Monday, December 9, 2013

What is happiness?





This is the monologue for the latest episode of Why? Radio. The topic was "What is Happiness?" and the guest was Sissela Bok. You can hear the whole episode online here.



I’m taking an introductory piano class at my university; I’ve wanted to for years. It’s really difficult. The course is required for music majors, so in addition to being more than twice as old as all of the other students, I am the only one in the room who can’t read music. We had a recital last week and my performance was a complete disaster—a total meltdown. Everyone else did quite well.
But here’s the interesting thing. Despite the failure and the struggle, taking the course makes me extraordinarily happy. I really don’t have the time, I’m the slowest student in the room, I feel out of place, and I’m not convinced I can actually learn everything I need to before the final, but I’m still happy. On today’s episode we are going to ask how this makes sense.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Arthur C. Danto: January 1, 1924 – October 25, 2013


Dear readers,

It is with great sadness that I report the death of philosopher, art critic, and Why? Radio guest Arthur C. Danto; he was 89 years old. I am not qualified to write his obituary. Instead, I will simply remark that he was a pleasure to work with and that I learned a great deal from him before and during our recorded conversation.

When I first approached him to be a guest, he remarked that he didn’t “get around at all easily” and invited us into his living room to do the interview. What you hear on the episode then, is both Arthur and our engineer in his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was an intimate setting and a generous invitation that I will always be grateful for.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Are the traditional disciplines (like philosophy) obsolete?





This is the text of the monologue from last night's episode of Why? Radio. To hear the entire episode and a detailed conversation about the nature of human knowledge and understanding, please click here.



Universities across the country are experiencing changes; administrators are restructuring things and altering how they hire faculty. Most of it is awful, a lot of it is just an excuse to have more money to spend on public relations, and a great deal of it is wrapped-up in power politics internal to particular schools. But in the middle of it all is the claim that traditional disciplines are either obsolete or a luxury, a loss of faith in what gets called “pure research.”

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Next Episode of WHY? Radio: "The Unity of the Sciences: Is all knowledge connected?" with guest Joseph Margolis



WHY? Philosophical Discussions About Everyday Life presents:


"The Unity of the Sciences: Is all knowledge connected?"
A discussion with Joseph Margolis.
Sunday, September 13, 5 p.m. central time.

Help us track listenership and RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/175494932639296

To listen live from anywhere in the world, go to www.whyradioshow.org. To listen via broadcast radio in North Dakota, tune to 89.3 in Grand Forks, 91.9 in Fargo, 90.5 in Bismarck, and to other Prairie Public radio stations across the state. In East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, and other parts of Northwestern Minnesota, tune in via Pioneer 90.1 FM.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What's wrong with North Dakota?

This sign can be seen on I-29, heading north from Fargo to Grand Forks. It is mentioned in the article

I must admit, the title of this blog entry is a bit misleading. This post isn't really about what's wrong with North Dakota, although it kind of is, depending on your point of view. It is actually just an excuse to post an outstanding article from one of IPPL's board members, Brian Schill.

Brian has been thinking about North Dakota his entire life. He was born and raised in Grand Forks and still lives here. He teaches in the Honors Program at UND and has two wonderful children who both go to the Grand Forks public schools. I share this information, because he has written an impressive critique of the North Dakota surveillance culture and what it's like to be perennially watched and judged. It is an intriguing view from an insider.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Does a University Need a Library? A response to a response to a response.

 

 The University of North Dakota is cutting almost $600,000 from its library's materials acquisition budget. A colleague of mine argued that this is a blessing in disguise and I disagreed. This is the next installment of our back and forth. You can find his original remarks here and my response here. He then offered his latest rebuttal here.

My last blog post was an argument in favor of fully funding universities libraries. I understand that for some PQED readers, this may seem like an obscure debate about a particular university, but it isn’t. It’s tremendously important because it speaks to the future of all libraries and because it highlights three very common philosophical errors. I shall call them:

1.     ‘I Got Mine, Jack’ Syndrome.
2.     Crisis is the new normal.
3.     The Cheaper in the Short Run Equals Cheaper in the Long Run fallacy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Does a University Need a Library? A response.




A colleague of mine wrote a very interesting blog post titled “Does a University Need a Library?” It is inspired by the almost $600,000 in budget cuts foisted upon The University of North Dakota’s Chester Fritz Library’s Material’s budget. This is the money that the library uses to buy books, journals, magazines, and other print and digital research media. Since the budget cut is from Materials, they cannot, for example, close the library one day a week, or open a few hours later to save money. The have to make the library a lesser institution, cutting down the collection, making sure that this round of cuts has a permanent impact.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why should we care what stupid people think?


Sunday night, a new Miss America was crowned. As soon as Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, an American of Indian descent, was declared the winner, Twitter was awash with racist hate-filled tweets. According to Buzzfeed, they objected to a “foreigner” winning the title, and many called her an Arab, expressing horror that she won so close to 9-11.

First off, calling someone an Arab is not an insult. Let’s get that out of the way immediately.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How amateurish should flash mobs be?


I will publicly admit that I like a good flash mob. I know they’re passé, but the ones with music get to me. They remind me that art can be anywhere and that the world is full of creative surprises. Living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where spontaneous art rarely happens (even though it’s a college town), this reminder feels particularly important. I think if I were walking somewhere with my daughter and a high-quality musical extravaganza burst out, I would weep with joy.

Speaking of joy, today, a friend on Facebook shared this video.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Should there be national standards for education?




This is the text of the monologue from tonight's episode of Why? Radio. To hear the entire episode and a detailed conversation about national standards for education, please click here.

I was at a kids’ soccer game yesterday and spent most of the time listening to a man who could say nothing nice to his eight-year old daughter. Every mistake was shouted across the field; every success was greeted with silence. When she was on the sidelines he reviewed all the things she did wrong and then, when he actually realized he was being negative, he shifted to the worst compliment of all: “you did much better, this time.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Announcing the 2013-2014 season of WHY? Radio!





Why? Philosophical Discussions about Everyday Life
2013-2014 Season

All episodes are broadcast at 5 p.m. central time.
To subscribe via podcast, visit
www.whyradioshow.org


First episode this Sunday!

September 8:
“Should there be national standards fo­­­r education?”
Guest: Michael Apple

October 13:
“The Unity of the Sciences: Is all knowledge connected?”
Guest: Joseph Margolis

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is Miley Cyrus a real human being?




I’m not sure why everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus. Maybe it’s because the situation in Syria is too difficult to think about or maybe it’s just that she’s another attractive, scantily clad woman that people can project their own causes onto.

Some have complained that her performance at the recent Video Music Awards was too raunchy or shocking. Others think it was sexist. Still others claim the backlash against her is really slut shaming (a term I hate), while other are using it to discuss race since the male rapper was white. All of these points have their interesting elements, but given how excited people are, I’m surprised there isn’t a massive stampede to English or Women’s Studies departments, because this kind of cultural criticism has become their currency. Ultimately, I think everyone has missed the point.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Should a philosopher give dating advice?


PQED is back after a summer hiatus. I hope you are all well.

About a week ago, an undergraduate I shall call Otto asked me the following question via Facebook: “Is it a bad or good idea to tell a girl you like her thru text?”

My response was immediate: “In my opinion, if you have to "tell" her, it means she is uninterested. Don't tell her. Ask her out. If she says yes, show her that you like her during the date. If she says no, then you know she isn't interested, and whether you like her or not is irrelevant. As for asking her out via text, that is generational. I wouldn't do it. But I'm an old guy.”

I wanted to share this because I think it exemplifies several things about the philosophical method.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Sunday: Next Episode of WHY? Radio: " A Secular Theory of Evil" with guest Claudia Card.





WHY? Philosophical Discussions About Everyday Life presents:

"A Secular Theory of Evil"
with guest Claudia Card
May 12, 5 p.m. central time.
Help us track listenership and RSVP on Facebook.

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To listen live from anywhere in the world, go to www.whyradioshow.org.
To listen via broadcast radio in North Dakota, tune to 89.3 in Grand Forks, 91.9 in Fargo, 90.5 in Bismarck,
and on other Prairie Public radio stations across the state.
In East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and other parts of Northwestern Minnesota, tune in via Pioneer 90.1 FM.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Should there be gun control? The full debate



 "Should there be Gun Control? A philosopher versus the NRA."

Recorded March 28, 2013
University of North Dakota School of Law, Baker Courtroom

Jack Russell Weinstein
Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life
University of North Dakota
vs.
Sandra Froman, JD.
Former President, National Rifle Association

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Please come to our annual fundraiser (or donate online)



This is the last year that the University of North Dakota will provide money for IPPL and its programs, so we need your help more than ever. To donate online, without attending, please visit http://www.philosophyinpubliclife.org/donate.html.

