Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Invitation to visitors / students / potential students

Just a quick post to note that - our course Facebook group - is open to all - and is mostly made up of staff, RPE graduates, current students and also people considering taking the course. Others are, of course, welcome.

Christmas Banned - no post this year..

We have already covered at length the 'Christmas Banned' tabloid stories in previous years, so if people do want to read about it - you can:

There is more here too:

Friday, December 02, 2011

Humanities at Gloucestershire

Thought some of the viewers of this blog might like to see this presentation about Creative Writing, English Literature, History, English Language, Theology and RPE (Religion, Philosophy & Ethics) here at the University of Gloucestershire.. 

(use the 'play' type button to view this presentation, one step at a time)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The God of Philosophy

Just thought some might like to know that the 2nd edition of RPE tutor Dr Roy Jackson's The God of Philosophy is now out!

Info at

Roy has published extensively as you can see HERE

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

A list of upcoming talks - at which our students are always welcome - can always be found at

Some info about the next ones:

Wed.Nov. 9th. 2011. FCH Room HC203. Malcolm Pritchard and Harry Cowen (Gloucestershire Philosophical Society): “The University of the Future: What Role For Philosophy?”.
In the current period of material uncertainty, the humanities, including philosophy, are coming under attack. Yet in recent decades major intellectual works have appeared in political and social philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, etc. So what is happening to the nature of the university? What will/should be the role of philosophy in higher education?
Wed. Nov. 30th. 2011. 7.30.p.m. FCH Room HC203. Dr. Oren Ben-Dor, University of Southampton: “The temporal persistence of differend: reflections on Art, Truth and Practical Reason.” : Reading Heidessger and Spinoza, the talk discusses how mortals are as nature, and how this relationship originates in the primordial truth of unconcealement. Reinterpreting Lyotard, Oren focuses on the temporal, material and political aspects of this relationship. Oren is the author of 'Thinking About Law: In silence with Heidegger', 2007. .
Wed. Dec. 7th. 2011. 7.30.p.m. FCH Room HC203. Professor Alessandra Tanesini, Cardiff University: “Science, Values and Impartiality”. In this talk Alessandra Tanesini examines and ultimately rejects the view that science must be autonomous, value neutral and impartial. Instead she defends the claim that ethical and political values are an inevitable part of science and that at least in some cases their influence on scientific knowledge is positive. (Please note that before the talk there will be a short AGM.)

Glad you asked?

Forgot I had done this! It is only an edited (not by me...) sample - but may provide some entertainment..

Saturday, November 05, 2011

New visitors

I have just come back from an Open Day here in Cheltenham, talking to people about the RPE course...

I thought I'd pop a post here in case any of them/you are looking for more info...

The blog archives are a good start - including ones about our field trip, and our 'worst argument' competition... - just browse and see what is there.

Also - see the course Facebook group at: - you don't have to join to look at info here, but anyone with an interest is welcome to join - and feel free to post questions and chat with our current and past students. can give you more info about the town, and has loads of info re Cheltenham International Literature Festival, and the others festivals that the town hosts  - more about this HERE..

 Of course - you can always get in touch via email: and ask us questions...

Monday, October 31, 2011

'Spirituality and the Emotions in Early Christianity'

SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES: Bible and Spirituality Research Seminar
 Dr. Stephen Barton
Durham University

Thursday 3 November
Francis Close Hall

All welcome
Dr. Barton was until recently Reader in the Dept of Theology and Religion, in the University of Durham. He is the author of The Spirituality of the Gospels (SPCK, 1992), and has just published ‘Eschatology and the Emotions in Early Christianity’, Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2011). 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

 Wednesday, 5th.October, 2011, 7.30.p.m., FCH Room HC203. 

Dr. John Hockey, University of Gloucestershire, will be giving a talk on "Embodied Ideology: the case of infantry".

In this talk, John discusses how the military organisation-which constitutes the cutting edge of the state-socialises its members into particular values and norms, and also into particular somatic practices.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roy talks God..

We are putting together a video glossary for the module RPE210 - The God of Philosophy - where module tutor, Dr Roy Jackson, talks about key ideas...  This is just a sample, which I thought would be of interest..

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Making the most of the module

This is a video, with some advice for students on RPE110; but may be of interest to all students...

