Does Knowledge Set Us Free?
John Gray and Alain de Botton: In Conversation
The belief that knowledge is intrinsically liberating goes all the way back to the founder of western philosophy, Socrates, and beyond that to ancient religions and mystery cults – especially Gnosticism.
Today this belief is expressed in the idea that science can enable humankind to leave behind evils such as illness, poverty and even (according to some thinkers) mortality. A third version of this belief can be found in psychoanalysis, not in the form that was theorised by Freud but in this way it now exists in our culture: promising that self-knowledge can enable us to overcome our inner conflicts.
John Gray suggests that knowledge can’t set us free in any of these three ways. Instead, freedom for humans, lies in what the poet Keats called negative capability: being at peace with the world’s mystery.
He is coming to The School of Life to reveal how humans may only truly be free when we abandon our quest for knowledge.
John Gray is considered by many as the pre-eminent philosopher of our time. Having had a hugely successful academic career he entered the public consciousness with his book Straw Dogs, a worldwide best seller described as ‘That rarest of things, a contemporary work of philosophy, wholly accessible, and profoundly relevant to the rapidly evolving world’ (Will Self)
Joining John will be the philosopher and founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton.
Thursday 19 March 2015
Emmanual Centre, SW1P 3DW
Doors open 6.40pm