What’s been going on recently at THINK?

So we are over three months in and word is getting out, we have had a few new faces each week.

I’ll start with our second meeting, for which we changed the topic at somewhat the last minute. We started off with a discussion of what the rules should be for our little group, I proposed a few which weren’t particularly contentious. The three rules I proposed were:

  1. Everyone has the right to express a view with the expectation of being treated with respect
  2. Everyone has the right to speak – so the mediation method must be followed by everyone and must be fair
  3. The aim is not to “win” an argument.

These seemed to be sensible, so thanks to an interesting point about traffic lights made by one of our new group members, we moved on to the kind of rules we perhaps ought not to follow. We discussed education and the pressure to conform to social expectations, as well as the need to consider group safety and responsibility.

So thanks to all that turned up to the second meeting of THINK and help us establish our rules.

And now onto the third meeting, the first presented by my co-founder, Noush. She had read an interesting article from the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/02/middle-aged-people-least-happy-most-anxious-ons-wellbeing-report) about some analysis from the ONS on statistics they gather periodically. This suggests people around middle age are the least happy. The question Noush posed was whether we could measure happiness.

This was an interesting discussion and one that distracted me from facilitating the discussion. We spoke about how the expectations for the future might impact your perception of your current happiness, ie. being less happy in the short term in the expectation of happiness in the future. We spoke about some individuals perhaps being “naturally” happier and whether there could exist a standard scale. A few times the question was raised of whether hindsight can change how you remember a previously happy event and what that means, as well as the importance of social expectations to an individual’s happiness. The initial question, of whether happiness can (or should) be measured, was something there were an array of views on. It is not a question easily answered, though many of us saw the validity, as in these studies, of comparing answers within a group (the importance of linguistics was also flagged up).

The discussion in March will be presented by Robert and Noush will email about that soon. Thanks to all of our participants for your support so far and I hope you will join us for our next meeting, on the 9th March.


What’s it all about? A proposal for ‘the rules of the game’.

After our first session in December, we thought it would be sensible to go ‘back to basics’ about how we would like this community group to function. As a starting point, we would like to propose the follow ‘rules’ as a framework for the operation of the group. Since we also see the group as democratic, we would like to use the next meeting on Wednesday 13 January to discuss them further.

The first rule of THINK

1. Everyone has the right to express a view with the expectation of being treated with respect.

That is to say, you should be free to express a view, even if it is not your own, in order to further the conversation. You should not have to contend with aggression or belittling from anyone else. Though a view can be more or less thought through, they are not worthless.

The second rule of THINK:

2. Everyone has the right to speak but this must be fair. For this reason, everyone must stick to the mediation method, and express their interest to speak to the mediator, who may even keep time. People should avoid heading off topic and keep anecdotes relevant.

This is all self-evident for most, treat people with respect. This will also help to ensure everyone is able to take part.

The third rule of THINK:

3. The aim of a discussion is not to “win” or make someone agree with you of what is “right”, but about the process of thinking and engaging with the views of others (including long dead philosophers). All experiences and views are welcome so long as you are willing to discuss and explore them in an open minded way.

We are interested in exploring an idea, and though some choose to do this with competitive debating, other groups exist for this (if this interests you, please contact the debating groups in Leeds)

To understand the motivations behind the Philosophy in Pubs movement from a more eloquent source, please see the About section of the Philosophy in Pubs website.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 13 January.

Our first meeting – the trolley problem

We were reasonably successful in attracting people to the first meeting of THINK on Wednesday 9 December (thanks mainly to the HEART centre publicity). Thanks to all those who turned up, especially Phil and Ian from the TAIL PiPs group, your support was much appreciated.

Our discussion was on the so called ‘trolley problem’, a seemingly academic and pointless exercise given how unlikely it is to ever have to make a decision of that nature and the unlikelihood of a long internal or external philosophical debate occurring on noticing an out of control tram racing out of control toward some hapless work men.

The expected positions were discussed, from the utilitarian position of saving as many lives as possible to the view that the taking of any human life is immoral and should be avoided at all costs, that it is essentially a slippery slope.

We discussed the application to everyday life, from pilots to smart cars, where the consideration of passenger and pedestrian safety must be weighed up. This question is also important when considering the society we live in and how needs are weighed up.

We hope to see you all soon at our next meeting on Wednesday 13 January (details of the topic for discussion will follow shortly).

Dec 2015 – The trolley problem

We are hoping you will join us for our first meeting on Wednesday 9th December, 7-9 pm at the Heart Centre in Headingley. We will be meeting in the cafe.

As this is our first meeting, we thought it would be a good idea to think about the dilemmas posed by the trolley problem. The dilemma goes something like this: you are driving an out of control tram is hurtling down a track on course to take the left fork. There are 5 men on that track and 1 man working on the right fork. Whomever the tram hits, it will kill. Do you change the direction of the tram? Why or why not? Now imagine you are observing the scene from a bridge above the track standing next to a very fat man. You can see that pushing him off the bridge into the path of the tram would stop it, saving the 5 men, but killing him. What do you do? As I’m sure you can see, this leads to hours of thinking fun.

From here on out, we will be leaving it to our members to decide a topic to talk, if you have an idea, bring it along to our meeting on Wednesday.

Hello and welcome

THINK – The Headingley Institute of Not Knowing

We are a community group based on the Philosophy in Pubs movement. We are a brand new group and we are having our first meeting on Wednesday 9th December at Heart in Headingley. Please have a look through our pages and if you’re interested, drop us an email.