This year's HowTheLightGetsIn presented hundreds of talks and debates featuring a selection of the finest minds in philosophy, art, science, politics and more. The 2014 line-up included eminent physicist and cosmologist Roger Penrose, world-renowned philosopher Hubert Dreyfus, Guardian columnist and author of Chavs Owen Jones, and BBC Radio 4's comic heavyweight Marcus Brigstocke.


Here are Just a Few Selected Speakers

from HowTheLightGetsIn 2014...


Warren Ellis in Fantasies and Lies

Myth and fantasy are the stuff of fiction.  They are not meant to be the stuff of real life.  Yet are we not all victim to our own fantasies? Might myths be essential to our motivation and success and more broadly reality be woven in with fantasy?  Or is this to demean everyday life and make of it a lie?


Vassili Christodoulou asks philosopher and classicist Angie Hobbs, novelist and comic book writer Warren Ellis, and historian of ideas Hannah Dawson to interrogate the myths we live by.


Roger Penrose in Secrets of the Mind

We have no explanation of consciousness. Yet from the origins of life to the workings of the atom, science has provided answers when none were thought possible.  Might we be about to crack consciousness as well?  An impossible fantasy or an exciting adventure for mankind?

Joanna Kavenna asks eminent physicist Roger Penrose, Master and His Emissary author Iain McGilchrist, and evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey to explain the all-seeing 'I'.

Diane Abbott in The Eye of the Needle

The Government and the left appear to agree:  we have a moral duty to pay tax.  Yet hip companies from Google to Starbucks have other ideas.  Is paying tax not a moral issue after all? Might avoidance even be a catalyst for growth?  Or is paying tax the only way the rich pass the eye of the needle?


Labour politician Diane Abbott, philosopher and former Times columnist Jamie Whyte, and former Liberal Democrat minister Chris Huhne consider a 21st century heresy.


Lawrence Krauss in Philosophy Bites Back
From neuroscience to cosmology, Hawking to Dawkins, many argue science can do away with philosophy.  Yet science is replete with philosophical  puzzles.  Should we see science as one metaphysics amongst others?   Or is this to swap the megalomania of science with that of philosophy?

Live from Australia, physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss squares off against philosophers Angie Hobbs and Mary Midgley. The BBC's Rana Mitter keeps the fight fair.

Brooke Magnanti in The Greatest Adventure

Romantic love is central to our culture, our novels, films and lives. Yet historians argue it is a modern western invention. Might we live more fulfilling lives if we gave up chasing this romantic ideal or does it still offer us the most exciting adventure of our lives?  


Philosopher and author Roger Scruton, Telegraph columnist and Secret Diary of a Call Girlauthor Brooke Magnanti, and French philosopher and author of The Paradox of Love Pascal Bruckner pursue true romance.


Rupert Sheldrake in Science... Fiction?

We think science works because it is true.  Yet the theories are different from a century ago and will be different a century hence.  Perhaps science is powerful rather than true.  Would this lead us to more radical theories or undermine the method that has delivered such success?

Pharmacologist and former Home Office drugs advisor David Nutt, author of The Science Delusion Rupert Sheldrake, and philosopher of physics James Ladyman challenge the power of science.


Hilary Benn in The End of Aid?

We think aid saves lives. Yet the IMF warns there is no correlation between aid and growth. Might the UK's £11bn maintain the very cycles of poverty it seeks to abolish? Worse still, is it another name for colonialism?  Or would giving up on aid neglect our responsibility to the world's poorest?

Former Panorama editor Roger Bolton asks Development Secretary to Brown Hilary Benn, former BP CEO Tony Hayward, and economist and novelist Teller envisage a future without aid.


Warren Ellis

Event [178]
Monday 26th May 2014



Diane Abbott

Event [165]
Monday 26th May 2014



Lawrence Krauss

Event [40]
Sunday 24th May 2014
12:00 pm



Rupert Sheldrake

Event [413]
Saturday 31st May 2014


Institute of art and ideas