What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

What is Art? Join the Floating University at the New York Public Library Tomorrow Night

February 28, 2012, 2:30 PM

It is one of the most debated subjects of all time: What is art? Some might think it doesn't much matter whether or not consensus is achieved on this highly subjective topic, but the definition of art has an enormous impact upon how the arts are — or aren't — funded. The question of what constitutes art spills over into debates about art's value to society — whether access to the arts is right as basic as education or health care. In this live event from The Floating University, Bard College President Leon Botstein explains why it is essential to ask these questions and offers a sturdy basis for evaluating them. He goes so far as to suggest that engaging with art can give our lives meaning and purpose.

Please join us tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 6 - 8 p.m at the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for a screening of "Art Now," followed by a Q&A with President Botstein led by Big Think President Peter Hopkins. Attendees will also be treated to opening remarks by Tony Marx, President of the New York Public Library, and Arezoo Moseni, the Senior Art Librarian.

So what is art, and why is it so important? President Botstein offers this thoughtful response to the question in an interview with the NYPL on the Huffington Post:

Botstein called art "the cultivation of the imagination beyond the practical and utilitarian," and said, "The most important thing about art is it is the most powerful protection against a sense of boredom. And boredom, ultimately, is the most terrifying and most dangerous human experience because boredom creates a sense of meaningless, pointlessness. It destroys our sense of the power of time. Of the finite character of mortality. It creates anger and resentment. And it's unnecessary. The finding or creating of beauty in the world is enormous protection against a sense of meaningless and resentment and pointlessness." 

Stave off boredom tomorrow night and join the dialogue. Check out the first two minutes of the video lecture below for a taste of Bostein's FU lecture:

Is Botstein on the right track? What do you think constitutes art? Enter your response below, or a question for President Botstein, to take part in the discussion remotely. 

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, and is easily accessible by the 1/2/3, A/C, D/B/F/M, 4/5/6, and 7 trains that converge at or around Grand Central Station. The doors open at 5:30, and seating is first-come, first serve, unless you're one of our VIP seat winners, who have reserved seating in the front row. 


What is Art? Join the Float...

Newsletter: Share: