Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world's leading thinkers
Masters of the World
Is the universe mathematical?
For Euclid and Pythagoras, mathematics was the secret language of reality. Yet Godel demonstrated that mathematics ends not in mastery of the world but in the quagmire of paradox. Might mathematics be a metaphor for the world? If so, does this open limitless possibilities for science or is it a crisis in the making?
Fantasies and Lies
The myths we live by
Myth and fantasy are the stuff of fiction. They are not meant to be the stuff of real life. Yet are we not all victim to our own fantasies? Might myths be essential to our motivation and success and more broadly reality be woven in with fantasy? Or is this to demean everyday life and make of it a lie?
The Great God Pan
The splendour of nature
For Hamlet, the purpose of art is to hold the mirror up to nature. Yet a mirror, however fine, is never as impressive as the thing itself. Is the wonder of the natural world always richer than the power of the imagination? Or does creativity have a greater magic to offer?
The New Inquisition
The Limits of Logic
Should we embrace the irrational?
Logicians don't rule the world or get the most done. Could it be that a consistent world view is neither desirable nor achievable? If we abandon the straightjacket of rationality might this lead to a more powerful and exciting future, or is it a heresy that leads to madness?
The Evolution of Desire
Explaining human desire
From our mating habits to our territorial disputes, sociobiologists claim that natural selection explains human nature. But is this real insight or a reductionist pseudoscience? Should we seek broader, deeper answers to social questions, or will genetics soon be able to give a complete account of what it means to be human?
When is it misguided to treat mental illness with drugs? Clinical psychologist and author of Madness Explained and Doctoring the Mind, Richard Bentall envisions bold new alternatives to the psychiatric-industrial complex. "Full of insight and humanity” Times