Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chris Capewell on Camus: Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

This Wednesday (13th May 2015!) - Chris Capewell (an RPE graduate) will speak at Gloucestershire Philosophical Society. His topic is:

Camus: From Absurd Beginnings to Rebellious Ends.

It will be at FCH campus, Cheltenham in TC002a , at 7.30pm - all are welcome!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lecture: Professor Beverley Clack - Constructing death as a form of failure: addressing mortality in a neo-liberal age.

The Severn Forum

Thursday 21 May 7.45pm
  Constructing death as a form  of failure: addressing mortality in a neo-liberal age

Chair in Philosophy of  Religion, Oxford Brookes University

Lecture Theatre, FC TC 001,
Francis Close Hall
St Paul’s Road
University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham
£3 to the public. Free to members and students 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Avebury and Stonehenge - yet more RPE adventures..

After trips, fairly recently, to London (for the Swaminaryan Mandir and the British Museum) and our Spain Field Visit in March, and recent guest speakers - you'd think RPE students had had enough excitement - but there's always more..

Friday saw us head (with History students too) to Avebury and Stonehenge. Here is a short write-up by one of the History colleagues who joined us, Dr Tim Copeland:

Thirty seven students and three staff visited the prehistoric sites of Avebury and Stonehenge, both in Wiltshire. The aims of this Activity Week event were to explore the past use of these ‘ritual’ monuments in their landscapes and how they have been appropriated in the present by the ‘New Age’ and ‘Heritage’ cults. At Avebury it was possible to wander among the stones in the area contained by the massive earthworks, and indeed walk the full circle around the bank, which provided the necessary contrast with the situation at Stonehenge. There were also fine examples of folk culture to be seen in the tying of ribbons and the deposition of flowers in the trunks and roots of several fine beech trees whose prominent root systems could have come straight out of an illustration from ‘Lord of the Rings’. Finally, it is an ancient tradition to imbibe from Avebury Well which in its modern guise has hops, malt and barley added.
The new interpretive centre at Stonehenge demonstrated the use of Neolithic and Bronze Age landscapes in a very accessible form, but without the mention of the modern ‘Druid’ cult or the political issues surrounding lack of access to the stone circle itself.  With the closure of roads it is now possible to walk to the monument through the ancient landscape and this was experienced by most of the group, returning on the new shuttle bus. Another  interesting area for study was the gift shop with its wide range of ‘Stonehenge Merchandise’ ranging from the academic to the gimmicky, with fridge magnets and chocolate megaliths being favoured by some of the members of staff. Altogether it was a successful and satisfying day giving varied and new experiences to all involved in a pleasant social context.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Julian Baggini: Freedom Regained. Free Talk in Cheltenham..

Organised by the Gloucestershire Philosophical Society and the School of Humanities. 

Everyone is welcome and the event is free.

15 April 19:30–21:00
University of Gloucestershire (Francis Close Hall Campus) TC001
Julian Baggini: Freedom Regained.

To reserve your place: humanities@glos.ac.uk
(Free admission but booking is essential)
No printed tickets are issued or needed.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Hayy ibn Yaqzan: A Philosophical Novel by Ibn Tufayl

If I tell you this is a story of a man on a desert island who keeps goats, builds himself a shelter and finally discovers footprints in the sand, what would you think of? Broadly, this story – like Robinson Crusoe – is about man’s ability to survive in a natural state, free of society, history and tradition. The character of Hayy is brought up on a deserted island by a doe, which provides milk for the infant and raises him. With the death of the doe, however, Hayy continues to survive by using the human capacity to reason.

The author of this work, Ibn Tufayl (c.1105-1185), was an Andalusian Muslim philosopher who was concerned with the extent to which philosophy and religion can be harmonised: To what extent is society required in order to attain knowledge of truth? Human beings are seen as uniquely self-thinking intellects: at least, almost unique, with one other possible exception; that of God. Human beings have, it seems, this capacity for self-intellection of which the only other parallel is God. Intuitively, being human conjures up an image of something magical, mysterious and special. Human beings are ‘God-like’; we all partake, to some extent at least, in God’s perfection. In a solitary state, with no knowledge of the ‘other’, can one attain self-awareness?

It is these questions that the novel addresses through the character of Hayy ibn Yaqzan. Brought up isolated from other human beings, to what extent can Hayy acquire knowledge; not merely of the empirical kind, but the spiritual? The novel supports the empirical method whilst also recognising its limitations. It emphasises the power of human reason and of the human to transcend himself: to progress to supernatural and divine matters.

Roy Jackson will be giving a talk on the novel Hayy ibn Yaqzan at the University of Cordoba on Wednesday 11th March, 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Visits, Applicant Days, excitement..

Last week was a full one!

We had an Applicant Day on the Thursday - when visitors learnt more about our course, wandered around the campus, and met some of our amazing students (oh, and the RPE staff).
RPE & History Students at Applicant Day
As well as a trip to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on Tuesday, we went to London. The students on the the London trip on Wednesday were from RPE, History and TRS - and we began at the Swaminaryan Mandir in Neasden. We had a talk, with a Q&A session, a chance to look round (including the obligatory shop visit) - and then the chance to observe an act of worship - Puja, in the form of Arti. Students were amazed by the building (which is impressive) - but also the worship gave them a chance to make sense of the function of the building, and links with what we'd studied.

