Philosophy For Our Times

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Philosophy for our Times features debates and talks with the world’s leading thinkers on today’s biggest ideas. This live recording podcast is brought to you by the Institute of Art and Ideas – described by Total Politics as “Europe’s answer to TED” and host to the annual philosophy and music festival HowTheLightGetsIn.Visit for more.
Updated: 23 min 35 sec ago

E149 | The Cult of Mindfulness | Vishpani Blomfield, Linda Woodhead, Miguel Farias

April 16, 2019 - 10:50
From yoga retreats to mindfulness, meditation is fashionable and now even prescribed by the UK's National Health Service. Yet in some cases it can lead to depression and even psychosis. Is it a mistake to think that self-exploration and being at one with ourselves are necessarily good things? Would it be better to deal with our anxieties through action? Or is meditation the perfect antidote to modern life and a route to transcendental peace? The Buddha Pill author Miguel Farias, Buddhist teacher and broadcaster Vishvapani Blomfield, and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead explore how we can reach peace. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E148 | The Problem with Materialism | John Ellis, Susan Blackmore, Hilary Lawson

April 9, 2019 - 10:31
The idea that the world is made of physical stuff alone has been central to scientific progress. But our theories do not account for experience or thought, and the particles of contemporary theoretical physics have no dimensions, so that material seemingly vanishes. Might materialism be a profound mistake? Should we see the world as being at least partly immaterial, or can stuff alone explain the universe? CERN physicist John Ellis, Consciousness author Susan Blackmore and Closure theorist Hilary Lawson. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E147 | Should we live forever? | Patricia MacCormack, Anders Sandberg, Janne Teller

April 2, 2019 - 13:19
From gene therapy and fad diets to cryonically frozen corpses, many still hope to find a way to live forever. Some scientists are starting to think death might be reversible. But Heidegger famously thought life's transience gave it meaning. Does our fear of death prevent us from living fully? Can we enhance experience by embracing its end? Or could science one day banish death's shadow?Philosopher and author of 'Post-Human Ethics' Patricia MacCormack, Oxford transhumanist Anders Sandberg and author and novelist Janne Teller imagine a life without end. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E146 | The End of Humans | Interview with Patricia MacCormack

March 29, 2019 - 12:18
Patricia MacCormack is Professor of Continental Philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University, known for her work on Posthuman ethics. In this exclusive interview, Patricia explains why she thinks the world would be a better place without humans. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E145 | The Future of Pornography | Brooke Magnanti, Finn Mackay, Rowan Pelling, Peter Tatchell

March 26, 2019 - 10:34
Many believe that porn's dark fantasies risk corrupting relationships and society. Has this arisen because pornography is largely created by men? Could feminist pornography featuring authentic sex, diverse bodies and female perspectives offer a truly liberating alternative? Or is porn fundamentally incompatible with intimacy and a problem for all of us until its abolished? Feminist thinker Finn Mackay, author of Belle de Jour: Diary of a London Call Girl Brooke Magnanti, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Erotic Review editor Rowan Pelling imagine the future of pornography. In association with the New College of the Humanities. This debate references adult content.

E144| The Sex Myth | Interview with Brooke Magnanti

March 22, 2019 - 13:40
Brooke Magnanti is best known by her pen name Belle de Jour, from the blog behind Secret Diary of a Call Girl. In this exclusive interview, Brooke explains how we should free ourselves from the shackles surrounding sex from shame, to guilt and toxic femininity. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E143 | The New Enlightenment | Julian Baggini, Amie Thomasson, Hilary Lawson

March 19, 2019 - 10:13
'Dare to know' was the radical rallying cry of the Enlightenment. But since then, philosophers from Nietzsche to Derrida have argued there are limits to knowledge so profound that truth is an impossible goal. Is the enlightenment dream over? Or can we forge a New Enlightenment that abandons ultimate truth but provides us with directions just as radical and exciting as the original? A Short History of Truth author, Julian Baggini, post-realist philosopher Hilary Lawson and metaphysician Amie Thomasson. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

Ep 142 | Truth in a post truth world | Interview with Hilary Lawson

March 15, 2019 - 13:07
Hilary Lawson is a post realist philosopher, known for his theory of Closure. In this exclusive interview, Hilary explains how we should understand truth in a post truth world and why we need Enlightenment thinking now more than ever.

E141 | Why is there something rather than nothing? | Amie Thomasson, George Ellis, Rupert Sheldrake

March 12, 2019 - 10:21
The fundamental problem of philosophy, argued Heidegger, is 'why is there something rather than nothing?' Now, some scientists claim nothing doesn't exist and that even deepest space is full of virtual particles. Have we misunderstood the very idea of nothing? Is this little more than a logical mistake, or might understanding nothing just be the key to explaining the universe? Templeton prize winning cosmologist George Ellis, metaphysician Amie Thomasson and author of The Science Delusion Rupert Sheldrake unlock the mystery. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

The Secrets of Consciousness: An Interview with Rupert Sheldrake

March 8, 2019 - 18:24
Rupert Sheldrake is a renowned author and biologist, known for his research into parapsychology. In this exclusive interview, Rupert shares with us the secrets of consciousness, putting forward a panpsychist view of what it is to be conscious and debunking why materialism has failed.

