Online Philosophy in Pubs Reading Group: Plato’s Meno

This is a short post to notify those interested in next months reading group (Thurs 11th June, 7pm – 9pm) that our next piece of reading is going to be Plato’s Meno.

You can read an online version of it here: 

or download an eBook version of it here:

This Socratic dialogue starts with Meno asking Socrates how one can acquire virtue, whether it comes through teaching, practice or some other method. The discussion quickly turns into asking what virtue is, and how we can ever have knowledge of such things, or knowledge of any thing whatsoever.

I’ll be adding another blogpost later to explore some of these questions and perhaps suggest some further reading for anyone who might be interested. We will also be sending out a quick guide to reading philosophical texts, to help with digesting and analysing some of the trickier points we come across when reading these texts.

Online Philosophy in Pubs Grimsby: Self-Actualisation (and individuation) – Maslow, Rogers (and Jung) Thursday, 28 May⋅7:00 – 9:00pm

An online meeting of our Grimsby Philosophy in Pubs group to explore the actualising tendency, Thursday May 28th 2020, 7pm – 9pm

Please sign up so we can manage numbers: 

Josie, Phil and Billy will present the spark for discussion and here is a little background to whet your appetite.

Self-Actualisation (and individuation) – Maslow, Rogers (and Jung)

The basic idea of the actualizing tendency is straightforward. It is a desire present in all living things that pushes the organism toward growth. In the case of human organisms, we all want to express ourselves creatively and reach our full potential.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places self-actualization at the apex. It is an ideal that emphasizes personal growth but is not based on a person’s sense of deprivation, as is the case for the first four needs (physiological, safety, belongingness, and self-esteem).

Conversely, Rogers believed that the actualizing tendency acted as the motivating force for all behavior. It is affected by the environment and the people surrounding the individual, near and far. The actualizing tendency is not an end goal reserved for a select few, but instead, it is how life begins. Organisms start with a longing (motivation) to reach completeness in whatever manner suits that organism.

Jung didn’t talk of ‘self-actualisation’, but of ‘individuation’ and this concept may well not be comparable, but is here to offer a different perspective. Jung saw it as the process of self realisation, the discovery and experience of meaning and purpose in life; the means by which one finds oneself and becomes who one really is.

We finish here with a quote by Carl Rogers from Phil, who says of it: A truly beautiful piece of writing. Taken from an astute and wise observation. This approach encompasses deep empathy, something the vast majority of human beings are capable of. It’s also something all of us has the right to. It still has the potential to be revolutionary. Do you agree?

“Whether we are speaking of a flower or an oak tree, of an earthworm or a beautiful bird, of an ape or a person, we will do well, I believe, to recognize that life is an active process, not a passive one. Whether the stimulus arises from within or without, whether the environment is favorable or unfavorable, the behaviors of an organism can be counted on to be in the direction of maintaining, enhancing, and reproducing itself. This is the very nature of the process we call life. This tendency is operative at all times. Indeed, only the presence or absence of this total directional process enables us to tell whether a given organism is alive or dead.

The actualizing tendency can, of course, be thwarted or warped, but it cannot be destroyed without destroying the organism. I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout—pale white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfill their real potential. But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. So unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself. This potent constructive tendency is an underlying basis of the person-centered approach.”

― Carl R. Rogers

Would you want to be a moral saint? – Would you want to KNOW a moral saint? Join our Online Philosophy in Pubs group 7pm Thursday, open to all-comers, sign up here…

Our first PiPs reading group begins 7pm Thursday – this month’s reading is ‘Moral Saints’ by Susan Wolf, download here: Moral Saints

Please sign up at this eventbrite link so we can get an idea of the numbers:

Online Philosophy in Pubs Grimsby Reading Group: Moral Saints – Thursday 14th May 2020 19:00 – 21:00

This month’s reading is ‘Moral Saints’ by Susan Wolf, download here: Moral Saints

This post is to make you all aware that we’re starting our own PiPs reading group, with the first meeting being Thursday, 14 May⋅7:00 – 9:00pm (and it will continue either online or IRW on 2nd Thursday of every month (usual PiPs likewise will be 4th Thursday of every month).

