Since 2009, the music and philosophy festival has been offering up an alternative means of intellectual stimulation to the annual literature and arts festival at Hay-on-Wye. Scientists, cosmologists and politicians gather to give talks as well as host something called “philosophy breakfasts” – for those who like a bit of complex thought with their coffee and croissants.
This year the festival takes ‘Fantasy and Reality’ as its theme. Hundreds of talks in dozens of tents will explore the magical, inexplicable elements of science as well as the possibility of bringing futuristic fantasies to life. Here are some of our favourite talks from the line-up:
– Mary Midgley on the instability of knowledge; the controversial, 95-year old philosopher has attacked what she refers to as the “scientism” of Richard Dawkins – and found more than a little sympathy. (May 23)
– British biologist Aubrey de Grey who thinks he can cure ageing. (May 22)
– Activist Peter Tatchell will consider the consolations of pornography, asking whether it can ever be a force for good in the world (we’re not convinced, but let’s see). (May 26)
– Oxford scientist Chiara Marletto is working on a new theory which formulates science in terms of possible and impossible tasks. We came across her interview on Edge.org last year and have been intrigued (if slightly confused) ever since. (various dates)
– A panel exploring whether imagination has any impact on reality, and if so, should we be conjuring up visions of better worlds? (May 27)
Hilary Lawson, the festival’s founder, says there’s a need “to get philosophy out of the academy and into people’s lives.”
Team Libertine will be pitching up a tent. Come and say hello.
How The Light Gets In started on Thursday May 21st and runs until May 31st. More information here.