'If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it'.
Peter Singer is undoubtedly one of the world's foremost public philosophers and the most prominent figure in contemporary ethics. He is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University where he specialises in applied ethics from a secular, utilitarian perspective. Singer has authored or co-authored over 30 books, his most recent being Why Vegan? which argues that human tyranny over animals is a wrong comparable to racism and sexism.
'Peter Singer might well be the most important philosopher alive'. - Paul Bloom
“Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they'll know it too.”
Esther Freud is an award-winning writer, and author of 9 best selling novels. She rose to prominence following her debut novel Hideously Kinky, which was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys prize and made into a film starring Kate Winslet.
Esther joins us following the release of her most recent novel, I Couldn’t Love You More, which has enjoyed great acclaim. Critics have praised her masterful storytelling instincts alongside her ability to capture the depths of human emotion.
‘(Her) stories should be told, listened to and remembered’ The New York Times
“To construct is the essence of vision. Dispense with construction and you dispense with vision'.
Donald Hoffman is an American cognitive psycholgist, popular science author and famous non-realist. His work focusses on consciousness, visual perception and evolutionary psychology using mathematical models and psychophysical experiments.
He has written several books: his most recent being 'The Case Against Reality; How Evolution hid the Truth From Our Eyes'. He has made numerous media appearances including on TED, the Lex Fridman podcast and Closer to Truth.
“One of the deepest and most original thinkers of his generation” – Steven Pinker
'"I’m a Labour politician. I’m a social reformer, not a libertarian rightwinger. Interfering, for the common good, is what we do."
Thangam Debbonaire is the Labour MP for Bristol West and current Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, previously working as the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing. Describing herself as a "northern European socialist", she supports "fettered capitalism". Thangam is a rising star of the Labour Party and would be top of many people's lists to be a future leader of the Labour Party.
Thangam has co-authored two books and published numerous papers on domestic violence, and has suggested that male refugees settling in Britain should be given lessons about female equality. Shortly after being elected in Bristol West, Thangam was diagnosed with breast cancer. This experience, along with extensive personal research into the effects of alcohol, led Thangam to speak out in favour of greater regulation of alcohol, calling for mandatory graphic warnings on alcohol drinks akin to those on cigarette packaging.
"No one but a fool is always right"
Sir David Hare is considered one of finest political storytellers alive today. Courageous and bold in his approach, David’s stories address the most pressing social and political issues of their times. From powerful press barons to geopolitics, class wars to The Church of England, no subject is off limits. His works weave effortlessly between drama, pathos and comedy to create an enjoyable, yet powerful, experience for the viewer. Successful productions on both screen and stage have earned him two Academy Award nominations and three Tony Award nominations
He joins us off the back of his most recent play ‘Straight Line Crazy’, starring Ralph Fiennes which, due to its popularity, will be transferring to Broadway in October 2022.
"The premiere political dramatist writing in English" - The Washington Post
Guy Standing is a pioneering economist. He currently Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London and a founding member and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a non-governmental organisation that promotes a basic income for all.
He has authored numerous critically acclaimed books, the most recent of which is The Blue Commons: Rescuing the Economy of the Sea, which proposes innovative new solutions for tackling climate change.
"The financial crisis exposed many of our political and business leaders for what they are: self-interested, exploitative, and reckless elites, who would rather see the planet burn than sacrifice an iota of their wealth."
Grace Blakeley is a pioneering economics commentator. A self-proclaimed ‘Moet Marxist’, she is a best-selling author of several books, including most recently ‘The Corona Crash: How the pandemic will change capitalism’, which proposes a new radical economic model for a post-pandemic world
As a leading staff writer at Tribune Magazine, Grace appears frequently in UK and international media, locking horns with politicians, economists and commentators on BBC Question Time, ITV's Good Morning Britain and Talk TV
"One of the most inspiring, thought provoking and insightful voices on the left" - Owen Jones
“If all narratives are relative, then we are lost."
David Aaronovitch is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster, and has a regular column for The Times. He was previously president of the NUS and a communist but now identifies as a radical moderate. David is the author of Paddling to Jerusalem: An Aquatic Tour of Our Small Country and most recently a memoir about his family and early life, Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists. His memoir details his parents' love for the Communist party of Great Britain, providing an intimate insight into his early life.
