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January 2017

The Nature of Money (the Forum)

11 January, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What is money, where does it come from, and why does it sometimes fail to make us better off? The banality of money makes it appear neutral with respect to political, religious, or moral values. Should we try to answer these questions in a value-neutral way, or does money shelter a value system hiding in plain sight?

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Work: The Digital Economy and the Labouring Body (the Forum)

17 January, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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From the impact of de-industrialization to the emerging forms of labour generated by technological advances, we are witnessing a transformation of work. What impact does the digital economy have on our understanding of work? Does it alter our conception of the labouring body? Where should we look to make sense of work in the contemporary, globalized world?

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The Social Lives of Microbes (the Forum)

24 January, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What are microbial societies? In what ways do they resemble human societies and in what ways do they differ? Can the same ideas that explain cooperation in larger animals also explain cooperation in microbes? And what can we learn from microbes about what it is to be human? In this panel discussion, philosopher Maureen O’Malley and microbiologists Kevin Foster and Sara Mitri discuss the social lives of microbes.

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On Objects (the Forum)

31 January, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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We tend to pay more attention to living beings than objects, failing to notice the complexities of the things that surround us, neglecting the differences between "the obsidian fragment, the gypsum crystal, the capsicum pepper, and the propane flame" (Ian Bogost). But what if we are wrong to think of objects as inert and unimportant? What if objects can act? What if objects can help us to bridge the perceived gap between ourselves and the world around us? Our panel will consider the significance of objects between the personal and philosophical.

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February 2017

Music and the Absolute (the Forum)

6 February, 6:00 pm8:00 pm
Shaw Library, Old Building, 6th Floor, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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In the film Amadeus, Mozart remarks that ‘his composition has the exact amount of notes’, hinting at some kind of Absolute. For contemporary composer Nimrod Borenstein, there is only one solution: the right number of notes at the right place, as if his music had always existed. Are there philosophical arguments that support such claims? We bring together a composer, a pianist, a piano, and a philosopher to explore this question.

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The House that Philosophy Built (the Forum)

14 February, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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This panel will consider the ways in which philosophers have engaged with architecture and explores how architects have thought philosophically about their own work. Are there are philosophical ideals at the heart of civic building projects and social housing programmes? What are the principles of good design and how could a three dimensional space represent an idea? Is the primary purpose of a building aesthetic, social or moral? Do we judge a building on the beauty of its structure, the practicality of its form or the human interaction it enables? And how should we imagine the skyline of the future?

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Existentialism is Easy (the Forum at the LSE Literary Festival)

24 February, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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"Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?", asks Martin Heidegger in his Introduction to Metaphysics. In this panel, we explore the ideas of being and nothing as described by existentialism’s most famous thinkers: Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus. We ask what is the allure of the existentialists that their reputations should endure in popular and contemporary culture? And how is it that existentialist philosophy can be, at once, avidly consumed by modern audiences and unapologetically esoteric? Coffee, French cigarettes, and black polo necks not provided; intelligent discussion and provocative questions most definitely are.

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To Be Born: Birth, Existence, and Responsibility (the Forum at the LSE Literary Festival)

25 February, 11:00 am12:30 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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In this event, world-renowned philosopher Luce Irigaray will speak about her new book, To Be Born, which reflects upon the nature of human existence through an analysis of birth. Examining the mysteries of human origins, Irigaray will discuss the ways in which, despite the accidents of our birth, we can take responsibility for our own lives. Respondents Tanja Staehler and Mahon O’Brien will consider the philosophical, practical, and political implications of Irigaray’s claims.

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March 2017

The Minds of Whales (the Forum)

2 March, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What is it like to be a whale? How do they think and what do they feel? How are their social groups structured, and how do whale ‘cultures’ arise? And how has human thought and human culture been influenced by interaction with whales? In this dialogue, two internationally recognized whale experts — prize-winning author Philip Hoare and marine biologist Luke Rendell — discuss the inner lives of whales.

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To Infinity and Beyond: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Literature (the Forum)

7 March, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What does the infinite mean to us as finite beings? Can we root our thinking in the finite, or does the idea of the infinite always return? Does thinking philosophically about the infinite inevitably lead us to theology? Thinkers from philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary studies will assess whether the idea of the infinite is something that we should cultivate, avoid, or simply try to understand.

