Speaker: Peter Whitfield, Facilitator of the Philosophy Cafe
Human beings need the company of like-minded souls to inspire, energise and ultimately to transform their lives. Peter Whitfield will discuss the value of good company and where and how it may be found.
Peter Whitfield publishes children’s books that uplift, inspire and educate. He has been teaching Practical courses in Philosophy in the School for over 30 years. Peter’s love of great stories and belief in an eternal wisdom has helped thousands of students to realise it is possible to live life fully, truly and happily.
In September 2021 he established the Philosophy Café as an online opportunity on Friday evenings for current students, past students, family or friends to meet, hear philosophical stories, discuss philosophical concepts in break out rooms and be inspired by one another’s company. The café has been a new, flourishing event.
Artificial Intelligence: Ethical? Conscious?
Speaker: Chris Rees, Past President of the British Computer Society
Chris Rees will explain what Artificial Intelligence is, the benefits it delivers, how it can be a force for evil as well as good, and whether it is or can be conscious. He will examine how the ethical challenges it poses can be addressed.
Chris joined the School in New York in 1971. He returned to the UK and joined the London School in 1972. He has been a philosophy tutor for some 20 years. He retired in 2015 as a management consultant and expert witness. He has been a trustee of three other charities, including the Education Renaissance Trust. He was President of the British Computer Society in 2018-2019. He was co-opted onto the Executive in February 2020 and elected treasurer later that year.
The Art of Correspondence
Speaker: Valery Rees, Renaissance Scholar
The letters we receive and write can describe adventures, convey intimate feelings, offer consolation and more. They can also lead the reader on a journey of development. Valery Rees will examine some memorable examples and what we can learn from them.
Valery Rees teaches and writes in the field of Renaissance Studies. She now leads the group in the school that has been translating the Letters of Marsilio Ficino. The study of Ficino has led her into many further topics: she was several times a panel member on Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 discussion programme, In Our Time, and was commissioned to write a wide-ranging history of Angels (From Gabriel to Lucifer, published in 2013). She has lectured widely, for universities, learned societies and festivals.
Practical Philosophy in professional life
Speaker: Bartholomew O’Toole, Barrister
Drawing on a career as a trial lawyer, Bartholomew O’Toole will discuss how professionals may apply practical philosophy and behave ethically, for the benefit of those they serve, themselves and the community at large.
Bartholomew O'Toole has attended the School since childhood and tutored philosophy in the first year of the School for over 20 years. He has 40 years’ experience as a practising barrister in all areas of serious crime, both defending and prosecuting, and in family law work. He chairs the complaints committee in large, successful barristers’ Chambers in The Temple in London. He is an active football referee, former Chairman of the Board of the Referees' Association and voluntarily advises and represents football participants at internal disciplinary hearings.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?
Speaker: Stephen Silver, Principal of the School
The names that we call others and ourselves can say much about the perceptions we hold about them, about ourselves and about our relationships. Stephen Silver will discuss the significance of names, labels and titles.
Stephen has been a student of philosophy since he started attending classes in New York in 1974. He is now retired from a career in IT and Project Management. He was elected Principal of the School in 2019. He has tutored extensively in the UK and abroad. He looks after the Berkshire Branch of the School and runs the Gita study weekends. He has tutored the online introductory classes and is part of the original team presenting Awareness Live. He was instrumental in moving all groups online in response to the Covid pandemic.