Welcome to my official website! I am Marianne Talbot, the Director of Studies in Philosophy at The Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford. I am interested in getting as many people as possible interested in philosophy!

The best way to get people interested in philosophy (in my opinion) is to get them to do philosophy. Have a good look round this website and you’ll see what I mean. You might like to start with the Philosophical Conundrum, or you might prefer to watch some of my philosophy podcasts or read my blog (see the ‘recent posts’ link to your right).

In pursuit of my aim, and in addition to running this website, making podcasts and writing my blog, I keep up a Facebook page (Marianne Talbot Philosophy), and tweet regularly on @oxphil_Marianne.

I also, of course, write books, and if you click here:


you can not only see a list of these but you can also buy them! (For which I shall be everlastingly grateful)

Please come and join me and everyone else who uses this site!


Weekend schools now finished for summer. Philosophical Society Members’ Day on September 17th (see: www.oxfordphilsoc.org. uk). I shall be speaking at the Oxford University Alumni weekend on September 20th (https://www.alumniweekend.ox.ac.uk/). If you’re coming to that, do come and introduce yourself! I am also doing a study day for the U3A in Scotland on September 25th. If you’re a member of the U3A, and you live is Scotland I shall be delighted to see you.

45 Responses to Welcome

  1. Marianne says:

    Dear Josie,

    Glad someone caught Five Live! It was supposed to be about GPS tracking systems for those with dementia, but they started the piece very late and forgot all about it! But they did mention Keeping Mum twice, so I can’t complain.

    I completely understand your needing to write – I found it very therapeutic when I was caring for my Mum. You didn’t include your piece – if you send it to me I’ll look it over, but I certainly can’t promise to read it carefully (I am not usually able to read things people send because if I did I’d never get time to write anything myself!).

    But I am sure that what you have written is fine if it comes – as I am sure it will – from the heart. You should send it to CarersUK too.

    Thanks for writing Josie.

    • josie duffy says:

      Hello Marianne, thanks very much for agreeing to read my writing. The reason I did not submit initially; I did not want to come across as being too presumptious. I mis-calculated the number of words; I was counting a page as 200 words where it should have been 400 woprds. Please accept my sincere apology.
      I will also submit my writing to Carers UK.
      Do you have an email address where I can attach my writing.

      thank you very much for your time; this I do appreciate.

      • Marianne says:

        Hi Josie, I can’t see anything attached….? There is a form to send me emails on the website. It is beginning to sound quite long your piece! Don’t worry. As I said I can only read it quickly but happy to comment.

  2. Amer Mahmood says:

    Dear Marianne

    I was wondering if there has been any real philosophical study done in the area of metaphor, its uses and how it works across different languages and cultures. I ask this because I find something amazing … Almost like a form of symbolism that transcends language and seems to be universal.

    Like for example the word “bridge” … In various thought models “bridges” are used as well in the physical world they are used … When we think of a bridge we think of two different things, the gap in between them and the bridge itself, which is what connects these things to bypass that gap. Bridges are often used to symbolise the path towards understanding, to get from the unknown to the known.

    Also the word “light” seems to be connected with the meaning of “guidance” … “path” to mean the “journey of life” … “Signs” are markers for giving the direction to the path we take in life just as there are signboards that direct us on our journeys in the physical world …

    There is so much I want to ask about … I this area alone but I think I’ll leave it there for now …

    • Marianne says:

      Dear Mahmood,

      You will be delighted to hear that there has been a HUGE amount written on metaphor by a number of excellent philosophers. You might like to start here:


      At the bottom of the entry you will find as much reading as you could possibly want!

      Metaphor IS amazing, and I hope you enjoy the start of this journey!


      • Rosemary says:

        Copied from the Stanford Encyclopaedia:

        “Philosophy is the battle against [the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language]“. (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations).

        …..this was published after his death, put together from his unpublished notes about words, words and words….I’m reading through it with amazement. He certainly does a bit of de-bunking, along the way!!

        • Rosemary says:

          There are ambiguities and doubtful connections, some missing thoughts too…as can be expected in a document put together by his executor and followers.