“An effervescent and essential writer.” - The Observer
“The model we choose to use to understand something determines what we find.”
Iain McGilchrist is a former Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, where he taught literature, before training in medicine.
He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise – the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains. He has an interest in brain research, and was formerly a Consultant and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital Acute Mental Health Services in London. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
He is the author ofThe Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale University Press) and he is working on a short book of reflections on spiritual experience.
"Pioneering" - The Times
“The best way to stop girls achieving anything is to force them to achieve everything.”
Laurie Penny is an acclaimed journalist and writer whose written for the Guardian, the New York Times, and Salon. Penny is the author of several books including Bitch Doctrine, Unspeakable Things and Everything Belongs to the Future.
Penny has made numerous media appearances on the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, as well as speaking at the Oxford Union and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Penny has also written for streaming TV, contributing to episodes of the Netflix show The Haunting of Bly Manor and HBO's The Nevers, and acted as a story editor on Carnival Row.
'Urgent, hopeful, and unapologetically radical' - Caitlin Moran
'Each of us has a unique cartography of the mind, like a roadway that maps our choices and our strengths.'
Named as one of the ten leading "communicator scientists" in the UK by the Science Council, Hannah Marion Critchlow is an internationally-acclaimed neuroscientist with a background in neuropsychiatry. She is also a broadcaster and best selling author based at the University of Cambridge.
Hannah's research has focused on cellular and molecular neuroscience. She has also presented BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Live and BBC2 Family Brain Games and was named by Nature as one of Cambridge University’s ‘Rising Stars in Life Sciences’ in 2019 in recognition for achievements in science engagement.
'Hannah demystifies the human brain' - BBC
'The search is on to find the real art of our times, and among it all will be some works of art that resonate with greatness by revealing what it feels like to be fully alive today.'
Julian Spalding is an English art critic, writer, broadcaster and a former curator. Considered to be a controversial maverick and outspoken critic of the art world, Julian isn’t afraid to voice his true feelings towards to likes of Damian Hirst and Tracy Emin.
Julian is a prolific writer, having written numerous successful books including The Eclipse of Art, Con Art: Why You Ought to Sell Your Damien Hirsts While You Can and The Art of Wonder, the latter of which earned him the Banister Fletcher Prize in 2006. In addition to his writing, Julian frequently contributes to arts, news and current affairs programmes on radio and TV.
'Spalding…makes interesting points and deserves to be widely read'- The Spectator
Sophie Ward is a stage and screen actress, and a writer of non-fiction and fiction. Her feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's Young Sherlock Holmes. She has written for The Guardian, The Times, and The Spectator, won the 2018 Royal Academy Pin Drop Award for her short story "Sunbed", and had her first novel, Love and Other Thought Experiments (2020) longlisted for both the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Booker Prize.
'In a society consumed by its hatred for Black men, there is no resistance to the negation of the Black male's humanity'.
Tommy Curry is a philosophy professor at Edinburgh University where he holds a Personal Chair in Africana Philosophy and Black Male studies. His research focusses on Africana Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Anti-Colonialism, Black Male Studies and Public Health.
Curry is the esteemed author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood which won the American Book Award in 2018. The Man-Not is regarded as controversial for its discussion of the rape of Black males during American slavery by white men and women but has received multiple positive reviews in Masculinity Studies, Black Studies, and Gender Studies journals.
'Curry has taken a bullet for the brothers' - Ishmael Reed.
“The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism.”
Aaron Bastani is co-founder of Novara Media, an independent, self-described radical left-wing alternative media organization based in the United Kingdom, and author of Fully Automated Luxury Communism. In his book, Bastani argues that ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’ is the paradigm of the future – and the path to a world of luxury, liberty and happiness.
With over 50,000 followers on Twitter and often acting as a stand-in for the Labour front bench in the media, Bastani has become an influential voice in British politics. He comes to the festival bearing a persuasive and polemical argument for how we can move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology and build meaningful freedom for all.
“In 100 years’ time many of the ideas in this book will be mainstream, while kindergarten students laugh at our mainstream economic textbooks.” – Paul Mason on Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto
Paul Mason is a British commentator and radio personality, and currently the Economics Editor for the UK's Channel 4 News.
A former member of the radical Workers' Power group, Paul describes his politics as now "very complicated", identifying with a "radical social democracy". His widely-selling 2015 book, PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future, contends that capitalism is under threat from a digital revolution set to reshape the way we interact with one another.
"Brilliant and radical" - The Guardian
'I think Britain is finished.'
Peter Hitchens is an award-winning conservative author, broadcaster, journalist and political commentator. Fiercely incisive and polemical, he has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday as well as being a contributing writer to The Spectator, The American Conservative, the Guardian and the New Statesman.
Hitchens is a fierce critic of the conservative party, famously describing its politics as in line with the 'communist workers' party'. He is also the author of numerous books, the most recent of which is 'The Phoney Victory' which argues that Britain's did not really win World War 2.
'I thank God for whatever it was in the Hitchens milk that produced such argumentative, un-intimidateable sons' - Douglas Murray
"The creep of 'unconcious bias training' has gone largely unfought."
Zoe Strimpel is a historian, journalist and author. She engages with gender, feminism and dating in modern Britain. She is a flagship columist for the Sunday Telegraph. She is the author of three books about dating and relationships, Seeking Love in Modern Britain (2020), The Man Diet: One Woman’s Quest To End Bad Romance (2011) and What the Hell is He Thinking? All the Questions You Had About Men, Answered (2010). Her academic work, given five stars by The Telegraph, has been described as "watching Love Island with Foucault."
"People are bored with being talked down to"
The phenomenal director, Sophie Fiennes, is the director of the groundbreaking philosophical films The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012) and moving documentaries such as Artificial Things (2018). In collaberation with philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek, Finnes has helped audience engage with the relationship of film, ideology, fantasy and reality.
“Presents [a] thrilling challenge for cinema-goers” - The Guardian
"The only meaning of death is how I live my life now and what I will have to look back upon as I lie dying."
Henry Marsh is a leading neurosurgeon and a pioneer of neurosurgical advances in Ukraine. His widely acclaimed memoir Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery was published in 2014. According to The Economist, this memoir is "so elegantly written it is little wonder some say that in Mr Marsh neurosurgery has found its Boswell". Henry Marsh has a particular interest in the influence of hospital buildings and design on patient outcomes and staff morale. He was awarded a CBE in 2010.
'There is a serious prospect that, in our time, we are losing faith in politics. The words of politicians float by, practised and polished, but profligate'.
Writer-in-chief att The Draft, contributing editor at The New Statesman, columnist for the Evening Standard, and the former lead writer at The Times, Phil Collins has held positions at almost every major newspaper in the country.
Having previously been a speech writer for Tony Blair, the Director of the Social Market Foundation think tank and an Equity Strategist at two investment banks, Philip's wealth of experience makes him a trusted voice in the political fray.
'Phil Collins is the best political commentator in Britain' - Michael Burleigh
Polly Vernon has been a features writer, interviewer and columnist for 18 years. She currently works for both Grazia and The Times, with her columns focusing on fashion and culture. She started as a junior writer on Minx, a lecherous, riotous young woman's magazine, before moving on to become deputy editor at The Observer. In 2015, Polly wrote ‘Hot Feminist’, a popular and somewhat controversial manifesto on modern feminism.
'Bold, brilliant, sharp and funny...(Vernon) urges women to be less judgemental of each other and of themselves. It's an idea that shouldn't be revolutionary but is.' Elizabeth Day
'Life did not arise as an accidental, wildly improbable leap from molecule to cells or even to viruses, but through a step-by-step evolution, just as humans did not evolve in a single leap from one-celled creatures.'
Eric Lerner is an award-winning popular science writer and theoretical physicist. In 1991, he authored The Big Bang Never Happened, a popular science book which rejects Big Bang Cosmology in favour or a non-standard plasma cosmology.
