‘It’s just a brute fact that we don’t throw virgins into volcanoes any more. We don’t execute people for shoplifting a cabbage. And we used to.’ –Steven Pinker ‘The idea that because things have gotten better in the past they will continue to do so in the future is a fallacy I would have thought confined to the lower reaches of Wall Street.’ –Malcolm Gladwell In a world driven by technology and globalization, is humanity approaching a Golden Age or is the notion of progress a Western delusion? Four of the world’s most renowned thinkers take on one of the biggest debates of the modern era…
The Politics of Well-Being argues that the relationship between well-being and ethical life has been overlooked. The more specific argument of the book is that ethical life requires political engagement, and the emergence of a society committed to critical thinking. It is argued that these conditions allow for our ordination and confirmation as ethical subjects. While well-being can be experienced in different ways, it is claimed that, after experience of ethical life, a more sustainable form of it is revealed to us, a form which we would be drawn to preserve, a form which can be constituted as an object of hope. While the book draws on philosophical themes, its main focus is political. This is because its primary objective is to identify and to examine what needs to be done in order to realise ethical life. Its main focus in this respect is the identification and examination of the barriers which need to be overcome if ethical life is to be realised. It is acknowledged that this will not be an easy task. Indeed, it may be an impossible task. However, despite these barriers, and despite the dark days we are living through, the book is a call to hope rather than a surrender to despair. This book will be of interest to students of politics, psychology, cultural studies, philosophy and sociology, as well as anyone else interested in exploring new ideas about how the make the world a better place.
The twenty-first semi-annual Munk Debate pits award-winning journalist E. J. Dionne, Jr. and influential author and blogger Andrew Sullivan against former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and bestselling author and editor Kimberley Strassel to debate the current crisis of American democracy. “Our country is now as close to crossing the line from democracy to autocracy as it has been in our lifetimes.” — E. J. Dionne, Jr. It is the public debate of the moment: is Donald Trump precipitating a crisis of American democracy? For some the answer is an emphatic “yes.” Trump’s disregard for the institutions and political norms of U.S. democracy is imperiling the Republic. The sooner his presidency collapses the sooner the healing can begin and the ship of state righted. For others Trump is not the villain in this drama. Rather, his young presidency is the conduit, not the cause, of Americans’ deep-seated anger towards a privileged and self-dealing Washington elite. Trump’s disruption of politics as usual is what America needs to start the process of restoring democracy by the people, for the people.
The world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Over 300,000 are dead in Syria, and one and half million are either injured or disabled. Four and a half million people are trying to flee the country. And Syria is just one of a growing number of failed or failing states in the Middle East and North Africa. How should developed nations respond to human suffering on this mass scale? Do the prosperous societies of the West, including Canada and the U.S., have a moral imperative to assist as many refugees as they reasonably and responsibly can? Or, is this a time for vigilance and restraint in the face of a wave of mass migration that risks upending the tolerance and openness of the West? The eighteenth semi-annual Munk Debate, which was held on April 1, 2016, pits former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and leading historian Simon Schama against leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage and bestselling author Mark Steyn to debate the West’s response to the global refugee crisis.
This engaging volume explores and defends the claim that misanthropy is a justified attitude towards humankind in the light of how human beings both compare with and treat animals. Reflection on differences between humans and animals helps to confirm the misanthropic verdict, while reflection on the moral and other failings manifest in our treatment of animals illuminates what is wrong with this treatment. Human failings, it is argued, are too entrenched to permit optimism about the future of animals, but ways are proposed in which individual people may accommodate to the truth of misanthropy through cultivating mindful, humble and compassionate relationships to animals. Drawing on both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions David E. Cooper offers an original and challenging approach to the complex field of animal ethics.
‘Without free speech there is no true thought.’ –Jordan Peterson ‘If you’re white, this country is one giant safe space.’ –Michael Eric Dyson The Munk debate on political correctness Is political correctness an enemy of free speech, sparking needless conflict? Or is it a weapon in the fight for equality, restoring dignity to the downtrodden? How should we talk about the things that matter most in an era of rapid social change? Four thinkers take on one of the most heated debates in the culture wars of the twenty-first century.
The post-pandemic world provides all of us with the opportunity to think differently about what we want for society. In Educating Tomorrow, Chris Brown and Ruth Luzmore explore what a post-Covid ‘blank slate’ education system could look like.
