For many years some people in the Blue Mountains including Peter Baldwin have organized programs of high quality lectures in history and philosophy. This is the 2018 program. This year the focus is moving to the great issue of our time – the threat to civilization posed by identity politics. Peter opened up the debate last year with a series of his own papers. These are on the new site that he has set up to support the program this year.
The point of this website is to create an environment where matters at the heart of current political and ideological controversies can be discussed and debated and strongly diverging viewpoints can be argued out in a civil and constructive manner.
We want to see opposing ideas juxtaposed. We want an online space where people make a serious effort to get to grips with views they may initially oppose: genuine engagement, not rancorous argument. The antithesis of a ‘safe space’ as understood in PC academia.
Some thoughts from the introduction to my website that indicate the imperative need for places to discuss ideas in addition to the universities.
We do not live by bread and technology alone because our lives gain meaning and purpose from the morals, mythology and metaphysics of our non-material heritage. We absorb these animating principles from our contacts with parents, teachers, preachers and peers, also from religion, art, literature, science, business, sport and politics.
This non-material heritage contains a mixture of good and bad ideas, and a society that loses the capacity to subject these myths and traditions to imaginative criticism is likely to die. Constant efforts are required to eliminate error and muddled thinking because the risk is ever-present that the bad will drive out the good. The task of imaginative criticism falls to all thinking people, although it has been institutionalised with certain organisations such as the universities and with occupational groups such as academics, including philosophers.
This process of institutionalisation has almost proved fatal because it seems that the institutions and groups who have the main responsibility for the heath and vigour of our thinking have in fact done much to mutilate and debilitate our heritage.
Anyone who is within striking distance of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains might consider making a day of it to take in some magnificent scenery, possibly a gourmet lunch and some intellectual sustenance in the lecture and discussion in the afternoon.