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

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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?
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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?
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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?
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Heresy, Truth and the Future
Challenging the status quo

From Socrates to Galileo to Darwin, the venerated were once persecuted heretics. Yet we remain tribal in our judgments. Should we quell our prejudice and advocate heresy in philosophy, science and culture or is the status quo and tradition the only guarantee of quality?
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Ultimate Proof
Is evidence an illusion?

We think evidence decides the matter. Yet even suicide bombers think they have evidence to support their cause. Should we see independent evidence as an illusion? Would this lead to a chaotic world without foundations or constraint? Or open us to the richness of reality?
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The End of Theory
The rise of big data

Big data is the phrase on everyone's lips. But in an age when we can collect information in unimaginable quantities, will we replace simplifying theories with complex real patterns? Might big data be the end of theory? Can we give up on 'why' questions in favour of 'what' answers, or will we always need the big picture?
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The New Inquisition
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Speakers: Frank Furedi
Sociologist Frank Furedi investigates the ideas considered so dangerous they’re forbidden in our research, media or culture.“Broad, stimulating and ambitious” Guardian
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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? 
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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?
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Beyond Psychotherapy
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
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