Speakers for the Marin Philosophical Society for 2017-2018
Upcoming Events 2018
April 16 Dr. Oliver Osborn will speak on, "Medical Ethics."
Dr. Oliver (Ollie) Osborn attended Redwood High School. He completed college at Stanford, and attended medical school at the University of Colorado. He practiced medicine in Cordova, Alaska for 15 years before moving back to Marin with his family in 1995.
Dr. Osborn is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Physicians, and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
May 21 Peter Robinson will be delving into “The Philosophy behind the Pursuit of Happiness: Is it cultural, political, social, economic, spiritual or something else?” Thomas Jefferson’s phrase the "pursuit of happiness" as a basic right in the Declaration of Independence raises questions of interpretation as he failed to explain why, at least not in the original document, nor in his official correspondence exactly what he meant. One of the most influential theories doing the rounds is that Jefferson simply plagiarized the English political thinker John Locke, who championed "life, liberty and estate (property)." According to this view, Jefferson's replacement of the word "estate" with the "pursuit of happiness," was essentially a play on words. The "pursuit of happiness" was a euphemism for the pursuit of wealth. From this perspective, Jefferson's vision of happiness was the "rags to riches" version of the good life. Or later could be seen as the American dream.
Certainly the Greek thinker Epicurus had a major impact on his thinking, but. Epicurus did not teach in a lavishly funded Academy. He conversed with his students in a cozy, well-tended garden emphasizing simplicity and the need to tame desires, especially those not aimed at the "necessities" of life, and pretty well equated happiness with peace of mind.
Today everyone from neuroscientists to witch doctors have their own favorite take on the word ’happiness’. In 2017 I reviewed over 12 books with it in their title. For years researchers including psychologists and economists have examined whether there is a direct connection between one’s financial and emotional wealth. A Duke University study shows certain repeated behaviors — like regular religious practice and exercise — lead to lasting improvements in people’s overall happiness, in much the way that small changes in spending money on others seem to.
My talk explores the findings of several recent studies and opens up for discussion the very simple questions ‘What makes you happy and why?’ I guarantee no two answers will be exactly the same, but then if two people agree one of them is superfluous.
Author Peter Robinson, a graduate of Cambridge University (UK) has taught in universities in Europe, Japan and this country. He is the critic at large for KALW 91.7 fm (local NPR) covering books, movies and theater. He is president of the San Francisco Literary Society and editor of San Francisco Books & Travel. He lives in Mill Valle
June 18 Marlene Berkoff, FAIA “The Myth of the Rational Man” Based on her own experience and wide readings in behavioral economics, psychology, cognitive science and the study of decision-making, Marlene Berkoff will present and discuss increasing evidence that there is no such thing as “the rational man” -the classic concept upon which economists, politicians, decision-makers and even philosophers, based their theories of how humans behave and think. We pride ourselves on being educated, intelligent, rational people. But research and evidence developed over the last few decades have largely invalidated the idea that the decisions and attitudes that guide our actions are the result of our careful analyses, deep knowledge and rational considerations. Marlene will discuss the many other influences that challenge this concept and our rationality.
Marlene J. Berkoff, FAIA, is now retired after a long career as an architect leading complex academic healthcare facility projects. Influenced by her earlier background in economics and math, Marlene has nourished a decades-long interest in behavioral economics, cognitive science and decision-making–disciplines that played unexpectedly large roles in her strategic architecture consulting practice. Marlene has a B.A. in Math and Economics form Barnard College, NYC, and a B.Arch.and M.Arch from the University of Michigan. She is Fellow in the American Institute of Architects and is former President of the national AIA Academy of Architecture for Health.
July 16 Anna Ewins, PhD, will discuss “Modern Art: What’s It All About” including an overview of how art became “modern” and a discussion of its role in contemporary life and the challenges we encounter in making sense of it.
Dr. Anna Ewins holds a Ph.D. in Psychology with an organizational focus and is a Docent and Chair of the Public Guides of SFMOMA, as well as a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees.
August 20, 2018, Clark Chelsey will speak on: “Jefferson and Hamilton: A Rivalry that Shaped a Nation”
The understanding we have of our democratic society and our Republic was shaped by the visions of two men, Jefferson and Hamilton. It was their rivalry during the presidential administrations of Washington and Adams that forged a nation and established a two party system in the US. Both had very different concepts of human nature, of the role of government, of the rights of the people, and the future of the American republic, that is, the foundations and safeguards of our democratic society. Their competing views of our future continue to inform, inspire and frustrate us today, as it did to generations of Americans before us, and generations yet unborn.
September 17 Jim Stopher, PhD “What Making Music Can Teach Us About Life” Listening to music can make us dance, bring us happiness, and move us to tears. But making music — as active participants — can bestow upon us even more profound benefits. In this lecture, we’ll address music-making’s many surprising rewards, from simple joys to deep truths. (I need to find Jim's bio.)
October 15 Dr. Robert Strayer will return to lecture on a world history subject that will show the modern comparative approach puts events in a wider context. Specific topic to be determined.
November 19 To be announced
December—MPS does not meet.