          • Marianne says:

            Wittgenstein always wrote in aphorisms. Some people love them. Others hate them. I have found that a glass of wine helps!

        • Marianne says:

          The Philosophical Investigations IS amazing. So is the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

          • Rosemary says:

            Marianne, thank you for such prompt and thoughtful replies. A whole bottle of wine is always at hand, sometimes also a G&T! But I don’t usually drink alone…perhaps a book for company though.
            Well, I’m trying to get ahead of the 11th September start…because in late September I may go on a Pandora’s Box cooking course on Mykonos, an island I declared I would never set foot on again, but a friend is the organiser.

            I’m also reading (as well as Varoufakis’s economics), a useful little introduction, ‘Philosophy:The Classics’, 2nd edition by the OU lecturer, Nigel Warburton. Like my grandson, who had intended to read History and European languages, I have been amazed to discover philosophy…… except that I do find A J Ayer absolutely tedious!

            Your recorded series of lectures about ‘Argument’ I’m sorry to say is impossible to follow due to poor sound quality, so I’ve abandoned it.

          • Marianne says:

            Whole bottles of wine – even better.

            I am so sorry to hear about the critical reasoning podcasts. If it helps we are about to replace these and the sound should be a lot better on the next lot. I shall tweet when we change them, so if you’re a follower you’ll be notified.

            What has Mykonos done to you?

            I find Ayer tedious too.


  3. josie duffy says:

    Hello Marianne, I am not the most competent when it comes to cutting and pasting.Sorry about the delay in sending this.
    Thanks Josie

  4. josie duffy says:

    I have sent the article, this though is a cut and paste job. I was not able to find an attachment on the form. I am not the best when it comes to computers.
    Thank you for agreeing to read this.
    Kind Regards

  5. Gordon Roth says:

    you’re a weak thinker and not brave

    Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva, Cujus est natura sensus assoupire

    so much for your stupid properties ‘proffesor’ simpelton

    • Marianne says:

      Not sure why I have approved this Gordon, except it’s interesting for me to see what others think of your remarks.

      • Frank Domoney says:

        Dear Gordon

        While you do demonstrate some familiarity with the work of Nietze and Kant, it is not clear whether it originates from Google or from a deeper understanding.

        Your misspelling of “professor” seems to indicate haste and sloppiness of method that is antithetical to rigorous analysis, and thus fails to convince.


    • Carry Oude Voshaar says:

      Dear Gordon, 

      How nice of you to make the effort to tell Marianne how you feel. You must be a very caring person. It’s also brave to go on a website, dedicated to philosophy, to show us your first attempts to set out a logical argument. It’s going to take us some time to find the hidden premises, since they’re very well hidden.

      For an argument on this topic to be sound, however, the conclusion would probably have to be something like: “.. therefore Marianne is an outstanding ambassador for philosophy and an asset to the University of Oxford for generating enthousiasm for philosophy in the ways that she does.”

      But thank you for sharing your fine effort!

      Take care!

      • Marianne says:

        Hi Carrie! Good to ‘see’ you – haven’t heard for ages. Marianne

        • Carry Oude Voshaar says:

          Yes, I know! I apologize for that! It’s a challenge to stay focussed!

          I’ve been thinking with my hands for a while! I’m carving a longbow and I went to a blacksmithing workshop! I started a course on interior drawing and I’m glad to say that I’m starting to feel the urge to sink my teeth into the subject of evolution and especially the debate between the late Stephen Jay Gould and Dawkins and Dennet as his opponents!

          Intuitively I’m behind Gould, but I’d love to be better equipt to back that with valid reasoning!

          I often think back on the weekend that Pieter and I spent in Oxford! It was a real treat. Oxford really is a magical place!

          Will you say hi to Bob and Bill for me?

          • Marianne says:

            A longbow? A blacksmith’s workshop? How fascinating! Not sure what ‘interior drawing is’ – is it what we would call ‘interior design’? (Interior design is the business of arranging the interior of a house (or office I suppose).

            Yes, it is important to back your claims with arguments (though not necessarily always valid one – inductive ones are important too).

            I will say ‘hi’ to Bill and Bob for you! We all enjoyed the weekend too. You’ll have to come again.