'The truth is out: Britain’s immigration system is racist, and always has been. Now let's fix it'
Amelia Gentleman is an acclaimed British journalist, Guardian reporter, and author of 'The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the hostile Environment' which was a New Statesman and Spectator book of the year, shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing and longlisted for Bailee Gifford prize.
Gentleman has won multiple prizes for her journalism including the Orwell Prize and Feature Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards and he 2018 Paul Foot journalism award.
'[Gentleman's] reporting proves why an independent press is so vital.' - Reni Eddo-Lodge
“Intellectuals are not defined according to the jobs they do, but [by] the manner in which they act, the way they see themselves, and the values that they uphold.”
Frank Furedi is a trailblazing sociologist and social commentator. He currently serves as emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, where his work on fear, education, therapy culture and more has made him one of the most widely cited sociologists of the 21st Century. His book Invitation to Terror: expanding the empire of the unknown explores the way in which the threat of terrorism has become amplified through the ascendancy of precautionary thinking.
His upcoming book, explore the origins of the culture wars, and why we desperately need to resolve the tensions which divide our society.
On Therapy Culture ’Professor Furedi has written an important book ... which is essential to the understanding of our times.'- Theodore Dalrymple, Sunday Telegraph
“It is not about drawing within the lines. It’s about discovery and creativity.”
Recent winner of the New Horizons in Physics Prize and the Schmidt Science Polymaths Award Suchitra Sebastian is a condensed matter physicist. Suchitra is based at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge where she is a Professor of Physics.
Professor Sebastian is known for her discoveries of exotic quantum phenomena that emerge in complex materials. She was named as one of thirty Exceptional Young Scientists by the World Economic Forum in 2013, one of The Next Big Names in Physics by the Financial Times in 2013.
"A world-class physicist" - Quanta Magazine.
“Quite soon, as we move from genes to the proteins that they code for, and then on to the interactions between these proteins, the problems become seriously complicated.”
Denis Noble is Professor Emeritus and co-Director of Computational Physiology at Oxford University where he held the Burdon Sanderson Chair of Cardiovascular Physiology from 1984 to 2004. Noble was one of the pioneers of Systems Biology and developed the first viable mathematical model of the working heart in 1960 with his supervisor Otto Hutter. The work was later developed with Dario DiFrancesco and others to become the canonical models on which more than 100 cardiac cell models are based today.
Noble has published over 350 articles in academic journals, including Nature, Science, PNA and the Journal of Physiology. His books include the first popular science book on the subject, The Music of Life, which has been translated into 12 languages. He was also elected President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences at its Congress in Kyoto in 2009.
“Every human being, in a way, is a philosopher. Because that's what it is to be human.” - Hilary Lawson
Hilary Lawson is a post-realist philosopher known for his theory of Closure and director of the Institute of Art and Ideas which hosts our beloved festival, HowTheLightGetsIn. His book Closure: A Story of Everything is an attempt to offer a post-modern approach to metaphysics. As a theory of everything it has dramatic consequences for how we understand ourselves, our society, our goals and our ability to achieve them.
Much of the work that is carried out at The Institute of Art and Ideas is a response to Hilary’s opposition to the mainstream approach to philosophy, particularly at universities, which he believes are old fashioned. Through the Institute of Art and Ideas and HowTheLightGetsIn, Hilary aims to put ideas at the centre of discussion and debate, and have people really engage with the things that matter.
“Lawson shows himself to be a latter-day 'metaphysician' on the grand scale ... a quite astonishing achievement.” - Alan Montefiore, University of Oxford
'Most economic models are terrible'
Louise Cooper is is a British Chartered Financial Analyst, journalist, and Times columnist, known for her work on the BBC World Service between 2002 and 2011.
She is known for her 'thought provoking and occasionally entertaining analysis on the financial events of the day'. Louise presents Wake Up to Money on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as the personal finance programme, Money Box on Radio 4.
'The downturn diva… a new rival to Robert Peston’. - Mail on Sunday
'I’m a messy artist; coming to terms with that was important. I think your obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself, if you can do that you can’t fail.'
