This week’s episode is about Hypocrisy. There’s certainly a lot of hypocrisy around, especially in politics. But how bad is it? Is it a simply necessary evil for an effective politician? Or is it really one of the worst kinds of vices?
In this week’s show, we’re thinking about the role place and culture play in shaping identity. There was a time when identities were much more tied to geography than they are now. Most people in the world spent their entire lives living in or close to the place in which they were born. Take the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, who in 79 years of life, never strayed further than a few miles outside his hometown of Königsberg!
Our topic this week is Corporations and the Future of Democracy. That title suggests that corporations are a potential threat to democracy. So we should start off by getting clear on what exactly a corporation is, and how it might threaten democracy.
Our topic this week: What Might Have Been! Many things that did not happen, might have happened. For example, if John hadn’t been such a procrastinator, he might have written more in his career. Of course, since John has really had a highly distinguished and productive career, that’s sort of a frightening thought. Similarly, many things that did happen, might not have. I went to Notre Dame, for example. But I might not have. I might have gone to MIT or Case Western Reserve, where I was also accepted, instead. On the other hand, some things are bound to happen. Unless you’re immortal, you are bound to die. They say that taxes are inevitable too. But that’s probably not true. If you’re rich enough and you’ve got good enough lawyers and investment counselors, you can probably get around that one.
Our topic this week is a threesome. We’re going to talk about freedom, blame, and resentment. You might not think that those three are obviously connected, but I hope to convince you that they are. Let’s start with the middle term of our threesome – blame. We blame people when they do bad things. Blame often leads to or is accompanied by resentment, especially when we are directly and personally harmed by another person. For example, some reckless jerk is darting in and out of traffic. He cuts me off, causing my car to spin out of control. Everybody is likely to blame him for being so reckless. Blame isn’t necessarily a personal thing. But as the directly harmed party, I am also liable to feel something more personal -- an intense and visceral resentment toward him.
Many of us have been in love, and there have been countless great poems and popular songs written about it. So you’d think we’d all know what it is. Yet a lot of what has been written points to a deep mystery. So—as Cole Porter famously asked—what is this thing called love?
This week we’re asking the question: What Are Leaders Made of?
That depends on what you’re the leader of. After all, what do Girl Scout leaders, Army generals, corporate honchos, and Philosophy Department heads all have in common? Not much, I’d say. For example: whether you’re talking Girl Scout troops or Army troops -- an effective leader still has to have the ability to communicate and motivate. But motivating a troop of pre-teen girls to work hard and earn their badges is a lot different from motivating a troop of soldiers in the face of battle. It's easy to see how someone could be really good at the one, and bad at the other.
Before people think we’ve gone off the deep end, we should explain that by Mind Reading, we don’t mean anything having to do with the paranormal or the occult. We’re talking about the way human beings can be really good at understanding each other, the way we figure out what other people believe, desire, or intend. It’s this perfectly ordinary skill -- the basis and significance of which we want to explore today.
If the title of this week’s show sounds strange, it may be because we don’t normally think of poetry as being in the business of producing knowledge. Poetry, we might think, is about capturing impressions and expressing feelings. The goal of poetry is not to describe the world. That’s, after all, what we have science for.
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Philosophy Talk With Ken Taylor and John Perry of Stanford University is produced by Ben Manilla Productions, Inc.