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Interchange – George Kateb: Accentuate the Negative


With our guest, George Kateb, who has been called “the most interesting and important philosopher of liberalism alive today,”* we’ll focus on oppression and resistance. Our texts for this conversation will center on three essays from Kateb’s 2006 collection of essays, Patriotism and Other Mistakes: “Is Patriotism a Mistake,” “Socratic Integrity,” and “Wildness and Conscience: Thoreau and Emerson,” as well as selections from his 2011 book Human Dignity and his latest work Lincoln’s Political Thought.

The essays, says Kateb, “deal with serious oppression of people by public authorities. Human Dignity is in part a defense of human rights: rights that are meant to protect people against oppression by public authorities. Oppression causes physical and mental suffering and can also create violations of human dignity, some of them causing what I call unfelt oppression (ie, Huxley’s Brave New World); [then turning to] Lincoln’s Political Thought, where suffering and extreme violation of human dignity through dehumanization and degradation are caused by slavery. Thoreau invokes conscience but doesn’t rule out violence, and Lincoln comes to understand that only military violence could end the violence of slavery and its defenders.”

*John Burt, author of Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism

George Kateb is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics Emeritus at Princeton. An influential political theorist with an international reputation, he is a champion of democratic individuality and a critic of its many challengers. He is the author of Utopia and Its Enemies (1963); Political Theory; Its Nature and Uses (1968); Hannah Arendt: Politics, Conscience, Evil (1984); The Inner Ocean: Individualism and Democratic Culture (1992); Emerson and Self-Reliance (1994); Patriotism and Other Mistakes (2006); Human Dignity (2011); and Lincoln’s Political Thought (2015)

Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-60″
i. Emerson
ii. Hawthorne
iii. The Alcotts
iv. Thoreau

Performed by Gilbert Kalish, piano; Samuel Baron, Flute; John Graham, viola

Patriotism: What Is It Good For?
Existential Democratic Individuality: A Conversation with George Kateb

Photo credit: www.thinkingaloud.com

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

Interchange – Big Data Is Watching You


This week on Interchange host Doug Storm presents “Big Data Is Watching You,” a conversation with Colin Allen, Director of the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University.  Allen is a philosopher of biology and cognitive science and he’s joined us once before on Interchange to talk about the possibilities of machine morality and perhaps rather the necessity of building morality into source codes.  If nothing else, this week’s program should make that at least clear, and clearly an imperative.  Of course we’re stuck with the question, who will craft this ethical code?

We also present here for podcast the unedited conversation which covers more ground and even attempts to explicate Yeats’s “Second Coming” (1919) as an ode to the coming of the Mind of Big Data.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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