Ed Fornieles is one of the leading figures in “post-internet” art. His work is inspired by 21st century culture, from popular movies and television characters to social media platforms. Using various reoccurring digital archetypes, Ed takes a fresh look at the concepts of family, friendship, relationship, physical interaction and language. Some of Fornieles’ notable works include Dorm Daze (2011), “Facebook sitcom” for which the artist appropriated real profiles of American college students and created new characters for them. These profiles were then “performed” online by actors over the course of three months. His work has been exhibited across the world, including London, New York, Stockholm and Hamburg
'Fornieles’ work is warped, perplexing and totally genius'- Dazed
"We should all flourish as the kind of complex beings that we are, without expecting things to be easy."
Tamar Gendler is a preeminent scholar, Yale's Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy and professor of psychology and cognitive science. Her Open Yale course, on the Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature, has had hundred of thousands of viewers. Tamar Gendler is the author of Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology and Thought Experiments: On the Powers and Limits of Imaginary Cases.
"Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there."
Julian Baggini is the author of numerous best-selling books on philosophy, and co-founder of The Philosopher’s Magazine - an independent quarterly magazine which aims to make philosophy accessible and entertaining. His books include the Godless Gospel, How The World Thinks, The Virtues of the Table and The Ego Trick (all Granta).
Baggini's most recent book, What David Hume Can Teach Us about Being Human and Living Well gives invaluable wisdom on living a good life from one of the Enlightenment's greatest philosophers
“Baggini has that rare but wonderful gift of being able to be at once profound and highly entertaining.” - Alexander McCall Smith
Freddie Sayers is a British journalist, interviewer, media executive and former pollster. He is currently Executive Editor of online magazine UnHerd.
Before joining YouGov Sayers founded the Westminster based political news website PoliticsHome, during which time he became a regular commentator on British politics and current affairs, contributing to The Spectator, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Prospect Magazine and Evening Standard.
Jemima Kelly is a journalist for FT Alphaville and Notebook columnist at the Financial Times. She was previously FX/fintech correspondent and TitleFund management/pensions correspondent at Reuters, where she mainly wrote about the foreign exchange market, cryptocurrencies and fintech. She started her career as an editorial assistant at The Economist.
Rana Mitter is Professor of the history and politics of modern China at Oxford University. Rana was educated at King's College. He has been elected for several prestigious positions including president of the Cambridge Union, Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University and Fellow of the British Academy. In 2019 he was appointed an OBE for his services to education.
Rana is a regular writer for publications such as the Financial Times, Guardian and Telegraph and is a frequent presenter on BBC Radio 3's Night Waves. Rana's research focuses on the emergence of nationalism in modern China and he has authored several books on the topic.
"Breathtaking and authoritative" Daily Telegraph
Bronwen Maddox is the director of the Institute for Government, one of the worlds leading political think tanks. Here, she sits at the cutting edge of analysing how government can be more efficient and effective. In September, she will join Chatham House, another leading think tank specialising in foreign affairs, as their Director and CEO.
Formerly editor and chief executive of Prospect, Bronwen previously led an illustrious career as a journalist, holding positions such as chief foreign commentator, foreign editor and US editor of The Times. She was also previously at the Financial Times, where she ran award-winning investigations and wrote economics editorials.
'[Her writing] is infused with knowledge, research and balance’ Former MP, Denis MacShane
Güneş Taylor is a training fellow at the Francis Crick Institute, the London-based biomedical research centre. Her research predominantly focuses on the genetic formation of ovaries and testes. Güneş has debated the implications of genome editing in forums such as Fertility Fest, the Festival of Genomics, and Virtual Futures, as well as on the Guardian's podcast Science Weekly. In 2018, Güneş was awarded the Crick Public Engagement Prize for her efforts in the public communication of science.
"Creating a sense of co-existence and community is about forging a shared identity which all members of society can identify with and I think this will necessarily begin with quite a profound reform of education."
