Which Are the Really “Great Books?”

With Mark Bauerlein and Bruce Gans

Those, say our guests,  that are among “the best that has been thought or said.” Our two very well read guests are Mark Bauerlein of Emory University and Bruce Gans of Wright College  who is also the founder of the Great Books Institute. Yes of course, Plato, Machiavelli, Dante, Shakespeare and the rest of that crowd are discussed; but you will be surprised and probably fascinated by some of the other authors who show up and are here quoted and appreciated in a memorable discussion from 2004.

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Why Evolution is True

With Jerry Coyne and Robert Richards

That, as it happens, is the title of a book by Jerry Coyne, one of our guests in this assertive and informative 2009 show. He is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. Our other guest, Robert Richards, is in Philosophy of Science at the same institution and both are, among other things, major experts on Darwinian theory. But, say the doubters, how could something as complex as the human eye have “just evolved” rather than have been designed? They explain that one and a great deal more in this noteworthy discussion.

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Jimmy Carter Remembers…..

With Jimmy Carter

..his boyhood growing up in deepest Georgia where all of his childhood friends were black. Whatever your opinion of Carter as President, he was and remains an interesting writer and, frankly, a great talk-show guest. Here he is back in 2000 telling stories from his then-just published book, “An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Childhood.” He does, indeed, make the earlier rural south live in this conversation which was much enjoyed by his interlocutor.

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The View from the Center of the Universe

With Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams
That was the title of a major book by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams. We discussed  it with them in 2006 and went for the very big picture. Primack, of the University of California at Santa Cruz, is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and happens, as well, to be one of the discoverers of “dark matter.” What do you know about the origins of the Universe, about its size and total content, about its future and, incidentally, about the possibility (likelihood?) that there are other universes, perhaps an infinity of them? The facts and possibilities are laid out here as Primack and Abrams make it sing and zing for you!!
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Is the Mind a “Blank Slate?”

With Steven Pinker

The idea that it is (and that experience is the basic influence upon personality) was strongly argued by British philosopher John Locke. The contrary view is that much of what we are in intelligence personality and character is set by genetics. The simpler version of the argument is “nature vs. nurture.”
Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard, is on the nature side and rejects the causal primacy of experience. He lays it all out in a popular book that was published in 2002, namely, “The Blank Slate: the Modern Denial of Human Nature” which we discussed in this, to the host, fascinating program.

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