

What is Life?

Life is a battle for survival which begins at conception then continues through birth and growth unceasingly until, inevitably, we succumb to death.

It is a fight in which we are constantly confronted with capricious antagonistic forces – physical, biological and psychological – which act without knowledge of our existence, nor interest or concern for our well-being. They are random, purposeless and effective.

Whilst we live we make plans, assigning levels of importance which seem appropriate at the time but which in the larger picture have little significance and in the long run none at all. 

The forces within our environment control all and work continuously seeking a balance which can at best be fleeting. Man’s efforts which disrupt the tendency towards a natural balance will always meet counteracting forces.

We remember imperfectly and base our actions on the knowledge of a past formed partly on personal experience and partly on inputs from unreliable external sources, the latter having by far the greater influence. 

We live, as do all life forms, in a perpetual present where time does not exist – cannot exist. The concept of time – of past and future – is an illusion of our minds and a concept convenient for managing the changes within our environment. 

Clocks do not measure ‘time’. Clocks only provide imperfect standards of change against which the variables in phenomena we consider important can be assessed and coordinated to advantage. 

The future does not exist; it too is a concept of the mind built upon assumptions which may, for a period, allow human predictions a measure of acceptable reliability.

Having said as much – Welcome to U3A Bright’s Philosophy Sessions for 2024.

The above, and many other themes, comprise subjects available for discussion.  

Sessions are scheduled as follows: Two two-hour sessions per month – on the second and fourth Mondays, 1 to 3 pm, in room 1 at Bright U3A. There is no set charge but a small contribution to mid-session refreshment costs is expected.

The study and application of philosophical concepts can, to a degree, be successful in making  life’s journey interesting and giving it a sense of purpose which better serves your individual needs.

As in 2023, session pre-notes will be distributed but actual discussion and topics will be determined and progress as attendees may wish or as circumstances dictate. Free, open, non-restrictive, non-judgemental, and non-confrontational discussion is the order-of-the-day. The attitudes of attendees are required to conform accordingly.

Politics, religions and other possibly controversial subjects may well be discussed – but always with the condition and expectation that views will be expressed calmly, received with due respect, and not exposed to ridicule, censure or external pressures to change them. 

To cover in any ordered or detailed manner the philosophies expounded by the ancients and those following is NOT the aim of our sessions – this can be better achieved by private reference to books and the internet. Rather it is to expose attendees to philosophical concepts which could be appropriate to today’s needs and which may challenge an individual’s existing beliefs. 

It is important to understand that beliefs and concepts of reality are unique to each individual – no-one believes or thinks exactly as does another and it is obvious that, in today’s conflict-prone world, the differences between many are extreme. 

The foundation underlying all beliefs are assumptions. Philosophical study encourages you to:-

      recognise your own assumptions and those of others; 

      examine the validity of those assumptions; 

      consider whether those you presently have should be amended; 

      show appropriate acceptance and tolerance to beliefs contrary to your own;

      think clearly and logically in examining information & making decisions.

If approached with the right frame of mind, embracing philosophical concepts aligned to your circumstances, desires and needs can be life-changing for the better. 

Join us – you will be among friends.

Keith Ashfold – Convener