AMA Announcement: Monday 1/8 1PM EST - Hilary Lawson, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, Founder of the HowTheLightGetsIn philosophy on post-realist philosophy and public philosophy


The mods of /r/philosophy are pleased to announce an upcoming AMA by Hilary Lawson, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, Founder of the HowTheLightGetsIn philosophy festival and Vice Chair of the LSE Forum for European Philosophy.

Hilary Lawson will be joining us on Monday January 8th at 1PM EST to discuss issues in post-realist philosophy, metaphysics and his work with public philosophy. Hear it from him:

Hilary Lawson

Hi reddit, I'm Hilary Lawson - post-realist philosopher, director of the Institute of Art and Ideas and founder of the world's largest philosophy and music festival HowTheLightGetsIn.

Born and raised in Bristol, England, I was awarded a scholarship to study PPE at Balliol College Oxford . As a post-graduate I came to see paradoxes of self-reference as the central philosophical issue and began a DPhil on The Reflexivity of Discourse. This later became the basis for my first philosophical book Reflexivity: The Post-Modern Predicament.

Alongside my more philosophical writing, I also pursued a media career following my studies. Within a few years I had created my own prime time television series 'Where There's Life' with a weekly UK audience in excess of ten million. In 1982, I went on to co-author a book based on the series and was appointed Editor of Programmes and later Deputy Chief Executive at the television station TV-am.

Meanwhile I continued to develop my philosophical thinking and had initial sketches of the theory later to become Closure. In 1985 I wrote Reflexivity: The Post-Modern Predicament as part of a series on modern European thought. In the book, I argued that the paradoxes of self-reference are central to philosophy and drive the writings of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida.

In the late 1980s I founded the production company TVF Media which made documentary and current affairs programming, including Channel 4's flagship international current affairs programme, The World This Week. I was editor of the programme, which ran weekly between 1987 and 1991. The programme predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, the war in Yugoslavia and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, amongst its other laudable achievements.

In the 1990s, I focused on writing Closure. It took a decade to complete and was published in 2001. The book has been described as the first non-realist metaphysics. Having begun my philosophical career as a proponent of postmodernism, latterly I became a critic arguing for the necessity of an overall framework and the need to move on from a focus on language.

Closure proposes that the human condition is to find ourselves on the cusp of openness and closure. The world is open and we, along with other living organisms, are able to apprehend and make sense of it through the process of closure. I would define closure as the holding of that which is different as one and the same. Human experience is seen to be the result of successive layers of closure, which I consider to be preliminary, sensory and inter-sensory closure. The highest level of closure, inter-sensory closure realises language and thought. The theory shifts the focus of philosophy away from language and towards an exploration of the relationship between openness and closure. An important element of the theory of closure is its own self-referential character.

I founded the Institute of Art and Ideas in 2008 with the aim of making ideas and philosophy a central part of cultural life. Our website, which posts to the sub, was launched in 2011. We then moved to publishing articles in 2013 and free philosophy courses on IAI Academy in 2014.

Links of Interest:

  • Routledge has partnered with the IAI to offer a generous 20% off all their philosophy books and a free giveaway each month. Click here for details.

  • Tickets and lineup for HowTheLightGetsIn 2018 can be found here - discounts available for students and U25s.

  • After the End of Truth: A debate with Hannah Dawson (KCL) and John Searle (Berkeley) on objective truth and alternative facts

  • What Machines Can't Do | Hilary Lawson in debate with David Chalmers (NYU) and cognitive scientist and sex robot expert Kate Devlin (Goldsmiths) on the question of machine minds

  • After Relativism: A debate on the pitfalls of relativism and potential solutions with Simon Blackburn and Michela Massimi


Please feel free to post questions for Hilary Lawson here. He will look at this thread before he starts and begin with some questions from here while the initial questions in the new thread come in.

Please join us in welcoming Hilary Lawson to our community!

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