Dr Myriam Francois is a Franco-Irish journalist, filmmaker and writer. A former columnist at the New Statesman, Myriam’s writing are featured widely in the British press, including the Guardian, TIME, Foreign Policy, the Telegraph, CNN online and Middle East Eye, among others. In 2019, Myriam started the We Need to Talk About Whiteness Podcast to pioneer conversations around structural whiteness in the UK. She delivers regular talks to private companies and institutions on the topic and is due to deliver an upcoming Ted-talk (2022). She is currently working on her documentary directorial debut under her production company Mpwr productions. The film was shortlisted for the 2021Whickers Awards and the Cannes MIPDOC 2022. Myriam was nominated as one of only 14 “filmmakers to watch” in 2021 by One World Media.
'Once we realize the extraordinary power we have to compose our lives, we'll move from passive, conditioned thinking to being co-creators of our fate.'
Jason Silva is an Emmy-nominated and world renowned TV personality, storyteller, filmmaker, and futurist. He shot to fame when hosting 5 seasons of the Emmy-nominated, global hit TV series Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel, which was broadcasted in over 171 countries. He currently hosts, Jason Silva: Shots of Awe, a YouTube channel in which Jason explores the boundaries of reality and imagination. Jason’s channel has amassed over half a million subscribers, and continues to grow rapidly.
'A Timothy Leary of the Viral Video Age' The Atlantic
'The lesson of history is not to give up, that seemingly hard problems [of this sort] often find solutions.'
Peter Woit is a mathematical physicist at Columbia University. He is an outspoken critic of string theory, which for decades has been the leading candidate for a unified theory of physics. He is known for saying the theory is so flawed that it is “not even wrong.” Woit is author of the popular science blog titled 'Not Even Wrong' which has been featured in Discover, Seed, and New Scientist.' Woit is also the author of 'Quantum Theory, Groups and Representations: An Introduction' and 'Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law for Unity in Physical Law.'
'To keep physics honest, we need watchdogs like Peter Woit.' - Scientific American
"A nuanced and responsible understanding of these compounds won’t harm the psychedelic movement, it will help it."
Shayla Love is a science journalist based in Brooklyn and a senior staff writer at Vice. Her work has won a Best Feature award from the Asian American Journalists Association and the Next Generation of Science Journalists Award from the World Health Summit, and has been shortlisted for Best Feature in the 2018 Association of British Science Writers Awards.
Her works focuses on everything from philosophy, to psychedelics, AI to mental health. She is one of the most exciting, up-and-coming journalists around.
“I was always attracted by the cosmos— the deep, dark mysteries it held have always seduced me.”
Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Yale, where she also directs the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities. She is the author of 'Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos.' She was also the first woman in Astrophysics to be elected as a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge.
Priya is widely regarded for her work in mapping dark matter, dark energy, and particularly her work in gravitational lensing, as well in models describing the assembly and accretion histories of supermassive black holes.
'She has pioneered the mapping and modeling of the universe’s invisible contents.' - Quanta Magazine
“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
Sam Vaknin is a professor of psychology, physicist, and author of the first book ever on "narcissistic abuse", "Malignant Self-love: narcissism Revisited". He also runs the website by the same name hosting thousands of hours of content and cited research. His work challenges us to consider how narcissism has become one of the driving forces of our age. Vaknin is best placed to understand this. He is, in his own words, a “pure-bred narcissist”, and has twice been diagnosed with NPD. In 1985, while working in the City of London, he submitted himself for diagnosis, because “I wanted to understand why I was destroying my relationship with my fiancée.”
Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the LSE. His main research interests are human behaviour and happiness, and the relationships between them, particularly as they apply to policy. He is author of the Sunday Times bestselling book Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After. He is alsohost and creator of the hit Duck / Rabbit podcast about the problems of polarisation in our society, and is the founder of the Lifetime Wellbeing Cooperative™.
“One of the most rigorous articulations of the new mood of acceptance...a persuasive demolition of many of our cultural stories about how we ought to live” - Guardian on Happy Ever After.
“Sometimes the greatest scientific breakthroughs happen because someone ignores the prevailing pessimism.”
Nessa Carey is a groundbreaking British biologist working in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology. She is International Director of the technology transfer organization PraxisUnico and a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London.
Carey published her first popular science book in 2011 and has specialised in introducing the public to the strangest and most important aspects of the latest genetic research.She promotes the movement of scientists between academia and industry, lecturing often to school students and early career scientists.
