December 8, 2017 – How Language Began

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.

October 27, 2017 – The Human Predicament

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.

July 21, 2017 – Moral Failure & Moral Dilemmas

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.

March 31, 2017 – Anger and Forgiveness

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.

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.

October 14, 2016 – The Wisdom of Frugality & Simple Living

My guest on this program is Professor Emrys Westacott, author most recently of The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More—More or Less. The book examines why, for more than two millennia, so many philosophers and people with a reputation for wisdom have been advocating frugality and simple living as the key to a good life. They have been mostly ignored, but he argues that in a world facing environmental crisis, it may finally be time to listen to the advocates of a simpler way of 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.

April 29, 2016 – Why Grow Up?

My guest on this program is philosopher Susan Neiman author of Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age. Drawing on thinkers such as Kant, Rousseau and Arendt, she shows that genuine adulthood, not permanent youth, is a subversive ideal worth striving for. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard, and was a professor at both Yale and Tel Aviv University. She is currently the director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, which presents innovative, international and multidisciplinary thinkers to the public in conferences, workshops, panel discussion, and presentations.

February 19, 2016 – Philosophy in The New York Times

My guests on this program are Peter Catapano and Simon Critchley, editors of The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments. The book is derived from the popular New York Times philosophy series, The Stone, first launched online in 2010. It has attracted millions of readers through its accessible examination of universal topics like the nature of science, consciousness and morality, while also probing more contemporary issues such as the morality of drones, gun control and the gender divide. Peter Catapano has been an editor at The New York Times since 2005. Simon Critchley is a best-selling author and the Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research.

September 11, 2015 – Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity

My guest on this program is philosopher and environmental & human rights activist Adam Riggio. In his book, Ecology, Ethics, and the Future of Humanity, he argues that climate change and the ecological destruction it entails requires a complete reorientation of morality, politics, and human identity along ecological lines. Bringing together concepts from environmental activism, moral philosophy, biological and ecological sciences, and Continue reading