E139 | Leadership in the Age of Trump | Jess Phillips, Jon Barnes, Tania Branigan

March 5, 2019 - 10:16
There are many who see Trump and Putin as a threat to world peace. But are they in power because we believe that strong leaders are good for us? Is it a mistake to imagine that leaders can solve all of our problems? Can we imagine a politics where we voted for policies rather than personalities? Or do we need leaders, however flawed they might be? Outspoken Labour MP Jess Phillips, Guardian journalist and China expert Tania Branigan and author of Democracy squared Jon Barnes imagine a different sort of politics. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E138 | The Digital Revolution | Interview with Jon Barnes

March 1, 2019 - 11:17
Jon Barnes is a guest lecturer at the world's top business schools, innovator and author. In this exclusive interview, Jon shares with us how technology is already being used to shape the way we vote, organise and think about politics. From Democracy Squared to Tech Monopolies, Jon's work has focused on the relationship between technology and democracy and here he shares why he thinks we should be optimistic about the digital revolution which can democratise our democracies. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E137 | Thinking across the world | Julian Baggini

February 26, 2019 - 13:32
How have ideas across the world shaped the places from which they emerged? Author and philosopher Julian Baggini explores global thinking and its varied influence on our cultures, our ideals and how we see ourselves. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

Bonus episode: Behind the scenes at our music and philosophy festival HowTheLightGetsIn!

February 22, 2019 - 16:05
In this special bonus episode, we go behind the scenes of HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest music and philosophy festival, to find out the philosophy behind the festival and hear from the producers about what speakers, ideas, music and comedy will be abuzz at HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2019 from 24-27th May. Tickets here: Or check our social media: Facebook: Twitter:

E135 | What Is Justice? | Sarah Langford

February 19, 2019 - 17:21
Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours. Can our legal system ever keep its promise of justice? Author of ‘In Your Defence’ Sarah Langford tells her story of a life in the courtroom, and shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E134 | Do we need romance to be happy? | Bella DePaulo, Anders Sandberg, Heidi Rice

February 12, 2019 - 11:33
From medieval legends to Hollywood endings to the horoscope, we are led to believe that lifelong love means happiness. But a recent survey of 814 separate studies showed single people to be happier, more fulfilled and less stressed. Is it time to stop seeing romantic love as all-important? Could living by and for ourselves be radically liberating? Or is it the search for love that makes us human? Psychologist and author of Singled Out Bella DePaulo, Oxford transhumanist Anders Sandberg and romance author Heidi Rice challenge our ideas about the narratives of love. In association with the New College of the Humanities.

E133 | Truth, Science and the Universe | Peter Atkins, Sophia Roosth, Tim Lewens

February 5, 2019 - 10:17
Where once we made sense of the world using the idea of God, most of us now believe in a more scientific story, of an unfolding universe and evolution. Yet scientists increasingly see their theories as useful models rather than ultimate accounts. Is science then just another human description limited by language, culture and circumstance? Or are we right to assume that science can uncover eternal truths about the universe? Author of Conjuring the Universe Peter Atkins, Harvard historian of science Sophie Roosth and Cambridge philosopher and author of the Meaning of Science Tim Lewens scrutinise the limits and possibilities of science. In association with the New College of the Humanities:

E132 | The Morality of the Tribe | David Miller, Natalie Cargill, Peter Tatchell

January 29, 2019 - 11:53
We think everyone should be treated equally. Yet we also think we are right to care most about our family, our friends and our lovers, and 82% of charitable donations in the UK are given to the causes closest to home. Should we just accept that our ethics are in practice tribal? Or is a universal concern for humanity the bedrock of a civilised culture? Barrister and founder of Effective Giving UK Natalie Cargill, Oxford political theorist and author of On Nationality David Miller and human rights activist Peter Tatchell examine the tribal nature of morality.

E131 | Fires of Progress | Steven Pinker, Tariq Ali, Elif Sarican

January 22, 2019 - 10:15
Most think that social progress should be driven by ideas and persuasion not force. Yet from the French and Russian Revolutions to the Suffragettes, violent action has been instrumental to generating change. Is violence ever justified as a political strategy? Or should we always venerate Gandhi over Guevara? Enlightenment Now author Steven Pinker, filmmaker and author of The Clash of Fundamentalisms Tariq Ali and Kurdish Women's Movement activist Elif Sarican grapple with the forces of history. In association with the New College of the Humanities:

Bonus Episode: The Struggle for Social Justice | Angela Eagle

January 17, 2019 - 10:12
Britain is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, so why do so many feel short-changed? Labour MP and former minister Angela Eagle sees an urgent need to protect social cohesion and makes a case for radical economic reform. In association with the New College of the Humanities: