Monthly Archives: August 2018

Do Bees Think?

SEMINAR: How do honey bees think?


You are invited to a seminar by Andrew B. Barron from the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney  . Andrew is a great speaker and doing some really interesting work on insect cognition (and philosophical questions arising therefrom). Let me know if you’d like to meet Andrew while he’s here, and/or come out to dinner with him in the evening.


When: 3pm Wed 22nd August

Where: Dental Lecture Theatre, Dental School

Title: How do honey bees think?

Honey bees are claimed to be capable of a spectacular array of cognitive tasks that have redefined expectations of the cognitive capacities of insects, despite their relatively tiny brain.  Here I present neural models inspired by the known structures of the honey bee brain to propose how a honey bee might be able to solve abstract concept learning and metacognitive tasks.  Based on this mechanistic understanding of the insect brain I discus whether it is more appropriate to consider insects like the honey bee as a thinking agent or as a mechanism.

Philosophy Talks in Newcastle

Some talks on Philosophy, organised by the local Philosophical Society and local publishers, Bigg Books

Public Philosophy Events

Autumn 2018

On 29th September, five of the main public philosophy bodies in the North-East will be holding a special one-off event, The Art of Reason: Curiosity, Creativity, Mystery, featuring two of the UK’s leading philosophers Timothy Williamson and Raymond Tallis.

Expect talks, discussions, debates, philosophical bingo, philosophy book stall, and much more!

Where? The Black Swan, 67 Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1SG

When? Saturday 29th September, 10am-5pm

How Much? £15 including lunch, tea and coffee (£10 students/unwaged). Tickets: Limited availability on the door.

Further information:

Also in the world of philosophy, this month the bi-annual

‘On Philosophy’ public lecture series

returns to the Lit and Phil, with a season of talks focussed on helping us navigate the challenges of modern life.

On September 25th, the season will open with a political theory special, with Diana Coole (Birkbeck, University of London) asking whether we should control world population, Christopher Bertram (University of Bristol) asking whether states have the right to exclude immigrants, and Christopher Finlay (University of Durham) asking whether a just war is possible.

On 9th October, Emily Thomas (University of Durham) will be helping us negotiate the weird and wonderful world of time, asking what it means when physicists tell us that time is an illusion or that the future does not exist, and how we are to make sense of these claims as we go about living our daily lives.

On 23rd October, Carl Cederstrom (University of Stockholm) will be will tracing our present-day conception of happiness, showing how this once-revolutionary idea has in fact pushed us to live lives that are increasingly unfulfilling, insecure and narcissistic.

On 6th November, Brian O’Connor (University College, Dublin) will ask why modern philosophers have worked so hard to develop reasons to denigrate idleness when idle aimlessness may instead allow for the highest form of freedom.

On 20th November, Clare Chambers (Cambridge University) will argue for the abolition of state-recognised marriage on the grounds that it violates both equality and liberty, even when expanded to include same-sex couples.

And finally on 6th December, Sarah Richmond (University College, London) will be discussing her new translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, arguing that Sartre’s notion of the inescapability of choice remains as crucial an idea as it was when he wrote the book at the height of World War II.

Where? Lit and Phil, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1SE

When? Talks start at 7pm

How Much? £5 admission (£3 students/unwaged), or £20 Season Pass (£10 students/unwaged)

Further information:

POSTERS: please distribute widely

On Philosophy – Final

Art of Reason – Final

Day Conference on French Philosophy – for allcomers, London, September 8th 2018

Dear All,
Just to let you know about a conference on French Philosophy that’s happening in London on September 8th 2018. It’s being organised by the Philosophical Society of England, a society devoted to bringing philosophy to an audience beyond the walls of the University, and Newcastle University.
           The idea, in this case, is to introduce members of the public (and, of course, this includes students and anyone else who is interested) to a certain tradition in philosophy that they might not otherwise have had a chance to encounter, so the talks will aim to be very accessible, and to introduce certain strands and thinkers within the French tradition.
           Please contact the organiser, Michael Bavidge, to register your interest in attending. Details follow:


Day Conference on French Philosophy
Saturday September 8th 2018
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, WC1R 4RL


   Alison Assiter (University of the West of England)

‘Sexual Desire in Scruton, Althusser, and Lacan’

   Michael Lewis (Newcastle University)
                ‘The Very Idea of a National Philosophy’
   Jean-Baptiste Dussert (Ecole du Louvre, University of Paris-Sud – Jean Monnet Faculty)
                 ‘The Contribution of French Philosophy since World War 2 to Aesthetics’
   Paul Davies (University of Sussex)
                 ‘The exemplary impatience of Emmanuel Levinas’
Students and Unwaged – Free
Waged – £15 payable on the day
(includes tea and coffee throughout the day)
Organiser: Michael Bavidge (