Top philosophers to debate in Malmesbury
INTERNATIONAL figures from the world of philosophy are heading for the “Athens of England” next weekend.
Hopes are high that the sixth annual Philosophytown festival will act as a springboard for future developments including a coffee house and book shop in the high street.
Director Michael Cuthbert said plans for a philosophy garden behind the Old Bell Hotel were already on their way and a route for a second Philosophers Way linking Malmesbury with Oxford had been surveyed.
“The philosophy garden is a major priority,” he said. But he believed the festival could eventually have an impact on the town centre.
“We’re trying to get a coffee house and book shop opened in Malmesbury. We think it would make a real contribution to the high street,” he explained.
“We think with all this tremendous work that has been going on in the neighbourhood plan scheme we can help attract people to the high street.”
“We see this next year as the great leap forward and this festival is going to be the launch pad.”
He said the festival had already helped to influence the BBC History Weekend, which comes to Malmesbury at the end of the month. “We’re in dialogue with them to do something.”
Thinkers like Wittgenstein and Edmund Burke provide the subject matter for the discussions and lectures, along with Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atom bomb.
Current MP Jesse Norman is due to talk about past MP Edmund Burke, Reader in Philosophy at the University of Reading Severin Shroeder will cover Wittgenstein and philosopher and biographer of Bertrand Russell, Ray Monk will be discussing Oppenheimer.
Research Professor in Philosophy at Cardiff University Christopher Norris, Reader in Philosophy of Mind at the University of Kent Julia Tanney and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Reading University John Cottingham are also on ther panel.
“I think we are pretty unique so we get some pretty good people,” said Mr Cuthbert.
The Spectator founder Joseph Addison, MP for Malmesbury for nine years until his death in 1719 and widely regarded as a founder of modern journalism, features in one of the debates about the importance of coffee houses in political philosophy.
The festival starts on Friday evening in the Old Bell. Visit philosophytown.co.uk for details and ticket information.