Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Non-Residential Course: Physics of the World Soul - Examining Contemporary Scientific Cosmology
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Non-Residential Course: Physics of the World Soul - Examining Contemporary Scientific Cosmology

Key Info: 
  • Study a little known branch of philosophy, the philosophy of organism
  • Discover how philosophy can lead us deeper into an understanding of what life is and what it means to be alive
  • Unravel the complexities of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead
  • Non-Residential Option

With Dr Andy Letcher, Matthew T Seagall and Joana Formosinho

Fee: 
£ 445.00
Non-Residential fee includes vegetarian lunch, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday.
This course will join an elective on Schumacher College's MA Ecology and Spirituality postgraduate programme.

Non-Residential Booking Only
You can view our local bed and breakfast list here
 

“Now that the existential threat of planetary ecological collapse has dawned on our species, the study of life can no longer remain a merely theoretical affair” Matthew T. Segall

According to a dominant mode of thought in Western culture, the world about us, in all its teeming complexity, can be reduced down to particles of matter moving and interacting according to the laws of physics. The world is inert; consciousness, an epiphenomenon or even an illusion.

But this line of thinking jars with our experience that the world is brimming with ‘aliveness’.

In this course we will examine a very different, but no less rigorous, branch of philosophy, one that attempts to square our experience with our scientific understanding of the world: the philosophy of organism. Starting with the Naturphilosophie of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, we will touch on Henri Bergson and his ideas of a creative evolution, before diving deeply into the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.

Whitehead – a British mathematician turned philosopher – was the mentor of Bertrand Russell, but rejected Russell’s atheism in favour of a metaphysics that accommodates spirituality.

As we now begin to pose questions about our future, Whitehead’s complex thought is making a comeback amongst avant-garde thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic. He presents us with a vision of the world as alive, creative and constantly emerging into novelty.

If Whitehead is correct in saying that “as we think, we live”, then this branch of philosophy may yet provide us with new ways to respond to the many ecological challenges we face.

This short course forms part of the module in Evolution and Spirituality in the West, in the Ecology and Spirituality MA programme. We recommend that participants are at least familiar with the broad trends in modern philosophy, and come prepared to join the MA students in active study and rich discussion. Classes will take place in the Elmhirst Centre at Dartington Hall, set amidst the glorious Grade II listed gardens.  

Residential spaces are extremely limited and we recommend early booking.

With Dr Andy Letcher, Matthew T Seagall and Joana Formosinho
Matthew T. Segall

Matthew T. Segall

Matthew T. Segall is a process philosopher who teaches courses on process-relational thought and German Idealism for the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. His most recent course is ‘Process and Difference in the Pluriverse’, which applies process-relational metaphysics to the present social, political, and ecological crises. He has published articles on a wide-array of topics, including philosophy, Gaia theory, religious studies, psychedelics, and architecture, and his most recent book is titled Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology (2016). He blogs regularly at footnotes2plato.com.

Dr Andy Letcher

Dr Andy Letcher is writer, performer and scholar of religion who began life as an ecologist, completing his D.Phil in Ecology at Oxford University. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities. A writer known for his critical approach, he is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, animism, folklore, bardism and Druidry. He wrote the companion volume to The English Magic Tarot. A folk musician, he plays English bagpipes and Dark Age lyre, and for ten years fronted psych-folk band, Telling the Bees.

Joana Formosinho

Joana is a zoologist with a passion for knowledge that is both relational and rigorous, and does not objectify living subjects. As a research student at the University of Cambridge, she spent time with baboons in the Namibian semi-desert. Tracking a troop from dawn til dusk, day after day, she aimed to understand how their behaviour evolved in relation to landscape over evolutionary time.

Joana's career has included applied animal behaviour research at the Universities of British Columbia and Bristol, as well as work as a writer for animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming.  She has also developed science training courses for the business sector. In 2013/14, Joana arrived at Schumacher College as a student on the Holistic Science MSc, specialising in Goethean Science. Joana is an associate lecturer on the forthcoming 2018 MSc Holistic Science programme and she facilitates wildfulness workshops helping people develop their personal relationship with the natural world.

 

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A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.
 

Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary
• Complete the questions below along with the name of the course you wish to apply for and email to shortcourseadmin@schumachercollege.org.uk
• Ensure that you have read the Bursary Terms and Conditions in conjunction with the Short Course Terms and Conditions and indicate your agreement.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?
     

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.