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Contact the adviser

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.


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

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.

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


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 12-14 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 are two excellent, academic, sites the Stanford encyclopaedia


and the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy


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:


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:


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 groups 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.

Read and discuss actual papers (e.g. Nagel’s what it is like to be a bat).

Use specific podcasts to stimulate discussion.

For and against debates: good especially for ethics.

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/

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:

 Iai 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

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

Youtube videos:

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

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

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:


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

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?

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



Autumn 2018 Philosophy Newsletter document Autumn 2018 newsletter (20 KB)

The development of Western philosophy in a nutshell -  pdf Philosophy poster (125 KB)