What If Our Ignorance Outgrows Our Potential?

Context with Brad Harris | 5 August 2019 | 0h 35m | Listen Later | iTunes
What happens when rich and powerful societies lose their wisdom and forget what made them great in the first place? Backgrounds the rediscovery after thousands of years of Lucretius’s modern sounding On the Nature of Things. (As told in Stephen Greenblatt’s book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.) Draws lessons for today from how a paradise of wisdom was once lost.

The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom

Context with Brad Harris | 2 May 2019 | 1h 10m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses the ideas in Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. Published in 1987, the book sold millions of copies and instigated a battle over the soul of the American University that’s been raging ever since. Bloom decried what he saw as a morally and intellectually crippling relativism and argued that the goal of education is not to become open to all ideas, but to cultivate the search for the best ideas.

Applied Perspective: A Conversation with Niall Ferguson

Context with Brad Harris | 7 March 2019 | 0h 45m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with historian Niall Ferguson about his efforts to ensure that policymakers and the public better understand how to apply historical lessons to current issues. Discusses the changing politics of academia, the growing challenge of interpreting history productively, the problem of judging the past by the moral standards of the present, and more.

The Square and the Tower, by Niall Ferguson

Context with Brad Harris | 7 February 2018 | 0h 39m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Distils the ideas in The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson. Through groundbreaking research, Ferguson reveals how social networks, from the Freemasons of the middle ages to Facebook in the 21st century, disrupt established hierarchies to divert the course of history, both for better and for worse. Draws lessons from history to apply to modern network disruptors.

Why the West Rules – For Now, by Ian Morris

Context with Brad Harris | 9 January 2019 | 1h 31m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Distils the ideas in Why the West Rules – For Now by Ian Morris. Suggests that the interactions of human biology, sociology, and geography reveal a fundamental pattern in history that lets us answer historical questions like why the West rules for now, and what will happen next.

The Fall of Rome, and the End of Civilization

Context with Brad Harris | 12 December 2018 | 0h 53m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Interview with Bryan Ward-Perkins, author of The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization. Interesting discussion of the evidence from pottery, coinage, livestock size and pollution that living standards collapsed with the fall of Rome and the consequent loss of economic and social complexity.

Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West

Context with Brad Harris | 10 July 2018 | 0h 32m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Review of Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West, by Margaret Jacob. Explains how scientific knowledge became integrated into the culture of Europe through the 1600s and 1700s, and how the different social and political conditions of different European countries influenced the application of science to material prosperity. Insight on why Britain’s distinctive approach to the utility of science enabled it to industrialize generations earlier than any other country.

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Context with Brad Harris | 20 August 2018 | 0h 40m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Review of 1493: Uncovering the New World, by Charles C. Mann, which shows how Europeans emerged at the centre of a modern, globalized world by establishing the Columbian Exchange, which globalised commerce, ecology, food and disease.