I first learned about the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) a few years ago. I was watching one of the IAI’s debates about the limits of logic. The discussion was long form, but structured. And it included perspectives from multiple areas of expertise. For those reasons alone, the IAI had my attention. After all, you don’t typically get all that from American alternatives like TED or Talks at Google. In this post, I want to introduce the uninitiated to the IAI podcast by highlighting two of my favorite episodes.
Episode 1: “After the End of Truth”
No. This episode is not about the allegedly recent trends in fake news and misinformation in our public discourse — although that is certainly related. Instead, this podcast is about the “end of truth” inspired by post-modern philosophers such as Foucault and Derrida. In the episode, Hilary Lawson defends a sort of “end of truth” position. Lawson describes his view a bit like Kyle Stanford’s (2001, 2006, 2015) non-realist instrumentalism. And Philosopher John Searle and historian Hannah Dawson desperately attempt to refute Lawson’s view. There are two things that I like about this episode. First, its topic is a foundational metaphilosophical issue. Second, it shows how even smart, professional thinkers can misunderstand the view that they are trying to refute. In this case, some of Searle’s and Dawson’s attempted objections are actually consistent with Lawson’s post-realism view. But you can judge for yourself when you listen to the podcast episode below.
Episode 60: “Neuroscience vs. Philosophy”
Another of my favorite IAI podcast episodes features cognitive scientist Margaret Boden, philosopher of mind and language Barry C. Smith and neurobiologist Steven Rose. This podcast challenges many prevailing intuitions and assumptions about the mind. For instance, Margaret Boden explains — among other things — why most brain imaging research is over-rated. Steven Rose explains — among other things — how statements things like, “My brain is doing…” commit the mereological fallacy. And Barry C. Smith explains — among other things — how some philosophers’ background assumptions about the mind are, at best, controversial. You can listen to the podcast episode below.