Open Books

Culture & Literature

A civilisation’s corpus of literary and artistic work acts as a storehouse of collective cultural experience and learned wisdom, against which we can examine and evaluate the sustainability of modern phenomena such as identity politics. Constructing a liberal and flourishing society requires agreed-upon methods of reasoning, such as that of science, on which all can draw in order to seek the truth. This vertical aims to use sustainable measures of progress, which may be encoded in ancient literature, to challenge both the postmodern upheaval of ideas and also grand institutions like the scientific method.

Featured Speakers

Gad Saad
Lou Marinoff
Drishti Mae
Amish Tripathi
Kushal Mehra

Culture and Literature in a Postmodern World

Postmodern ideas have systematically destabilised the values which held communities together. These values were built on identity, historical progress, nationality, epistemic certainty. Postmodernism seems to have done away with all of these things - liberating the human being at one end, while simultaneously creating disorder in the inner and outer lives of people and communities. We are joined by: Lou Marinoff: Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, Amish Tripathi: Best selling author and Indian diplomat and Markand Paranjape: Professor of Advanced Study at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Chaired by Sachin Nandha: doctorate in Political Philosophy.

 

Fireside Conversation: The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense

Professor Gad Saad tells us about his upcoming book on how bad ideas, which are infectious, are harming our ability to use Common sense. In a very candid exploration he will draw on his experiences at western universities which are often hotbeds for “no platforming”, “political correctness”, and a general drift away from reason. He offers a solution to help us bring reason and common-sense back to the centre ground, and how to defeat the pandemic of bad ideas percolating in our lives. Join us on what will be a candid and edgy conversation. Hosted by Vichaar Manthan Fellow Neeti Rao.

Fireside Conversation: De-constructing Postmodernism

Join Kushal Mehra, political commentator and host of the Cārvāka podcast, as he explores postmodernism. Postmodern thought underpins much of our public life. It has permeated across academia, architecture, art and literature. Postmodern ideas undermine truth claims, and as such liberate the human being from the shackles of societal norms and custom. While at the same time uprooting the individual from the bonds which gave security, a degree of certainty and belonging. Hosted by Vichaar Manthan Fellow - Ravi Lakhani.

Why Are We So Influenced by Advertising?

Advertising is an important element of modern life with consumers being exposed to hundreds of messages everyday through many different platforms. What impact is advertising having on our well-being and is it changing consumer aspirations?

 

We know that advertising has the power to promote human welfare by providing information to encourage better consumer decision making and allowing a greater scope of competition between brands. But recent research has shown that the higher a European country's annual ad spend, the less satisfied its citizens were a year or two later.

 

As consumers, are we aware if an advert is displaying something potentially unattainable or unrealistic? Do we need to become more conscious consumers where we look towards more responsible behaviours in terms of economic, social, environmental and sustainability concerns? How do we encourage advertisers to incorporate sustainability at the very heart of their core values?

 

Join us as we look to explore these issues further with Professor Proto, a specialist in behavioural and experimental economics.

Speaker: Professor Eugenio Proto

Chair: Dishita Solanki

Is there a problem with Porn?

Is there a problem with porn?

 

With the proliferation of the internet since the ‘90s, access to pornography has grown exponentially. Ofcom reported that in September 2020, half of all adults watched porn and there is growing use amongst children. However, porn consumption clearly remains a taboo within all communities. The impact of this is already being felt, with rising addiction problems, normalisation of, mainly female, exploitation, and the increasing commoditisation of sex. Fuelled by social media, many women are opting to produce their own pornographic content for paying customers, and, in some cases, people are choosing pornography over real intimacy.

 

Is porn irreversibly harming society, or do we need to accept it’s existence as the new normal?

 

Join us as we explore the morality of pornography consumption and discuss whether education is key to dealing with pornographic content that children may inevitably be exposed to.

Chair: Vidhu Sharma

Speaker: Dr Gail Dines

Speaker: Bhaven Pathak

Does Music Education Matter?

It has been widely reported that listening to and playing music has a positive impact on health and wellbeing as well as providing benefits to culture and the economy.

 

In recent years the numbers of young children that have access to music education in UK state schools has fallen due to funding cuts and reach. If this decline continues, A-level music may have zero entries by 2033.

 

Why is music so important? What role does it play in connecting us with our social and cultural identity? How vital is it for the teaching of music in schools to survive?

 

Join us as we explore these questions and more with our expert witness, Ustaad Dharambir Singh MBE, Sitar player and Indian Music educator

Chair: Sharan Sambhwani

Speaker: Ustaad Dharambir Singh