The Questioning of Intelligence Book Launch

September 19, 2021 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
The Questioning of Intelligence Book Launch

On Sunday 19th September, from 2pm to 4pm, Exeter Street Hall will be hosting the book launch of The Questioning of Intelligence, written by local author, philosopher and artificial intelligence researcher, John Thornton.

In this event, John will be introducing the book and giving a reading, followed by a question and answer session and an opportunity for attendees to purchase a signed copy at a reduced price of £10 – limited to one per person. (This can be by cheque or cash only and due to Exeter Hall Covid restrictions we will be unable to handle or offer change.)

The book’s subject matter is a phenomenological inquiry into what it means to be intelligent. It interweaves phenomenological philosophy and autobiography with an exploration of how scientific materialism has come to rule in the background of our civilisation, determining our collective understanding of what constitutes reality and what we think it means to be intelligent. After taking this materialism apart and revealing its origins in a set of 400-year-old philosophical conjectures, the book explores the development of a new scientific understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe that includes rather than overlooks the intrinsic meaningfulness of our conscious intelligence.

The book also serves as the basis for a new three-part Free University Brighton philosophy course also entitled The Questioning of Intelligence, starting on September 25th at 2pm, again in the Exeter Street Hall (open to all and free of charge but places are limited). Part One of the course consists of ten classes, running from September 25th to December 11th (with two non-teaching weeks). All classes run from 2pm to 6pm but due to existing Exeter Street Hall bookings they will sometimes run on a Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday. Further details will be given at the book launch.

About the Author

John Thornton holds positions as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University’s Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems and as an Honorary Reader at the University of Sussex’s Department of Informatics.  He has published in the world’s leading artificial intelligence journals and conferences and is the author of the undergraduate textbook The Foundations of Computing and the Information Technology Age.  He is also a founding member of the philosophy group at the Free University Brighton, where he has developed and taught courses on the phenomenology of consciousness since 2016.  For more details see


The publishing of the book also marks the creation of a new Free University Brighton publishing imprint: FUBText. FUBText is an initiative to enable people teaching and studying at the Free University to publish their work and make it available to a wider audience. As a first step, the FUB philosophy group has created a Free University Brighton Philosophy Series of which The Questioning of Intelligence is the first outcome. To mark the occasion, Matt Lee, one of the series editors, will give a short talk about the ethos and aims of FUBText, and outline its ambition to create a broader and freer forum of publication for the local Brighton community.

Covid Precautions

The maximum number of people allowed in a one-off meeting at Exeter Street Hall is currently 40 and we will adhere strictly to this. Entry will therefore be on a first come first seated basis with the doors opening at 1:45pm for a 2pm start. Masks are required for entry and exit and for moving around the building, but can be taken off once we are seated. Social distancing of 2m is also required when queuing, moving about and using the toilet facilities. There is wheelchair access, one disabled toilet and two other unisex toilets. Hand sanitisation should be observed on entry and on using any of the facilities. We are also requesting that attendees take a lateral flow test before setting out for the meeting, and (of course) not to attend if the test is positive or if you are exhibiting any Covid like symptoms or have been in recent contact with anyone else testing positive. Finally, we will be taking down everyone’s contact details for track and trace purposes, and to keep a count of the number of attendees. So, to allow time for taking down these details, and to ensure you get a seat, please arrive before the 2pm start.