Which philosopher really gets it?


Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.

Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.

Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.

  • Transcript


Question: Which philosopher really gets it?

Dan Gilbert: I’m a big fan of Spinoza, and I’ve written articles about Spinoza and belief. Modern philosophers … gosh … I’ve … Ancient philosophers, I’d say Spinoza, Manuel Kant. Modern philosophers … Dennis Parfitt is an exciting philosopher to me. “Reasons and Persons” just blew my mind in the way that a good Phillip K. Dick does. All these philosophers have written about different things that have excited me. You know, Kant … I mean, Kant’s notions are the basis of modern psychology. The idea that perception is constructed by the brain … that our eyes are not video cameras that are just taking in the world and broadcasting it on a little theater screen inside our heads. But then the fact that we’re actively constructing everything that we see, hear around us. It’s a product of not only incoming information from the environment, but what we already know, believe, hope, want and dream. That’s a really big idea, and it’s Kant’s idea. And it’s what legitimates modern psychology.

Recorded on: 6/12/2007