"Philosophy should be a core part of the educational curriculum...": A.C Grayling arrives for Hong Kong literary festival
An annual literary festival bringing international writers to the city opened yesterday. Acclaimed British writer Margaret Drabble is one of the headliners this year - the 15th anniversary of the event.
Drabble, author of 18 novels including A Summer Bird-Cage, The Millstone and The Peppered Moth, will lead a meet-the-public event on November 7 as part of the 10-day festival.
Eminent British philosopher A.C. Grayling, who has written more than 30 books on a variety of topics, is also visiting Hong Kong for the event. He spoke yesterday about how he felt about a variety of issues, from religion to the pursuit of happiness in modern life.
"I most emphatically think that the world would be a far, far better place without religion," Grayling said.
"There are various reasons why conflicts arise between people, but the single greatest one is religion, and given that religions are antique sets of superstitions and non-rational beliefs, it is a tragedy of the first order that they still cause such immense suffering and difficulty in the world."
He said philosophical ideas and styles of thought had an enormous amount to offer the public conversation on questions of value and practice, political choices, the purpose and best methods of education, scientific inquiry and much more.
"Philosophy should be a core part of the educational curriculum to make people more questioning, alert, with good skills of critical reasoning," Grayling said.
The festival, run by a non-profit literary-arts organisation that also manages the annual Young Readers Festival, was first held in 2001.
It aims to promote the literary arts and a love of literature.
The annual event offers a variety of programmes, including discussions, literary lunches and dinners, workshops, lectures, debates, book signings and readings. It runs until November 8.