Metaphysics
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Episode 41
Featuring Jim Holt
Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher and essayist Jim Holt, about the philosophy of science, ethics, and metaphysics. Why does the world exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is reality knowable? Is free will an illusion? These are questions that have concerned philosophers for millennia. Yet, they remain unanswered. Why?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with the philosopher and essayist Jim Holt, about the philosophy of science, ethics, and metaphysics. Jim is a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, jokes, logic, and truth. He also writes regularly for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, and he is a former book-columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Jim Holt hosted a weekly radio spot on BBC Wales called “Living in America, with Jim Holt” for ten years, appeared on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, and NBC News with Tom Brokaw. His book, “Why Does the World Exist?” was a New York Times bestseller for 2013. His latest book, “When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought,” will be released on May 15th and is available for pre-order today.

 

Why does the world exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is reality knowable? What is a good life? What is a good death? Who am I? Where did I come from? Is free will just an illusion? These are just some of the questions explored in this hour-long conversation with Jim Holt, on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. They are questions that have concerned philosophers for more than two thousand years. Yet, they remain unanswered. Unlike the hardnosed, falsifiable propositions of empirical science, philosophical science poses questions for which definitive answers are hard to come by. They are not bounded by the constraints of formal logic or objective truth. Still, something about them jabs at us. Why? Perhaps it is in our nature to question everything, even those things for which answers do not exist. Or, perhaps the act of engaging in ontological arguments is itself the goal. In either case, the pursuit of answers to the perennial questions of metaphysics is a necessarily humbling experience. In an answer based culture, the philosophy of science and metaphysics forces us to contend with the mystery of our own existence and the limits of our explanatory powers. 

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

 

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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Jim Holt is a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, jokes, logic, truth, and bullshit. He also writes regularly for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, and he is a former book-columnist for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, "When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought," will be published in May 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux. His 2012 book "Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story" was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for general nonfiction and was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. An international bestseller, "Why Does the World Exist?" has been published worldwide in 18 languages. His 2006 book "Stop Me If You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes" was published in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and in French, Italian, and German translation. He is currently at work on a book titled "Living (Theory and Practice)," to be published in the U.S. by Farrar Straus, in the UK by Penguin, and in German by Rowohlt. Holt has taught mathematics at the University of Virginia, philosophy at Columbia University, and economics at the City University of New York. He lives in Greenwich Village.

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