“How to Think Like a Hindu,” with guest Swami Sarvapriyananda

When people talk about Hinduism, they usually do so in very spiritual and vague language. They mention meditation and enlightenment, oneness and karma. But what does these mean and what’s it like to see the world through a Hindu lens? In this episode, philosopher Jack Russell Weinstein interviews Swami Sarvapriyananda. Together they make the religion and its ideas accessible, interesting, and relevant to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs.Continue reading “How to Think Like a Hindu,” with guest Swami Sarvapriyananda

Patricia Churchland

“How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

Are the brain and mind really different things? If not, is there free will? Where does conscience come from? Is altruism a myth? These are question in neurophilosophy, research that uses the modern science of the brain to explore philosophical dilemmas. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Patrician Churchland, the founder of nuerophilosophy, as they explore the boundaries between philosophy and cognitive science. Continue reading “How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

“What is the role of philosophy during a global crisis?” with guest Susan Neiman

We are all preoccupied with the Covid-19 global pandemic and justly so. Everyone in the world has lots of little decisions to make, and many are facing life and death situations. What is the use of philosophy in all of this? Is it helpful? Is it a distraction? Can philosophy solve problems or even make a better world? In this wide-ranging discussion, our host Jack Russell Weinstein and guest Susan Neiman explore the absurdity of “trolley problems,” whether we should use the term “evil” to to describe a pandemic, and how we can best support Amazon employees. This episode is both a compelling and accessible philosophical exploration, and a historical artifact that records a unique moment in time. It has been described by one listener as “our most human of episodes.”Continue reading “What is the role of philosophy during a global crisis?” with guest Susan Neiman

“Requiem for A Philosophy Professor: Remembering David N. Mowry”

Host Jack Russell Weinstein remembers his professor and mentor, David N. Mowry who passed away on April 23, 2019, at the age of 78. In a powerful and emotional tribute to their relationship, Jack reflects both on David’s career and his own life. David was a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh, and the founding director of their university’s honors program. Jack graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1991, with a B.A. in philosophy.Continue reading “Requiem for A Philosophy Professor: Remembering David N. Mowry”

“How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

The term fake news is so ubiquitous, that sometimes it seems like we should be labeling the true stuff instead of the lies. But misinformation doesn’t just come from politics. It is found in science, in marketing, and even in fourteenth-century memoirs. Why do we believe obvious falsities and how do these alternative facts gain such momentum? On this episode, we look going to look at the networks of knowledge and trust that we rely on to arbitrate between fact and fiction, and examine how they are manipulated, both consciously and not.Continue reading “How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

“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

“What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

Every day we hear politicians make scientific claims that support their policies, but many of them contradict each other. Our lives are full of images of people in lab coats who are above politics, but we know they also make choices about what to study and which conclusions to call attention to. Does this mean that science and politics are enemies? And, does government policy tell citizens what to believe or do citizens’ convictions determine the government’s positions? On this episode of Why? we look at the claim that science is objective, examine the values that make it successful, and ask whether there should be absolutely free inquiry in a modern democracy. Continue reading “What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

“Philosophy Changing Lives” with guest Peter Singer

Peter Singer has made a career out of making controversial claims. From calling for animal liberation to justifying euthanasia, he has been remarkably consistent in his attempts to minimize suffering. Now he is talking about charity and global responsibility. The results are just as compelling.  In this episode, Why? Radio talks with Peter about the moral demand to minimize harm and the expectations that ethics can make all of us better of. Listen as we engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the relationships between ethical theory and practice, the utilitarian justification for rights, and Peter’s own non-profit.Continue reading “Philosophy Changing Lives” with guest Peter Singer

“What Animals Can Teach Us about Free Will” with guest Helen Steward

For millennia, human beings have believed that we have free will-that we are agents who can choose our own paths. But what does this mean in the age of antidepressants and identity politics? Perhaps more intriguing, does this imply that people are unique, that we are the only animals that are undetermined? Our guest on this episode says “no,” asking not what it means to be a free person, but what it means to be a free animal. This conversation combines a classical philosophical debate with new insights in cognitive science to rethink what it means to choose an action. Continue reading “What Animals Can Teach Us about Free Will” with guest Helen Steward

