What do you believe?

Kurt Andersen: I don’t think of myself as having a personal philosophy. I suppose I do, even though I couldn’t say it’s utilitarian, or Buddhist. I don’t have a word for it or a set of words.

I find that I am mistrustful and temperamentally, almost instinctively mistrustful, of ideological thinking, which I suppose is a form of ideology in itself. But nevertheless, people who believe they understand the way the world works – religious ideologues, political ideologues, any kind of ideologues,  and then pursue life as a means of fulfilling that pre-existing set of understandings. Whatever the antithesis of that is, that’s my philosophy. Which is a kind of empirical, flexible sense of life.

I find myself going back and forth, depending on the circumstance, depending on the day, practically, depending on the issue we’re talking about, of feeling conservative or progressive, or feeling as though it’ll all work out in the end or it won’t. But so I can’t sum that up, except as I would say a kind of skepticism that doesn’t tip over into cynicism; an empiricism that isn’t without heart. I can give you more lines like that, but that would  get at the edges of my philosophy.

No. Religion or faith don’t play into my world view, at least not consciously. I was not raised in a religious tradition. My family, my parents were kind of lapsed Unitarians. Even if they were pious Unitarians, it wouldn’t have been a strict, religious faith. I don’t understand faith in God. And I have my moments of spiritualness. o I’m not 100% a kind of materialist. Well you know, I’m probably 97% that way. I’m mostly persuaded that, at least in my lifetime, that religious faith has done more harm than good.

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

Andersen is 97% materialist.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

The Big 5 personality trait that's linked to anti-obesity views

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less