Panpsychism
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
4d ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea that some kind of consciousness is present not just in our human brains but throughout the universe, right down to cells or even electrons. This is panpsychism and its proponents argue it offers a compelling alternative to those who say we are nothing but matter, like machines, and to those who say we are both matter and something else we might call soul. It is a third way. Critics argue panpsychism is implausible, an example of how not to approach this problem, yet interest has been growing widely in recent decades partly for the idea itself and partly ..read more
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Nefertiti
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
1w ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery in 1912 in Amarna was kept quiet at first but its display in Berlin in the 1920s caused a sensation, with replicas sent out across the world. Ever since, as with Tutankhamun perhaps, the concrete facts about Nefertiti herself have barely kept up with the theories, the legends and the spec ..read more
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Condorcet
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
2w ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), known as the Last of the Philosophes, the intellectuals in the French Enlightenment who sought to apply their learning to solving the problems of their world. He became a passionate believer in the progress of society, an advocate for equal rights for women and the abolition of the slave trade and for representative government. The French Revolution gave him a chance to advance those ideas and, while the Terror brought his life to an end, his wife Sophie de Grouchy 91764-1822) ensured his influence into the next century and beyond ..read more
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Twelfth Night, or What You Will
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
1M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, which plays in the space between marriage, love and desire. By convention a wedding means a happy ending and here there are three, but neither Orsino nor Viola, Olivia nor Sebastian know much of each other’s true character and even the identities of the twins Viola and Sebastian have only just been revealed to their spouses to be. These twins gain some financial security but it is unclear what precisely the older Orsino and Olivia find enduringly attractive in the adolescent objects of their love. Meanwhile their hopes and il ..read more
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Vincent van Gogh
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
1M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Dutch artist famous for starry nights and sunflowers, self portraits and simple chairs. These are images known the world over, and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted them and around 900 others in the last decade of his short, brilliant life and, famously, in that lifetime he made only one recorded sale. Yet within a few decades after his death these extraordinary works, with all their colour and life, became the most desirable of all modern art, propelled in part by the story of Vincent van Gogh's struggle with mental health. With Christopher Riopelle The ..read more
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Karl Barth
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
1M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) rejected the liberal theology of his time which, he argued, used the Bible and religion to help humans understand themselves rather than prepare them to open themselves to divine revelation. Barth's aim was to put God and especially Christ at the centre of Christianity. He was alarmed by what he saw as the dangers in a natural theology where God might be found in a rainbow or an opera by Wagner; for if you were open to finding God in German culture, you could also be open ..read more
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Edgar Allan Poe
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
2M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Poe (1809-1849), the American author who is famous for his Gothic tales of horror, madness and the dark interiors of the mind, such as The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. As well as tapping at our deepest fears in poems such as The Raven, Poe pioneered detective fiction with his character C. Auguste Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. After his early death, a rival rushed out a biography to try to destroy Poe's reputation but he has only become more famous over the years as a cultural icon as well as an author. With Bridget Bennett Profes ..read more
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The Theory of the Leisure Class
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
2M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most influential work of Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). In 1899, during America’s Gilded Age, Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class as a reminder that all that glisters is not gold. He picked on traits of the waning landed class of Americans and showed how the new moneyed class was adopting these in ways that led to greater waste throughout society. He called these conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption and he developed a critique of a system that favoured profits for owners without regard to social good. The Theory of the Leisure Class was a ..read more
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The Barbary Corsairs
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
2M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they’d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli, outreaches of the Ottoman empire, or Salé in neighbouring Morocco, but often their Turkish or Arabic names concealed their European birth. Murad Reis the Younger, for example, who sacked Baltimore in 1631, was the Dutchman Jan Janszoon who also had a base on Lundy ..read more
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Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
In Our Time
by BBC Radio 4
3M ago
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristotle's ideas on what happiness means and how to live a good life. Aristotle (384-322BC) explored these almost two and a half thousand years ago in what became known as his Nicomachean Ethics. His audience then were the elite in Athens as, he argued, if they knew how to live their lives well then they could better rule the lives of others. While circumstances and values have changed across the centuries, Aristotle's approach to answering those questions has fascinated philosophers ever since and continues to do so. With Angie Hobbs Professor of the Public Un ..read more
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