Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another Philosophy Course Blog?

The Philosophy Dept at University of California, Santa Barbara has a course blog at: - they seem to really get stuck into the comments thing too.

I like their discussion of whether of not Unicorns exist at:

Maybe we should forge a cross-blog link with them?


Blog comment delay explanation...

You may be experiencing a delay between making your comments and them appearing on the site: this is due to new anti-spam measures (I have to check the comments) - but I try to check as often as possible - so delays should be kept to a minimum...


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Legal Pluralism

Should ethnic and religious minorities be allowed to use traditional or religious laws to settle civil disputes (not criminal)?

See for a discussion - but I would advise you to follow the links and listen to the associated programme first - I heard some of the speakers today - and some argue their case very well...

keep it going on the slavery debate also...


Slavery and Aplogy debate continued

Wikipedia has an article on proposals for Slavery reparations at - which may be helpful re the debate below - you may wish to use the comments on this post to carry on discussions - as they may be getting rather long on the post below.

[added a 'tag-cloud' to the base of the right-hand column - hope you like it...]


Monday, November 27, 2006

UPDATED: Creationism in Schools...

Thanks to one of the second years for this extra link on this story:

------------------ has a story about attempts to push ID / Creationism back into school science lessons...

Should we keep faith-based approaches in Religious Education lessons - or allow them to be taught as science? How do you answer the 'it is just another theory' approach?

keep going with the slave-trade debate - but hope some of you (esp RPE201: Philosophy, Science and Belief students) will comment on this...


Ethics, Apologies and the Slave Trade

The BBC is reporting that Tony Blair has expressed his 'sorrow' over Britain's role in the slave trade - but stopped short of a full apology - apparently because of fears that this may lead to demands for (financial) reparations.

You may wish to read what New Nation (the UK's best selling 'Black Newspaper') has to say on the matter - and they have the full text of Blair's speech.

The BBC's 10 Facts About British Slavery may also help inform your view.

What is your view?

Should nations / Governemnts apologise? Who to?

Are financial reparations appropriate?

I look forward to your comments - -


Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas Meal

Hi. Some of the Student Reps wanted to know how much interest there was - as they are planning an RPE Xmas event...

A meal is the plan - venue suggestions welcome - and a final annoucement will go on the blog once it is settled...

The date will be the 13th of December - to avoid putting the student rep e-mail on the blog (i.e. the web) and them being bombarded with junk e-mail, send e-mail to me with the subject line 'xmas meal' and I will get my e-mail to auto-forward them...


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sartre and Gandhi...

The Ethical Traditions students have been asked to read Sarte's Existentialism is a Humanism - enjoy!

Also, the Hinduism class needs to review material on Gandhi - this is the Wiki link, but also see, and the BBC site at

Glad to see some of the Second years getting stuck in with making comments on the blog - hope some of you first years will join in to stop them feeling lonely...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Question Time Report

Many thanks to Jason Chambers (RPE, Level 2) for report the below of his trip - along with 2 fellow RPE students, to a recording of the BBC's Question Time - thanks Jason - and others are welcome to send material they think would be of interest to fellow students to me - and I will blog it!


Question Time:
So, here’s my short report on our adventure into the world of BBC political programming for the masses – in short, Question time!
Held at Cheltenham racecourse (not on the actual track, too dark..) we were greeted with metal detectors and body searches, I assume to make sure we were not carrying any heavy artillery or explosives. Once we passed the military inspection, we sat down for a while, waiting for the first person to dig into the free tea and biscuits. Everyone was looking at the table, keen to finally get something for free from the BBC. I missed the actual moment of the first ‘taker’ but it was impossible to miss the swarm of people heading for PG tips and custard creams once the Taboo of ‘ we can’t be the first’ was broken. We were given some card on which to write two questions we would like asked.
Shortly after we had our biscuits (some more than others, Francis…) David Dimbleby appeared and gave a little talk. He thanked us all for coming, asked the non-men contingent in the audience if they preferred to be called women or ladies (apparently it’s a sore point for the female population all over the country) and then told us how to put our hands up to ask a question. Once that was clear, he disappeared into the ‘studio’ and we all waited with baited breath to be called in. Once called, we made our way down some stairs, eager to get into the studio. Katie, Francis and I were among the first in, but being students chose to sit towards the back in the middle (of course). A guy appeared, I believe he was the director or producer or something or other, and we played make-believe question time for a while, so that the sound engineers could make sure our voices could be heard loud and proud. The audience were asked to put their hands up (they could use their recently learned skill for this part) and express to everyone what they hate the most. But it mustn’t be anything that could come up in the show, so saying Tony Blair or ‘Immigrants’ was out!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largely middle aged white audience expressed their disdain for the usage of the word ‘Kids’, the admittedly dire BBC coverage of the weather (more specifically, the new high tech 3D map) and ‘bad manners’. I realised how privileged some people must be….
Next, those lucky individuals whose questions had been chosen were told – most appeared to have double barrel surnames strangely – and were whisked away somewhere us mere mortals will never be able to see or know.
On to the show! Well, we greeted all the guests we loud and long clapping (that was another skill the BBC kindly taught us) and Mr Dimbleby began. I wont go into the actual questions, as anyone interested enough can still see the show on the BBC website, but to summarise, Kilroy Silk protested his innocence against the ‘monkey’ court of the BBC who fired him some 67 years ago, Boris Johnson struggled to grasp the fact he was actually awake and in a studio filming a TV show, McNulty spoke like a true Labour Robot – he clearly had his own answers and the questions were largely irrelevant. Baroness Bonham-Carter and Shappi Khorsandi were largely anonymous, Khorsandi’s moment in the bright lights was a long lingering facial expression when Kilroy-Silk proclaimed he was not a racist.
All in all, a fun experience I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do in the future. I’m disappointed I didn’t get asked to speak, and I’m even more disappointed I didn’t get to respond to Boris Johnsons ramblings on the Koran (I tried, but luck wasn’t on my side) but nonetheless, I did learn how to raise my hand to ask a question, and clap – two valuable life skills.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Religious symbols and Dress Codes at Work

