February is Black History Month. But how should we honor the occasion—especially if you're white? In addition to recognizing black artists and intellectuals, is there a more sincere way to honestly reflect on your role in America's dark past? Philosopher George Yancy thinks we can do more.
American prisons are, for the most part, overcrowded warehouses, devoted to the punishment and daily humiliation of their inmates. As such, one would expect that they are probably not very conducive to either the teaching or the studying of philosophy–or any other academic subject matter. But does it have to be that way? Our guest this week is Jennifer Lackey, who teaches philosophy at Northwestern University and at Statesville Correctional Center in Illinois.
What's a producer to say about love? I'll leave the heavy philosophical lifting to John and Ken, and present this Valentine's Day playlist featuring philosophers and others thinking deep about this thing called love.
Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, a philosopher at the University of British Columbia, enjoys an open relationship with her husband. In a recent profile in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Moira Weigel profiles Jenkins's experience as a person in a "polyamorous" relationship.
Jenkins talks about what it's like to have both a husband and a serious boyfriend--she describes awkward interactions with a colleague when they met her boyfriend at her husband's birthday party, and writing her wedding vows to reflect an open relationship. But, according to Jenkins, a dominant characteristic of her relationships is actually rather banal: scheduling time to fit her partners in with work.
When hearing about human-inflicted tragedies, you have probably wondered at some point or another: How could someone possibly commit such a horrendous act? Evil frequently befuddles us, leading us to picture evildoers as bizzare cases of humanity, completely apart from the typical population.
But how accurate is this depiction of evil? The video below, "What is Evil?" examines Hannah Arendt's thinking as she tries to understand the nature of evil, after witnessing the trial of Nazi Official Adolf Eichmann.
Video courtesy of 8-Bit Philosophy.
Our show this week, “Philosophy Behind Bars” features guest Jennifer Lackey, a professor of philosophy from Northwestern University who also teaches philosophy at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. Jennifer has had a longstanding interest in teaching in prison “in large part because of the transformative impact it can have on the lives of the prisoners, both individually and collectively,” she told Northwestern Now.
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Bharati Mukherjee last month. Bharati was an American writer and professor of English who was born in Calcutta, India. She was interested in questions about identity, alienation, and multiculturalism, particularly as it pertained to the immigrant experience. She joined John and Ken on the show in 2012 to talk about "Identities Lost and Found in a Global Age," which you can listen to below. As an immigrant myself, I found that discussion especially relevant and interesting.
Consider the now-famous philosophical thought experiment, the trolley problem. An out-of-control train is barrelling into five railroad construction workers, and as an onlooker, you notice a lever that you could pull to divert the train to a track with only one worker. Do you pull the lever? Should you pull the lever?
In the last three days of Sundance, I was fortunate enough to see a few more movies worth looking out for. The first four below haven’t reportedly been sold for distribution, but you may be able to catch parts or all of them online.
This essay is a lot more personal than any of my previous postings on this blog—or, indeed, any my writing anywhere else. It’s personal because it concerns a topic that is so important to me that I cannot bear to shroud it in a pretense of academic detachment and so overwhelmingly significant that the thought of writing about anything else seems grotesque.