Ideas RSS feed for this section

Rebecca Goldstein: the atheist with a soul

Note: this interview was broadcast on WGBH, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture!
Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein’s latest work, called 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, is perhaps best described as a hybrid. It is indeed a novel, with its share of psychology, mathematics and academic politics, but it concludes with an appendix outlining these 36 arguments, as well as their rebuttals, in the language not of fiction, but of philosophy. So, as in many of Goldstein’s earlier novels, this one manages to fold ideas into art.
ThoughtCast spoke with Rebecca in her home in the Leather District, in downtown Boston.
Click here (28 minutes) to listen.
Click here (90 minutes) to listen to a discussion with Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker, sponsored by PEN New England.  It’s titled Mind-Body Problems: A Conversation About Science, Fiction and God, and focuses mainly on Rebecca’s latest novel.
Steven PinkerRebecca Goldstein received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, and went on to teach philosophy before trying her pen at fiction. Her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem, was a critical success, and she went on to write 5 other novels, including Properties of Light, Mazel, and The Dark Sister. She has also written non-fiction studies of the mathematician Kurt Gödel, and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

In addition to being Rebecca’s husband, Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and one of the world’s leading authorities on language and the mind. He’s written seven books (so far) including The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought.

Posted on January 30, 2010 in Ideas, Literature, Philosophy, Religion
Continue Reading

Jonah Lehrer on Emotional Hijacking and “How We Decide”

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Talks@Harvard Book Store

Note: this interview was broadcast on WGBH in Boston as well as on the WGBH Cape and Islands affiliate WCAI/WNAN!
Jonah Lehrer
Jonah Lehrer, the precocious author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, has come out with a new book called How We Decide. He spoke at the Harvard Book Store, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Click here to listen (28 minutes.)

After his talk, ThoughtCast spoke with Lehrer briefly about the value of emotion in rational decision making, the power of wishful thinking to hijack our reason, and the potential to retrain the brain via the mind. According to Lehrer, we’d generally be better off sticking to our instincts, our initial reaction or impulse, rather than over-think things. Calm, cool deliberation, it turns out, doesn’t always lead to the best results. Jonah Lehrer is a Contributing Editor at Wired Magazine, and has written for The New Yorker, Nature, Seed, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.
Click here to listen to this rather noisy interview (8:50 minutes.)

Posted on July 20, 2009 in Economics, Ideas, Philosophy, Psychology, Science
Continue Reading

Jack Beatty, Public Intellectual

Note: this interview was reviewed on PRX and earned 4 stars! And it was broadcast on WRNC-LP, and the public radio stations WCAI/WNAN, the Cape and Islands affiliates of WGBH.
Who are our public intellectuals today? What purpose are they meant to serve, and are they in fact serving it — or us? How public are they, and how accountable? Is there a venue for such people to even be heard — and if so, who would bother to listen? Are they no better than the talking heads we see endlessly on TV, or are they some newfangled model of the Renaissance Man?
Well, ThoughtCast has tracked down one bona fide public intellectual. His name is Jack Beatty, and he’s not only a “thinker”, he’s also a writer. His most recent book is Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865 – 1900. He’s also a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly, and a regular contributor to the NPR program On Point. Let’s see if he has some answers…

Click here: to listen. (28 minutes)

Posted on July 25, 2007 in Ideas
Continue Reading

Kwame Anthony Appiah: the Cosmopolitan Philosopher

Note: This program was broadcast on WCAI, an affiliate of WGBH, Boston.
Princeton Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses cosmopolitanism on ThoughtCast!
Born in England and raised in Ghana, Appiah is half English and half African. And perhaps because of this, he’s fascinated with the concept of identity, and the power it wields over people. But rather than wage identity politics, Appiah encourages us instead to be good global citizens, interested in and accepting of each other. In short, cosmopolitan. But also, at least a little bit “contaminated”… Appiah’s written a book on the subject: it’s called Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

Click here: to listen. (42 minutes)

Posted on July 10, 2007 in Ideas, Philosophy, Politics
Continue Reading

Faith and Philosophy with Harvey Cox and Simon Blackburn

Note: this program was broadcast on the WGBH public radio sister stations WCAI/WNAN, on the Cape and Islands, and on WRNC-LP!
In this half-hour, ThoughtCast talks with two very different men, with one thing in common — a belief in humanism. Harvey Cox, the renowned Harvard Divinity School Professor and author of The Secular City and When Jesus Came to Harvard, talks with ThoughtCast about his faith, and the religious resurgence taking place here in America and abroad. Cox has a unique take on Christianity — while he doubts the Resurrection, he celebrates the life of Jesus, and urges us all to follow in his footsteps, and take his teachings to the streets, to enact them in our flawed, real, and secular world.
Simon Blackburn on the other hand rejects religion but embraces the wisdom of philosophy. He too is an author — of Truth: A Guide, Think and Being Good, among others — and he teaches philosophy at the University of Cambridge, in England. What he offers is a philosophy that’s not just for the educated elite, but for the rest of us!

Click here: to listen (29 minutes)

And to listen to a WGBH Forum Network lecture moderated by Harvey Cox, on the Boston civil rights movement, click here!

Posted on June 8, 2007 in Harvard Luminaries, Ideas, Philosophy, Religion
Continue Reading

Marc Hauser on “Moral Minds”

Note: This interview was broadcast on WCAI/WNAN, and is also featured on WGBH’s Science Luminaries series, as part of WGBH Science City.
The provocative Harvard psychologist Marc Hauser recently spoke about “The Evolution of Our Moral Intuitions” at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. This ThoughtCast interview with Hauser serves as a good “first course” — but to get to the meat and potatoes, check out his book Moral Minds.
Click here: to listen. (17:40 minutes)
And to listen to Marc Hauser on the WGBH Forum Network, click here!

Posted on April 20, 2007 in Harvard Luminaries, Ideas, Psychology, Science
Continue Reading

Design by Likoma

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com