From the BBC:

'Should there be a right to wear a cross at work?

Does the Christian cross have a place in the workplace?

A British Airways (BA) employee has lost her fight to openly wear a cross necklace at work at Heathrow.Nadia Eweida, 55, of Twickenham, has been on unpaid leave since her bosses told her she could not visibly wear her cross at the check-in counter.

BA denied it had banned the wearing of crosses and said such items could be worn if concealed'

They are debating it at: - or leave a comment below...


Friday, November 17, 2006

Visit to the Hindu Temple

On Thursday, the RPE102 class went to the Cheltenham Hindu Temple...

If any of those who went want to write a short summary for the blog - it would be nice to have your impressions here - either use the 'comments' option -or send me something by e-mail...

I hope you enoyed it - and are looking forward to next week's Mosque visit to Gloucester...


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Draw Your Soul? is a website (in conjunction with the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland - where they also have a rather cool flip-book festival) which asks you to 'draw a picture of your soul'...

This picture is by Espen Fribery - a 25 year old from Norway. You can join in - and a set of winning images will be illuminated and used as projections in Sunderland City Centre during the 2006 SHINE Winter Festival - go to click here to see how to enter - good luck!

Question Time

Hi. As some of you will know - a small number of RPE students have got their grubbly hands on tickets to attend the BBC Question Time programme being recorded in Cheltenham this thursday (tonight) - broadcast at 10.35pm I think...

The guests include Boris Johnson MP,Tony McNulty MP, Baroness Bonham-Carter, Shappi Khorsandi and Robert Kilroy Silk.

I shall be asking those attending for feedback - and any volunteers to write a short report to go on this blog will be very welcome...


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Avatars of Lord Vishnu

For a full list of the Avatars of Vishnu, see which gives a certain amount of detail re each one - and pictures...


(picture below is of the Avatars of Visnu)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Philosophy of Science Video-POdcasts

San Jose State University has a whole series of lectures on Kuhn and the philosophy of science at - worth a look...

Philosophy Movie

Two American students made this video to explain how Berkeley uses Locke's ideas to get rid of the material world...

Reminded me of Beavis and Butthead - but less stupid...

Enjoy - Dave


Religion of VEDAs - Paper On Hinduism (Part I)
Desc : In this piece of speech on "Paper on Hinduism", Swami Vivekananda gives a brief introduction on Hinduism

This is from the 1893 Parliament of Religons - hope it is of interest..

Monday, November 06, 2006

Children's Literature and the Fantastic Imagination

For any Religion, Philosophy & Ethics (RPE) students looking for an interesting Semester Two (level 2) module, Dr Debby Thacker will be running a new course - EX250 - Children's Literature and the Fantastic Imagination - which you can sign up for on-line (it is not an RPE module, buyt if you check, many of you will be able to still do it). Debby can send you the full module descriptor - but here is a taster:

This module considers children’s literature in the context of notions of childhood in which children are considered to have particular spiritual qualities. Students will be able to consider a range of texts whose authors use fantasy to address moral and religious issues, as well as to consider the idea of the child as both subject and reader.


Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

Just to remind you that Gloucestershire Philosophical Society has regular meetings on campus - the next on the 15th of November - see their website - or contact Harry Cowen for details...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


If you were wondering where all the staff were last Friday - we were up at Cheltenham racecourse for the Graduation ceremony...

If you work really hard, maybe one day you too can get to wear a silly hat with a gold tassle (I am hiding at the back somewhere...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Hi -- just a link for students on the RPE203 - Hinduism - module. If you want to read a full, free, on-line version of the Ramayana - the Sacred-Texts website (a useful site) has one at - enjoy...

The image is the cover of one of the many very popular series of Ramayana comics which tell the story...


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buddhist Ethics - and other matters...

OK - first some course matters - a link for those doing the Ethical Traditions module - if you want to read a range of articles on Buddhsit Ethics, I would recommend you take a look at the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.

For those struggling after Monday's RPE201 [Philosophy, Science & Belief] session (by me) in which we struggled together in relation to Wittgenstein, the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy's entry on him has amazing detail - I shall try to read before I see you again - and hope you get chance to take a look.

I will get the rest of the e-learn 2006 report up soon - once this marking is done...