There are more videos, related to the course and its content, at

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Just a quick post to welcome our new students, and existing ones, to a new academic year.

Of course - the course Facebook site (feel free to join) is still available via - and is always lively...

Information about Induction for new students is being finalised at present, and will be out soon. If you have any worries - contact a member of the RPE team...

Thrills beyond words...

Just to let people know - the United Kingdom Association for Buddhist Studies has, on its website, made available (free!) the back copies (vol. 1-22) of the journal Buddhist Studies Review. is the link. Enjoy, and let me know if there are any technical problems...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons from new media?

An energy company learns an important lesson about managing its image, public perception of ethics, and new social media...

It took legal action trying to force twitter users to withdraw images related to a protest: From the Guardian -

The Scottish court order prohibits the environment group "disseminating, printing, uploading, sharing, copying or otherwise publishing any images, photographs, pictures or other material (or copies thereof) taken or recorded by Greenpeace activists present within 50 Lothian Road, Edinburgh on or around 18 July 2011."

If you are familiar with social media - you can guess what happened next:

But hundreds of people have begun posting the pictures on their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Where is this taking us in terms of protest, activism and free speech? Into, at the very least, interesting times...


Monday, July 04, 2011

EduLearn lessons..

Hi, just a short post..
I am at EduLearn11 researching more was for RPE to use technology in our teaching, learning, etc...

RPE has, as I have said on this blog before, a Facebook group- which is lively- and I think a success-- but what next? The video feedback Will and I did for RPE110 is something we can expand, but what else?

I hope to do some virtual office hours next term; but what about Twitter? Will you/our students use it? More when I get back, and have stolen any good ideas I can...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Avinguda de Joan XXIII,Barcelona,Spain

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Atheists Should Care about RE in Schools.

[Short opinion by piece by me, on RE in schools - DW]

There has been a lot of noise recently about school-based Religious Studies (or, to those of us over a certain age Religious Education / RE). Its exclusion from the EBacc proposals and cuts to funded PGCE numbers have led to real concerns about the subjects future. Of course, RE teachers, and those that seek to represent them, have been quick to defend the subject and argue for its benefits. But reading through online comments (which, I know, is bad for anyone’s mental health / general view of humanity), I became aware of a fault line between defenders of RE and many with whom I normally agree / share opinions. A general hostility to religion has led many atheists to argue that RE’s marginalisation is welcome, and socially beneficial.

Irrespective of the arguments for and against the ‘new’ atheism, I want to suggest that such reluctance to support RE is predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of how the subject is taught, and the benefits it offers young people. If you look to the lessons provided by RE teachers it soon becomes clear the RE has, largely through a series of historical accident, become the primary means by which pupils encounter questions of ethics. Further to this, it is the only subject ion schools where philosophy is systematically introduced to students. At AS and A2 level, the influence and popularity of certain modular components of contemporary curricular are so strong that many pupils (and students applying for, and arriving at, University) refer to the Religious Studies A level as ‘Philosophy and Ethics A level.’

While many, myself included, would like to see Philosophy taught as a mainstream subject in schools, that is not on offer now, or likely to be in the short to medium term. So I would suggest that if you are in favour of students developing critical thinking, of young people encountering the substantive arguments against as well as for religious belief, and of their introduction to philosophy and ethics as an academic discipline- you need to put aside any reservations about the consequences of religious belief in society – and stand up for Religious Education.

The debates sparked by writers such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Dennett and others are important, but to asses them and come to their own conclusions, young people need to well informed of the context, nature and intellectual history of these issues. Even the most devout atheist should be able to see that what young people need in assessing religious claims is a foundation of critical, reflective understanding and knowledge in which to ground their views. Some might even suggest that RE is currently a Trojan Horse for critical thinking and philosophy: maybe there is some truth to that. But as long as it serves to not merely to support faith, but to question and engage with it – it has value. If RE can use its window on ethics to prompt young people to ask searching questions about social justice, poverty, crime and punishment, truth and the nature of meaning – surely we can put aside differences over the truth of religious propositions, and agree that this is vital and urgent work – and that both students and society stand to suffer from its marginalisation.

