Ideas

IDEAS schedule for December 2019

Highlights include: philosophical anthropologist Lorraine Daston on reclaiming nature as a moral guidepost (Dec. 5); a rare feature interview with former UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (Dec 12-13); examining prison abolition — has prison outlived its purpose? (Dec 18); the spirituality of the saxophone (Dec. 19); and author Stephen Law takes us through the philosophical quagmire of the holidays (Dec. 23).


Monday, December 2
JOSEPH CONRAD, PROPHET OF A GLOBAL WORLD
Seen from today, the novelist Joseph Conrad's early 20th century views on the world, particularly on race, can be offensive. Yet his observations were deeply prescient of modern times. V.S. Naipaul, who was also a harsh critic, once wrote how Conrad managed — 100 years ago — to "meditate on my world, a world I recognize today." This feature interview with Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff, who tackles that question in her acclaimed biography of Joseph Conrad, was originally broadcast on December 18, 2018.  


Tuesday, December 3
THE RELATIVITY REVOLUTION: EINSTEIN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD
In 1905, a patent office clerk working in Bern, Switzerland, published a series of academic papers on physics that revolutionized physics and our thinking about space and time, mass and energy. Albert Einstein's ideas were a great leap forward, the solution to some crucial problems in physics as well as the gateway to our modern world, establishing a better understanding of how the cosmos works, and the key to unlocking the great technologies of our daily lives. A panel discussion from the 2019 Stratford Festival with philosophers, Chris Smeenk and Doreen Fraser, along with theoretical physicist, Bianca Dittrich.
 

Wednesday, December 4
THE PULPIT, POWER AND POLITICS
The grip conservative evangelicalism has on American social and political life is hard to overestimate. African-American scholar and committed Christian Jemar Tisby examines the long and complex connections between American evangelicalism and racism in his book The Color of Compromise. He's joined by historian John Fea, and historian of religion and politics Molly Worthen to help answer the question: what exactly is the relationship between conservative evangelicalism and America today?


Thursday, December 5
AGAINST NATURE: GETTING "OUGHT" FROM "IS"
Throughout the centuries, politicians, theologians and philosophers have pointed to nature as a way to guide our actions and beliefs. The equivalence between "unnatural" and "bad" seems to be as durable as ever, despite the many critiques and refutations that have been levied against it. But philosophical anthropologist Lorraine Daston doesn't think using "nature" as a guide is necessarily all bad. In conversation with host Nahlah Ayed, she explains how it may be possible to reclaim nature as a moral guidepost.
 

Friday, December 6
"YOU MAY NEED SOME RICHARD RORTY": WHY IT'S TIME TO BE POST-TRUTH AND FULL OF HOPE
"He is a nemesis to many, and is claimed as a friend by only very few," wrote Eduardo Mendieta about Richard Rorty, the most quoted, most criticized, and most widely read of recent U.S. philosophers. Rorty died in 2007, but a passionate crew of 'Rortyans' now devote themselves to keeping his name alive, and challenging what they see as the many misinterpretations of his work. Thanks to Rorty's politically centrist views, his praise for patriotism, and his disdain for talk of 'objective truth,' he continues to enrage progressives and conservatives alike. Yet his ideas could be the most useful contribution U.S. philosophy has to offer today's polarized and fractured democracies. To find out why, IDEAS goes to Pennsylvania for the second-ever meeting of the Richard Rorty Society. 
 



Monday, December 9
THE STOLEN REVOLUTION: IRANIAN WOMEN OF 1979
After finally ousting the Shah, and just mere weeks after Ayatollah Khomeini took power, Iranian women marched to show their fury at the revolution, which now seemed to be turning against them. To mark the 40th anniversary of their protests, CBC Radio producer Donya Ziaee spoke to three Iranian women who were there — on the streets of Tehran, fighting to to turn the tide of history. *Originally broadcast on March 8, 2019.


Tuesday, December 10
THE INVENTION OF THE WORLD: DIDEROT AND THE ART OF THINKING FREELY, PT 1
French philosopher Denis Diderot was one of a small group of 18th-century thinkers who began to explore a radical new way of thinking about the totality of human knowledge. In his magisterial Encyclopédie, he proposed a new way of organizing everything we know and experience. In part one of a two-part series, producer Philip Coulter goes on a walk around Diderot's Paris with philosophy professor and historian, Sophie Audidière. *Originally broadcast on June 10, 2019.
 

Wednesday, December 11
THE WRITTEN CITY: DANY LAFERRI​​​​​ERE'S PARIS
Dany Laferrière is one of the most celebrated writers in Canadian literary history. He has over 27 books to his name, and a raft of awards and honours — including the Order of Canada, and the Prix Medicis. In 2013, he was elected to the prestigious Académie Française in Paris — where he now lives. Radio-Canada contributor Danny Braun met up with Laferrière to talk about his latest book, Self-Portrait of Paris with Cat — and to decode the City of Light. * Originally broadcast on April 30, 2019.


Thursday, December 12
BREAKING DIPLOMATIC RULES: ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, PT 1
Standing on stage at a 2016 gala in The Hague, Netherlands, shaking with rage, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, decided enough was enough. Breaking diplomatic convention in a speech he wrote personally, Al Hussein named names of political leaders whom he believes encourage the violation of human rights: Wilders, Le Pen, Farage and Trump and others. IDEAS producer Mary Lynk sits down for a rare feature interview to reveal the story behind that moment, and Al Hussein's struggle to defend human rights in a world, he says, is besieged by a re-tribalizing of identity. 
 

