The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture was established in 2007 to honour the Kilkenny writer, historian and broadcaster whose remarkable consistency of vision and clarity of mind made him unique among essayists and whose work evinced an unsurpassed moral, political and literary integrity.
In recent years, the cause of humanism and humanist values has found a formidable champion in AC Grayling who will give this year’s lecture at Kilenny Arts Festival. A fellow of St Anne’s College Oxford and master of the New College of the Humanities , Grayling is a philosopher, author, lecturer and columnist, an expert on ethics and a leading public intellectuals. He believes that philosophy should take an active role in society and he has put those beliefs into practice, serving on the World Economic Forum, chairing the human rights group June Fourth and representing the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the UN Human Rights Council. He even took time out recently to discuss the question ‘why do we live?’ with a nine-year-old child. In more than 30 books such as What is Good? and The Meaning of Things, Grayling has explored the central question of how we choose the values we live by. Our answer to this question, he says, depends on our understanding of human nature and the human condition, and we find the richest and most subtle explorations of our nature in novels, poems and plays. In this talk, Grayling examines the ways in which great literature offers to enrich all our lives, helping us to reflect on the deepest questions we face. The wise philosopher, he argues, is a reader, and all readers are philosophers.