philosophy

Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Here in America we're taught to celebrate ideas, to think outside the box and to fan the flames of innovation whenever possible. But what do we do when an idea becomes destructive? And even worse; when that idea becomes an ideology?

This is the prospect we're facing with extremism around the world. Now America, a nation well adapted to win wars by conventional means, is being forced onto a battlefield it's less accustomed to-- one where social media, propaganda and targeted messaging are the weapons of choice.

Look Into My Eyes / Creative Commons

In his new book, Jealousy, Peter Toohey explores the lesser talked about side of the green-eyed monster. That is, he takes a look at some of the ways that jealousy can actually be good for us. 

This hour, Peter joins us for a panel discussion about jealousy's impact on creativity. We take a look at how the emotion has fueled some of society's greatest books, plays, songs, and paintings -- and discuss what these works, in turn, tell us about ourselves. 

Jamelle Bouie / Creative Commons

First and foremost, we're really sorry about the Wally Lamb cell phone connection. Do not adjust your radio (or streaming device).

It's the usual three-ring circus on the Scramble today starting with the five players for the St. Louis Rams who put their hands up in a "Don't Shoot" gesture during their introductions for Sunday's game. That gesture, of course, has become part of the iconography of the Ferguson Missouri story, and we talk to ESPN the Magazine's Howard Bryant about the role athletes play in raising consciousness and defying conventional news narratives.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We're talking about cowardice today and it makes me think of two people - Hector and Dr. Bones McCoy.

We claim to despise cowardice and to exalt bravery but in real life, I think we value balance a little bit more.

Hector, in the Iliad, is a much debated figure. He seems on occasion to lose his nerve. He also on occasion seems to do something brave mainly because he could not live down the dishonor of not being brave. I've always liked Hector.

Consciousness and the Soul

Oct 2, 2014
Karen Neoh / Creative Commons

It has been nearly 400 years since Descartes wrote his famous declaration “Cogito ergo sum”, or, more commonly “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. But, in all that time, we still haven't answered the basic question: who are we?

In this hour, we explore the concepts of consciousness, the self, and the soul. What do today's top scientists, philosophers and spiritual leaders say about these topics and how have they arrived at their conclusions? Are we ready to accept the brain as the be-all and end-all of who we are or is there more to us than that?

Gags9999 / Flickr Creative Commons

If you were dreaming up a new religion, maybe you wouldn't include the idea of hell. But in traditional forms of Christianity, even as they evolve, hell seems almost grandfathered in. They can't quit hell. Or can they? A 2013 Harris poll found that while 74 percent of U.S. adults believe in God, and 68 percent believe in heaven, only 58 percent believe in the devil and in hell, down four percentage points from 2005. Still, 58 percent! That seems like a lot.

Gags9999 / Flickr Creative Commons

If you were dreaming up a new religion, maybe you wouldn't include the idea of hell. But in traditional forms of Christianity, even as they evolve, hell seems almost grandfathered in. They can't quit hell. Or can they? A 2013 Harris poll found that while 74% of U.S. adults believe in God, and 68% believe in heaven, only 58% believe in the devil and in hell, down 4 percentage points from 2005. Still, 58%! That seems like a lot.

National Geographic Channel

This hour's Scramble starts fun and gradually grows darker. We begin with David Rees, host of a television show in which he layers expertise onto simple acts like opening a door or making ice cubes. Its motto is "de-familiarizing the ubiquitous so as to increase our appreciation and wonder thereby." We can get behind that.

In 1969, I was a high school sophomore, and I fell completely -- and embarrassingly uncritically -- for the Paul Is Dead mania. My own interest was fueled by revelations from the previous academic year. Under the spell of a young teacher named Tyler C. Tingley, I had come to see that Beatles lyrics were stuffed with symbolism and multiple meaning.  

National Park Service

I'm trying to get my panelists for today's Nose interested in this, so I have to lay out some thoughts.

I will tell this story (a) without permission and (b) quoting only to the best of my abilities. A few years ago, Bill Curry and I, and some dogs, were walking in the meadows of Avon.

Somehow, we got onto the subject of deism, and I must have said it was difficult to believe in the existence of God, given all the devastation and profound  unfairness which overspread the world every day. And Curry turned and stretched his arms out as if to encompass the landscape. He's a big guy, which enhanced the effect.