          • Bill says:

            Hi, Carry!
            I have been looking at the April Conundrum link, rather than this one, so missed your comment (and that of “Gordon Roth” or whatever he is calling himself today, and whoever he is anyway).
            So thanks for stepping in, and for thinking of us.
            Give my regards to Pieter too, and we hope to see you again!
            Regards, and good luck with your longbow and drawings.

  6. Carry Oude Voshaar says:

    I agree. I have to attend a course again!

    The ‘interior drawing’ refers to a course that teaches me to make designer and perspective drawings of architectural interiors. No designing or decorating involved, just drawing.

    The main issue between Gould and Dawkins, or at least the one that grabs my attention, has to do with whether or not the genome is a ‘driving force’ behind the mutations that ‘drive’ evolution. Dawkins sees the genes as competitors that strive to survive against the other gene lineages. Gould thinks it’s a bridge too far to attribute a ‘will to survive’ to a gene. Daniel Dennet is on Dawkins’ side on this. I must say it’s very exciting to disagree with such big names as Dennet for instance. Even though I’m not going to step into the ring with him on this!

    I got a couple of books on Gould’s side of things from the library and I’m going to watch “A Glorious Accident” by Wim Kayzer again, where both he and Dennet were interviewed on what science has brought us in the past century. Frightfully interesting!!

  7. Rosemary says:

    Amer Mahmood had a question about metaphor and its use. Your reply indicates that this is an important aspect of philosophy, or should I say an aid to propounding and also understanding philosophical arguments?

    I’m interested for two reasons, both connected with Greece (where I live), Greek politics and the economy:

    1). I’m struggling to fathom out why we are in such a mess, and it is difficult to identify the various internal and external factors which have come together to cause our disaster. The internal mistakes are pretty obvious and persistent, and will not be dealt with unless there is a change from the 1974 Constitution. But, back to Metaphor: as used in a well written book by Yanis Varoufakis “The Global Minotaur”, to illustrate his scholarly analysis of the Crisis of 2008 which put an end, in his opinion to a series of recurring crises which were reversed by the intervention of the USA ‘Fed’, in the person of Alan Greenspan. During this analysis Varoufakis uses another historic fact, the demise of the Easter Island civilization, to illustrate the end of an economic cycle.

    Of course there is much more, but this is the outline. Varoufakis is a left wing thinker but very erudite, very ‘readable’.

    2). I need to understand philosophy in order to keep up with my youngest, Greek grandson, who is soon to embark (nice metaphor) on an undergraduate course in philosophy in a British university. I start another (fifth I think) OUDCE 10-week online course, September 11th in an attempt to remedy this.

    [I have commented, for several years (as others do also), in one of the English language online versions of a Greek newspaper, a futile and mainly non-productive effort, apart from occasional mutual agreement! The media simply do not take up 'causes' being afraid of upsetting the apple cart (one of their metaphors). I have advocated anonymous satire to no avail.]

    • Rosemary says:

      i use ‘the apple cart’ as a metaphor for the Greek media (TV and print), with politicians. The EU and its adjunct the Eurozone I would describe as an articulated transporter out of control, Greece being one of the unfortunate parts.

    • Marianne says:

      Dear Rosemary,
      I wasn’t thinking of metaphor simply as an aid to understanding arguments, but as a subject worthy of philosophical study.

      ‘Embark’ is a nice metaphor! I am delighted you are obviously enjoying the OUDCE courses – I hope they do the trick of enabling you to keep up with your grandson – he’s lucky to have you so interested!

      I am afraid I know very little about the causes of the situation in Greece. I am only sorry they are happening.


  8. richard carrington says:

    Hi Marianne, some time ago you tutored me in four or five online courses in philosophy. I recall the whole class celebrating my 80th birthday, and as I am now 87 that must have been in 2006.
    You were always very quick in responding to any correspondence. On one occasion I got a reply
    within five minutes of mailing you.

    Now I sent you an email on 5th of this month, and as there has been no response I am wondering if your email address has been changed . Kindest regards, Richard Carrington

  9. Pieter says:

    Hi Marianne, I’m doing philosophy through Pathways (Geoffrey Klempner). I am 64 years old, though. You won’t imagine how I enjoyed learning about your podcasts. Thanks.

