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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.

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Question: How do you define yourself as a political theorist?

Michael Walzer: Ok, well, first of all, I am a political theorist, who is interested in politics, which isn’t true of all political theorists. In the academic world, there are a lot of political theorists who are interested in political theory and not particularly in politics. And they write about other people’s political theories and I have tried not to do that, but always to write more directly about political life, and I am interested in war having grown up during World War II, and having participated in the anti-Vietnam war movement in the 60s. I am interested in justice partly because of civil rights, and partly because that’s a steady concern of left politics. I have been interested, because I am a Jewish American, or American Jew, in multiculturalism and pluralism and all the issues revolving around assimilation, integration, separation and so on. And those are the things I have mostly written about. Recorded on: 2/27/08


Michael Walzer: What Intere...

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