Notes on philosophy from a field in Hay on Wye
We went to How the Light Gets In, a lovely philosophy festival that co-locates with the Hay Literary Festival.
Here are my notes-to-self.
Sarah Corbett talks to Jonathon Porritt
- Sarah is a scouser from Everton!
- Because injustice makes us angry we direct that at people which is wrong
- Much more effective to treat people as humans and not enemies
- “Crafter thought” questions
- With us or against us is unhelpful
- Women’s March: no call to action so trump had nothing to answer for
- Often protest is transactional: make this, it goes out, done. Better to make long general protest (slow protest)
- Starting with yourself is helpful. Here’s how I’m working on this change, how are you doing it?
- I’m an angry person that knows I need to channel my anger.
- We’re feeling people that think (feeling leads everything)
- Yellow handwritten envelope very compelling to open!
- Small positive gifts from constituents very powerful to MPs!
- TEDx talk, activism needs introverts
- Politicians worry when theres solidarity from unaffected people, so use a mix
- Craftivism isn’t a movement, it’s a tool for change
- Audience member in evildoing company: it was much more effective and hearing from quiet, thoughtful, ethical people.
- Keep asking, how can we make a world that looks like this, it’s much easier for people to visualise a futures rather than look at negatives
- Learning a little bit about the other person and linking it to their circumstances
- Crafts can be very cathartic for people
- Anti war March: ok, that failed, but look at Syria, politicians were massively affected by it afterwards
- Focus on what’s realistic, your circle of influence, what you can get changed. Something accountable and specific
- We bought the book
Wow, wow, wow.
Capitalism, poverty and progress
Might unrestricted capitalism work better for the poor than any alternative? Author of Bourgeois Equality Deirdre McCloskey makes the case that from 1840s Manchester to modern India the market thrives when free.
The secrets of consciousness
Susan Blackmore, Philip Goff, Nicholas Humphrey. Barry C. Smith hosts.
Consciousness is a deep puzzle. There was hope that neuroscience might find some answers. But we still have no explanation for where brain activity ends and experience begins. Is it a mistake to think we can explain consciousness by examining the brain? Should we look elsewhere to our evolutionary roots perhaps? Or might neuroscience provide answers after all?
Panpsychist Philip Goff joins Consciousness Regained author Nicholas Humphrey, and psychologist Susan Blackmore to untangle mind and matter.
The Accidental anarchist
Diplomat turned anarchist Carne Ross charts his journey from establishment-insider to anti-elite renegade, asking: could we trade our democracy for life without government?
Stephen D. King, Deirdre McCloskey, Guy Standing. Roger Bolton hosts.
Capitalism has not had a good decade. With inequalities in wealth, lack of growth, and static or falling living standards many are calling for dramatic change. Can radical alternatives avoid the failures that have dogged them in the past? Or is the decline in global poverty and the rapid expansion of China and India evidence that capitalism is the solution not the disease?
Sam and the womp
The Science of psychedelics
Is Britain’s attitude to drugs harming mental health patients? Imperial College psychiatrist and former government drugs adviser David Nutt argues for an evidence based revolution in drugs policy.
A long strange trip
Aside from being illegal, LSD has not had a good press - associated with bad trips and psychological breakdown. Now there is a new craze for LSD amongst Silicon Valley whizz kids and management gurus, with scientists claiming anti-depressive benefits. Might we have been too quick to ban psychedelics and could they be a means to deepen experience and enhance our lives? Or is this all dangerous hippy nonsense?
Pharmacologist and former Home Office drugs advisor David Nutt, drugs reformist and director of the Beckley Foundation Amanda Feilding and founder of the Psychedelic Society Stephen Reid want to change how we see LSD.
- Interesting analogy between psychadelics and enlightenmennt through meditation — one’s like taking a helicopter to the top of Everest, as opposed to climbing. Is the view the same?
- Stephen Reid also co-founded UK Uncut
- The psychadelic society runs experience retreats to Holland for people try mushrooms in a safe and productive environment.
