“What Makes a Movie Good?” with guest Jinhee Choi

Watching movies is one of the great pleasures of life, but we all tend to pay attention to the latest Marvel blockbuster without recognizing that there is a world of cinema out there that sees itself as art, not just entertainment. Is an Avengers movie good in the same way that The Godfather or a low-budget indie film are, and are there objective standards of quality that are separate from popularity and ticket sales? Should movies from one country be thought of as distinct from movies in other countries? When does a movie begin and end, with the action or with the credits? What does it mean to look at a film philosophically, in the first place? This episode discusses these questions and more with an eye towards global cinema.Continue reading “What Makes a Movie Good?” with guest Jinhee Choi

Heather Augustyn

“A Philosophical Look at Ska and Jamaican Music” with guest Heather Augustyn

Jamaica is the home of a great musical tradition. Most people know about reggae, but before that, there was dancehall, rocksteady, and our host’s personal favorite, ska. It’s a rich and diverse dance music that mixes Caribbean sounds with jazz, R&B, and punk rock, to explore politics, history, and the legacy of slavery. Join Why? Radio and our guest Heather Augstyn as we explore how this little-known genre spread around the world, racking up hit, after hit, after hit.Continue reading “A Philosophical Look at Ska and Jamaican Music” with guest Heather Augustyn

“Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

Free speech is probably the most valued and cited right in the U.S. Constitution, yet it faces a tremendous backlash from the younger generation. The Supreme Court has expanded free speech to include almost all forms of expression just as the internet makes it virtually impossible to distinguish truth from lies. And, as we face powerful protests from Black Lives Matter, white supremacists, and people who oppose wearing masks in public, we’re forced to ask, if one of these groups has the freedom to express themselves, must they all?Continue reading “Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum

“How do the arts contribute to capitalism and economic development?” with guest Patrick Kabanda

Famous paintings sell for hundreds of millions of dollars. The most popular musicians become rich off of their fame. Is the only way to value art as investments or commodities, or can they be useful on other ways? Is art a product to sell, or are the arts as a whole, a way of developing human capabilities, skills, and even empathy? Can the arts promote equality, help developing countries, or bring about peace and social cohesion? On this episode, we examine these and other questions, looking at creativity through the lenses of economics and public policy.Continue reading “How do the arts contribute to capitalism and economic development?” with guest Patrick Kabanda

“What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

The internet has become central to our way of life, but how much do we know about it? Is it really the free-for-all we claim it is, or is it actually dominated by a few voices? Is the Web just a vehicle for commerce or is it the most innovate platform for art every created? In this wide-ranging discussion Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Cory Doctorow investigate the economics, politics, technology, and future of the internet. From Marxian analyses to a discussion of the predictability of science fiction, this conversation will change the way you think about the internet. It will inspire you to ask whether the internet is really different from what has come before it or if it’s just another vehicle for the same human problems we’ve had all along.Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

“The Logic of Jazz” with guest Mark Weinstein

This episode celebrates Why? Radio’s tenth birthday with a musical exploration of the origins, meaning, experience, and, of course, music of jazz. How do newcomers start listening to the music? How do musicians discover new ways to play? And, what makes the best jazz tracks important and enjoyable? Join us as Mark Weinstein, jazz flutist, philosopher, and our host’s father, explores America’s music, explaining music theory, improvisation, and whether music is discovered or invented.Continue reading “The Logic of Jazz” with guest Mark Weinstein

“Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” with guest Adam Kitzes

Should we still read Shakespeare? That is a harder question than one might think. As universities focus on diversity, marginalized writers, and widening literary traditions, the so-called “dead-white man” becomes the symbol of everything unjust. Is this fair in Shakespeare’s case and does he still have stuff to teach us? And, how should we read him anyway? How do we approach someone whose work is so vast and so intimidating?Continue reading “Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” with guest Adam Kitzes

“Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age” with guest Gordon Marino

One in six Americans take psychiatric drugs, yet the country is becoming less happy. As a people, we are angry, suspicious, and alienated, but we are not the first generation to feel this way. The existentialists got there first. On this episode of Why? Radio, we look at this 19th and 20th century philosophical movement to consider what its adherents might have to say about Facebook, happiness, and integrity. We consider the meaning of freedom, agency, success, and even boxing, to explore what it means to live full, honest lives in an age of social networks and materialism. Continue reading “Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age” with guest Gordon Marino

“How To Read A Comic Book” with guest Scott McCloud

Comic books are much more than the silly distraction they are often thought to be. They are part of an art from with many sub-genres at the height of their  maturity. Comics have become diverse, literary, sophisticated, adult-oriented, and in many cases, high-art, and they’re only getting better. On this episode, we ask how and why this happened, and explore how to recognize comics for the art they are. Continue reading “How To Read A Comic Book” with guest Scott McCloud

