April 14, 2017 – A Slave History

My guest on this program is Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware. She has been the recipient of Ford, Mellon, and Social Science Research Council fellowships, and is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer. She is the author most recently of Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, in which she chronicles the story of Martha Washington’s chief attendant who fled to freedom, and George Washington’s determination to recapture his property by whatever means necessary.

December 9, 2016 – Job Listing: Philosopher Wanted

My guest on this program is Justin E.H. Smith, university professor of the history and philosophy of science at Université Paris Diderot. He writes frequently for the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and other publications, and has authored and edited numerous books. His most recent is The Philosopher: A History in Six Types, in which he brings to life six kinds of figures who have occupied the role of philosopher in a wide range of societies around the world over the millennia—the Natural Philosopher, the Sage, the Gadfly, the Ascetic, the Mandarin, and the Courtier.

July 22, 2016 – Being a Good Neighbor

My guest on this program is Harvard University Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government Nancy Rosenblum. Her most recent book is Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America, in which she explores how our relationships with our neighbors—meeting on the street, monitoring one another, and even betraying each other—create a democracy of everyday life that is somewhat removed from the moral principles prescribed for public, and more universalized, civil society and democratic life.

June 24, 2016 – Ethical Life

My guest on this program is Webb Keane. He is the George Herbert Meade Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has written several books, and his most recent is Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories, in which he argues that ethics is neither entirely culturally relative nor solely a function of human nature, but arises at the intersection of human biology and social dynamics.

August 14, 2015 – Original Sin & the Western World

My guest on this program is historian James Boyce, author of Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World. The book explores how the centuries-old concept of original sin has shaped the Western view of human nature, right up to the present. He explores how many historical figures have contributed to the idea, and he argues that Continue reading

July 3, 2015 – History of Black Holes

My guest on this program is Marcia Bartusiak, Professor of the Practice, Graduate Program in Science Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the award-winning author of five previous books. We’ll be talking about her most recent, Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved. It examines the history of an idea, and tells the story of the fierce black Continue reading

June 5, 2015 – Are Human Beings Free?

My guest on this program is John Gray, author of many critically acclaimed books. He is a former professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. We’re going to be talking about his most recent book, The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom, in which he draws together the religious, philosophic, and fantastical traditions Continue reading

February 27, 2015 – The Devil Wins

My guest on this program is Dallas Denery, Associate Professor at Bowdoin College, and author most recently of The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment. The question “Is it ever acceptable to lie?” plays an important role in the story of Europe’s transition from medieval to modern society, and we are all the inheritors Continue reading

September 12, 2014 – The Age of Atheists

On this program we’ll talk with intellectual historian, journalist, and author Peter Watson. His most recent book explores one of the modern world’s most important yet controversial intellectual achievements: atheism. The book, The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God, explores the revolutionary ideas and big questions provoked by some of the greatest philosophical, scientific, & political minds of the last Continue reading

April 25, 2014 – A Natural History of Thinking

This program features a conversation with Michael Tomasello, author of Origins of Human Communication, and most recently, A Natural History of Human Thinking. He is Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.