Friday, June 24, 2011

UKABS Annual Conference 2011

United Kingdom Association for Buddhist Studies
8th September 2011, 9.30am-6.00pm, Khalili Lecture Theatre,
School of Oriental and African Studies,
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, 
London WC1H 0XG.

Registration fee:
(includes tea/coffee but not lunch)
£10 (£5 unwaged) for UKABS members
£25 (£15 unwaged) for non-members
Further information:
To register or for further details, please contact UKABS Treasurer, Dr. Naomi Appleton (

Keynote Lectures:
Professor Max Deeg (Cardiff University): How the Dharma Came to the Region – Buddhist Foundation Legends.
Dr Ulrike Roesler (University of Oxford): “Lives of Liberation”: Biographical writing in Tibet.
University of Cambridge Research Project Presentation: Transforming Technologies and Buddhist Book Culture: the introduction of printing and digital text reproduction in Tibetan societies (Dr Hildegard Diemberger).
Postgraduate Panel:

Karen Liljenberg (SOAS) The Thirteen Later Translations of the rDzogs chen Mind Series: an overview.
Alastair Gornall (University of Cambridge) The Buddhism of Grammar in 12th Century Sri Lanka: An Alternative Perspective on the Saṅgha Reforms of Parākramābāhu I.
Eva Preschern (Canterbury Christ Church University) Tibetan Stūpas in Modern Europe: The Opportunities and Risks of Constructing Buddhist Monuments in a New Cultural Context.
Andrew J. Wormald (University of Bristol) The Role of Meditation in Contemporary Chinese Buddhist Identity in mainland China.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


As the academic year drags towards its end, we start turning our thoughts to next year - and the new Religion, Philosophy and Ethics students who will  be joining us here in Cheltenham in September.

If you are in that category - and are looking at joining us in September (or, indeed, the following year)- you are very welcome to join our course Facebook group at - which is open to all, and you can meet current and past students, and the staff on the course...

Cheers, d.

Western Buddhism, Zizek and Authenticity

Hi, just out of interest - here is a presentation (use the arrow to follow through it) I gave last year - and am trying to write up at the moment..  I wonder if it makes sense without me droning on over the top of it?

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society - Will Large on Levinas

 Dr. William Large: The Meaning of the Other in Emmanuel Levinas’ ‘Totality and Infinity’.

Wed. June 15th, 2011.
7:30pm TC002a, FCH Campus - Cheltenham.

All Welcome

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Levinas’ ‘Totality and Infinity’, perhaps one of the most important books published in phenomenology in the Twentieth Century. The topic of this book is ethics, which Levinas situates in the experience of the Other who faces me. In this talk, Dr. Large will examine the two meanings of the Other in Levinas’ seminal text, and whether there is any conflict between them.

more at 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer on Campus

Just took this (effect via InstaGram) as I walked across campus...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lively debate..

You can tell all essays are in: our students have become very lively over on the course Facebook page at

Lots of discussion of brain-gym, the ebacc and Religious Studies in schools, philosophy in schools and more. All are welcome to join the Facebook group and join in..


Monday, May 23, 2011

Philosophy dead?

Stephen Hawking, in a Telegraph piece this morning, declares that Philosophy is dead:

But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead

There is a series of comments attached to the piece itself: my initial reaction was he has a very narrow sense here of what philosophy is, and what it is for....

Do others agree? (for comments via our Facebook group see: )

The nice people at Philosophy Now have taken a response by Chris Norris from behind their paywall - so we can all read it - - thanks to them...


Friday, May 06, 2011

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society- The Politics of Human Nature: A Study of Power and Authority"

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

 Wednesday, May 11th., 7.30.p.m. at FCH Room HC203

Harry Cowen, University of Gloucestershire, will give a talk on

 "The Politics of Human Nature: A Study of Power and Authority".

The talk will focus on the conservative orientation towards power relations and authority, unpicking the 'human nature' assumptions that underpin tradition, power and social change.
All welcome.

FCH Campus is in Cheltenham.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eulogy to re-launch

Those of you who have done, or will do next year, the module RPE301 - Love, Sex and Death, may be interested to note that the :
The world’s first ‘death magazine’ is set to re-launch with a new website, masthead and strap-line
It launched, and then seemed to stall - but the re-launched version may have some interesting content

see: for details...