After the coach had navigated London, we then found ourselves at the British Museum. Frist stop - the Cafe. Then we had a few hours to explore. However long you have here - it is never long enough. I (no surprise) wanted to see the extensive collection of Gandhara Buddha statues. Students followed their own interests (including more visits to gift shops), before a coach back to Cheltenham in the evening...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Activity Week - some events this week:

We've got a lot on this week - including an event on Thursday where Applicants will be visiting us. For current students - see the events below. I'm sure there will be lots of pics to follow!
Some events this week  - hoping RPE students will enjoy them!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Another day trip! London to visit Swaminaryan Mandir & British museum.

Coach trip to London to the British Museum and the Hindu Temple in Neasden (Shri Swaminarayan Mandir) on Wednesday 18 February. (That’s Activity Week, so there’ll be no lectures.)

The coach will leave FCH at 7am, returning at about 8pm.
Book your place, for just £5!, via the University’s online store.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society talk this Wednesday.. ‘Buddhism and Fetish...’

There is a new GPS programme up at http://www.glosphilsoc.co.uk/whatson.html  - and the first of these is me talking on a topic related to Buddhism:

January 7th (2015), HC203, FCH Campus: All Welcome..

Dr. David Webster (University of Gloucestershire) will be speaking on the topic of ‘Buddhism and Fetish: How the Western academic world must be more than a bystander to the 21st. Century’s Emerging Buddhisms.’

On first glance religious Orientalism seems to be the European intellectual fetish that refuses to die, to take the post-colonial discourse to heart. In the case of Buddhism, it seems steadfastly fixed and unlikely to shift. Certain recent developments are instructive in demonstrating and understanding this. The talk will use these developments as a case study in exploring the relationship between scholarship and ethics.

Dr. Webster is Subject Group Leader for Religious, Philosophical and Historical Studies at the University. He has studied Philosophy, Hinduism and Buddhist thought in addition to scholarly works on ‘Buddhism and desire’, the nature of belief, and other topics in Buddhist studies and the Philosophy of Religion. He has written about the blues and death in religions. He published Dispirited, Zero Books, in 2012. David conducts interviews found on http://philosvids.wordpress.com. He is also involved in the TAROSA (teaching across religions in South Asia) project, and has a strong interest in e-learning.

Happy New Year from RPE at Gloucestershire.

Well - here comes 2015... Those students who join us in September 2015 will be the 10th cohort to join Religion, Philosophy & Ethics here at Gloucestershire. I can already feel a plan for a big '10 years of RPE'/reunion party starting to form..

As I'm feeling nostalgic - here's a few pics from recent trips, etc: click to enlarge them..


Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas from Religion, Philosophy & Ethics at the University of Gloucestershire...

A festive Nietzsche...
Well, here it is. Merry Christmas from all at Religion, Philosophy & Ethics. Here's hoping you all get lots of books for Christmas, and your New Year's Resolutions are about reading more, thinking more and maybe even starting assignments in good time?

You'll have to cope for a week or two without RPE lectures, and the usual fun - but am sure you'll make it through to 2015 - where we'll we be waiting with some exciting new modules (for example HM6502..)


Monday, December 08, 2014

RPE Essay Competition 2014 Runners Up Announced!

Following the announcement of the winner, we can now reveal the 4 runners up: who will each receive a £20 voucher.

On the topic of  'If you had a time machine, would it be wrong to travel back and kill Hitler':

  • Toby Lane from Adams' Grammar School.
  • Sam Hazeldine  from Adams' Grammar School.

On the topic of 'Does science give an accurate picture of how the world is?'

  • Maksymilian Szwajewski from Sevenoaks School.
On the topic of: 'What is the proper role of religion in a modern, secular society?'
  • Jasbir Singh Talwar fromThe Phoenix Collegiate

Well done : there were approx. 80 entries of a very high standard so congratulations!

FCH Campus, where RPE is taught...

Monday, December 01, 2014

RPE Essay Competition Winner!

Congratulations to Lewis Morey of Forest School, London, for his winning essay in the RPE competition.

The event was in his local newspaper - as per the picture - and the winning essay will be published in the RE Today magazine.

Lewis’s 1,500 word essay was titled: If you had a time machine, would it be wrong to travel back and kill Hitler? This was the most popular title amongst the 80 essays submitted - but Lewis' essay was a clear winner. Unusually for academic staff, we were all in agreement: Well done Lewis!

The runners-up will be announced Monday 8th December: We are still arguing about it..

Friday, November 28, 2014

Graduation '14!

Yesterday saw us celebrate the achievements of another RPE cohort!

It was a great day at the Racecourse, and then FCH Chapel

As usual, you can see all our RPE pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/58244916@N00/ 

And the Uni has a Flickr account too at: