Agents of Reason

Agents of Reason

John Issitt is a writer and a part time lecturer at the University of York UK where he teaches philosophy of learning. He has taught for the Open University for 23 years and is a National Teaching Fellow.

He will be discussing his novel, Agents of Reason. Description:

"Reason given the status of omnipotence becomes a monster" said Mahatma Gandhi with the spectre of the second world war and the Holocaust in mind.

Directly and indirectly my story negotiates the limits and fortunes of Reason. It follows the best and most reasonable efforts of a group who act to a large extent in the name of, or at least with, the standard of Enlightenment Reason. It, in its own small way follows the kindling light of a certain political perspective - most notably in the form of Paine's Rights of Man - and its snuffing out by more immediate, more powerful drivers which were themselves reasons albeit of a different order.

There are important lessons to be learnt by observing the fortunes of Reason and the initial 5-year period of the French Revolution is particularly fascinating and rich. My tale in the Agents of Reason accounts the actions of a man - Jeremiah Joyce (1763-1816) who was one of a small group of radicals in 1790s London who pursued the Enlightenment aspirations of fair play and the extension of the franchise, on a claim of reason. It is not a tale of the famous and their doings, it is a tale of a working class man caught up in the action trying to do his best. It is a tale based as far as possible on the minimal historical record - minimal because it was quite simply too dangerous to keep evidence that could be used in court.


Thursday, 16 October 2014 19:00


Victoria Hotel