What is real? What is the foundation of right and wrong? How can we know? There are many ways to answer these questions—Western religious views in which humanity is part of God’s creation, Eastern religious views in which delusion traps humanity in a cycle of reincarnation, and secular views in which humanity evolved as part of the material universe driven by nothing other than the impersonal forces of evolution. Each of these views paints unique and comprehensive pictures of the world to convey their vision. These pictures are as different from each other as if they were of three different lands separated from each other by patrolled borders. The border between Eastern and Western religions is guarded by arguments over the nature of the divine and rational versus experiential approaches to salvation. Both of these territories are separated from the land of scientific atheists who deny the existence of any supernatural reality and see the scientific method as the sole valid arbiter of truth. This book presents all three views for non-specialists, enabling readers to enter them imaginatively. It then compares these approaches on different contemporary topics. This book is for anyone who wonders why people believe what they do.
Why has the flow of big, world-changing ideas slowed down? A provocative look at what happens next at the frontiers of human knowledge. The history of humanity is the history of big ideas that expand our frontiers—from the wheel to space flight, cave painting to the massively multiplayer game, monotheistic religion to quantum theory. And yet for the past few decades, apart from a rush of new gadgets and the explosion of digital technology, world-changing ideas have been harder to come by. Since the 1970s, big ideas have happened incrementally—recycled, focused in narrow bands of innovation. In this provocative book, Michael Bhaskar looks at why the flow of big, world-changing ideas has slowed, and what this means for the future. Bhaskar argues that the challenge at the frontiers of knowledge has arisen not because we are unimaginative and bad at realizing big ideas but because we have already pushed so far. If we compare the world of our great-great-great-grandparents to ours today, we can see how a series of transformative ideas revolutionized almost everything in just a century and a half. But recently, because of short-termism, risk aversion, and fractious decision making, we have built a cautious, unimaginative world. Bhaskar shows how we can start to expand the frontier again by thinking big—embarking on the next Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Apollo mission—and embracing change.
Meteorites, methane, mega-volcanoes and now human beings; the old forces of nature that transformed Earth many millions of years ago are joined by another: us. Our actions have driven Earth into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. For the first time in our home planet's 4.5-billion year history a single species is dictating Earth's future. To some the Anthropocene symbolises a future of superlative control of our environment. To others it is the height of hubris, the illusion of our mastery over nature. Whatever your view, just below the surface of this odd-sounding scientific word, the Anthropocene, is a heady mix of science, philosophy, religion and politics linked to our deepest fears and utopian visions. Tracing our environmental impact through time to reveal when humans began to dominate Earth, Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin show what the new epoch means for the future of humanity, the planet and life itself.
From award-winning educator, innovation expert, and Global Teacher Prize finalist, Rohan Roberts, comes a provocative look at why our current education system is not fit for purpose and why we need to overhaul it. Cosmic Citizens and Moonshot Thinking: Education in an Age of Exponential Technologies takes a fresh approach to what we need to do differently to prepare our children for a world of exponential technologies, disruptive innovations, and ubiquitous A.I. In this groundbreaking book, Roberts outlines the purpose of education in a world of increased outsourcing and automation and explains how we can future-proof our youth to survive and thrive in a world of accelerating change. Through interactions with corporate leaders, interviews with principals, meetings with parents, and surveys of students, this book considers how the best and brightest students would overhaul their education system. The book highlights the role of neuroscience in education and explores several fascinating concepts such as radical openness, abundance mindsets, the gig economy, the technological singularity, intelligent optimism, the age of imagination, humanics, transhumanism, and the importance of Enlightenment values as we advance into the 21st Century. Underpinning this book is a constant focus on the importance of bringing a sense of awe into education and fostering a sense of cosmic wonder when contemplating human purpose and human existence. Written in a style that is discursive, contemplative, and with a sense of urgency, this book will appeal to students, parents, teachers, school principals, and to anyone who recognises that the only real and long-lasting way to create a better society is to first fix our education system.
Our present moment can no longer sustain a stable “us” defined against an alien “them.” So say René Girard and Ivan Illich, radical critics of both Christianity and culture. If they are right, this makes our time an endtime. The end of us against them can deteriorate into the chaos of each against each, or it can open outward into freely chosen communion. It is an expectant—and apocalyptic—time. How does one live in this strange, endtime world? As a wanderer in the odd, cross-culture country Girard and Illich have mapped, the author finds himself in a surprising new place in relation to those who are his other: women, queer folk, refugees, Muslims, atheists, and Indigenous people. In this collection of essays, he blinks, looks around, and makes some field notes.