1 March 2021
The Wright Show
Science of Spirituality
Emotions and the Brain
The Meaning of Future Life
The Weirdness of Physics
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Oct 4, 2015 — Jonathan Phillips & Steven Frankland
How the brain builds complex thoughts out of reusable parts
More fodder for the brain-as-computer model
Sorry, we’re not quite there with the mind-reading thing
Possible reasons for the brain’s topographic organization
Why Steven’s paper is controversial (and exciting)
Cognitive neuroscience questions for the near future
Oct 3, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
“Virtue ethics” vs. typical modern understandings of morality
What do you need to live a “flourishing” life?
How to tell the difference between a Cynic and a Stoic
When our moral intuitions and our moral systems conflict
What Massimo finds appealing about a Stoic lifestyle
Why you shouldn’t focus on external outcomes
Oct 1, 2015 — Robert Wright & D.T. Max
Why Daniel wrote a biography of David Foster Wallace
“This Is Water” and Wallace’s search for meaning
How Wallace’s depression shaped his worldview
The double-edged sword of self-consciousness
Wallace’s effort to see reality through the eyes of others
Wallace’s suicide and literary legacy
Sep 26, 2015 — Robert Wright & Glenn Loury
Glenn’s born-again Christian experience
A double life: Harvard professor and crack addict
How the death of a close friend shattered Glenn’s faith
Is a secular life a less meaningful life?
Glenn’s communitarian understanding of moral truth
Why hedonism isn’t enough
Sep 24, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Sloan Wilson
David’s new book,
Does Altruism Exist?
Human society as an organism that evolves
Why Bob disagrees with David’s worldview
People are nicer than economists think they should be
How cultural evolution is like genetic evolution
The butterfly effect and group-selection theory
Sep 21, 2015 — Robert Wright & Andrew Sullivan
Andrew’s unorthodox Christianity
The darkest fifteen minutes of Andrew’s life
Andrew: “God is forgiveness”
Silent monks and psychedelic experiences
Jesus vs. Nietzsche
Andrew: Good religion, not atheism, will beat bad religion
Sep 19, 2015 — Robert Wright & Salman Hameed
Why the Quran doesn’t give rise to young-earth arguments
Islam’s relationship with science
The politicization of evolution in Muslim societies
Creationism as an expression of minority identity
The debate among Muslims about evolution
How Richard Dawkins has fueled the rejection of evolution
Sep 18, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Glenn Loury
How scientific are the social sciences?
Glenn defends the reliability of economic predictions
The strengths and weaknesses of “natural experiments”
How much does culture affect economic behavior?
New insights from behavioral economics
Dan: We trust the social sciences too much
Sep 15, 2015 — Robert Wright & Matthew Yglesias
Is loving your kids just your genes helping themselves?
Matt’s strange new respect for Tony Soprano
How the web made writing more meaningful
Why Matt is more religious than spiritual
The origins of Matt’s phenomenal productivity
Would living forever be kind of a drag?
Sep 9, 2015 — Robert Wright & John Thatamanil
Paul Tillich’s conception of God as “the ground of being”
Viewing the Christian tradition as symbolic, not literal
Tillich’s engagement with Eastern mysticism
How Tillich wrestled with the problem of evil
Tillich’s recasting of the idea of divine revelation
Is there consolation in Tillich’s view of death?
Sep 8, 2015 — Temple Grandin, Steve Silberman, & Brian Degenhart
Unraveling the history of autism
Preparing autistic children for productive lives
Successful adults on the autism spectrum
Temple and Steve recall first meeting Oliver Sacks
The link between genius and disability
The immortal life of Oliver Sacks
Sep 6, 2015 — Robert Wright & Clayton Critcher
Clayton’s research into the psychology of religious belief
The difference between awe and inspiration
Evidence that inspiration causes belief in God
The effects of remembering personally inspiring events
What happens during moments of spiritual transcendence
Believing in a loving God vs. a controlling God
Sep 4, 2015 — Robert Wright & Megan McArdle
The higher purpose in Megan’s life
How exclusion can create meaning
Megan’s test for being her best
The challenge of understanding the other
Getting to a global community
Sep 1, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Corn
How David finds meaning in his life
Why does God have to be perfect?
David: I like when politicians talk about their faith
Imagining David Corn, coal company CEO
The upsides of tribalism
How to leave a meaningful legacy
Aug 29, 2015 — Robert Wright & John Horgan
Is the meaning of life a matter of taste?
Suicidal despair vs. the wonder of existence
John: We must believe in free will
The downsides of free will
Finding meaning in psychedelic experiences
John’s craziest drug trip: “God chewing his fingernails”
Aug 28, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
How Bertrand Russell changed Massimo’s life
Russell’s waning influence on philosophy
The legacy of Russell’s “Why I Am Not a Christian”
How Gilbert Ryle turned Dan away from Platonism
Category errors and “knowing how” vs. “knowing that”
Why history is more important in philosophy than in science
Aug 25, 2015 — Michael Price & Greg M. Epstein
How Greg became the humanist chaplain at Harvard
Humanism’s core values
Greg: We have to create meaning for our lives
Confronting grief and loss in the humanist tradition
Could humanism ever rival the global religions?
Why online communities are not enough
Aug 22, 2015 — Robert Wright & Jerusha Lamptey
Why Jerusha doesn’t call her path to Islam a “conversion”
Jerusha: In Islam, science and belief are not in opposition
Constructing a Muslim feminist theology
, the egalitarian idea of “God consciousness”
What the Koran says about the salvation of non-Muslims
Female Muslim scholars are between a rock and a hard place
Aug 21, 2015 — Robert Wright & Dacher Keltner
How Dacher became a science adviser for Pixar’s
What science tells us about emotions and their function
How do you define an emotion?
The science behind the islands of personality in
Do we remember our emotions accurately?
The (many) ways your emotions mislead you
Aug 18, 2015 — Robert Wright & Lucy Lawless
How Lucy, as Xena, became an icon for gay fans
Why do we search for meaning?
Bob tries to solve Lucy’s spiritual crisis
The psychological ups and down of a TV actor
How Lucy makes herself happy
Fighting worries about what others think of you
Aug 15, 2015 — Robert Wright & John Thatamanil
The Hindu idea that you are one with the universe
Moral implications of this idea of oneness
How different are Hindu and Buddhist philosophy?
Grappling with the Buddhist doctrine of “emptiness”
Connecting Hindu belief with the Christian Trinity
John: No, believers are not all “climbing the same mountain
Aug 14, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Ian Ground
A short history of Wittgenstein’s influence
Why Wittgenstein causes problems for philosophers
Where does meaning come from?
What it is to follow a rule
The illusion of intrinsic value and meaning
How Wittgenstein changed our understanding of the mind
Aug 9, 2015 — Robert Wright & Allan Lokos
Maintaining mindfulness when “literally on fire”
Regaining a meditative practice after severe trauma
Separating suffering from pain
How the plane crash made Allan’s life better
Allan’s transformation from actor to meditation teacher
Using technology to support a meditation practice
Aug 4, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
The “strong AI thesis”: Can a machine think?
Debating the usefulness of the Turing test
Could your brain be swapped with a silicon replica?
Massimo: You’ll never be able to upload your consciousness
Digging into the famous “Chinese room” thought experiment
Dan: Neuroscience won’t solve philosophy of mind puzzles
Aug 1, 2015 — Robert Wright & Karl Giberson
Why Adam is crucial to Christian theology
What happens when the Biblical Adam encounters modern genetics
The “slippery slope” of critical inquiry
What do you need to believe to be a Christian?
Trying to reconcile God as Creator with natural selection
Evolutionary psychology and the doctrine of original sin
Jul 30, 2015 — Robert Wright & Paul Bloom
Paul is pro-“compassion” but anti-“empathy”
Different types of empathy: emotional vs. cognitive
Two examples of the damage done by empathy
The myth of pure evil
Are humans naturally moral?
The unconscious biases that inform our sense of justice
Jul 27, 2015 — Robert Wright & Michelle Goldberg
Michelle’s new book,
The Goddess Pose
Is yoga more than just exercise?
Indra Devi, the woman who helped bring yoga to the West
The amazing story of the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti
How yoga was cannily pitched to mid-century America
Yoga’s weird sort of non-attachment
Jul 25, 2015 — Robert Wright & Gary Dorrien
A brief history of liberal theology
Does “theologically liberal” mean “politically liberal?”
When theologians appeared on the cover of
The long lineage of identifying God with “being”
Hegel’s idealism and the Christian
Challenges from neo-orthodoxy and liberation theology
Jul 23, 2015 — Robert Wright & Miguel Farias
The science behind meditation
When meditation brings on the “dark night of the soul”
Why meditation produces varying results
When meditation was exported to the West
The trouble with the “assembly line” approach to meditation
Does meditation dull the activist spirit?
Jul 19, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Sloan Wilson
How understanding evolution can improve the real world
Is human nature mismatched to the modern environment?
Why we believe kooky things
“Meaning systems”—religious or secular, everyone’s got one
Can science and religion form a unified meaning system?
David’s latest book,
Does Altruism Exist?
Jul 18, 2015 — Robert Wright & Judith Shulevitz
Can you have religion without belief?
Bob tries to convince Judith that she’s not an atheist
Judith: The Torah is true in the way that fairy tales are true
Why “purpose” isn’t talked about much in Judaism
A Jew can’t run away from being a Jew
How atheists can create community traditions
Jul 15, 2015 — John Horgan & Sheldon Solomon
Sheldon’s roots in psychology
Ernest Becker and the meaning of mortality
Terror and death as motivating forces in life
Studying death rituals around the world
What happens when we’re reminded of death
Is there a path to eternity—or at least sanity?
Jul 11, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
Defining moral realism—it’s harder than you’d think!
Why Massimo is not a moral realist
Are utilitarians moral realists? Are Kantians?
Why we’ll never arrive at a single ethical theory
Human nature and why there’s no Marxist utopia
What happens to those who refuse to play the “moral game”?
Jul 8, 2015 — Robert Wright & Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Was Spinoza spiritual but not religious?
Why Rebecca left Orthodox Judaism for atheism
Transcendent experiences within a materialist universe
Is science displacing philosophy?
Finding Plato’s mysticism
Rebecca: In moments of despair, I turn to Spinoza
Jul 6, 2015 — Robert Wright & Joel Achenbach
Joel wrassles with mortality
Bob reflects on his two-week silent meditation retreat
The existential angst of a broken iPhone
Meditation and a toothache
What gives Joel’s life meaning
All about MeaningofLife.tv!
Nov 1, 2014 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
Stoic Week is almost here—get that catering order in!
Wrestling philosophy out of the ivory tower and onto the street
Neo-Stoicism: Like the ancient kind, but with less Zeus
A day in the life of a practicing modern Stoic
Can Stoicism be a secular replacement for traditional religion?
That guy who always cries at weddings? Probably a philosopher
Aug 17, 2014 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
The case against “scientism”
Quantum mechanics can’t help us understand a dollar bill
What’s the point of knowledge?
Beyond the Enlightenment
What is science, exactly?
Extrascientific ways of knowing
Aug 2, 2014 — Robert Wright & Miri Albahari
Why understanding “no-self” matters: it might get you to Nirvana
“Tanha”—the root of our suffering
Miri’s maverick interpretation of the no-self doctrine
Miri and Bob talk about their meditation retreats
Things get weird: A universal field of consciousness?
Does losing your self making you a better (non-)person?
Jul 26, 2014 — John Horgan & George Johnson
Prominent physicists bash philosophy
Can materialism explain consciousness?
The problem with Lawrence Krauss’s “universe from nothing”
Why “mathematical mysticism” leaves John cold
Are mathematical truths discovered or invented?
Environmentalists who want more energy usage
May 6, 2014 — Jonathan Phillips & Nina Strohminger
The psychology of “you’re not the same person anymore”
Jim gets a microchip in his brain. Is he still Jim?
When Grandma starts getting nicer
Why morality matters to identity
The psychopathic difference
Memory loss and moral responsibility