The Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) organized its first book talk and signing event on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore. The guest of the evening was British philosopher and historian Jonathan Rée, whose latest book, Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English, was published by Penguin in late 2019.
The evening began with Rée giving a brief introduction to the book and its fresh, alternative take on the history of philosophy. Philosophy is often viewed as the exclusive domain of a privileged elite who engage in the construction of abstract systems of thought. In contrast to this, Rée maintained that even the greatest philosophical inquiries start with simple, honest questions that anybody could pose. The only prerequisite for philosophical thinking, Rée insisted, is the willingness to question ready-made worldviews and set out in search of one’s own answers to the riddles of life. Witcraft stresses this point by embedding the work of “great thinkers” in their times and circumstances, thereby exposing the link between philosophy and common, everyday human concerns.
This was followed by a set of questions about the book posed by PICT core faculty members Evrim Emir-Sayers and Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte. The floor was then opened to questions from the audience, who also had the opportunity to have their copies of Witcraft signed by Rée.
The event proceeded in a warm and intimate atmosphere enhanced by its stimulating venue. PICT would like to thank Jonathan Rée, the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, and all attendees for contributing to this memorable evening.
Note: on Wednesday, January 22, Jonathan Rée delivered a PICT Honorary Lecture on the topic of “Wittgenstein and the History of Philosophy” at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. You can read more about the talk here.