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John Macmurray Fellowship Annual Seminar

12 October 2019 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

The John Macmurray Fellowship Annual Seminar, “Macmurray, Freedom and Populism” will take place on Saturday 12th October, 10am-4pm at the Sheffield Quaker Meeting House.

The cost is £15 or £7.50 concessions.

More details and how to book here: http://johnmacmurray.org/uncategorized/seminar-2019

John Macmurray (1891-1976) was a Quaker and philosopher who was politically active during the 1930s when populist politics was on the rise both in the UK and across Europe – leading to the disaster of the Second World War. His insights into the nature of populism and freedom can usefully inform us today as we yet again see populist politics on the rise.

“one of the crucial tests of democracy is the way in which it treats its minorities. A country in which the majority forces its will upon a recalcitrant minority by sheer weight of numbers is not really democratic at all.” (Address to the Indian YMCA, 1929)

“… freedom is measured by the ratio between what is objectively possible and what we can actually achieve. … Two things seem to be true together in the strange period to which we belong: that [our] power of achievement has grown vast beyond belief; and that [our] capacity to achieve any serious human purposes is diminishing at an alarming rate. It is an age at once of unparalleled effort and unparalleled frustration” (‘Freedom In The Personal Nexus’ from ‘Freedom: Its Meaning’, ed. Ruth N. Anshem (1942) pp 176-93)

“ … [politicians] are, like ourselves, subject to the illusion of power. If we expect them to work miracles, we flatter them, and tempt them to think they are supermen. … Those of them who are wise enough to know their limitations, and to be immune to the gross adulation of their fellows, will resign; and government will be carried on only by megalomaniacs, who are capable of believing themselves possessed of superhuman attributes and whose lust for power is the measure of their weakness.” (‘Persons In Relation’ Faber 1970 pp 200-1)

Macmurray delivered the 1965 Quaker Swarthmore lectureSearch For Reality In Religion‘.


12 October 2019
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Sheffield Central Quaker Meeting House
10 St James Street
Sheffield, S1 2EW
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