Announcing HowTheLightGetsIn, the IAI’s philosophy festival

Is it a mistake to imagine democracy is necessarily progressive?

Did the universe really begin with the Big Bang?

Will we ever be able to reclaim objective truth or are we stuck with a post-truth world?


Just three of the questions we’ll cover at our annual ideas and music festival, HowTheLightGetsIn, from 22 - 25 May 2020. In its home of Hay-on-Wye by the Welsh border, the festival will host four days of debates and talks between the world’s leading thinkers across philosophy, science, politics, art and life.

Check out the programme so far here.

Whether we like it or not, we find ourselves in a period of radical change, from the climate crisis to political populism. The festival’s theme, Uncharted Territory, seeks to find ways of thinking that will help us turn the deep uncertainty of the present into promise and potential for the future. Each debate takes on one of the biggest issues that are transforming the world around us, in search of ways to grasp the future and forge new paths ahead.


A number of debates have been announced already:

In the wake of the strange discoveries of quantum physics, The Limits of Material asks what the world is really made of – our minds, material stuff, or something in the middle?

New Faces of Rebellion will examine whether modern forms of activism, with no real leaders and spread by the Web, herald a bright future for democracy or are destined to incoherence and failure.

With claims that scientists are within a decade of creating an artificial womb, The Matrix or the Miracle? asks whether lab-grown babies threaten the family structure our society depends on or enable parenthood for infertile and gay couples.

Our Story of the Universe will challenge the prevalence of the Big Bang theory, asking whether we need a new theory of the universe’s origins that doesn’t rely on placeholders like “dark matter” and “dark energy” to prop it up.

In recent years HowTheLightGetsIn has hosted the likes of Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Mariana Mazzucato, Slavoj Zizek, and Shoshana Zuboff.


The first speakers for Hay 2020 have just been announced, including:

Leading proponent of metaphysical idealism Bernardo Kastrup

Pioneering cosmologist Laura Mersini-Houghton

Theoretical physicist John Ellis

Philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright

Philosopher of ethics Simon Blackburn

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam


The festival will feature over 300 events all told, including 200 music and performance acts and 100 debates and talks with 120 of the world’s leading thinkers.

So if you want to catch your favourite speakers live before their debates are broadcast on, make sure you get your Tier 3 tickets soon!

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