WHY? Radio
Art & Democracy Film Series
PQED.org blog

all invite you to the


Institute for Philosophy in Public Life
SPRING 2013 FUNDRAISER

April 7, 2-4, Rhombus Guys Pizza, Grand Forks, ND.



Free pizza, cash bar. Kids welcome.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Should we have gun control? An opening statement.


 Last week, I debated former National Rifle Association President Sandra Froman on gun control. I was invited to do so by the University of North Dakota School of Law's chapter of the Federalist Society. This was not a debate I sought out, but it was an obligation I did not feel I could deny.

The debate was recorded and I hope to post audio or video of it soon, including, of course, Ms. Froman's comments. However, I have received so many requests for details, that I thought it would be useful to post my opening statement to give people a taste of what's to come. I do not have a transcript of the debate, so I can't include Ms. Froman's response, but the event was covered by the Grand Forks Herald. These comments are lengthier than a blog usually is, but we were given fifteen minutes for a statement and I wanted to make the most of them.

A PDF of the opening statement is also available for download.

I look forward to hearing your comments and I look forward to posting the whole debate soon..

- Jack

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two opportunities to see Why? Radio live! This week at the UND Writers Conference





WHY? Philosophical Discussions About Everyday Life
presents:
“The Philosophy of Poetry”
with Mary Jo Bang
Thursday, March 21, 2 p.m.
UND Memorial Union Ballroom
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/165548070267239/

and

“A Conversation with Tony Kushner”
Friday, March 22, 8 p.m.
UND Chester Fritz Auditorium
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/506361526087396/

Both events are free, open to the public, and part of the UND Writers Conference.
Click here for the full schedule.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wednesday, Free Movie, "East of Eden" starring James Dean. Part of the Art & Democracy Film Series



 
Why? Radio’s Art & Democracy Film Series presents:

“EAST OF EDEN”
Starring James Dean

Join us for a FREE movie and discussion.

Wednesday, March 13, 7 p.m.

Empire Arts Center
415 Demers Avenue  Grand Forks, ND 58201
(701) 746-5500.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wednesday - "Angels in America" - Special Art & Democracy/Writers Conference Event




present:

“Angels in America”
A two-part screening in anticipation of playwright Tony Kushner’s
visit to The UND Writers Conference

Join us for a FREE movie and discussion.

Part I: Wednesday, February 20, 7 p.m.
Part 2: Wednesday, February 27, 7 p.m.

Empire Arts Center
415 Demers Avenue  Grand Forks, ND 58201
(701) 746-5500.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

TODAY! Next WHY? Radio: "Making the Case for Religious Moderation" with guest William Egginton




TODAY!!!!!!!!!

WHY? Philosophical Discussions About Everyday Life
presents:


"Making the Case for Religious Moderation"
An interview with William Egginton

Sunday, February 10, 5 p.m. central time.

To RSVP or share on Facebook, go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/530285650345669/

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To listen live from anywhere in the world, go to http://www.whyradioshow.org. To listen via broadcast radio in North Dakota, tune to 89.3 in Grand Forks, 91.9 in Fargo, 90.5 in Bismarck, and on other Prairie Public radio stations across the state. In East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and other parts of Northwestern Minnesota, tune in via Pioneer 90.1 FM.

Monday, January 28, 2013

[Reader Questions] Am I in the matrix and does God watch Girls Gone Wild?



Click on the image to enlarge it enough to read.


I received the above 2-page letter via snail mail. Here is my response to the author.

Dear Mason,

Thanks for the letter. It may be hard for me to answer your questions accurately without sampling the liquid beverage you describe – the scientist in me likes to reproduce experiments before I come to conclusions. So next time, please send some of the relevant libation along with your questions, especially since today always ends with a 'y'. Despite my sobriety however, I will try to respond.

Friday, January 18, 2013

[Reader Question] If I take a pair of gloves from the lost and found box, that no one has claimed but I need to keep my hands warm, am I stealing?


I received the following question via Facebook from PQED reader John:
"Jack, there's no one else to turn to, you gotta bury this thing, once and for all: If I take a pair of gloves from the lost and found box, that no one has claimed, but I need to keep my hands warm, am I stealing?"

My answer: 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sunday, January 13th: Next WHY? Radio: "Holding the Police Accountable" with guest Samuel Walker




WHY? Philosophical Discussions About Everyday Life
presents:


"Holding the Police Accountable"
An interview with Guest Samuel Walker

Sunday, January 13, 5 p.m. central time.

To RSVP or share on Facebook, go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/392385467523098/
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