The theme of Universals is a central topic in philosophy since at least the time of Plato's Ideas or Forms. Plato's Forms reappeared almost unaltered as Bertrand Russell's universals in the latter's extremely readable and inexpensive The Problems of Philosophy (1912). Universals also masquerade as 'properties', 'types', 'kinds', 'attributes', 'qualities', 'features', etc. The precise relationship between such universal qualities, properties etc and the particulars to which they are attributed or in which they inhere continues to exercise philosophers to this day. What universal quality does any particular game have – say tennis, patience, ring-a-ring o' roses or blind man's bluff – that enables us to recognise it as a Game at all? Is it an internal essence, or some transcendent ideal to which they all approximate, or a human concept of gameness; or are they only 'games' because we have decided to call them call them that?
Each speaker has a one hour slot in which to give his talk of 30-35 minutes and then answer questions. No-one need be shy in the friendly atmosphere of Pigotts, in which we shall be sitting in a circle, making communication easy. We may not finally end up with the perfect theory of Universals, but I am sure we shall learn a lot and argue amicably. The speakers along with synopses of their talks are as follows.
Bob Stone is a classicist, who specialised in Greek philosophy at
university, where he developed a taste for the whole range of philosophical
thinking. Since retiring from full-time classics teaching eight years ago, he
has attacked philosophy with a vengeance, doing more than twenty OUDCE online,
weekly and summer-school courses, not to mention countless Rewley House
weekends. His hobbies are cricket, arguing about philosophy, writing talks and
Review articles, and editing other people's.
Neil Webb, originally from Brighton, currently lives in Scotland
where he has made his home since 1987. He studied philosophy at the University
of East Anglia back in the early 1980s and works in the field of financial
services regulation. Neil has only dabbled with philosophy since graduating,
but does hope to undertake a Masters in the subject when he retires.
Bob Clarke studied physics at Bristol University and has since
pursued a career in science and engineering. He co-ordinated Workers
Educational Association (WEA) philosophy courses in south-west London for over
thirty years, which led him to take degrees in the History of Ideas at
Kingston University and at Birkbeck College, London.
Peter Gibson is the Secretary of the Philosophical Society. He taught
philosophy to sixth formers for many years. In 2014 he completed a PhD at
Birkbeck. He runs a website (philosophyideas.com), and is trying to write a
book which bridges the gap between introductory philosophy and the more
advanced stuff. He remains naively convinced that philosophy is easier than it
Road Directions to Pigotts
Private transport or taxi is the only practical way to reach Pigotts, which is in the countryside some three miles north of High Wycombe. From a roundabout off the A40, where it's heading northwest from High Wycombe town centre, take the A4128 (Hughenden Road) north. After 1.8 miles, at a roundabout continue straight on into Valley Road, then at the next roundabout after 0.2 miles take the second exit to remain on Valley Road.
Continue straight ahead on Valley Road after the A4128 turns off right as Cryer's Hill Road and subsequently Valley Road becomes Speen Road. Ignore Warrenden Road, where it forks off right. Keep straight ahead on Speen Road and very soon watch out for the small sign indicating the right turn into Piggots Hill, a single-track uphill road with passing places. Pigotts is the first lot of buildings on the right. Full address is: Pigotts, Pigotts Hill, North Dean, Bucks HP14 4NF.
Signs will indicate where to park, quite possibly in the field behind the buildings.
Please try and arrive at Pigotts in good time to park, consume coffee or tea and a biscuit, and get seated for the first speaker at 10.00. Remember, Pigotts can be a little tricky to find! If you have queries, text or email me: 07884 066156, email@example.com.
Since the Pigotts event is an entirely do-it-ourselves affair as regards catering, a few volunteers to help with serving and washing up will be much appreciated.