Friday, April 08, 2011


Staff and Students at the end of last year...
Just to let people know that even though term may be coming to an end - this blog - and especially the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics course face book page are still active.

Most of the discussion seems to have moved to the facebook page, from the blog: but comments are welcome via both. Also - anyone with a general interest in our course (be you a teacher, A level student, member of the public!) can join the facebook group...

Cheers, Dave

Thursday, April 07, 2011

New blog next door

Our colleagues in English Literature here at Gloucestershire are working on a blog too - see


Philosophy at Play Event

Hi - this event is next week: see

Abstracts are at

I hope those coming find it useful...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cordoba March 2011 Field Trip Report…

If it’s March – it must be the Spain trip…
[ more pics at  ]
12th March – 2.30 am – some very sleepy students and staff  meet at the FCH campus refectory – for a 3am coach to Bristol Airport…  Oddly – everyone is on time, and has their passport…
The Avant train waits to take us to Cordoba
We get to Bristol, and take off at 6.30am – and then once we are in Malaga, we get the local train to the main Malaga station
We lurk here till our 14:30 train sweeps us north, then a short (!) walk takes us to Los Patios – our home from home for the week.
People are a little weary, so a short orientation tour, via Plaza de Corredera, is enough for most – followed by an early night…

Sunday 13th March
Long day starts with short walk to Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos .
Then, we head to the Torre de la Calahorra museum - where we get a rather rosy view of the history in the 'Golden Age' of Al-Andalus... Here is the annual picture on the roof terrace:

Followed by a wander to the newly refurbished Archaeological Museum - which has a new underground section on the Roman theatre, and some much more sophisticated accounts of the region's history. 

Monday 14th

RAIN. plus everything was closed. More rain. Card games. More rain.

Tuesday 15th
Early train to Seville...
Our usual Seville meeting point...
We walked to the historic centre (without getting lost) – and began with the Alcázares Reales de Sevilla  - which has interesting internal buildings – and stunning gardens: an amazing place.

It takes most of a morning to explore the Seville Alcazar – then lunch
Seville Cathedral is huge! It has treasure rooms, and a lot to see – also – test your cardiovascular endurance – and walk to the top of the tower – the views are worth it.  

Seville Cathedral 

Wednesday 16th
Medina Azahara - is 8 miles west of Cordoba.

Students at Medina Azahara
A short walk to a daily tourist bus - and off we went... Once there – there is a great museum – brand new, and interactive – with lots of resources: and the ruined city itself.
 And back on the bus...
We then went to the Museum of Jewish life  Casa de Seferad - to explore the Jewish heritage of the city – in the heart of the Jewish quarter. We had a short talk here, and saw some new exhibits on how Jews fared during the Spanish Inquisition (which we didn't expect) 
At 2pm We met Imma – our expert tour guide – for the tour of the Mezquita / Cathedral – which is a highlight of the trip for many.

Thursday 17th...

5am - meet in reception of Hotel - for 5.30am coach to airport - then home at FCH by 3pm...

Looking back at the Mezquita as we leave for the coach..

Friday, March 11, 2011

Off to Cordoba...

As part of RPE136 module, we are off to Cordoba, Spain for the field trip.... (leaving in 4 hours from now...)  Follow us via 



Saturday, March 05, 2011

Bodhisattva Superstar...


Heidegger and Evolution

Hello everybody,

In an attempt to stop bothering my supervisors (i'm not in care) and instead bother other people i would be interested in people's comments on essay ideas i have. I tried to be as original as possible which maybe a weakness, but anyhow, in the spirit of learning i'm putting my ideas 'out there' to be criticised. Let me know what you think or possible areas for development.

