Editorial: Beyond Knowledge

Is the pursuit of knowledge vital to our future?

650 events, 370 acts, 200 speakers, 11 days, 9 stages: HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, is back and bigger than ever. In this issue of IAI News we look ahead to the key ideas at this year’s festival. The theme for 2015 is ‘Fantasy and Reality’: is knowledge an illusion, a straitjacket we should escape to discover new worlds? Or is the pursuit of definitive knowledge vital to our future?

Science will be a crucial battleground. Templeton prize winning cosmologist and mathematician George Ellis will unpick cause and effect in cosmology, as he explains in A Universe of Causes here on IAI News. Meanwhile, philosopher Mary Midgley (described by the Guardian as “The UK’s foremost scourge of scientific pretention”) challenges the orthodoxy of scientific knowledge. For IAI News, Midgley argues that neuroscientists in particular could do with a little more philosophical training.

Also questioning our faith in truth will be philosophers Steve Fuller and Hilary Lawson. For IAI News, Fuller challenges the widespread assumption that has underpinned science since its origins, namely that reality could ever be intelligible to the human mind.  At HowTheLightGetsIn, he will be pitting his radical ideas against philosophers, physicists and psychiatrists. Lawson, meanwhile, will be debating the limits of language, scientific materialism, and the end of truth with, among others, leading analytic philosopher John Searle and philosopher of science, Michela Massimi. For IAI News, Lawson outlines his conception of a postrealist world.

With the UK general election looming, HowTheLightGetsIn 2015 is also one of the most political yet. MPs Diane Abbott, Margaret Hodge, George Galloway and Jon Cruddas will all be discussing the big political ideas of our time: from borders and boundaries to self-promotion and privacy. Ahead of debates on the nature of reality, the power of community and the loss of liberty, Phillip Blond, the theorist behind the Big Society, explains the real problem with liberalism. Meanwhile, for Green Party leader Natalie Bennett the dogma of development has left a society divided and a planet endangered. Here  she envisions a radical new future for the UK. At the festival, Bennett will also be debating the role of hospitals and the nature of leadership.


Image credit: paul bica

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