Sunday, 12 June 2011


Third and final day of the first national conference of Philosophy in Pubs (PIPs) at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. The morning programme features two presentations by PIPs members from Liverpool (abstracts of their essays below). After each of the presentations we engage in smaller scale group "enquiries" around our tables, then listen to feedback from each each group.

"The talent myth and confidence trick" (Paul Doran)
The first part of my exposition (The Confidence Trick) began to formulate itself from observations had during my experience in further education, bot as a mature student and as a teacher. The culmination of which was that confidence, i.e. the magic stuff - was not what we ordinarily thought it was. (I say magic stuff because to some extent that phrase captures the sort of status or esteem that confidence is a necessary condition required prior to certain actions being carried out, is wrong, because in fact it is a product of our ability not a condition of it. During that time I cam across the saying: Talent deserves no credit (Cowboy). the enigmatic moniker was intriguing, but the bold statement itself captured my interest, as it connected to my developing understanding of the so-called magic stuff (confidence). That understanding being, that it was the effort or striving involved that was commendable rather than any talent (innate gift) and that, in turn, tied into particular notions of how confidence actually manifests. Recent reading have supported the above understandings to the point where, I believe an argument of sorts can be put together and expounded, which I will endeavour to clarify. So, the contention of my essay is to show that our common understanding of what confidence is, and the status and character of talent, is somewhat mistaken and in need of modification. Moreover, the at the prevailing understanding and policy making that follows from it militate against progress to a more democratic culture - particularly within the realm of education.

"Where does courage lie?" (Jim Stanton)
According to Aristotle courage lies between the vices of cowardice and recklessness, the latter being a thoughtless action. True courage appears to require fear and its eventual overcoming through the power of will. But where does courage lie? It seems that any amount of thought will not constitute courage alone without leading to an act. However, if courage lies in the act then that brief movement of thought becoming action seems insubstantial, like a mindless headlong leap into another state. Perhaps then the moment of courage is a heightened moment, or duration, something like that of Augustine's idea of distension, a moment extending out of the past and into the future.

After lunch, the final session is delivered by Roger Sutcliffe, a leading figure in the Philosophy for Children movement.

In the photo above: Bernadette Hughes (who presented on "Logic, Nature and Truth" on Saturday and Jim Stanton, presenter on Sunday morning of "Where Does Courage Lie?)

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