Here's an extract from an essay/idea i'm considering (apologies for the length)

I would like to argue that Heidegger’s philosophy of ‘Being and Time’ presents an intuitive framework for understanding ‘evolution’. Not just biological evolution but evolution as a process, a state of becoming. In the same way that simple single cell organisms become complex multi-cellular life, or that elementary particles become heavy metals, or that spinning hot balls of gases become clusters of galaxies, each has the potential for the other. I do not want to infer any teleology in this framework, i.e. that human intelligence was a necessary step or that some design is required. More in the Heideggarian sense that all things carry their evolutionary past with them to be projected into a potential future, that evolution is Being and being, in that objects that exist are a part of evolution and evolution as a system allows those things to exist or go extinct placing them in the background of nothingness. Heidegger’s ‘Dasein’, ‘being there’ and ‘being with’ applies to all things, he intended it only to refer to humans but I think it can be applied to all objects that are subject to evolution, that are in the world and by definition of evolution interact with their world. As a result of evolution objects carry with them the history of their ancestors and so are always ‘being with’ as well as ‘being there’. ‘Throwness’ is essentially an evolutionary idea, in that all things do not choose the fundamental aspects of their being, where and how they were created, what past they are created into, we do not control what events we run into or what events will shape us. In the same way that every human is thrown into a biography not of their choosing be it their country of origin, ethnicity, host language or sexual orientation so to generations of organisms are thrown into a process that chooses them but they did not choose.
This is just a first mashing of ideas so don't get hung up on the grammar.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Death - Symbolism in Holbein's Ambassadors

For those on the RPE301 Love, Sex and Death module - we were talking about this in class, on Tuesday...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Death and the Greeks

For those doing RPE209 and RPE301, but really for anyone interested, a discussion point has been raised by Jeremy Stangroom on the Talking Philosophy website. Jeremy asks the following:

In the Phaedo, Cebes suggests to Socrates that a common fear amongst people is that the soul will be extinguished upon death.
Was that a common fear at the time? (The stuff I’ve been reading has sort of suggested that what people were really afraid of was that bad things might happen to their souls after death. But it’s possible I’ve been reading the wrong stuff.)
Is there a standard text dealing with attitudes towards death in Ancient Greece?

The Philosopher's Stone

A new philosophy e-journal, The Philosopher's Stone, has been launched. It is early days yet as it is currently looking for contributions for the first issue. It states the following:

'The Philosopher’s Stone is an online journal of philosophy founded on the conviction that the job of philosophers is to serve humanity by transforming the lead of confusion and uncertainty into the gold of clarity, understanding and upright living. What else could be the product of genuine and good philosophy – which is, after all, the love of wisdom? The purpose of this journal is therefore to publish articles that not only promote only academic discussion of philosophical issues, but which do so in a distinctive format, promoting the public understanding of those issues and of philosophy in general in a good humoured, engaging and enjoyable way.
The target audience of TPS is very wide: Philosophy students who want good resources to get a handle on their subject matter, professors who want a good source of material to draw on and recommend – and to read for their own enjoyment and edification, and members of the public with an interest in philosophy. The journal covers fresh expositions of thorny philosophical issues, good natured interaction between scholars at opposite ends of disagreements, exciting tales of recent developments in philosophy and more'

Keep an eye out for it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gloucestershire Philosophical Society - next talk

Prof Mike McNamee (Swansea University) - 

The Idea of Ethical Expertise

16 February · 19:30 - 21:30

LocationRm HC203, FCH, Uni of Gloucestershire
Swindon Rd
Cheltenham, United Kingdom
More infoThe Idea of Ethical Expertise.

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion of the nature and purpose of ethicists, e.g. medical, in the public domain. But is their work susceptible of expertise? Prof. McNamee argues against the ideal, and argues for the ancient Greek concepts of techne (craft knowledge) and phronesis (practical wisdom).

Students (and the public) are welcome to attend this event..

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thai Buddhist Sect - photo essay

Many thanks to my good friend Dr Paul Fuller, for pointing me in the direction of THIS article at Foreign Policy Magazine.

It is about the Dhammakaya movement (this is the link to their official website - some interesting pics HERE too),and the piece uses the word 'cult' rather easily. The movement (read a little HERE about it) has had controversy in the past, but remains hugely popular in Thailand and beyond. What is more striking about the Foreign Policy article is the truly amazing photos: they are copyrighted - so I won't re-post - but well worth it...

You can see a Dhammakaya Promotional Video below if you're interested.... (a clearly an 'insider' perspective from the organisation -  with some cheesy music - but interesting)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Film Society

Here is the flyer for the films for February. They are all shown in the lecture theatre (TC001) at FCH on Mondays at 8pm. Do please support this by attending!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011