Tickets for any individual show are $15 dollars in advance, or $20
dollars at the door. Multiple ticket pricing (advance sales
is as follows: $25 for any two shows (same or different dates); $45 for
any four shows; or $80 for all eight shows.
12:00pm - Military Service and Public Life with David Kennedy. Is the military draft a natural expression of democratic values, or a challenge to our most basic concepts of individual rights and liberties? Are the values that make for an effective military consistent with the values that make for a free and democratic republic? If the government must have the power to defend the nation, does it follow that it must have the power to control events around the entire world? John and Ken enlist themselves in a discussion of military service and public life with Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Kennedy. (buy
3:00pm - Is Democracy a Universal Value?
with Larry Diamond. Americans value democracy, and expect others to value it. But is it a universal value? Does God, or rationality, or something very basic about human sensibility, dictate that states should be organized democratically? What if there were empirical evidence that some non-democratic form of government is more likely to produce human happiness, cultural achievement, and sound money? John and Ken consider the universality of democratic values with Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The Spirit of Democracy. (buy
January 22nd - Berkeley
12:00pm - Poetry as a Way of Knowing with Jane Hirshfield. What is poetry? Mere word play? A pretty, or at any rate striking, way of expressing thought and emotion? Or does great poetry involve an approach to the world that provides insight and information not available in other ways? Ken and John explore how poetry can illuminate what we know with award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield, author of Come, Thief and other poetic works of philosophical richness.
3:00pm - What Are Leaders Made of? with Deborah Rhode.
There seems to be a paradox in leadership: the qualities of ruthlessness and opportunism necessary to attain power and become a leader are not necessarily the qualities of morality and a sense of justice that make for a good leader. Do the traits that make it likely that someone will become a leader correlate positively or negatively with the traits that make a good and effective leader? Do our democratic institutions lead to better leaders than, say, a lottery like the Athenians used? Ken and John ask what leaders are – and should be – made of with Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode, co-author of Moral Leadership: The Theory and Practice of Power, Judgment, and Policy. (buy
April 29th - Berkeley
12:00pm - Identity and Place in a Global Age with Bharati Mukherjee. Throughout human history, people have tended to live and die in the same place, or at least the same region, in which theyıre born. Place is an important part of one's identity. But what happens when people are deprived of this sense of place? What psychological effects do emigrants, exiles, and expatriates endure? What happens to the importance of place when community membership can be based on common interests among people linked by email and facebook? Do we risk losing an important part of human life? Or do we gain freedom from the lottery of birth? John and Ken situate themselves with UC Berkeley English Professor Bharati Mukherjee, author of Miss New India and other novels exploring migration, alienation, and identity. (buy
3:00pm - Hypocrisy with Lawrence Quill. Hypocrites believe one thing, but do another. Jefferson opposed slavery, but owned slaves. Jesus professed universal love, but cursed an innocent fig tree. Jerry Brown opposes the death penalty, but as governor of California will be responsible for executions. Hypocrites all but vile hypocrites? Surely it was better that Jefferson was a hypocrite, and articulated the case against slavery, than not opposing it at all. Does it take courage to defend a view that you, yourself, don't have the courage or the character to follow through on? John and Ken try to practice what they preach with Lawrence Quill from San Jose State University, author of Civil Disobedience: (Un)Common Sense in Mass Democracies. (buy
July 15th - San Francisco
12:00pm - Forbidden Words with Chris Hom. Some words are forbidden so forbidden that we won't even spell them out here, like n****r, and ch*nk, and k*k*, and c*nt. Decent people don't use these words to refer to others. They are intrinsically disrespectful. But aren't words just strings of sounds or letters? Words have life because they express ideas. But in a free society, how can we prohibit the expression of ideas? How can we forbid words? Where does the strange power of curses, epithets, and scatological terms come from? The Philosophers keep the conversation clean with their guest, Chris Hom from Texas Tech University. (buy
3:00pm - Turbo-charging the Mind with Michael Vassar. The human mind is one of the most amazing products of evolution. But
nature's built-in limits have held our minds back for thousands of
years. In more recent decades, the rapid advance of computer
technology has produced a vast array of intelligent machines that far
outstrip us in speed and capacity, but that know far less than we do
about almost everything. Is it possible to have the best of both
worlds? Can we use new technologies to merge the creator and the
created, to break down the barrier between man and machine, and create
a hybrid intelligence that seamlessly integrates the vast knowledge
and skills embedded in our biological brains with the vastly greater
capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our own creations?
John and Ken examine the prospects for transcending our biological
limits and turbo-charging the human mind with Michael Vassar,
President of Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. (buy