“Why We Need More Jokes In Our Lives” with guest Al Gini

Human beings are joke tellers. We take great satisfaction in making people laugh and have warm feelings for those who we think are funny. But what makes a joke work and why can only some people tell them? Are there subjects we shouldn’t joke about and is it true that humor is dangerous? On this episode of Why? Radio, we ask these questions, examining the philosophy of jokes, and host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Al Gini even get to swap some of their favorites (and some that might be a bit controversial). Continue reading “Why We Need More Jokes In Our Lives” with guest Al Gini

“Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Many people regard art as a luxury. They think of it as fancy paintings, abstract installations, or the fashion that changes every few months. What few of us ever attend to is that fact that art is as old as humanity itself. It started with homo sapiens and developed alongside every other human ability. This episode of Why? Radio looks at  art from an evolutionary perspective and ask what necessary purpose it served.Continue reading “Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

We are surrounded by buildings and live in rooms. We build spaces that we want to be pleasing as well as functional. In the process, we engage, not only our senses, but our brain. Architecture has massive neurological consequences, effects that are not as well known but should be. How do we balance these aesthetic, functional, and neurological needs? Architecture is art, but it also influences and even directs our behavior. Does it limit our free will? How much can design control its inhabitants and inspire a specific outcome?Continue reading “What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“What a food magazine tells us about the world” with guest Kerry Diamond

Food is more than just sustenance. It is a culture unto itself. It is our identity and our aspirations, pleasure and a tool. Members of the food industry know this and make money bringing us both the food we want and the food they want us to want. On this episode we examine it all through the perspective of a food magazine, Cherry Bombe. We’ll look at how the restaurant industry change when it magnifies the voices of women and what happens to culture when we embrace trends along side the classics.Continue reading “What a food magazine tells us about the world” with guest Kerry Diamond

“Text as image, image as text: How one artist uses language to combine art and literature” with guest Alexandra Grant

What happens when you combine abstract art with texts for poems and books? What can a painter do in collaboration with authors, people who work in an entirely different medium and whose writing may have no connection to the visual arts at all? On this s episode of Why? we talk with Alexandra Grant about her use of text in her paintings and her explorations with writers of all stripes. Continue reading “Text as image, image as text: How one artist uses language to combine art and literature” with guest Alexandra Grant

“How to Think about Dance” with Helanius J. Wilkins

Human beings dance for every reason imaginable: to protest, to pray, to court one another, to explore nature, to find truth, and simply to explore dance itself. But what makes dance “dance” and how are we to interpret the performances we watch? How theoretical are dancers when they perform and how well can they realize a choreographer’s vision? These questions will be just a part of the wide-ranging discussion on the next Why? Radio as we welcome choreographer, performance artist, scholar, and of course, dancer Helanius J. Wilkins.Continue reading “How to Think about Dance” with Helanius J. Wilkins

“The Rise of Writing: What happens when people write more than they read?” with Deborah Brandt

Have you noticed how much you’ve been writing lately? How many emails, texts, and Facebook posts you compose on any given day? Have you realized how much more you write than you read? Deb Brandt has and she wants us to all understand that we are experiencing a mass-writing revolution that will change our culture forever. On this episode we discuss the shift of focus from reading to writing and look at how it has changed both the workplace and the ways in which people express themselves.Continue reading “The Rise of Writing: What happens when people write more than they read?” with Deborah Brandt

Alex Schweder

“What is Performance Architecture” with guest Alex Schweder

Alex Schweder spent a week living with six other people, in a 24-inch wide apartment, to see what that experience would tell him living spaces. And he did it in a gallery in front of a live audience. He wasn’t just doing performance art. He’s an architect interested in learning about the relationships between psychology and the structures we build. Tonight on Why? we’ll talk with Alex about his experiments and what he calls performance architecture Continue reading “What is Performance Architecture” with guest Alex Schweder

“How to Tell the Story of Art” with Guest Ross King

When Ross Kind decided to tell the story of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, he didn’t start with the paint colors or brushes; he started with politics, gossip, power and intrigue. When he told the story of Brunelleschi’s dome for the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, he started with competition and rivalry. Is this how we should tell the story or art? Is one painting or one building so complex, that he needs hundreds of pages to prepare the audience? Ross King thinks so and we’re going to find out why. Continue reading “How to Tell the Story of Art” with Guest Ross King

“A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner is probably the most important and most influential living American playwright. At this year’s UND Writers Conference, WHY?’s host Jack Russell Weinstein had the pleasure and honor of talking to him about the Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America, his movie Lincoln, and writing for the theater in general. It was a remarkable conversation in front of a very large appreciative audience. Continue reading “A Conversation with a Playwright” with Tony Kushner

“The Philosophy of Poetry” with Mary Jo Bang

Almost seven hundred years ago Dante Alieghieri took us on a terrifying and mesmerizing journey through the nine circles of hell. He could never have predicted that today, in that same poem, the sin of gluttony would be represented by the South Park Character Eric Cartman. This isn’t a joke, but a way of modernizing Dante’s epic, and of showing that it still speaks to us as a serious work of art. On this episode of WHY?, we’re going to take our own journey, not through hell, but through the nature and limits of poetry, of what it means, and how it speaks to us Continue reading “The Philosophy of Poetry” with Mary Jo Bang