'Carey shows herself to be a gifted writer that can make this field accessible for readers new to the topic' - The Inquisitive Biologist
"I have not been surprised to hear some scientists openly talking about a crisis in cosmology."
Oslo-based philosopher of science, Bjørn Ekeberg researches the limits of scientific knowledge. His scholarship combines communication theory and cybernetics, science and technology studies, political science, philosophy, and history of thought.
Famous for his critical stance towards the standard models of cosmology, Ekeberg has established himself as one of the foremost thinkers in the philosophy of science. He is the author of Metaphysical Experiments: Physics and the Invention of the Universe.
"Ekeberg provides a unique synthesis that will be of interest to philosophers of science and contemplative scientists alike." Graham Harman
Monica Black is Professor of Modern Europe at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, focusing on how National Socialism engulfed all aspects of German life till 1945. Her work aims to understand the formation and defense of 'moral worlds' which determine our sense of right and wrong. The questions which animate her work are existential and epistemic, a thinker not concerned with the ready-made archives of most academic study. Her insights about the worst aspects of progress inspire and push us to do better now!
"Society will need to shed some of its obsession for causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing why but only what."
Kenneth Cukier is deputy executive editor and the host of the hugely popular weekly podcast , Babbage. He is the coauthor of the New York Times Bestselling book “Big Data” with Viktor Mayer-Schönberger. In 2016 he was elected as a trustee of Chatham House, a British international affairs institute. In 2017 he was named an associate fellow at the University of Oxford's Said Business School, where he speaks about artificial intellingence and buissness.An internationally respected journalist, Kenneth was the technology editor of the Wall Street Journal and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune and Foreign Affairs.
‘One of the world’s most respected data experts’ - The LSE
Anne Katrin Schlag is a Chartered Psychologist and Head of Research at Drug Science. She leads the research for Drug Science, where she focuses on controversies surrounding psychedelics, medical cannabis, the improvement of patient access, and the continued development of education and stakeholder communication. She holds Honorary Fellowships at both Imperial College London and King’s College London and is scientific advisor to the Primary Care Cannabis Network.
'I am interested in the details - the small moments that make up the every-day and which often have a larger echo.'
Miranda Keeling is a writer, actor, film-maker and winner of the BBC’s Norman Beaton Radio Drama award. She writes plays, screenplays, short stories, articles and poems. She is the author of The Year I stopped to Notice' which was inspired by her popular Twitter account. Her writing-style is all about elevating the ordinary - stopping to notice surroundings and weave what she sees into stories that are by turns - tiny, vast, surreal, magical, poignant and familiar.
'This book is a delight ... the world is full of little surprises, momentary little fountains of pleasure and beauty, that could be visible to all of us if we learned to stop and notice as Miranda Keeling does.' - Philip Pullman
''We call to one another in the darkness of the Internet, reuniting with hosts of friends and followers, but the act is all theater.'
Grafton Tanner is the author of 'The Hours Have Lost Their Clock: The Politics of Nostalgia', 'The Circle of the Snake: Nostalgia and Utopia in the Age of Big Tech', and 'Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts'. His work focuses on nostalgia, technology, and the rhetoric of neoliberalism, and his writing has appeared in such venues as NPR, The Nation, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Real Life.
Tanner also hosts Delusioneering, an audio series about the myths of capitalism, and writes and performs music with his band Superpuppet. He’s currently writing a book on the re-emergence of exorcism in the late twentieth century.
'Tanner’s meditation on looking back may be just what we need to dare look forward again.' – Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock
“Transformation through turmoil is the most remarkable phenomenon I have ever come across.”
Steve Taylor is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University and author of several best-selling books in the fields of psychology and spirituality. He regularly appears in the media in the UK, and has been recently featured on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, BBC Breakfast, Radio FiveLive and TalkRadio. Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness which is happening on our planet at present.’
Taylor's main interest is in transpersonal psychology, which investigates higher states of consciousness and 'awakening' experiences. His most recent book is Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation.
“Opens our eyes to a new way of understanding the world, and is also a pleasure.” – Christopher Ryan
“I love philosophy but it shouldn’t be just for the elite. We should all be asking these questions.”
Joanna Kavenna is an award-winning writer. A seasoned traveler, she was born in the UK, but has lived in the US, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Her travels led to her first book, The Ice Museum, which details her experience traveling in the remote North. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.
Her latest book, A Field Guide to Reality, recognizes the importance of philosophy and believes that philosophy should be accessible to everyone. Written as a satire on philosophy and academia, it explores the absurdity of the quest for the meaning of life.
"Wonderful, impossible, dynamic" - Observer
“Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of her wonders.”
Simon Blackburn is an academic philosopher known for his work on meta-ethics and his attempts to popularise philosophy to a wider audience. He has published over a dozen books on various philosophical issues both for public and academic audiences, and has appeared on shows such as Radio 4's The Moral Maze and PBS's Closer to Truth. He is known for proposing a meta-ethical view called 'quasi-realism' which proposes that ethical statements are projections of emotional attitudes as if they were real features of the world.
His latest book, On Truth (2018), examines various philosophical approaches to the concept of truth, in order to interrogate what it is, how we should think about it, and why it matters.
"Learned, astute, admirably sensible, and possesses an elegant and clear prose style." The Guardian
Corine Besson is Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Sussex and Director of the Centre for Logic and Language at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London. Her principal areas of research are epistemology, the philosophy of logic and the philosophy of language, working on the philosophical work of the great author Lewis Caroll. On which she has completed a book for Oxford University Press on the relevance of Lewis Carroll’s regress argument (in his Mind 1895 paper ‘What the Tortoise Said to Achilles’) to key debates in the philosophy of logic and reasoning. Its (working) title is: Logic, Reasoning and Regresses: A Defence of Logical Cognitivism.
'Free speech so important it should be taught alongside consent’ - Arif Ahmed
Arif Ahmed is a reader in philosophy at the University of Cambridge, where he writes on rational choice, Wittgenstein and religion. He is a fellow at Gonville and Caius College.
Arif has campaigned for free speech in universities for over a decade, most recently when he led a campaign to liberalise Cambridge’s free-speech policy. He is an atheist and a libertarian and his philosophical views are closest to those of David Hume and Friedrich Hayek.
“We are smart enough to realize that we are stupid, and stupid enough to make the problem of becoming smarter hard.”
Anders Sandberg is a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, where his research focusses on the societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technologies. He is also research associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics.
A regular commentator and participant of public debates concerning human enhancement, Anders comes to the festival in support of an exciting transhuman future. On Twitter he describes himself as an academic jack of all trades, and we are sure he is a master of some.
'He might just be the most interesting academic at Oxford' - Robert Wiblin and Keiran Harris.
"Philosophers try to understand what makes us the way we are; what is essential to our being qua humans; what are accidental or arbitrary features."
Havi Carel is Professor of Philosophy and an expert on experiences of illness. At 35, she was told she had 10 years to live, diagnosed with an incredibly rare respiratory disease. This experience turned philosophy into a discipline of immediate practical concern for her, rather than an abstract theoretical enterprise. She has since worked closely with the NHS to provide a 'philosophical tool-kit for patients'. In Carel's work, philosophy is returned to an essential art of living.
'Mental health is defined not by how well an individual can adapt to their society but by how well society adjusts to the needs of its people.'
Madeleine Ritts works as the team lead for a community mental health and addictions program at a hospital in downtown Toronto. She is involved in organizing work around poverty and homelessness and holds a practice-based research position at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. She has written for Aeon, Jacobin and Now Magazine.
'If sex isn't worth of its own moral category, then nor is sexual harassment or rape'.
Fearlessly radical and provocative , Louise Perry is a writer and campaigner based in London. She is a columnist at the New Statesman and a features wirter for the Daily Mail.
Louise is the Press Officer for the campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which documents cases in which UK women have been killed and defendants have claimed in court that they died as a result of ‘rough sex’. Her book the Case Against Sexual Revolution was described as a 'must read' for conservatives and feminists alike.
'She's right - and courageous' - Mary Kenny
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