Sunday, October 24, 2004

Philosophy at NGV


Yesterday I attended a philosophy lecture at NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) presented by Professor John Armstrong, a speaker I found charismatic, and with undeniably good diction.

The first lecture covered Socrates, Plato and Neo-Platonism, which a traditional starting point for getting into philosophy. Anyone can understand the issues raised by Socrates, and the questions don't just go away as you learn more either, so they are also relevant no matter how much study you have done. One develops increasingly subtle understandings of the questions, applies them in new contexts, etc.

By far the best part was having coffee afterwards, however. I've always felt that philosophy is best done in discussion. A group of about 5 of us - 3 from MelbournePhilosophy and a couple of blow-ins from the lecture - sat down and had a good old yack about the philosophy of mind, broadly prompted by Platonic Forms, Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, and the Halting Problem. We nearly touched on brains in vats, but the conversation slewed in a different direction.

There are another 7 lectures in this series, if you're looking for a bit of afternoon brain food, they're worth attending. There is a cost, but it includes a catered tea-break as well as the 2-hour lecture.

An open question : Do people think there is a difference between the mind and the soul?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Answering the open question, yes there is a difference. In the mind
resides intelligence and as such can be replicated by a computer (in a
limited extent anyway). The soul -- to an agnostic -- may or may not exist
and is a wishy-washy abstract concept dealing with consciousness and
everything else that doesn't fit into the concept of the mind.

BTW First post via the E2B gateway :-)


10/24/2004 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me there is no 'soul'. I am an atheist and need empirical proof. The arguments that say there is a soul can and have been used to imply all sorts of other nonsense, e.g. UFOs. I want to know, not just believe. People believed there were WMD in Iraq. Hitler believed in his philosophy. Terrorists believe their point of view is the only one that's right. Mere belief/opinion has gotten us into a lot of trouble in the past. To perpetuate belief systems over searching for facts is to prolong the medieval, gullible side of humanity.

10/27/2004 08:54:00 AM  

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