Festival Worth Thinking about; Paddy Shennan Previews Liverpool's First Two-Week Celebration of Philosophy

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), October 6, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Festival Worth Thinking about; Paddy Shennan Previews Liverpool's First Two-Week Celebration of Philosophy


LIVERPOOL is famous for being a city of great talkers and people who like to debate and discuss anything and everything - from the meaning of life to the meaning of John Lennon's I am The Walrus lyrics and Everton and Liverpool's current tactics and formations.

It's also a city famous for its community involvement and making big subjects accessible to all.

All of which explains why - nine years after it saw the launch of the north west's first philosophy in pubs group - the city is about to stage the region's first festival of philosophy, which aims to demystify what is often viewed as a baffling subject.

The first Philosophy in the City festival, which is being run by the University of Liverpool's Department of Philosophy, takes place in landmark venues across Liverpool - including the Bluecoat, Tate Liverpool, Sefton Park Palm House, FACT and the two cathedrals - from this Sunday, October 10, to Sunday, October 24.

Events will include Lennon, Songwriting, DIY City - an evening celebrating and discussing the lyrics and music of John Lennon (the Bluecoat, 5pm on Saturday, October 16, tickets pounds 3/pounds 2, contact the Bluecoat on 0151-702 5324) and The Habit of Happiness (which kicks off the festival at 8pm this Sunday, October 10, in the Metropolitan Cathedral's Crypt Concert Room, free of charge, please contact the Metropolitan Cathedral on 0151-709 9222 to book your place, or just turn up on the night - this event follows evening Mass, which begins at 7pm).

Other events include the closing Philosophy in Pubs: Philosophy and the City (Tate Liverpool, 3pm-5pm, Sunday, October 24 - free, just turn up) which will ask, among other things, "Is Liverpool a philosophical city?" And, after so many events in so many parts of the city, attended by members of the public and some of the country's leading philosophers, the answer by then will no doubt be a resounding "Yes, of course it is!" The festival was the idea of its main organiser, Dr Clare Carlisle, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Liverpool - the philosophy department was one of eight uni departments considered for closure in March 2009, though Save Our Subjects campaigners were able to celebrate victory just two months later.

Clare recalls: "The philosophy department received lots of support from the local community and it made me ask 'What is our relationship with the city?' and 'What kind of responsibility do we have to the city?' "When we got all that support it made me more aware that we are part of the community and that we should think about ways of contributing to the city.

"I also thought having a festival like this would be quite a cool thing to do - and good fun!" And central to it being cool and fun is stressing that philosophy is accessible to people of all ages and from all walks of life (the university's philosophy department runs a philosophy in schools programme and has links to the philosophy in pubs group).

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