Upcoming talks: Buddhism, Halloween, Blues, Stupidity..

I really am not sure what is wrong with me.. I resolved to not give any more talks Screen shot 2015-09-28 at 13.32.40
until the manuscript of The Circle of Stupid was completed. It isn’t (quite). And here I am – posting information about three upcoming talks I’m doing – on the 9th October in Swindon, the 26th of October here in Cheltenham and Friday 20th November in London.

On the 9th October, I’ll be at Swindon Philosophical Society, to give them a sneak preview of my new book’s material, when I talk about The Circle of Stupid: Ethics Beyond BeliefInfo about the event is here : https://swindonphilosophicalsociety.wordpress.com/about-2/ 

For the October 268h event – see the University publicity, or click HERE:

Dr David Webster will be presenting a public lecture with a Hallowe’en theme at the University of Gloucestershire on October 28. The free event at The Park campus is the latest in the University’s annual Public Lecture Series.

The Hallowe’en Lecture: Re-enchanting culture in a cynical world: Pagans, Satanists, Atheists, Fictional Religions and more, will explore issues from the secular adoption of Hallowe’en to emerging spiritual trends around the world.

Dr Webster said: “The lecture will consider whether these emerging trends can be seen as the means by which our cynical, suspicious and complex culture expresses its need for life to be something more than a drab series of repeated commercial transactions, culminating in pre-paid funeral plans.”

The event starts with registration and refreshments from 5pm. The lecture is from 6pm until 7pm. Please visit http://bit.ly/1Kx7y4f to book a place.

Then I’ll be spending the evening of November 20th at King’s College, London – with their Buddhism Research seminar series – on this topic:

Buddhism, Existentialism and The Blues: a meditation on the place of suffering in the intellectual imagination.

Buddhist thought is often characterised as excessively gloomy, spending its energy investigating the nature of dukkha, and the myriad ways in which both we and the universe we inhabit are flawed, imperfect and liable to get tangled in conditional processes with less than blissful outcomes.  Existentialist thought sees our impending death rush at us, through its haze of wine and Gauloises, with a terrible and absurd haste. The blues drags the wretched human condition over three to five minutes, from how I woke up this morning, to my beloved’s departure on the midnight train. This talk will seek to interweave these narratives such that we might find a common thread within them, and stumble along it towards something akin to the hope of human happiness and contentment.

Contact Pyi Phyo Kyaw on pyi.kyaw@kcl.ac.uk for time/location details!

The Circle of Stupid..

Apologies for recent radio silence…

I’m currently working on a new book. Hopefully out later this year, The Circle of Stupid will be an attempt to place the discussion of ethics beyond the awfulness of the current ‘God Debate’.

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In the first sections, I argue that the entire atheists vs Theists ‘debate’ is both ill-conceived and entirely futile. The positions taken, arguments deployed, and claims of victory seem to amount to so little, and to effect such little change both in the world and people within it. From the painfully unsubtle atheist mockery of ‘sky fairies’ on Social Media, to ill-conceived and poorly executed (if rapturously received) books of Christian apologetics on “why atheist X is wrong”, I want us to think seriously about setting the entire genre aside. I want us to consider what might actually matter – which is surely not about who gets to be most smug, but may be about how we treat each other, other animals, and the planet. In short, let’s leave our comfortable self-righteousness and think about more important matters.

I hope the second half of the book will move on to show that what really matters is not winning debates, but thinking hard about ethics. In doing so, I suggest that while religious traditions are rich sources of ethical narrative and reflection, the idea of a metaphysical back-stop to ethics, deriving from the existence of a divine being, makes no sense at all. Furthermore, if ethics are going to be of any use to us in the secular, multi-cultural world, then they’ll need to be founded on something beyond un-shared metaphysical assertions.

That is, even though I will be heavily critiquing the new-atheist position, I will ultimately claim that ethics can only exist as a non-religious, non-spiritual undertaking.

When the manuscript goes off to the publishers, I’ll try and put some more thoughts on here – and see whether I’ve entirely abandoned my position, and changed my mind on everything I’ve said here. Which is quite likely…

Episode 7: Is Atheism a Religion?

Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig

Episode 7 of Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig asks: Is Atheism a Religion?

First, we discuss how atheism is defined, then examine how various groups and individuals with competing interests have amplified that definition.

One example provided is by Sam Harris, of the so-called “new atheist” movement, who advocates for a particular kind of atheistic “spirituality” in his book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.

To refute this obfuscation of the words “atheism” and “spirituality” is scholar of religion David Webster in his book, Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish, and Unhappy. Webster argues that “spirituality” is a superficial and meaningless concept that modern society has adapted as a response to institutionalised religion, reflective of our current anti-religious sentiment in the western world. Webster claims that this all-too-broad and new-age concept is actually toxic, and no better or worse than fundamentalist religion.


Finally, we bring up the growing atheist…

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Cotswold Life? (and pending announcement)

It may amuse some to see my recent profile in a local magazine, more normally reserved for expensive property ads and equine news: click to see Cotswold_Life profile..

On another note – I’ve agreed to write a book which follows up some of the themes, and style, of Dispirited, but also looks to a focus on the Atheism/Theism debate, and the place of ethics…  More details soon…

Resilience & Melancholy – talking to Dr Robin James about her new book…

From my other site – may be of interest…

Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews

Dr David Webster from the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics team at the University of Gloucestershire in conversation with Dr Robin James about her new book Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism 

71DZx1fVCZL Robin James is Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte. She is author of two books: Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism  and The Conjectural 225._altBody: gender, race and the philosophy of music.Her work on feminism, race, contemporary continental philosophy, pop music, and sound studies has appeared in The New Inquiry, Noisey, SoundingOut!, Hypatia, differences, Contemporary Aesthetics, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. She is also a digital sound artist and musician, and often works as a member of citation:obsolete.

See Robin’s blog at http://www.its-her-factory.com/


Discover the RPE course : http://r-p-e.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-rpe-course.html 

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Mysticism, Abuse and Connections: An interview..

This is from our other blog – but may interest those here..

Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews

Dr David Webster from the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics team at the University of Gloucestershire asks Catherine Tomas, a DPhil student in Theology, at Christ Church, Oxford, about a recent paper she gave, where she examines the lives of Christian mystics, and makes comparisons with the analysis often given of abusive relationships:

Discover the RPE course : http://r-p-e.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-rpe-course.html 

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