Kitt Walker/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: Yale's Paul Bloom is an expert on research showing infants do, in fact, act with moral purpose, if given the opportunity.

Babies, says Bloom and his colleagues, show empathy, compassion, and have a clear understanding of what is and is not fair.

Why We (Should) All Love The Stars

Nov 21, 2013

Millions of people read their horoscopes every day. They hope to find some kind of answer in those lines, as if the cosmos and its alignments had something to say directly to each one of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, indeed, the cosmos spoke to us this way?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.

While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.

Chion Wolf

In 1965, the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, spread stamped and addressed but un-mailed letters around public locations in New Haven. Most of the letters were picked up and mailed by strangers who could not possibly derive any material reward for doing the right thing. The strangers also lived out their values based on the address.

Wikimedia Commons

This show originally aired on July 2nd, 2013. When considering what show we wanted to re-run, we found this recent article from the New York Times, As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry. The debate is still being discussed and on this show, it gets heated!

Ben Grantham/flickr creative commons

What is time?

This deceptively simple question is the single most important problem facing science as we probe more deeply into the fundamentals of the universe. All of the mysteries physicists and cosmologists face—from the Big Bang to the future of the universe, from the puzzles of quantum physics to the unification of forces and particles—come down to the nature of time. The fact that time is real may seem obvious. You experience it passing every day when you watch clocks tick, bread toast, and children grow. But most physicists, from Newton to Einstein to today’s quantum theorists, have seen things differently. The scientific case for time being an illusion is formidable. That is why the consequences of adopting the view that time is real are revolutionary.

Chion Wolf

We're talking today about a word that can refer to the solid waste produced by male cattle. It can also refer to nonsensical talk not grounded in fact. In 1986, the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt published a scholarly analysis of this concept. In some ways it was a groundbreaking paper, but it also constituted a furtherance of an almost constant inquiry by thinking people.

Wikimedia Commons

If you want to think about the way our diminished interest in the humanities amounts to playing with fire, consider the present moment, which includes wind-driven deadly wildfires in Arizona and a tornado in Windsor and the recurrent suggestion that this is "the new normal."

The new normal is incredibly dangerous and getting worse. We have enormous amounts of scientific information that explains why some of this is happening, and what we should do to keep it from getting worse. But as a planet and a nation, we're not doing much. Why? 

Ben Grantham/flickr creative commons

Drunk Tank Pink

May 16, 2013
peapodsquadmom/flickr creative commons

Today: The way the thoughts we have and the decisions we make are influenced by forces that aren't always in our control.

Troy David Johnston/flickr creative commons

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing. But it turns out there’s an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know. Samuel Arbesman is an expert in the field of scientometrics—literally the science of science, and he’ll join us to look at The Half-Life of Facts.

Rebecca Dubell

Religious leaders get to oversee some of life’s happiest moments, but they’ve also seen enough death to last a lifetime.

They officiate funerals, bless graves, and provide comfort to those who are suffering loss.  So it makes sense that we expect them to have some kind of wisdom about death.  

But how do their experiences influence their views of their own mortality?

Today we’ll talk with philosopher Shelly Kagan and pastoral care professor Kristen Leslie about the mystery of death.  

What Is Now?

Nov 15, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons, Robert S. Donovan

OK, this is potentially one of our weirder shows. 

Getting Lost

Aug 21, 2012
Jaypee (Wikimedia Commons)

Daniel Boone, the great American frontiersman, is alleged to have said, "I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks."

Most people today think they're lost if the voice on the GPS machine fades away for 15 minutes.

Chaos and Creativity

Dec 8, 2011
NASA

A new PBS film “Journey of the Universe” invites viewers to become travelers on a journey that explores the origins of the universe, the emergence of life, and the rise of humans. Today, we’ll talk to producer and scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker about the human connection to the Earth and the cosmos.

Jonathon Keats

Hear from Jonathon Keats, a conceptual artist, experimental philosopher, and regular CMS contributor, whose latest project is an exhibit that tries to make art more consistent with the Copernican truth that Earth is a mediocre planet. 

Plus, find out what the color beige has to do with the universe!

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