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...

What happens to freedom when time is money – with Martin Hägglund

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why hasn't technology given us more freedom?
  • Why is eternal life not desirable?
  • Why don't Universal Basic Income and other forms of redistribution solve the underlying problem?


What gets a wolf or a pigeon up in the morning? No offense to wolves or to pigeons, but it's probably not the desire to make the world a better place. As far as we know, humans are unique in the freedom to decide what's worth doing with our finite time on Earth.

But as my guest today argues, we often steal that freedom from one another or sell it off without even realizing it—our finite lifetime, the one thing we have of real value, is devalued by capitalism and for those who have it, by religious faith in eternal life, or eternal everythingness, or eternal nothingness. . . .

It's a long story. These ideas are better expressed in a 400 page book than in a 60 second intro. Happily, philosopher Martin Hägglund has given us that much-needed book in This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. Martin is a professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Yale and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. And I'm delighted to have him here with me today.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Rob Bell on whether Jesus would have wanted Christianity

The right to know: How does censorship affect academics?

When academics and journalists forego sharing their findings, out of intimidation, we all lose out.

Videos
  • Academic freedom is what makes a university space work as a setting to develop students' capacities. It is the permission to think freely, and have contrarian discussions, that leads to new insights.
  • There are whole zones of knowledge that we never get to because of intimidation put on academics: "We simply don't know what we haven't even thought to ask."
  • Self-censorship, especially regarding sensitive topics, is the dark matter of the academic freedom universe. Out of fear of being attacked, or their families being harmed, some journalists and scholars will forego publishing their findings.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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