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What's On

Tues 6 July 2021Paul Cairns

Why playing digital games can be good for you with Professor Paul Cairns.

Digital games are hugely popular, whether measured in terms of number of players or their financial impact. However, despite this, they still have something of a bad press, for example they are often claimed to promote aggressive behaviour or they're considered to be a waste of time.

In this talk, Paul Cairns will draw on research done with colleagues at the University of York to discuss what motivates players of digital games, what values they see in playing and therefore the very positive personal and social impact games can have.

Paul is Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and head of the department of Computer Science at the University of York. For nearly 20 years, he has been researching the experiences that people have when playing digital games with a particular focus on the experience of being immersed in a game. He has more recently become Scholar in Residence for the AbleGamers Foundation, a US-based charity that helps people with disabilities to play digital games. He has a keen interest in research methods and statistics and gets quite excited about analysing data. Outside of work, Paul likes to crochet and he is learning to play the viola.

7.30pm online talk - Zoom link to be confirmed.

Wed 14 July

Book Group - Never Let Me Go and/or Klara and the Sun, both by Kazuo Ishiguro. 7.30pm in The Black Swan, 23 Peasholme Green, York, YO1 7PR.

Tues 3 August 2021Victoria Wild

Extinction Rebellion - Community, Chaos and Change with Victoria Wild.

Extinction Rebellion can seem like a disorderly rabble but behind the chaos is an organised, horizontal structure and a theory of change drawn from other successful non-violent movements.

The communities within it are its most vital element, providing support, ideas and training, but also by their very nature presenting a challenge to the destructive economic model which is fuelling climate change.

Victoria Wild works in fair trade and has been involved in the local green movement for the last few years, including setting up the XR group in Harrogate.


Tues 7 September 2021John Pittock

The Atheism of Arthur Schopenhauer with John Pittock.

Whilst it is generally agreed that Humanism does not accommodate metaphysics, paradoxically, the Humanist movement has much to be grateful to Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) for. He is now widely acknowledged to be one of Western cultures greatest metaphysical system builders.

Surprisingly for most readers, he was the first Western philosopher to declare his atheism at a time when it was not just unfashionable but dangerous to do so (most of the great western philosophers since the time of the Roman Empire had been Christians). Moreover, he was able to articulate and widely propagandise his atheistic beliefs such, that they were embraced by a substantial proportion of the nineteenth century thinking classes.

Crucially, and of interest for Humanists is that he had a profound influence on the minds of some of western culture’s greatest thinkers, musicians, scientists, writers, and artists (Schrödinger, Einstein, Wittgenstein, Tolstoy, Freud, Kafka, Mahler, Wagner, Kierkegaard et al) either by way of acceptance, or a direct reaction against him and his ideas but, nonetheless influencing the western cannon of thought.

What was it then that caused the mature Wagner to write that his introduction to Schopenhauer's philosophy ‘was the most significant event of his life and that the impact was extraordinary and decisive’? Also, why would Brian Magee, in his own autobiography, write this extraordinary commendation on Schopenhauer’s ‘World as Will and Representation’: “which I regard as the most mind stretching capacious, illuminating and penetrating system of philosophical ideas that has yet been forged by a human mind”?

John Pittock will give an account of the primary concepts that constructed Schopenhauer's atheistic philosophy and its subsequent impact on the minds of the major influencers of the 19th and 20th century which were both beneficial and cataclysmic.

John is a company director currently committed to a largescale sustainability project. Having had a lifelong interest in the history of ideas, his passion for the subject had its origins in working extensively in the Gulf region, the former USSR, Israel, Iran, Lebanon and the Far East. This gave him the opportunity to experience first-hand the cultural, political, religious and social consequences of ‘ideas’ that started with either one individual (or at most a small group) and yet resulted in extraordinary social, economic and political upheavals.

His interest in Schopenhauer was directly triggered by his experience of working in Siberia in the 70’s and observing that even though Lenin & Stalin were long dead their ideas & actions still held an iron grip over the country. This led to an to examination of ‘German idealism’ as the source of Marxism and this in turn fired his interest in Arthur Schopenhauer.


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