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
With rendition switcher


Question: What is philosophy's place in modern life?

Michael Sandel: Right. There are different ways of doing philosophy. And some highly technical ways have their natural home in the academy and among scholars. And there’s enormous value and integrity in that part of philosophy. The part of philosophy that I deal with – and political philosophy in particular – has to be engaged with the world. I don’t think it’s possible to do political philosophy without tending to the actual political circumstances that we face in our world. And in fact, if you look back at the history of political philosophy, most of the great political philosophers have responded to worries of challenges, or even fears about the condition of public things in their own time and in their own lives even. And so very often, political philosophy has grown out of unease, or dissatisfaction, or protest against political conditions of the day. And so I don’t think it’s possible – at least for me I haven’t found it to be possible – to do political philosophy without taking an interest in the hurly-burly … the messy world of actual public life, trying to understand it; and also trying to bring philosophy – philosophical arguments and ideals – into actual contact with the public – men and women – the citizens who will decide the fate of public life, and democratic life in our own time. So I think philosophy has to have – political philosophy has to have – a public face, a public dimension. Teaching is part of that. Writing for general publications that reach beyond the academy is also part of that. And so it’s public philosophy in that sense that I’ve tried to contribute to and participate in.

Recorded on: 6/12/07



What is philosophy's place ...

Newsletter: Share: