My guest on this program is linguist Daniel Everett, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the author of many books, including Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes; and Language: The Cultural Tool; and his life and work is also the subject of a documentary film, The Grammar of Happiness. I interviewed him last May for his book, Dark Matter of the Mind: The Culturally Articulated Unconscious, and we have him back for his new book, How Language Began: The Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention. He argues that we are not born with an instinct for language, and that the near seven thousand languages that exist today—the product of one million years of evolution—are the very basis of our own consciousness.
My guest on this program is David Benatar, professor of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research interests are in moral and social philosophy, and applied ethics. His most recent book is The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions, in which he invites us to take a clear-eyed view of such questions as “Are human lives ultimately meaningless?” “Is our inevitable death bad?” He argues that while our lives can have some meaning, cosmically speaking we are ultimately the insignificant beings we fear we are.
My guest on this program is Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in psychiatry and radiology. She received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her groundbreaking research on emotion in the brain. She is the author most recently of How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, in which she disputes the prevailing view that emotion and reason are at odds. She argues that emotion is not hardwired, but is constructed by our brains and our bodies as we go along. In addition, emotions are not cross-culturally universal-e.g. fear does not live in the amygdala-and there are no body patterns or changes, or patterns of brain activity that specifically and solely identify any one emotion. Her work in this area has been termed a revolution on par with the discovery of relativity in physics, and natural selection in biology. The book reveals the latest research and intriguing practical applications of the new science of emotion, mind, and brain.
My guest on this program is Lisa Tessman, professor of philosophy at Binghampton University. She teaches and does research in ethics, moral psychology, feminist philosophy, and related areas. Her work focuses on understanding how real human beings construct morality and experience moral demands, especially under difficult conditions. She is the author of Moral Failure: On the Impossible Demands of Morality, and most recently When Doing the Right Thing is Impossible, in which she provides examples, both real and fictional, of situations that will make us wonder whether we can be required to do the impossible, and how and why human beings have constructed moral requirements to be binding even when they are impossible to fulfill.
My guest on this program is Daniel Everett, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the author of many books, including Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes; Language: The Cultural Tool; and Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide. His life and work is also the subject of a documentary film, The Grammar of Happiness. His most recent book is Dark Matter of the Mind: The Culturally Articulated Unconscious, in which he argues that human nature as normally conceived does not exist. Flying in the face of major trends in evolutionary psychology and related fields, he offers a provocative and compelling argument that the only thing humans are hardwired for is freedom: freedom from evolutionary instinct and freedom to adapt to a variety of environmental and cultural contexts.
Dan’s next book:
How Language Began: The Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention (To be released November 7, 2017)
Dan Everett’s definition of culture:
“Culture is the abstract network shaping and connecting social roles, hierarchically structured knowledge domains, and ranked values. Culture is dynamic, shifting, reinterpreted moment by moment. Culture is found only in the bodies (the brain is part of the body) and behaviors of its members. Culture permeates the individual, the community, behaviors, and thinking” (66).
This program features University of Miami philosopher Mark Rowlands. He is the author of eighteen books, and over a hundred journal articles, chapters and reviews, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His memoir, The Philosopher and the Wolf, became an international bestseller. His most recent book is Memory and the Self: Phenomenology, Science and Autobiography, in which he explores the role of memory in maintaining a sense of personal identity over time.
My guest on this program is Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and the Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago. She is the author of many books, and was recently named the 2017 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. Her most recent book is Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice, in which she analyzes the roots of both anger, finding it conceptually confused and normatively pernicious, and forgiveness, as potentially the best way to respond to injury, shedding new light on both.
My guest on this program is Andy Stern former head of the nation’s most influential and fastest-growing union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and author of Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream. He argues that a basic income can create a floor high enough to end poverty, and respond to how technological disruption is replacing more and more jobs in this unprecedented economic climate.
Andy recommended during the show that for more information go here:
Economic Security Project
My guest on this program is Shawn Otto, author of The War On Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It. He investigates the historical, social, philosophical, political, and emotional reasons why the evidence-based politics that gave birth to democracy are now in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise on both left and right—and he provides some compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses, before it’s too late.
My guest on this program is Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and the Glass Cage, among other books. Former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, he has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Wired. His most recent book is Utopia is Creepy and Other Provocations, which gathers a decade’s worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays. It offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences.
As a follow up to this on-air conversation, Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement the day before. Here are links to an NPR story about it, Nicholas Carr’s Rough Type blog post response, and the original text of Zuckerberg’s announcement:
Facebook wants Great Power, But What About Responsibility?
Zuckerberg’s World by Nicholas Carr
Building Global Community by Mark Zuckerberg