These are not lectures I’ve given, but ones given by speakers with a commitment to educate and inform — and entertain — the public outside the university system. Many have been free, and none have cost more than a few pounds, and most have been to a very high standard. Living in London, I’m lucky in getting to hear some of the best thinkers (who are often some of the best speakers) from all over the world.

Writing up notes is a good discipline for two main reasons: to provide a record of my experience of the lecture, and to test my understanding of the material. It’s easy to sit through a great lecture and come out convinced that you followed every word. The more articulate and charismatic the speaker, the easier you can be lulled into a false sense of intellectual security (priests have relied on style over substance for millennia). Writing up notes can also trigger connections that wouldn’t have been made during the lecture itself.

Revised 4 September 2013

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