u3a - Philosophy

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Our Subject Advisor, Shri Sharma, has created a U3A Philosophy Padlet Page

(Padlet is an online bulletin board) and you can access it here https://padlet.com/shrisharma108 or by clicking on the images below.

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Newsletters / Bulletins

Philosophy Newsletter -October 2021

Philosophy Newsletter - March 2021


Recommended Reading

I can re-iterate Ed Link’s recommendation of Nigel Warburton’s book Philosophy The Basics. You can google it.

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy Paperback by Simon Blackburn

Philosophy: The Basics by Nigel Warburton. A complimentary text to this is Philosophy: The Classics by Nigel Warburton.

The Philosophy Book by Will Buckingham (Author), Peter J. King (Author), Douglas Burnham (Author), Marcus Weeks (Author), Clive Hill (Author), John Marenbon (Author), DK (Editor), Sarah Tomley (Editor)

Western Philosophy: An Anthology (Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies) by John G. Cottingham

These are two good and easy to read texts both by the same author, that cover similar material from different angles:

Does the Centre Hold? An Introduction to Western Philosophy. Donald Palmer

Looking at Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter, Fourth Edition. Donald Palmer

I recommend that whoever takes on the role of philosophy co-ordinator reads the introduction to this book. I will add the additional warning that you might end up with more questions rather than answers!

I would say that it is vital to understand how philosophers do their arguing through various types of arguments. These are not in this book but can be found elsewhere.

For those who would like to dip their toes in other philosophies, there are a couple of texts which I have found which would be suitable as a starting point. They are:

  • Asian Philosophies (7th Edition) by Jonh M Koller
  • Eastern Philosophy by Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi
  • Classical Indian Philosophy: A history of philosophy without any gaps (Volume 5) by Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri
  • Philosophy in the Islamic World: A history of philosophy without any gaps (Volume 3) by Peter Adamson

Online Resources

There is a good (but not very simple) series of explanations and questions about bits of logic. I would use this carefully – many people in our group found this a bit difficult. But it is great as a reference


There is a large set of fallacies here; http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm

In particular, there is an excellent series of YouTube videos from Crash Course. The one philosophy is especially good. Although it seems to be targeting 12 to 14 year olds (my intellectual level!), the content of each video is excellent. I would suggest the first 3 videos, which deal with argumentation on a much simpler level, at least.


When you get to terms or phrases which are philosophical and that you're not quite clear about I can recommend the book called Philosopher's Toolkit by Bagini. You can google this too.

I would strongly encourage everyone to come to terms with the important aspect of understanding arguments, especially deductive inductive and analogical arguments. Also people should be aware of argument fallacies. (see above). Arguments are explained in the first 3 youtube videos of crash course.  

The Open University’s OpenLearn has a free course called doing philosophy. This really is excellent. It is here:


There is a free argumentation course from the Carnegie Melton Open Learning Initiative here: https://oli.cmu.edu/jcourse/lms/students/syllabus.do?section=df3cb3f10a0001dc0fc0bc307edccf7ddccf7d

There are two excellent, academic, sites the Stanford encyclopaedia


and the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy


Notre dame philosophical reviews a load of reviews of books here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/about/

Philosophy the basics short summaries of various aspects of philosophy https://www.philosophybasics.com/

There are many ways to do philosophy but it is important to have a group where discussion takes place – the actual ‘doing’ philosophy. There are some great suggestions in the Socrates café guide. Tips for running a philosophy group can be found here:


Philosophy Groups

There is some excellent advice about going about setting up and supporting your group on
the U3A home site here: https://www.u3a.org.uk/advice/supporting-your-members

 In our group, our philosophy convener (the splendid) Richard Batchelor has developed a set of guidelines about how to engage in discussion and how to ask questions or change the subject.

  • Level 0 I haven’t read the preparatory material
  • Level 1 I read the material, but I didn’t understand it
  • Level 2 I read the material and can understand the question being asked
  • Level 3 I understand the question and picked out some key points made
  • Level 4 I read the paper and followed up some ideas and have found further material on the topic to talk about.

In framing questions Blooms taxonomy is a really good way to do it.

