Friday, 26 October 2012

Philosophy and Death, another kick at the bucket

25th Oct - 7.00 – 8.30pm | Life and Death – discussion. 

Blackwell's Bookshop, 50 Broad Street, OX1 3BQ | Map No 7

Three thinkers and writers discussing the question, 'What is a good life and how should we live it?' and how does the knowledge of mortality affect the answers to this question? Nigel Warburton,philosopher and podcaster ( joined the Open University in 1994 and is best known for his introductory philosophy books -, Roman Krznaric, a cultural thinker and founding member of The School of Life -, and Neel Burton, a psychiatrist, philosopher, writer, wine-lover, and perpetual student -follow him on twitter and facebook. An evening of thoughtful conversation to challenge and engage us all.

 always remember the debates between Profs Mackay and Flew on philosophy at Keel University.

They were a class act, their cuts and thrusts honed from years of practice and a genuine wish to educate rather than bore the student audience.

You could not hope for that from a scratch event. But the  standard I have had set is high and this did not come near a good level of debate.

However, Roman Krznaric is a real discovery. He is carrying on and may be improving on what we were attempting at the Oxford Centre for Human Relations twenty years ago. I warmly recommend you to explore his website's connection with Zeldin's Oxford Muse  

I am intrigued by his idea that newspapers should have a death style section to go with their Lifestyle section.

I also like his idea that we should study the late medieval period and the early renaissance period to learn how to live creatively with death. I told him I would explore that with poetry at the Ashmolean. 

But Roman has already come up with the idea of a completely different kind of museum, a museum of empathy

Empathy Museum

My ambition is to establish the world’s first Empathy Museum:  a creative space where you can explore how to view life from the perspective of other people. It would be the opposite of traditional museums, with objects hidden inside glass cases. Rather it would revive the original meaning of the word ‘muse’ – the Muses of mythology injected a divine spark into everyday life – and be a place of experiential and conversational adventure. The Empathy Museum is a work in progress, and collaborators on this project include the sustainable designer Sophie Thomas, ecological artist Clare Patey, and film maker Rebecca Dobbs. Some ideas for what the museum might contain are available here.

I found my late wife Gill through a personal column ad "Poet seeks muse". She was all of that for me. 
I shall now go to explore the Oxford Muse and other of his ideas. 

Sadly, the other two philosophers had very little to offer. Neel Burton's thesis that all anxiety is based on death is flawed. They all agreed those of us still alive have not died. How can a psychiatrist, whose work should be evidence based, claim anxiety is based on something none of us have experienced?
Nobody contested this. Small children have no consciousness of death but they feel anxiety.
If anxiety comes from anywhere it is from primal experiences in the prenatal and perinatal matrices. Read Stan Grof's "The human encounter with death" if you want to find out more, or for a brief summary try my
There was one point where the discussion became almost interesting. Roman challenged Nigel Warburton about his thoughts on how deceased loved ones impinge on our lives. Warburton simply appealed to our humanity. It might be the best response, but it simply avoids exploring the philosophy of love loss and bereavement. Roman did not pursue the matter.
I am off to see the light at the end of the tunnel now so I will post this. The philosophers did not mention near death experiences. Mine certainly made a radical shift in my understanding of life. It also had a radical effect on my fear of death. 
With so many of us having come back from the other side or the very brink of it you would have thought it would have come into the debate.
But they all seemed to agree we are all on a level playing field around death
Not true, I say.

No comments:

Post a Comment