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Can Knowledge and Love Help Lead the Good Life ? – The Story of Philosophy Series

January 9, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm GMT

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Join London ii hosts Flick Hardingham, and Irene JK as we reflect on Bertrand Russell’s ideas are relevant (or not) in today’s society and our own lives. Some questions to prompt your curiosity.

Nobel-winning English mathematician, logician, philosopher, and humanist Bertrand Russell, was one of the most influential thinkers of his time. His views on mathematics and logic lay the foundations for a life filled with intellectual exploration. Bertrand Russell also explored topics like religion, education, society and ethics throughout his life. His writings on the humanitarian and pacifist worldview were particularly influential. Many of his essays and lectures still resonate in our era. He launched an enquiry about what makes life worthwhile while exploring through different lenses of our being. He was a prolific writer and well-respected public intellectual. In this salon, we will explore the below themes along with other topics based on the group’s interest :

  • Russell was a huge proponent of scientific education. But he also acknowledged the role of humanities. He wrote, “In a mechanistic civilisation, there is grave danger of a crude utilitarianism, which sacrifices the whole aesthetic side of life to what is called ‘efficiency”.  How can we preserve and nurture the aesthetic side of life in this technological-driven age? Can we make space for fruitful boredom where continued online presence is a part of our modern lives? 
  • Russell wrote, “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.” Can love and knowledge help us lead the good life?
  • In one of the Reith Lectures, he spoke about “The Role of Individuality”, he concludes the lecture with “If life is to be saved from boredom relieved only by disaster, means must be found of restoring individual initiative, not only in things that are trivial but in the things that really matter. I do not mean that we should destroy those parts of modern organisation upon which the very existence of large populations depends, but I do mean that the organisation should be much more flexible, more relieved by local autonomy, and less oppressive to the human spirit through its impersonal vastness than it has become through its unbearably rapid growth and centralisation, with which our ways of thought and feeling have been unable to keep pace.” We are slowly experiencing decentralisation in various aspects of our lives. Can we find a home and flourish in these changing times? 

This salon is part of an 11-month Interintellect series exploring the evolution and story of Western philosophers and their ideas through ‘The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. In subsequent months, we will explore key philosophers by reading the relevant chapter of Durant’s book and additional texts. Click here to find out more about this salon series and join us on this journey exploring the story of philosophy.

Active Participation

The group will be most valuable if we all set out to contribute in the spirit of vigorous and open discussion. Our salons’ duration ranges between 2.5-3 hours. We look forward to seeing you there.

Cover Image Credit : Galleria degli Uffizi, Botticelli: Primavera via NYR

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January 9, 2022
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm GMT
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