Making sense of reality
Andy Clark, Rufus Duits, Joanna Kavenna, John McWhorter. James Ladyman hosts.
We think we see the world the way it is. But how we think changes what we see, and more radically every organism sees the world in its own unique way. Is this because perception does not simply reflect reality but plays a part in its creation? But if so what is reality and what are the limits on how it can be perceived?
A Field Guide to Reality author Joanna Kavenna, metaphysician and cognitive scientist Andy Clark, author of The Language Hoax John McWhorter, and philosopher Rufus Duits push the limits of perception.
Money for nothing
Deirdre McCloskey, Guy Standing.
Head to Head: Universal Basic Income?
Once dismissed as a utopian fantasy, the idea of a basic universal income has now hit the mainstream. With new technologies, support from across the political spectrum, and advocates from Hawking to Zuckerberg, it’s no surprise people have begun to take the prospect seriously.
For tonight’s head-to-head we ask “Universal Basic Income: is it time?”
In this combative one-on-one debate, author of Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen Guy standing goes head to head with leading libertarian economist Deirdre Mcloskey.
Monster ceilidh band
What’s wrong with the left?
Has the left lost its way? Human rights activist Peter Tatchell argues for a return to human rights and social justice to unite the left and reclaim power.
- Left needs to be constructive, optimistic and positive
- Simply opposing the deficit is not enough, we need a practical suggestion
- Must create a left alliance, break mentality “we are the only progressives”
- Proportional representation.
- In UK no government has had majority since 1931
- Progressive alliances, lib dems step down for greens and vice versa
- Labour leadership believes they are the only progressive party
- Labour fought to oust Green and lib dems, stupid
- Greens stood down in 30 seats to help labour win those seats (labour did nothing in return)
- It’s vital to defend internal party dissent and debate
- Being forgiving, recognising people make mistakes
- Left needs an actual agenda, not just “more public spending”
- Key issue whole left is dodging is economic democracy. Today we basically live in an economic dictatorship (shareholders, directors have all the votes). Example, 1/3rd employee and consumer directors on all boards
- Pension funds should be directed by employee owned trusts
- Be politically and morally consistent - left always defend free speech for the left… but not the right!!
- Left needs to challenge all tyrannies, not just some
The Darkest Dictator: Orwell vs Huxley
Jon Barnes, Robert Colls, Janne Teller. Shahidha Bari hosts.
Orwell’s 1984 offered a terrifying vision of totalitarian rule. But Huxley, in a letter to Orwell about Brave New World, claimed the future of society isn’t “flogging people into obedience” but making them “love their servitude”. Are we most at risk of dictatorship when we are most content? Or are the real dangers always force and oppression?
Award winning novelist Janne Teller, George Orwell: English Rebel author Robert Colls and art historian Julian Stallabrass pitch the dangers of complacency against those of oppression.
- Read Jon’s book: Democracy Squared: A Digital Revolution That’s About to Democratise Democracy
- There’s no-one to march against when it’s the whole system
- Janne Teller campaigns against mass surveillance
Kate Devlin, Brooke Magnanti (formerly Bell de Jour), Alan Winfield. Shahidha Bari hosts.
Virtual Reality pornography is already with us, along with predictions that sex robots will be commonplace by 2025. Many believe this threatens to corrupt love and undermine relationships, yet some think it liberation’s next step. Should we endorse a future where sexual desires can be satisfied by machines? Or is this a dangerous dream that could radically alter the fabric of society?
Computer scientist and author of Love and Sex with Robots Kate Devlin and robot ethicist Alan Winfield explore love, sex, and robots.
- Alan: Robots shouldn’t look or act like robots because it’s deceptive
- Alan: Robots should not have rights — look up David Gunkell for more discuss on on this
- Kate Devlin is awesome! She runs sex hack days!
- Media portrayal of sex robots is always female and humanoid — no reason they should be humanoid, why not a sex sleeping bag?
- Brooke Magnanti (belle du jour) was refreshlingly straightforward!