First meeting

We met on 27th November 2018, and discussed logistics and possible methods of structuring the discussions. The consensus was that there should be questions or themes for structure, enough to get a conversation started, but not so much that it would restrict the dialogue.

My current thinking is that we should spend one or two months on a fairly broad topic (Roman suggested “freedom”), then look at this single subject from a variety of different vantage points; for example, philosophical, literary, scientific, economic. Vicky proposed that on a given night, one person could volunteer to give a perspective on the topic from their area of expertise or interest.

For the rest of the evening we discussed how to gain an appreciation of film, what would constitute a utopia for each of us, the conditions for effective democracy, truth and relationships in a postmodern world, consciousness and aesthetics, and gratitude in a secular context.


One Reply to “First meeting”

  1. This is a short note to follow up on my mention of the European Constitution during our first meeting. We were wondering whether voters were able to understand the complex issues that they were asked to decide on, especially when these decisions affected non-voters (children or immigrants for example).

    I gave the example of the referendum on the European Constitution in France in 2005, as a case where voters were presented with a complex and incredibly important issue: whether to accept or reject a proposed set of governance rules for the European Union, that would replace all the treaties before it. Other attendants (German, British, American) hadn’t heard much about it, and during the meeting I was only able to tell what I remembered from my experience: in 2005, my family, like all voters in France, received the proposed European Constitution, a document of dozens of pages in small print, filled with incomprehensible European legal jargon. French voters rejected it with a significant majority, and I suspect that most of them were simply not able to fully understand it.

    Now, having done some research, I can give more background about this event, as it was probably better covered in France than in Britain or Germany (let alone the US): the Constitution was meant to be the one set of governance rules for the European Union. Without it, European treaties like Rome or Maastricht normally determined the way the EU worked. The Constitution was first approved by European states’ representatives, and then was subjected to a referendum in the countries that wanted to hold one. Germany didn’t hold a referendum; its parliament unilaterally ratified the Constitution. The UK had initially planned a referendum, but withdrew after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the proposed text.

    Incidentally, the UK doesn’t actually have a written constitution (one of the very few major countries to lack one). It has various legal texts that determine how it should be governed, but no unique set of rules.

    Here is a link to the full text of the proposed European Constitution, so that you can make up your own mind about it:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.