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Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world's leading thinkers

the really real
The Really Real
the really real
Categories: Culture & Sexuality
Speakers: Simon Blackburn, Phillip Blond, Myriam Francois-Cerrah
Is absolute right and wrong a fantasy?

Different cultures see the world differently and cultural relativism is a widely accepted outlook. Yet faced with beheadings most of us want to assert that we know what is right and wrong. Do we need a new objectivity to combat the world's evils, or should we give up on the really real as a cultural fantasy?
austenvwoolf
Austen vs Woolf
austenvwoolf
Categories: Narrative & Reality
Speakers: Malcolm Guite, Doon Mackichan, Frances Spalding
The female fantasy

Jane Austen's wickedly satirical heroines have shaped our idea of romantic love. Yet for a close-up into the psyche Woolf is unrivalled. Whose view of womanhood was more real? Do Woolf's heroines reveal more about what it means to be a woman than Austen's manor-born maidens? You decide.
the dance of time
The Dance of Time
Is the present an illusion?
the dance of time
Speakers: Julian Barbour, Joseph Diekemper, Joanna Kavenna
Is the present an illusion?

Since we can't directly access the past or the future, the present seems to be all we've got. Yet Derrida denied the existence of the present. And physicists argue the present has no special status. Is the present an illusion? Or do we find in the present everything that is of value?
forgetting to be me2
Forgetting to Be Me
Is true memory a fantasy?
forgetting to be me2
Categories: Mind & Reason
Speakers: Margaret Heffernan, Angie Hobbs, Mark Rowlands
Is true memory a fantasy?

Memory forms the very fabric of our selves. Yet we forget vastly more than we remember, and we embellish until we no longer trust our own minds. Should we accept that true memory is a fantasy? Does this risk chaos in our courts or liberate us to think ourselves and our culture anew?
the anthropomorphic cabinet
Hidden Desires and Secret Thoughts
Are We In Control of Our Selves?

Many have been sceptical of Freud's claim that unconscious desires control our lives. Yet recent studies show the conscious brain processes only a tiny fraction of the brain as a whole. Are hidden desires and secret thoughts driving our actions, or is our conscious brain in full control?
beyond knowledge 2
Beyond Knowledge
Is truth an illusion?

The quest for knowledge has driven progress and led us from the savannah to the stars. Yet knowledge is limited by culture, language, and our human constraints. Is knowledge an illusion, a straight-jacket we should escape to discover new worlds? Or is the pursuit of definitive knowledge vital to our future?
authenticity reality and being new
The Art of Imagination
authenticity reality and being new
Categories: Art & Aesthetics
Speakers: Andrew Bowie
Is art the ultimate arbiter of truth? Philosopher Andrew Bowie shows that reason alone cannot uncover all.
book of blair 2
The Book of Blair
book of blair 2
Categories: Ideas & Ideology
Speakers: Charlotte Leslie
Politicians are out of touch, trapped in the Westminster, unable and lost in Blairite fantasies, argues "David Cameron's most impressive new MP".
The Infinite Boom SUN 31 MAY
The Infinite Boom
The Infinite Boom SUN 31 MAY
Speakers: Michael Howard, Ann Pettifor, Robert Shiller
Is indefinite growth a fantasy?

Growth seems to be back in the UK. But while good for votes, perpetual growth in a closed system seems to defy the laws of physics. Is relentless growth a mistaken fantasy?  Will commodity shortage force change? Or is continuous growth a viable proposition for the indefinite future?
vanity fair
Vanity Fair
vanity fair
Categories: Mind & Reason
Speakers: Simon Blackburn, George Galloway, Suzannah Lipscomb
Is narcissism a virtue that we need more of?

With more photos taken every two minutes than in the entire 19th century, the Selfie generation would make Narcissus blush. Yet from Napoleon to Steve Jobs, self-absorption is often a trait of leaders. Should we celebrate self-promotion to create a more confident outgoing culture, or is British understatement a treasure?
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