Imagine, if you will, the scene. The Enlightenment has defeated Religion, and its various champions meet to carve up the vanquished enemy’s territories. Philosophy takes the chair: ‘Right then, settle down everyone. Thank you. Now, let’s see…Religion used to offer ethics and laws. We’ll split that with jurisprudence. It also used to offer divination and Read more…

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The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed there was no newsletter last weekend. Apologies. The reason for this is I have journeyed deep into the warm, pulsating heart of the happiness movement. Last Thursday I took part in a conference on Positive Psychology at Wellington College (the pioneer of well-being classes), and then I went Read more…

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A few newsletters back, I talked about the idea of the ‘mass intelligentsia’, and posted an interview I did with Melvyn Bragg about the term (he used it in this programme on class and culture back in March). I’ve been digging into this idea a bit more since then, for an academic research project I’m Read more…

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I’m writing this from the Hay-On-Wye book festival, where the rain is coming down piteously, maintaining a steady rhumba on the roofs of the marquees. There are actually two festivals here – the main one, sponsored by the Telegraph, which is rather blue-rinse; and How The Light Gets In, which is a philosophy festival. The Read more…

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People keep asking what’s the next ‘big idea’. The philosophy festival How The Light Gets In, in Hay-On-Wye next month, has a whole session devoted to ‘the end of big ideas’ (well..for you maybe!)  The philosopher Bryan Appleyard likewise opined on Twitter: ‘The centre left dream of Europe is dead, neo-liberalism is dead, neo-conservatism is Read more…

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