This year’s theme is history and ideas and speakers will present Malmesbury’s and England’s rich legacy of the same from around about 1000 years ago, still vitally present in Malmesbury Abbey where King Athelstan’s tomb is located and the adjacent volunteer-run splendid Athelstan museum in the newly refurbished town hall.
Interest in Thomas Hobbes, the original inspiration of the Philosophytown continues, with talks on his intellectual context in the case of Robert Boyle, by Prof Michael Hunter of the University of London, who has flown in overnight from Philadelphia from a prize-giving for his internationally renowned writings on Boyle, and by his second lecture on John Aubrey, biographer of Hobbes.
Hobbes was a scholar of a European-wide reach and interest, influences formed by an 11 year exile in Paris. Director, Michael Cuthbert, "We begin an exploration of European continental focus of philosophy with an overview of the history of France’s traditions, and a side glance at the place of Spinoza from the Netherlands from Tariq Ali’s interesting position as an internationally influential public intellectual.
There are wider general philosophical reflections by two major thinkers: John Cottingham on contemporary moral philosophy and Ruud ter Meulen on the ethics of human medical enhancement. These themes will be taken up in future festivals.
Finally, we begin another line of thought to be followed in subsequent festivals, on the art of conversation and informed public opinion through the history of Joseph Addison, MP for Malmesbury 1708-1719 and the history of the coffee house."