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Citizen Science (the Forum)

16 March, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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From medicine and GMOs to cyber-security and climate change, scientific research is vital to modern life. On the other hand, many of us struggle to get to grips with its increasingly complexity. How does this fit with our ideals of democracy? And in an era of mistrust of experts, does science have a legitimacy problem? Our panel considers a radical proposal to rethink the distinction between scientist and citizen.

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Philosophy and Nazism (the Forum)

23 March, 6:00 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Nazism pervaded every level of German society, and philosophers were not immune. While much scholarship has understandably focused on recriminations of key figures, tonight’s panel reflect on some broader questions raised: Can philosophy help us understand the nature of evil? And does thinking philosophically really help us live better lives?

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April 2017

Hypocrisy (the Forum)

25 April, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, 99 Aldwych
London, WC2B 4JF United Kingdom
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Why do we tend to judge hypocrites more harshly than those whose actions, however bad, appear consistent with their beliefs? Is hypocrisy better understood as inevitable weakness of the will or as inexcusable deception? In this event, the panel will ask: Is hypocrisy a moral dead-end or a step on the path to better behaviour? Is there such a thing as ‘honest’ hypocrisy? Which contemporary issues tend to make hypocrites of us, and are we, the hypocrites, really all that bad?

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May 2017

Prejudice (the Forum)

3 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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With recent political events and a spike in the reporting of hate crime, the concept of prejudice has become prominent once more. But are we more or less prejudiced than at other points in our history? And is prejudice always wrong, or even avoidable? If it is avoidable, how can this be achieved? We put these questions to a philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, and activist.

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Celebrity (the Forum)

8 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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If video killed the radio star, how are we to understand celebrity in a world of Twitter, YouTube, and reality TV? Has the social function of celebrity changed, or are new kinds of celebrities performing the same function in different ways? Our panel will consider what celebrities are for, what their rights and responsibilities might be, and what our attitude towards celebrities ought to be.

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Capitalism (the Forum)

16 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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For much of the early part of the twentieth century, political theorists debated the moral and economic merits of capitalism in competition with communism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the triumph of the market economy, those on the political left briefly flirted with the idea of market socialism. But critics of capitalism are running out of alternative ideas, to the point that a placard at an anti-capitalism march proclaimed ‘Replace Capitalism with Something Nice!’. Are we stuck with capitalism? How far can it be modified? How far should it be modified?

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Film (the Forum)

23 May, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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"Film is made for philosophy", wrote Stanley Cavell, "it shifts or puts different light on whatever philosophy has said about appearance and reality, about actors and characters, about scepticism and dogmatism, about presence and absence". Does the language of cinema lend itself to questions of metaphysics and mortality? How can a character, a close up, or a cut represent a concept? In this panel, a filmmaker, a film critic, and a philosopher explore the ways in which film has engaged with philosophy and ask how far we might consider film itself a philosophical medium.

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October 2017

Is Post-modernism to Blame for Our Post-truth World? (the Forum)

2 October, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Did Derrida make us do it? Is our current situation the inevitable outcome of the intellectual adventuring of the twentieth century that critiqued grand narratives and challenged absolute truths? Or should we call upon the critical scepticism of post-modernism and post-structuralism with renewed vigour, to better see through the smoke and mirrors of contemporary culture? We ask what the relationship is between facts, alternative facts, and fiction, and explore the precarious status of truth in the twenty-first century.

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Invasive Species (the Forum)

10 October, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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From parakeets to grey squirrels, signal crayfish to Japanese knotweed, with the help of human beings, non-native species have adeptly squawked, crawled, and rooted themselves in unfamiliar ecosystems. Should we welcome these invaders as a sign of cross-species cosmopolitanism or attempt to remove them? Are some non-native species friends and others foes? When does conservation become ‘green xenophobia’ (Fred Pearce)?…

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Digital Selves (the Forum)

17 October, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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How does our ubiquitous digital culture affect our sense of self? Is the self distorted, or do we now possess an invigorating digital selfdom? Should we revise our philosophical conceptions of the self in the light of social media? Our panel of writers, artists, and political theorists explore what happens to memory, emotion, and thought in the age of Google.

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