“Can ordinary people understand advanced logic?” with guest Otávio Bueno

Formal logic is complicated, abstract and daunting. Its precise language makes it virtually impossible to read without significant training. Yet, it’s also tremendously important and at its best, it provides a focused framework for understanding the most human of abilities: rational thought. Is it really out of the reach of the general public? On this episode we find out that it isn’t. We ask what logic is, how it works, and investigate how it holds the key to good and bad thinking.Continue reading “Can ordinary people understand advanced logic?” with guest Otávio Bueno

“Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

2500 years ago, Plato wrote the central texts of the discipline we call philosophy. He asked the questions that people still ask today and set the tone for a conversation that has continued, unabated, for two and a half millennia. On this episode we look at Plato’s work and ask why, despite all the threats, violence, censorship, and even the marginalization, philosophy still exists, why Plato is still at the center of it all, and what it would look like if he were still here, walking among us. Continue reading “Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

“What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?” with Jan Willis

Jan Willis was raised in the Jim Crow south and had crosses burnt on her lawn when she received a scholarship for Cornell University. But her life didn’t just take her through the civil rights movement and the Ivy League, it also took her to India which led her to become a professor of Buddhism and a practicing Buddhist. How did her new religion fit with her Baptist upbringing? How does being a religious scholar relate to being a practitioner? Should we think of Buddhism as an “Eastern” religion with little to do with Western philosophy? On this next episode of Why?, we’ll ask these and other related questions, as we talk memoir, belief, and religious experience with a foremost scholar of Tibetan Buddhism. Continue reading “What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?” with Jan Willis

“Metaphors We Live By: A Classic Revisited” with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

We use metaphors all the time, from describing friends as two peas in a pod, to old age as a chapter in someone’s life. We think of argument as war and move forward into the future. Would our understanding of friendship, argument and the future change if we used different metaphors? Could we even talk about them if we didn’t use metaphors at all? On this episode, we ask these questions and consider how deeply metaphors influence our understanding.Continue reading “Metaphors We Live By: A Classic Revisited” with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

“The Intelligence in Everyday Work” with Guest Mike Rose

Mike Rose’s mother was a waitress. She worked for years negotiating the complex world of planning around, strategizing about, delivering to, and socializing with customers. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. In his important book The Mind at Work. Mike challenges the idea that waitressing is thoughtless, while also looking at the complex intellect of hairdressers, electricians, carpenters, and others in similar professions. This episode of Why? asks us to relearn everything we claim to know about manual laborers and reexamine our assumptions about the role of thinking in jobs. Continue reading “The Intelligence in Everyday Work” with Guest Mike Rose

“The Urbanization of Happiness” with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

Think about those that work and those that are falling apart. What influences their character, and, perhaps, more importantly, why do some succeed and others fail? On today’s episode of Why? we are going to ask these question and take a special look at how design creates urban problems, how what and where they build encourages violence, poverty, and unhappiness. Continue reading “The Urbanization of Happiness” with Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

“The Unity of the Sciences: Is All Knowledge Connected?” with guest Joseph Margolis

WHY? Radio is, of course, a philosophy show, but our guests aren’t just philosophers. They are historians, artists, scientists, musicians, sociologists and specialists from many different fields. Are we doing something wrong? Aren’t all these disciplines different? On this episode of WHY? we are going to tackle these questions. We will ask about the classic “unity of the sciences,” look at the relationship between how cultures describe knowledge and how they describe themselves.Continue reading “The Unity of the Sciences: Is All Knowledge Connected?” with guest Joseph Margolis

“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: Confucius and Today’s China” with Daniel Bell

Confucian philosophy plays an important role in the Chinese family, but what role does it play in politics? Chinese is a traditional society, but modern China is built on a break from the past. China holds dearly to its own past, but is experiencing more change than ever before. Join us for a discussion about how tradition works in a changing China and the importance of cities in moral life. This interview was recorded at The American Culture Center at The University of Shanghai for Science and Technology before a live audience. Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Confucius and Today’s China” with Daniel Bell

“Does science give us Truth?” with Jan Golinski

For thousands of years, people have looked to science to reveal the truth about nature – to conquer it or to discover its secrets. But there are others who think that this approach is deeply mistaken. Science, they say, tells us about our culture and reveals the ideas we bring to the laboratory. Is there such a thing as objectivity or does science just describe what we ourselves bring into the laboratory? On this episode of WHY? we are going to examine these questions and wade deep into what some philosophers call “the science wars.”Continue reading “Does science give us Truth?” with Jan Golinski

