You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?
Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?
Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...
the Epicurean cure for what ails ya, with philosopher Catherine Wilson
From atomic theory to evolution to utilitarian pragmatism, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was way ahead of his time. In the writings of his school, philosopher Catherine Wilson finds answers to many of our most vexing modern problems.
If the word 'epicurean' brings to mind a porcine man in a toga reclining on a velvet couch and dropping fat juicy grapes into his open mouth, one by one, you are not alone.
But this caricature, probably the descendent of some ancient propaganda by rival philosophers, tells us very little in fact about Epicureanism - the worldview of the 4th century BCE Greek philosopher Epicurus and his later disciple Lucretius, whose ideas prefigured and shaped much of the modern world.
My guest today is philosopher Catherine Wilson, author of the book How to be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well. At a confusing cultural moment where many people are looking for a guiding framework, she's here with a strident defense of Epicureanism as a way of life. In its pragmatic approach to embracing pleasure and minimizing pain, she sees a saner way of living in the world. And maybe enjoying a few juicy grapes while you're at it.
Surprise conversation starters in this episode:
Mass shootings and masculinity with Michael Kaufman, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign
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Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism—the world's scriptural belief systems take many different forms but all tend toward 'kenosis'—self-transcendence for the benefit of others. And all have been used and abused for less spiritual ends. Former nun and renowned theologian Karen Armstrong on the lost art of scripture.
Playwright and novelist Deborah Levy on chaos and order in creative work. Also: marvelous digressions on the caterpillar and the octopus.
Having helped transform how creative work is financed, Yancey Strickler has moved on from Kickstarter, the company he co-founded toward a kind of values reset that moves us away from a narrow, unsustainable, inhumane obsession with profit at all costs.
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