Ask a Philosopher: Simone de Beauvoir, David Hume, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche

Julian Baggini on David Hume

Clare Carlisle on Søren Kierkegaard

Sue Prideaux on Friedrich Nietzsche

Jonathan Webber on Simone de Beauvoir

What can philosophers tell us about today’s problems? Can they ideas be applied to contemporary issues and help us solve everyday conflicts? In this special extended event, we put some of the theories of history’s greatest thinkers to the test.

Julian Baggini turns to David Hume to question the possibility of belief and knowledge in a sceptical age. Clare Carlisle considers Kierkegaard’s theory that anxiety was the key to understanding human psychology and its connections to spirituality. Sue Prideaux applies Nietzsche’s ‘There are no truths, only perspectives’ to fake news to ask if we can’t know the entirety of the world, can we know the whole truth about anything? And Jonathan Webber discusses Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of how stereotypes can influence the behaviour of the stereotyped and whether this influence can be resisted.

The second part of this event includes your questions and problems that need solving. You can submit these at time of booking by emailing, or hand them in at the beginning of the event. From the big news stories of the day to a family disagreement, no problem is too big or too small for our panel.

Julian Baggini’s books include Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind, What’s It All About?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, the bestselling The Pig that Wants to be Eaten, Do They Think you’re Stupid?, The Ego Trick, The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think and Freedom Regained. He has written for various newspapers, magazines, academic journals and think tanks. His latest book is How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy. Follow him on Twitter @microphilosophy

Dr Clare Carlisle is Reader in Philosophy and Theology at King’s College, London. She is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and has written dozens of articles on philosophy for the Guardian. Her last book, On Habit, was named Outstanding Academic Title of 2014 by Choice, and she has recently edited George Eliot’s translation of Spinoza’s Ethics. She grew up in Manchester and studied philosophy and theology at Cambridge. Her new book is Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard.

Sue Prideaux’s first biography, Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Strindberg: A Life was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. The book jacket is Munch’s lithograph of Nietzsche from 1906 and rarely seen. Both Munch and Strindberg were influenced by Nietzsche. Her latest biography is I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Jonathan Webber is the Head of Philosophy at Cardiff University, President of the British Society for Ethical Theory and President of the UK Sartre Society. He is working on the ways in which moral thinking should be shaped by scientific psychology and particularly interested in how people have character traits, how much control we have over our behaviour, and how strongly we are influenced by social situations. He has published books and papers on existentialism, virtue ethics, and self-knowledge.

Tuesday 4 June

Ask a Philosopher

£11, £9

A £2 postage fee is charged where applicable

Recommended Age: 14+

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