Who's Active in the Philosophical Society (1998)
In compiling this selective list, we have avoided the mistake usually made by who's who editors, of allowing individuals to write their own resumes. In what follows, the Editor takes full responsibility for any errors or omissions, as well as any offence caused, intentionally or otherwise!
Michael Bavidge, who is Chairman of the Society, is Deputy Head of the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Newcastle University. He has worked tirelessly at Newcastle towards rebuilding a centre of excellence for philosophical teaching and research in the wake of the University Governing Body's scandalous decision a few years ago to close down the Philosophy Department there. As well as organizing the Shap Conference, he has been an energetic supporter and mainstay of the Society.
Martin Cohen has done a superb job as Editor to revamp — some would say reinvent — the official Journal of the Philosophical Society The Philosopher, whose origins trace back to the founding of the Society in 1913. The recent 'Special Erotic Issue' on pornography and censorship (Vol LXXXV No. 2, Autumn 1997) succeeded admirably in 'epater le bourgeois'. In view of the evident quality of the latest issues, one might predict that it will not be long before The Philosopher hits the high street bookstands. Let's hope they put it on the right shelf.
Martin Gough has the tough assignment as External Examiner of maintaining the standards of the Associate and Fellowship Diplomas awarded by the Society. Martin gained his doctorate on the topic of the Self from Leeds University in 1997. He is now Research Officer employed by Birkbeck College London at the new Centre for the Wider Benefits of Learning at the Institute of Education Centre For Longitudinal Studies. His role is "to develop a dedicated web site to serve as an internet hub, for the purposes of gathering data and for building up a network of interested parties. This is to take the form of an open electronic forum and on-line conferencing site for the Lifelong Learning academic and policy, and related, communities." Phew! However, he is well qualified for the job, as you will see from his impressive Curriculum Vitae.
Robert Hill, currently studying for a postgraduate degree in Psychiatry at University College, London, is our official Archivist. Robert recently completed the mammoth task of writing a history of the Society from its beginnings in 1913. In an earlier version of this page, I wrote, 'In view of the periods in our past when the Society appears to have been completely insulated from the cold winds of criticism, there is an urgent need for an honest and thorough appraisal of all the facts, and not just those that show us in a good light. Knowing Robert, I am confident that he will not produce a white wash.' I am pleased to report that, with the aid of Alan Holloway, a former Director of Studies, Martin Cohen and Justin Woods, Robert has compiled a fascinating picture of Society through all its vicissitudes. Have a look at The History of the Philosophical Society of England and judge for yourself.
Geoffrey Klempner gained his doctorate for a thesis on the Philosophy of Language from Oxford University in 1982. Over the Summer Semester of 1994-5 he gave a course on Metaphysics at Sheffield University, 'Defining Reality', the inspiration behind the Pathways program The Ultimate Nature of Things. His most satisfying teaching work, however, has been for the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), where he continues to give evening classes to adult learners from a wide range of backgrounds. One WEA course resulted in his book Naive Metaphysics, published by Avebury in 1994. Apart from the programs on Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Language, all the other Pathways programs originated as WEA courses.
Tim LeBon — along with Justin Woods who has now returned to Australia to study philosophy at Sydney — has been instrumental in building up the London Group, which meets at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square. Tim's main activity is philosophical counselling. For more information, visit his web site. the London Group's first coup was persuading Professor Sainsbury, Editor of the state-of-the-art philosophy journal Mind, to come and give a talk to the Society, which took place in October 1997. In May 1998 Stephen Priest gave a talk on Kant. We look forward to other academic philosophers following their example. The latest brainwave, inspired by a suggestion by Richard Lewis, Editor of Philosophy Now, is a 'Philosophy Cafe', following the French exercise, as the setting for informal debates on Philosophy. The first session attracted fifty people, including a reporter from the London Evening Standard. See the London Group Web site.