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Literary Festival 2014: Understanding the Self


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Speaker(s): Mary Midgley, Jonathan Rée, Professor Raymond Tallis

Recorded on 28 February 2014 in Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building.

What is the self? Should we turn to philosophy, psychology or science in order to better understand it? Does the self even exist? In this panel, three thinkers respond to scientific claims that the self is an illusion, exposing the philosophical problems which such claims conceal. Returning us instead to the experience of selfhood, the speakers will discuss alternatives both to reductive scientific accounts and to traditional philosophical concepts of the self.

Mary Midgley is one of the most respected moral philosophers of her generation and the author of many books including Beast and Man, Wickedness, The Solitary Self and most recently Are you an Illusion?.

Jonathan Rée is a writer, philosopher and historian. His has written for the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, the Independent, Prospect, the Nation and the Evening Standard. His books include Philosophical Tales, Proletarian Philosophers, I See a Voice and The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy.

Raymond Tallis trained as a doctor before going on to become professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester. He was elected fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his research in clinical neuroscience. He retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer and has published fiction, poetry, cultural criticism and philosophical anthropology, including The Kingdom of Infinite Space, the widely praised Aping Mankind and most recently Reflections of a Metaphysical Flâneur.

This event forms part of LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2014, taking place from Monday 24 February - Saturday 1 March 2014, with the theme 'Reflections'.

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