HTLGI: Re-thinking things

HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest music and philosophy festival, has released its full programme for the HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2023 event, taking place from the 26-29th May 2023 in the idyllic booktown of Hay-on-Wye, Wales. From Nobel Laureates and Pullitzer-Prize winners to political activists, HowTheLightGetsIn boasts an unparalleled gathering of the world’s leading thinkers. This year will see none other than firebrand philosopher Slavoj Žižek, key adversary to Trump Fiona Hill, superstar string-theorist Brian Greene, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, visionary economist Gillian Tett, and masterful novelist Esther Freud, amongst a wealth of other notable speakers. 

Following the theme Error and Renaissance, the festival will see thinkers across the fields of philosophy, science, politics and art come head to head to work through our present moment, find new ways of understanding the world and rebuild afresh.

Re-thinking Things

Objects fascinate us and have done so from a very early age. One of the first things we do as babies when we start to interact with the world is explore the objects around us and, as any parent will tell us, we were often stopped from getting to an object of desire, from banging it, or putting it in our mouths, taking it apart or submerging it in water.

When a little older, some of our favourite stories revolved around objects that went beyond the ordinary, such as a ring of invisibility (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), a wardrobe (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), a dial (His Dark Materials), and wands, hats, books, mirrors – among many others in the Harry Potter stories.

I will invite the children that attend my session to make a selection from a collection of objects with which to do philosophy. They will include a ring and a necklace; a rock; a doughnut; pencils; a book; a ball; a crown; a box; a chair; a wand; a diary; a skull; a switch; glasses; paintings; money, and the pupils themselves!

Doing philosophy through the use of objects shows how the ordinary can become the extraordinary – given a renaissance or ‘rebirth’ – simply by the power of the mind and the understanding, curiosity and imagination when in the right community of like-minded people. Socrates always said that he was a midwife to people’s ideas, and when we do philosophy we don’t just bring people to give birth to their ideas but also to ‘re-birth’ them. It would be an error to see these everyday objects as boring or uninteresting. The word ‘error’ itself has its roots in ‘straying’, and philosophy is a kind of permissible straying from the path of everyday expectations and perceptions. So, this is an invitation to stray among the everyday to see things differently think things and re-think things as we, ourselves, may be considered re-thinking things.

By Peter Worley

More details on HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2023, the world's largest music and philosophy festival taking place in the idyllic book town of Hay, Wales this 26-29th May, can be found here. As a festival partner, The Philosophy Foundation is offering a 20% discount on tickets with the code PHILFOUND23. Don't miss out on tickets here.

For those of you who can't be with us in person, all the debates and talks from the festival will gradually be released online in the months following the festival on the Institute of Art and Ideas online platform, IAI.TV.

Posted by Lucia Araniyasundaran on 27th April 2023 at 12:00am

Category: Philosophy