The life choices that had led me to be sitting in a booth underneath a banner that read “Ask a Philosopher” – at the entrance to the New York City subway at 57th and 8th – were perhaps random but inevitable. I’d been a “public philosopher” for 15 years, so I readily agreed to join … Continue reading Three Philosophers Set Up a Booth on a Street Corner: Here’s What People Asked
From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats to Ronald Reagan’s reputation as the “great communicator” to Barack Obama’s soaring oratory to Donald Trump’s Twitter use, styles of presidential communication have varied over time.
On either side of the Atlantic, groups of public intellectuals have issued a call to arms. The besieged citadel in need of defending, they say, is the one that safeguards science, facts and evidence-based policy. These white knights of progress – such as the psychologist Steven Pinker and the neuroscientist Sam Harris – condemn the apparent resurgence of passion, emotion and superstition in politics. The bedrock of modernity, they tell us, is the human capacity to curb disruptive forces with cool-headed reason. What we need is a reboot of the Enlightenment, now.
For 'reason is the god in us' [some poets say] and 'Mortal life contains a portion of some god.' We ought, therefore, either to pursue philosophy or to say farewell to life and depart hence.