“Should the Government Care About You?” with Virgina Held

Does the government have the responsibility to care about its citizens? Does it have an obligation to think of each of us as people, as individuals, and not just as interchangeable? Join WHY? as we talk with influential and ground-breaking philosopher Virginia Held about the ethics of care and how her approach change the way we think about the government, the law, and justice itself. Continue reading “Should the Government Care About You?” with Virgina Held

“A House Divided: Analytic vs. Continental Philosophy” with Gary Gutting

Should philosophy make things simpler or more complex? Should it describe the muddle of human emotions or simply give us the language to analyze them? The answers to these questions not only tell us what we can know, but also aligns us with of two very controversial philosophy camps. Join WHY? as we discuss one of philosophy’s deepest and most divisive controversies: the battle between the “continentals” and the “analytics.”Continue reading “A House Divided: Analytic vs. Continental Philosophy” with Gary Gutting

“Teaching Philosophy for Children” with Maughn Gregory

How young can children learn philosophy? How should it be taught in the schools? What does philosophy offer that other curricula do not? For decades, the international movement known as “philosophy for children” has had tremendous success teaching in both public and private schools. Emphasizing moral education, critical thinking, and concept development, P4C, as it is know, has inspired even the youngest children to speak out in class, think about the most difficult subjects, and come to their own conclusions about controversial issues. Join WHY? as we examine this fascinating topic and ask whether a subject like philosophy is compatible with schooling built on standardized testing. Continue reading “Teaching Philosophy for Children” with Maughn Gregory

“Plato Not Prozac: What is Philosophical Counseling?” with guest Lou Marinoff

Can philosophy make our lives better? Can it help us develop better senses of self? Can it ever be used as a therapy-like tool to heal us psychologically or inspire us to change our behavior? In this episode of WHY? we will look at the role of belief, worldview, and intellectual choices, to see how they contribute to a healthy, well-balanced personality. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Lou Marinoff, as we investigate the philosophical counseling movement. Continue reading “Plato Not Prozac: What is Philosophical Counseling?” with guest Lou Marinoff

“In A Different Voice and After” with Carol Gilligan

Do men think differently than women? Is moral reasoning inherently male? Is psychology biased against relationships and the women who value them? Thirty years ago, Carol Gilligan asked these questions and shook the foundations of philosophy, psychology, and feminism. This month on WHY?, we revisit Gilligan’s classic study In A Different Voice and ask whether her answers still hold true. How was the classic text received? How is it viewed now? And, what does it (and Gilligan) still have to teach us? Join us for a challenging and important conversation that may be as powerful today as it was when the book was first released. Continue reading “In A Different Voice and After” with Carol Gilligan

“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

“A Secular Age” with guest Charles Taylor

Even the most religious of people understand that their belief is only one option of many; a different attitude than those who lived 500 years ago when theological commitments were so automatic as to not be questioned. What caused this radical cultural shift? This is the question Charles Taylor seeks to answer in his new book A Secular Age. In doing so, he asks about the nature of religion, the meaning of secularism, and the history of how much of the world shifted from the former approach to the latter. Join WHY? as we ask about this innovative and important topic, and connect it to Taylor’s long career of influential philosophical study.Continue reading “A Secular Age” with guest Charles Taylor

“The Profession of Philosophy Redux” with Brian Leiter

Brian Leiter joined Why? in April but technical difficulties prevented us have having anything but a short conversation. In this episode, he generously returns to try again.
What is the difference between a philosopher and a philosophy professor? What does the world think a philosopher is and how does this square with the philosopher’s own self-image? The next episode of Why? looks closely at the philosopher’s job, exploring both the perennial question of its relevance and the tremendously competitive hiring process that almost every professional philosopher must endure. Join guest Brian Leiter for an insider’s look at the profession of philosophy, and a discussion about the future of the discipline: where is philosophy now, how has it changed, and how will it evolve over the next decades? Continue reading “The Profession of Philosophy Redux” with Brian Leiter

“What is Critical Thinking?” with Harvey Siegel

Is it ever possible to actually persuade anybody? How do we best critically analyze our own opinions? Is human rationality really that which lies at our decision making process? Is there a right answer and how do modern diversity considerations interfere with arguments seeking the Truth? These questions mark only the beginning of discussions regarding critical thinking and the role of informal logic in people’s day to day life. Join Harvey Siegel for a discussion on how people think, whether thinking skills can actually be improved, and coping with relativism in an argument. Continue reading “What is Critical Thinking?” with Harvey Siegel