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Alice in Wonderland

Philosophy Festival

At The Memorial Centre, East Common, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, SL9 7AD

On Saturday 23 September 2017, 10:00am-5:30pm

Five speakers present philosophical ideas somehow connected with Alice in Wonderland and invite you to contribute to the debate. Please see the full programme below.

The fee for the day including a 3-course themed lunch and interval refreshments is £38 for Philosophy Society Members; £45 for non-members. (Alcoholic drinks are not included in the price). This is a not for profit event – any profits will be split between the charities Mind and GXCA.

There is plenty of free parking available on site. Wheel-chair accessible.

For those wishing to make a week-end of it, and require accommodation for Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd , there is an arrangement at The Travelodge, Beaconsfield Central Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 1LW. Please contact Fauzia Rahman at [email protected] for details. There may also be a social get-together on the evening of Friday 22nd September.

For further details, please contact Fauzia. If your browser has a PDF viewer, you will find the booking form at the bottom of this page. Alterantively, you can get the booking form by clicking on this link.Please print it, fill it out and send it to the address given on the form.

There will also be a Poetry and Pints evening, 7:30pm onwards (£6 in advance, or £8 payable on the door, to include a pint or glass of wine/soft drink). Those interested in reading please contact Fauzia


10:15Welcome and Introduction by Fauzia Rahman
10:25Jenni Jenkins: 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'...

I will argue against the view of Humpty Dumpty and the 17th century philosopher John Locke who says at the beginning of Chapter II of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding ‘Words are sensible signs, necessary for communication of ideas’. My thesis is that thoughts and ideas cannot be prior to words which stand for their meaning, for without meaning there would be no ideas.

Jenni is a philosophy lecturer with the Adult Education Department at Swansea University teaching the part time degree and other accredited courses in philosophy. She taught in the Philosophy department there until it was closed down in 2006. Also a teacher with Asclepius Education and Therapy Centre, she has a Master’s research degree in Philosophy and diplomas for facilitating philosophy discussions with both adults and children. Her main areas of interest are Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Psychology and Ethics and Literature.

‘I am life-long supporter of open access education and is a firm believer in learning for its own sake to satisfy a thirst for knowledge and reasoning that is both enjoyable, rewarding and therapeutic rather than as a means to an end.’

11:15Coffee Break
11:35Bernhard Kelley-Patterson: A Lacanian View of Reality through the Looking Glass

I propose to look at Through the Looking Glass from a Lacanian point of view. Lacan suggested that we make a fatal error when, in infancy, we mistake the image of ourselves (in the mirror) for who we really are. By stepping through the mirror, Alice enters another dimension. Is this world the same as Lacan's 'The Real'? But this world exists outside of language and can’t easily be described, if at all. But we could expect space, time and causality to be confused. My talk would aim to explore this further.

Bernhard works as a psychiatrist with learning disabled and autistic adults. He sees a lot of people who struggle to understand space and time the way we do....but who is to say who actually has it right! He uses singing and music in an attempt to create a sense of space.

‘Occasionally I feel I know what I'm doing. Other interests include shamanism and psychedelia, through which I punctuate what is otherwise a rather boring life.’

13:50Peggy Verrall: Six impossible things: Lewis Carroll in everyday life

We all live in a Wonderland which is often baffling and can appear Nonsensical. We ask ourselves why certain events occur, or what we should do when something unexpected happens.

We all use language to communicate and yet sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are misunderstood. It is my contention that in these and many other situations Lewis Carroll proffers support and comfort, though not necessarily answers. I shall illustrate this belief using such statements as ‘it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place’, and ‘when I use a word it means exactly what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less’, with others.

Peggy Verrall has always loved Alice and other writings of Lewis Carroll, and believes she owed him her place at St. Anne’s in 1959, having studied his logic books instead of The Tudors, and then quoted him in her general papers. Her history course included philosophy which she much enjoyed, even, to her tutor’s alarm, becoming for a while a devoted Hegelian.

She has since become many other people: teacher, examiner, counsellor, wife, mother, grandmother , researcher, lecturer… acquiring another degree in maths and various certificates en route.

‘I still hope to discover who I am before I “softly and suddenly vanish away…”’

14:40Rob Wheeler: Is faith ‘believing six impossible things before breakfast’?

Faith is often conflated with belief by being described as a form of belief or the basis of belief. Atheists dismiss faith as belief without good reasons and believers will argue that faith is belief going beyond reason. I argue that both are mistaken in their characterisation of faith. Faith is always logically based on preceding beliefs and so in a weak sense is always rational. A key difference is that belief is involuntary while faith is voluntary. This being so it makes no sense for religious believers to condemn non-believers for their lack of faith as the belief on which faith is predicated may be impossible for the non-believer.

Rob Wheeler graduated many years ago from the University of Kent in philosophy and theology and since then has, at various times, been a social worker, IT systems manager, software developer and FE lecturer. He is now blissfully retired and living in Faversham, Kent, where he had been running a pub philosophy group called 'The Stoa' for the past ten years and occasionally officiating at weddings, baby namings and funerals as a Humanist celebrant.

15:30Tea Break
15:50Iain Orr: Reflections on Gigantic or Tiny Alice in her Underground Adventures Through the Looking Glass

This talk explores emerging and disappearing concepts as the phenomenal world is experienced at different scales and in different dimensions and orientations. Water is liquid within certain dimensions of temperature and pressure, but not individual atoms of H2O; voting is impossible in the one-dimensional world of solipsism; the whole surface of the Earth is never visible within one augenblick; and Alice herself becomes a Kantian incongruent counterpart when reflected in her looking-glass.

Iain Orr is a Sagittarian Scot, born – like Robinson Crusoe and Judi Dench - in York, in a Fire Horse year (‘42 – aka The Meaning of Life). He studied philosophy at St Andrews and Oxford, but then had a career in the Diplomatic Service (much of it dealing with China).  He is a nissological vexillologist and an obsessive collector of quotations, anthologies and A-Zs, Penguin books, poetry, and books, postcards and cartographic stamps featuring maps of small islands.

16:40Panel Discussion & Closing Remarks

Sorry, your browser does not have a PDF viewer. To book, please click here for the application form, print it, fill it out and send it to the address specified on the form