Immanuel Kant’s ‘Dare To Know’ represented a foundational challenge to the Enlightenment. Yet, even today humanity finds it difficult to embrace new knowledge. This talk calls for the affirmation of the spirit of experimentation in every dimension of life.
Frank Furedi in conversation discussing his new book.
Frank in conversation with Professor Anthony Elliott, from a series of ‘Hawke Talks’ produced by the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia.
Today, private space is increasingly subject to public scrutiny. Where does the public domain start and end? Is a culture of transparency and revelation creating a refreshingly open society or a tyranny with nowhere to hide? This keynote debate also features David Aaronovitch of The Times, author and entrepreneur Andrew Keen, and Christine Rosen of the New America Foundation.
While humanist ideas have been around for a long time, he observes, they have never been more weakly affirmed than at present. Humanism begins to flourish in Renaissance Italy and finds more mature expression in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Modern determinisms such as nineteenth-century economic determinism - or today’s eco-determinism, biological determinism or psychological determinism - are all really evasions or excuses that diminish our own sense of taking responsibility for what happens. A Humanist outlook should equip us with an orientation towards reason, problem-solving and a healthy scepticism towards determinisms (or the fates) in the present day.
Today, society worries a great deal about the psychological and emotional pain people might suffer under any stress or pressure. We live in a world where people are viewed as primarily vulnerable, rather than robust. We are systematically encouraged to think we need help and advice from experts and professionals for just about everything. When humanity is seen like this, it becomes more difficult to trust other people.
Video of a lecture at the Institute of Ideas Academy 2013, including the Q&A session which followed, chaired by Dr Kevin Yuill.
A plenary lecture at the Institute of Ideas Academy 2013. This is the video of that lecture and the Q&A session which followed, chaired by Angus Kennedy of the Institute of Ideas.
What happens when a society discourages people from taking risks? In such a society, risk taking becomes equated with irresponsible behaviour and precaution is turned into a virtue. Such a society is likely to be uncomfortable with the virtue of tolerance and will attempt to foster a climate of conformist behaviour.
Generally, uncertainty is perceived as something negative. For example, world stock markets seem to fall relentlessly at the first whiff of a lack of benchmarks. But uncertainty can be an opportunity, too.
Debate with David Willetts, Laurie Penny and Ed Howker. Frank spoke against the motion, arguing that generation was one of the least useful sociological categories, and ridiculing the idea that the current cohort of twentysomethings is worse off than young people in the Seventies.