Please sign up at this eventbrite link so we can get an idea of the numbers:

The main difference between our normal PiPs meetups and the reading group will be that every month there will be a set piece of reading to get through before the meetup. I participated in a lot of these groups throughout university and really enjoyed the experience of working through various philosophical texts and problems with other people. I hope with all of our previous experience from PiPs we can get this group off to a running start.

The aim is for the reading to be short enough that its not too much work, but long enough to provide good food for thought. The discussion will still be free form and directed by the group’s input, but we’ll be using parts of the reading as starting points to get us going. Obviously due to the ongoing lockdown, this meeting will be held through Zoom, which Billy, Josie and I will be hosting.

This month’s reading is ‘Moral Saints’ by Susan Wolf, download here: Moral Saints

In this, she talks about the idea of a ‘moral saint’, a person who no matter the situation, always chooses to take the morally best action. She poses the questions ‘Would you want to be a moral saint?’ and ‘Would you want to know a moral saint?’, with the intent of persuading the reader that they would not. She also examines what it would be like for a person to adhere strictly to a moral theory like utilitarianism.

Nobody is expecting any in depth analysis of the text, we’re just looking for you to bring any interesting questions or thoughts that came to you when going through the reading. It also would be helpful for you to bring any highlights or quotes that you found interesting or questionable. Don’t worry if there’s parts of the reading you don’t understand – misunderstandings can start interesting discussions themselves! These groups have the potential to teach us so much more than just reading alone, as everybody tends to bring really unique perspectives to the table.

Some of my own questions to consider after reading:

  • What does it mean for morality if being perfectly moral is seen as unpleasant or even ‘wrong’?
  • Do we need to change our conceptions of morality to get rid of the moral saints problem?
  • Have there been any moral saints, or anybody close to being one?
  • If we believe in a set morality, how do we justify acting in our own everyday interests above acting morally?

I hope you all enjoy the essay and look forward to chatting about it on the day. We’re also looking  for any suggestions on how we might structure these discussions, and suggestions for future pieces of reading – this is to be a collaborative process, not a dictated one!

Online Philosophy in Pubs Grimsby: Philosophy and our time of Crisis – Thursday 30 April 2020 19:00 – 21:00

Please sign up so we can manage numbers:

An online meeting of our Grimsby Philosophy in Pubs group to discuss how philosophy might or might not help us at this time.   Thu, 30 April 2020 19:00 – 21:00

We have had a regular group meeting at the Spiders Web pub for the last couple of years. The lockdown has put a stop to this for now, so we’re going online to continue the group. This first session will be for us all to get used to the new online platform and see how it works for us – I’m using this eventbrite platform to organise it as I’d like to have a solid attendance at this and subsequent meetings, so i’m forcing signup to get an idea of numbers (maximum 12 which should be a nice, manageable number). We can also have breakout groups on the Zoom video platform. We will be discussing the crisis and whether a particular philosophical standpoint might offer help to us at this strange time.



Philosophy During the Pandemic

Don’t know what to do with your time in The Isolation? Heidegger might well reprimand you and remind you of your mortality – but we don’t need him right now, we’re very aware thanks Herr Heidegger! So – the question becomes what do you do with the time available to you? I’d simply say make it matter, make it meaningful – so here’s a good place to start, sent to us by PiPs National HQ.

The Open Culture site collates a great deal of great free videos and lectures on philosophy – go here:

Here’s just one, a lesson about Marcus Aurelius and the history and meaning of Stoicism by Professor Michael Sugrue:

PiPs Online?


Not philosophy exactly, but tonight there is an online discussion organised and curated by Tortoise Media: Digital ThinkIn – Coronavirus: the unheard stories 6.30-7.30pm

In our embodied existence, knowledge about our shared planetary crisis is vital for health and well-being, so if you’d like to join in, all details and registration here:

But, it got me to thinking – perhaps we should take our Philosophy in Pubs group online while we’re unable to gather together. Perhaps ‘Can philosophy help in a crisis?’ or ‘Philosophy and the Plague’ or ‘The philosophy of Isolation’ or ‘Community’… any other suggestions? and should we do this? Does everybody have the kit to participate – wifi, laptop/pc/smartphone, webcam/mic ..?


And perhaps the borderless nature of online gives us a chance to expand our reach – make the event nationally, even globally available. What do you think? Please let me know here or by email to