Friday, December 13
STANDING UP TO THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL: ZEID RA'AD AL HUSSEIN, PT 2
In 2018, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was named the Top Career Diplomat by Foreign Policy magazine. It was also the same year that he decided not to seek a second term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — currently occupied by the former president of Chile. The reason Al Hussein refused a second mandate was it "might involve bending a knee in supplication." IDEAS producer Mary Lynk sits down for a rare feature interview with the former outspoken and insightful former High Commissioner, who pulls back the curtain on backroom UN diplomacy.
 



Monday, December 16
ENRIGHT FILES: DIVERSITY AND SHARED VALUES IN CANADA
Even as Canada becomes demographically diverse and inclusive,' the rhetoric and debates remain divisive. What does it mean to be Canadian? And are some Canadians more 'Canadian' than others? As the discourse of diversity has become increasingly complex and heated, The Sunday Edition has grappled with questions of how we define ourselves as a country and what, if anything, we all have in common. This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the changing face of Canada and what it means for the social fabric of the country. 


Tuesday, December 17
THE INVENTION OF THE WORLD: DIDEROT AND THE ART OF THINKING FREELY, PT 2
French philosopher Denis Diderot was one of a small group of 18th-century thinkers who began to explore a radical new way of thinking about the totality of human knowledge. In his magisterial Encyclopédie, he proposed a new way of organizing everything we know and experience. In part 2 of his series, producer Philip Coulter takes a walk around Diderot's Paris. *Originally broadcast on June 17, 2019.


Wednesday, December 18
PRISON ABOLITION
Prison as punishment has a long and winding history. Initially conceived as a kind of spiritual time-out, an opportunity for offenders to sit apart from society and think hard and long about what they'd done, prison now is mostly about warehousing people — many of whom have been convicted of relatively minor crimes. The increasing number of incarcerated people in the United States, for example, is fuelled in part by a profit motive with no evidence that incarceration is rehabilitating anyone. In Canada, the rate of incarceration of Indigenous people is climbing. Indigenous youth make up almost 50% of all those entering the juvenile correction system, but comprise only 8% of the overall youth population. A brush with the system at a young age virtually guarantees a lifetime of intermittent incarceration. So maybe the time has come to ask whether prison itself has outlived its purpose, and whether there's a better way forward than prison.
 

Thursday, December 19
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: TEAM HUMAN 
Douglas Rushkoff was named by MIT in 2013 as one of the world's 10 most influential thinkers. He coined terms that are now part of our everyday vocabulary: "digital natives" and "viral media" among them. His urgent, new manifesto on the effects of digital technology — and a book by the same name — is called Team Human. It's his warning that technology is colonizing humans — that humans have become the commodity, and the result is that our social connections are disintegrating. In a keynote speech at the Centre for Security Governance at the University of Waterloo, Rushkoff said that for humanity to survive the technological onslaught we've brought on ourselves, we must reaffirm that we are social beings, and recognize that being human is a team sport.


Friday, December 20
HOW TO AVOID CONFLICT — LESSONS FROM 16TH CENTURY ITALIAN DUELS
It's only when disputants are so pig-headed' as to not accept a sensible process of mediation that the duel takes place, according to York University PhD student and master fencer, Aaron Miedema. He's digging through the details of more than 300 cases of duels from the 16th and 17th century to uncover highly evolved mediation processes designed to help disputants save face instead of reaching for swords or pistols. The surprise: there are lessons for us from 500 years ago which may prove useful in today's climate of public blaming and shaming. 

 



Monday, December 23
THE BROADWAY BAROMETER: HOW MUSICALS CAPTURE AND PROPEL SOCIAL CHANGE
The Broadway musical is an art form both beloved and maligned. Whether you love it or hate it, the Broadway musical has the power to tap into the zeitgeist, capturing and propelling social change. Princeton musical theatre scholar Stacy Wolf takes host Nahlah Ayed on a tour of the hidden power of musicals from the 1950s to today. *Originally broadcast on October 3, 2019.


Tuesday, December 24

PRE-EMPTED


Wednesday, December 25

PRE-EMPTED


Thursday, December 26
JUST ONE STORY: JOSEPH CAMPBELL AND 'THE HERO'S JOURNEY'
It inspired movies like Star Wars, The Lion King, and The Matrix. It was named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential books of all time. Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces was published in 1949 — a book that is simultaneously timeless, and very much of its time. The documentary, Just One Story, looks at the massive influence of Campbell's theory. *Originally broadcast on September 3, 2019.


Friday, December 27
HOW ALGORITHMS CREATE A 'DIGITAL UNDERCLASS'
There was a time when technology was perceived as neutral. But we now know the technology we thought would save us is actually recreating the same kinds of inequalities we were trying to redress in the first place. Princeton sociologist Ruha Benjamin asks if there's a way to create a new technological reality without a digital underclass. *Originally broadcast on September 4, 2019.
 



Monday, December 30
THE MISSION
Creative writers always consider what motivates a character. But for some recipients of 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards, understanding the sense of mission was personal. Memoirist Don Gillmor (To the River: Losing My Brother) reflects on his quest to understand suicide and its aftermath for the person's family and friends. Joan Thomas considers her own religious childhood as she reflects on the troubling mission that inspired her novel, Five Wives. In 1956, five Americans infamously travelled to Ecuador with the goal of converting an uncontacted Indigenous people to Christianity. 
 

Tuesday, December 31

PRE-EMPTED