Paul Fawkesley

How The Light Gets In 2018

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

Roving crows

Were awesome.

The Correspondents

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?

Spiegel circus

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.


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?

Peter Tatchell

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.


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.


Love Machines

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.


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