“The Public Philosophy Experiment” Guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein

The next episode of Why? is a special one–our 50th–and to celebrate we’re changing things around. Our most frequent guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein. That’s right, after almost four years of asking other people about their research, it’s his turn on the hot seat. So tune in for a s spirited and spontaneous discussion. Continue reading “The Public Philosophy Experiment” Guest Clay Jenkinson interviews host Jack Russell Weinstein

“WHY? Goes to China: Music Without Borders” with Noukilla

Music crosses cultures, but how about the messages it imparts? How do you get an audience to dance, laugh, or even think, when you sing to them in a different language? And what if the music that one person thinks of as a relaxing party-soundtrack is actually regarded as dangerous and revolutionary? Join WHY? as we talk with the Shanghai band Noukilla and ask how five African musicians are breaking ground new ground in the Chinese world music scene while remaining true to their own roots, experiences, and music.Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Music Without Borders” with Noukilla

“Art and Philosophy” with Arthur C. Danto

What is art? What is beauty? How are they related to truth? These questions lay at the core of philosophical inquiry, and few have been more baffling – and more enriching – to philosophers. Combine these issues with the fact that art is an inherently intimate experience for viewers and you get the recipe for deep controversy and exciting debate. Join WHY? as we delve deep into aesthetics, the philosophy of art, with one of its most respected and influential practitioners: Arthur Danto. Continue reading “Art and Philosophy” with Arthur C. Danto

“Fiction as Philosophy” with Rebecca Goldstein

Philosophy tries to discover Truth, but more often than not it tells stories, relying on allegories, parables, and dialogues at key moments. What happens when a professional philosopher decides to embrace this method, and how does it affect the philosophy at the core of the story? Join WHY? as we interview Rebecca Goldstein, author of such novels as 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, The Mind-Body Problem, Mazel, and Strange Attractors. How do truth and fiction relate? How does one move back and forth from scholarly research to popular fiction, and, most of all, how does fiction relate to discovery? Continue reading “Fiction as Philosophy” with Rebecca Goldstein

“Eric Sevareid and the Philosophy of Journalism” with Clay Jenkinson

What constitutes serious journalism? Can a reporter be a philosopher? How did broadcast journalism change the philosophy behind news reporting? These are just some of the questions that come to mind when one thinks about the life and work of Eric Sevareid. Born in Velva, North Dakota, Sevareid was one of America’s most influential broadcast journalists. One of “Murrow’s Boys” – named as such because of his extensive work with the legendary Edward R. Murrow – his reports on World War II captivated America. On this episode of Why?, Clay Jenkinson returns to examine Sevareid’s legacy and the ways in which journalism has changed since then. Discussing his current documentary project on the legendary reporter and Sevareid’s autobiography Not So Wild A Dream, Jenkinson will explore the impact journalism has on the world around us and ways in which autobiography reveals how one person, at least, crafted and pursued his personal mission. Continue reading “Eric Sevareid and the Philosophy of Journalism” with Clay Jenkinson

“Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

Should America allow gay marriage? Are demands for civil rights by homosexuals analogous to earlier movements for equality by black Americans, women, and others? How have personal attitudes – particularly disgust – shaped law in the United States? This episode of Why? will focus on the enlarging sphere of respect that American culture is cultivating for all of its members, as well as the role the humanities play in articulating political rights. Join us for a discussion about constitutional interpretation regarding same-sex relations, and the role that the ethical and sympathetic imagination plays in recognizing the humanity of others. Continue reading “Empathy, the Constitution, and Sexual Orientation” with Martha Nussbaum

“The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding” with Brenna Daugherty

What are the humanities and why are they important? How can the National Endowment for the Humanities claim that their activities are “critical to our common civic life as a nation?” And most controversially, should the U.S. government fund such cultural endeavors? In this episode of Why? we examine the philosophical issues related to what has come to be called the public humanities: the effort of both private and governmental organizations to create and supports events that disseminate philosophy, history, literature, and other arts to the general public. Continue reading “The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding” with Brenna Daugherty

“Literature in the Digital Age” with Crystal Alberts

Is a book on the web still a book? Do hyperlinks change the role of narrative? What is an author if anyone can publish anything whenever they want? These questions frame Why?’s first episode in front of a live audience. Recorded at the newly renovated opera house in New Rockford, North Dakota, guest Crystal Alberts will crack open “philosophy of literature” to help us investigate our assumptions about reading, writing, and art in general. An expert in “new media,” we will take the opportunity to ask her the kinds of questions that come up all-too-often in today’s computerized world. What does interactivity do to the experience of reading? How does the urgency of “hipness” compare with the time-tested lessons of the classics? What does the world “classic” mean anyway? Is the feel of paper on your fingers a necessary component of good reading?Continue reading “Literature in the Digital Age” with Crystal Alberts