Explanation of Bloom’s taxonomy can be found here:  http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4719

When doing philosophy it is important to have a group where discussion takes place. It is The Great Conversation.  You should try to frame a question for the session. See Socrates café guide for how to go about this if you need to.

If you are starting a group then do consider covering all the major divisions of the subject: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy.  Again see crash course.

The other ways of approaching the meetings or sessions. For example:

  • Presentation of philosophers/ ideas/ specific things (time /space/ justice/ existentialism /consciousness /aesthetics/ethics etc) research and presentation by members of the group followed by discussion.
  • Follow a book course
  • Read and discuss actual papers (e.g. Nagel’s what it is like to be a bat).
  • Read papers or articles during the meeting and try to resolve the ideas and arguments presented.
  • Use specific podcasts to stimulate discussion.
  • For and against debates: good especially for ethics.
  • Take roles in the dialogues and do reading in the meeting and again consider the arguments.
  • Read and discuss ideas.
  • Follow MOOCs or University courses:

EdX https://www.edx.org/course

Coursera https://www.coursera.org/

FutureLearn https://www.futurelearn.com/

Yale Open Courses http://oyc.yale.edu/

OU open learn http://www.open.edu/openlearn/

The Sophia project http://www.sophia-project.org/topical-arrangement.html

Oxford University podcasts    https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/units

BBC R4 global philosopher http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b075ft6f

The IAI site is very good for prompting discussions. There are podcasts as well as an academy section. The former has for and against some particular issue. The latter has extended (3-4 hours’ worth) lectures on that particular issue. Be sure to sign in / enrol because otherwise, you can only access 20 minutes’ worth of podcasts etc. It is here: https://iai.tv/

Philosophy bites http://www.philosophybites.com/

This is superb. HOPWAG https://www.historyofphilosophy.net/

A series of short (3-5 min) sounds bites greatest hits from hopwag: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/philosophy/research/hop-videos.aspx

Reith lectures http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9

Gresham College lectures https://www.gresham.ac.uk/search/?terms=philosophy

In our time http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01f0vzr/episodes/downloads

BBC ethics site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/guide/

Ethics bites from OU http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/philosophy/ethics-bites-podcast-the-full-series

There is a series of podcasts on African philosophies (Africana) and these can be found under the ‘history of philosophy without any gaps’ in the resources page.  It is also available in google podcasts.      

  • Youtube videos:

School of Life https://www.youtube.com/user/schooloflifechannel

Crash course https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtNgK6MZucdYldNkMybYIHKR

Mark Thorsby a range of full ‘course’ videos


Gregory Sadler. A range of detailed videos covering a huge range of philosophies: https://www.youtube.com/c/GregoryBSadler/playlists

Bryan Magee the great philosophers (available in philosophy overdose site): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBHxLhKiPKxBBSWWqzH9g71mMx9s72XoN

Philosophy Guides

There are guides for different parts of philosophy here:

Homepage for Online Philosophy Course:


there are a whole load of courses in various formats here:


Philosophy overdose- some full courses are here:


philosophy 24/7


philosophy bites


A history of philosophy Arthur Holmes this is an excellent complete course with a Christian angle:


introduction to philosophy can be found here:


Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature:


there are some other philosophy courses here (in cosmolearning above) but a couple of links are broken.

This is some useful stuff here: The philosophy.com


Texts: there are many anthologies (especially the excellent Oxford and Cambridge ones) that are available electronically through the libraries.

Squashed philosopher shortened versions of texts: http://sqapo.com/index.htm

Other things to consider

Talks by ‘experts’ External presentations

Is there a philosophy or humanities department at your local University who is prepared to do something? Get in touch with the outreach officer who should be able to direct you to the relevant people.

Working with / introducing philosophy to a local school. Maybe something related to the A level syllabus.

Reading or Acting out Plato’s dialogues. Followed by discussions! Combine it with introducing it to schools?

Follow the AQA A level syllabus and even take the exam (!)

Philosophy Now has articles and podcasts https://philosophynow.org/

Clarifying terminology: Philosopher’s Toolkit by Bagini

Discussions of recent issues: in local/ UK / Europe/ world – most issues have a philosophical angle or basis.

Future consequences:  AI /robots /gene technology / advances in medicine / transhuman

The development of Western philosophy in a nutshell -  Philosophy poster