  10. Bill says:

    Dear M,
    The link to “Writing my book” http://www.mariannetalbot.co.uk/2013/06/writing-my-book/ (which is new??) does not work.

  11. Guilherme Sobrinho says:

    Hello, Professor Talbot.

    Firstly, I’d like to thank you for your generosity in sharing with us over the seas your passion and knowledge. Great site. I loved the podcasts! :)

    Also, I’d like to ask you if is there any interest for you to talk about the environment, considering your incursion into bioethics.

    Best regards, Guilherme Sobrinho.

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you Guilherme, I am glad you are enjoying them. I do occasionally get asked to talk about the environment. I did a talk for Imperial College London on Climate Change recently. It was podcast, but for the intranet I think.

      • Guilherme Sobrinho says:

        What a pitty not to find your talk on climate change… I’m interested in the very concepts of environment and man-environment relationship. But there’s still a long journey for me to travel. Congratulations again, dear Professor. Best regards, Guilherme Sobrinho.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Guilherme,

      Thank you for taking the trouble to write! I am very glad you enjoyed the podcasts. I enjoyed making them.

      You and Nicholas share a common interest in the environment – you might talk to each other!

      I found myself getting very interested in the environment when I wrote Bioethics. I am certainly putting into asction in my own life a number of things to reduce my carbon footprint. I became quite spooked by climate change.

      What is your interest in the environment?


  12. eurico luis raimundo says:

    marianne coloque uma legenda por favor quero muito assistir seus videos, mas em português

    • Marianne says:

      Using Google translate I see that you’d like me to caption my podcasts! I am sorry, but I have been trying for ages to raise money to have the podcasts signed or subtitled (at least the two most popular ones) so deaf people can access them. But even this would be in English….can’t see my ever subtitling them in Portugese. Too costly. I am sorry – but perhaps it’s an incentive to learn English?

  13. Carlos Rodriguez says:

    Hello Professor, I just would like like to say thank you for your iTunes U participation, I have recently discovered that facility and started taking a couple of your sessions and I am happy I am doing that. All the best from Long Beach, California.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Carlos – lucky you in California! Mind you it has been surprisingly sunny in Oxford this summer! I am very please you like my podcasts. Which ones have you seen?

  14. Hermine Jiang says:

    Dear Professor Marianne,

    Thanks for your course on the Podcast. I study philosophy in Fu Jen Catholic University. These philosophy course help me very much.

    After the class on the Podcast, I still have some question about virtue ethics: according to Aristotle’s virtue ethics, there are no moral rules, so I want to ask: are there definition of Morality or not? Because if we can get definition to the Morality, it seems like that there are moral rules, for example, if the definition of justice is ‘One does one job for which one is naturally suited’, is this a kind of moral rule? Are there definition of Morality according to Aristotle?

    And may I ask David Hume’s ‘Of the Influencing Motives of the Will’ and ‘Moral Distinctions not Derived from Reason’ from you. I don’t have these two articles.

    Thank you for reading my question. Sorry, I can’t speak English very well.

    Best Wishes,


    • Marianne says:

      Hi Hermine,
      Have just answered your question on my Facebook page (Marianne Talbot Philosophy) – though actually I would have answered it here if I had got here first! I am delighted the podcasts are helping you, and I will email you the two [papers you askfor.


      • Hermine Jiang says:

        Thanks for your reply. Because I don’t which way is better to contact you. I’m so nervous (this is my first time send email to foreigner). I love your course very much.

  15. Matthew Grubb says:

    Dear Marianne,

    I have been watching your podcasts and other philosophy videos online for quite sometime now. I wanted to write a short essay about my thoughts on moral relativism to show you.

    Here is a link to the essay:

    Anyone can view the essay and they can leave comments by clicking the comments button at the top right of the essay.

    • Marianne says:

      Dear Matthew,

      I am very sorry but I think you can see that it would be MAD f me to start marking essays people sent n from this site! I would soon not have time to do anything else (not least mark the essays my students send me). I am terribly sorry and hope that others might make comments and help you that way.


Leave a Reply

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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>