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The European Exception? The Public Intellectual in Britain

Thinking in Public - Panel Discussion

The idea that philosophy might have a special role in the public life of a culture, that it might even be tied or allied in its own discipline to the virtue of public space, to the res publica, to public-ness, typically goes without saying in continental Europe. The philosopher should always be more than a mere reader and spectator of human thinking and doing, and should contribute to its public formation: the philosopher should be engagé.

In Britain, by contrast, even if there is some appetite to be informed about philosophy, there are, it seems, few calls for our culture and our public space to be informed by it. Moreover, when philosophers do ‘take to the streets’ themselves they are often derided as mere ‘popularisers’ by their peers. In short, the ‘engagé’ philosopher in Britain is neither embraced by society nor applauded by the professional discipline.

In this special event we will reflect on this ‘European exception’, and ask whether society or the philosophical profession in Britain would, in our time, benefit from efforts to make a distinctively philosophical contribution to thinking in public.


Chair: Lord Melvyn Bragg | talks
Panel: Professor A.C. Grayling | talks
Dr Julian Baggini | talks | www
Professor Kate Soper | talks


Date and Time:

26 June 2008 at 6:00 pm


2 hours



Old Theatre
LSE Old Building
Houghton Street
020 7955 6043
Show map

Organised by:

Forum for European Philosophy, LSE
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Additional Information:

This event is free and open to all, without registration

For further information on the Forum for European Philosophy, visit our website at www.philosophy-forum.org

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