For some time now, we have been having discussions with social and “natural” scientists about the state of our various societies – especially in the U.S. – in an attempt to better understand what we really are as a species, where we went wrong, and how we can find our way towards a healthier, more humanistic society.
What we’ve learned is that we are currently in a very unhealthy, even sociopathic time in human history. The multiple crises we face, of which Climate Change is one of the most urgent, may not have many viable solutions, but one thing for sure…our demise is not inevitable. This has been the message most of our guests have tried to get across – even the most pessimistic ones. Today’s guests are no different.
Audio can be found here!
Darcia Narvaez on Basic Needs, Wellbeing, and Morality
Dr. Narvaez’ research explores questions of species-typical and species-atypical development in terms of wellbeing, morality, and sustainable wisdom. She examines how early life experience (the evolved nest) influences moral functioning and wellbeing in children and adults. She integrates evolutionary, anthropological, neurobiological, clinical, developmental and education sciences in her work. Questions that interest her include: How does early experience shape human nature? What do sustainable indigenous societies have to teach the modern world? What types of moral orientations do individuals develop in species-typical and -atypical environments? What is indigenous ecological wisdom and how do we cultivate it?
Audio can be found here!
Consciousness, American Empire, and “Sacred Humanism” w/ Morris Berman
Whether discussing racism and ‘whiteness’ with Tim Wise and Robin DeAngelo, reviewing the natural and social scientific examinations of American society, or discussing the relationship between capitalism and what results from it regards the physical and psychological lives of each one of us, we have tried to go deeper than the symptoms of our current state of the nation and address the disease(s).
We have tried to remain optimistic that somehow the knowledge we share, and the growing discontent in the country, could lead us towards progressive social change. But not everyone is convinced this is possible. A few of our previous guests including Chris Hedges, and today’s guest, Morris Berman are achaten-suisse.com looking at America and preparing her epitaph. But while Hedges has a rather Hobbesian take on human nature in general, Morris might yet see a positive outcome for humanity…only probably not in the USA.
Today, as we head into the 4th of July holiday, we will speak to Professor Berman and see if we can pull some of these things together. Morris Berman is an American historian and social critic. Berman won the Rollo May Center Grant for Humanistic Studies in 1992, and the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity (from the Media Ecology Association) in 2013. Berman relocated to Mexico in 2006, and for a couple of years was a Visiting Professor at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City.
Audio can be found here!
Does Altruism Exist? A Conversation with Evolutionary Biologist, David Sloan Wilson
Altruism gets a bad rap in the US. Concerning ourselves with the welfare of others, extending empathy to all citizens here and in other countries, and looking at humanity as one diverse, if complex, collective is something some of us give much lip service to while leading their self-concerned busy lives, and others actively try to squash if it means their small piece of the pie might be nibbled at.
Regarding both political and religious institutions, altruism is at best a Utopian fantasy or at worse – as so-called libertarians who embrace the philosophy of Ayn Rand – dangerous and an abomination. Even scientists working in various fields – especially evolutionary psychologists – argue that altruism is not what it seems to be, and that true altruism as we tend to think about it does not exist in the human animal.
But others disagree, and disagree strongly. Among scientists who have written in favor of pure altruism are primatologist Franz De Waal, neuroscientist Donald Pfaff, bioethicist Peter Singer, anthropologist Christopher Boehm, physicist Stefan Klein, psychologist Dacher Keltner, biopsychologist Nigel Barber, evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry, and today’s guest, biologist David Sloan Wilson — author of Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others.
Judith Hand on Shifting our Thinking about War…
A few months ago we had on anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez to discuss, among other things, violence, aggression, and war and how it relates to human nature. Some of the questions on that topic we asked included, Is war making inevitable? Why do we make war? Have we always made war? And, can we ever get to a time when there will be no more war? Evolutionary Biologist Judith Hand has been working on these questions for a long time, and we discussed war and other aspects of human nature with her on Equal Time in the past. We have invited her back today to discuss her new book, SHIFT: The Beginning of War and The Ending of War.
We are a culture besieged by violence. Everyday we hear stories of mass shootings or stabbings, of a rising violent crime rate, of vigilantism, and we have been marred in one war or another since the birth of this nation… resulting in the maiming or killing of millions (usually far less Americans than those we target).
When peace activists, humanists, or even average citizens – tired of all the violence and war – try to speak out against the insanity, we are told human beings are violent by nature. We are shown right-leaning works of social science which prove our bloody history to be the norm, not an anomaly, and told it goes back 50,000 years or more. We are told that war is either in our genes, or even something which is needed for homo sapien sapien to have balance in our societies. Even those who admit “war is hell” are pretty sure it is also inevitable; consequently they, and many in our society, feel those of us looking toward a peaceful, egalitarian, humanistic society without warfare are utopians living in a reality of our own inception… peaceniks left over from the radical 60s who have not grown up and who would be better served trying to help others within our current, often dysfunctional society, rather than demand another kind of world…
But what are humans REALLY like? What does the science ACTUALLY say? We will be speaking with evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez about these questions and more on the next edition of Equal Time for Freethought!
David Swanson – War is a Lie
“This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete. So is the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It is a planetary imperative to reduce the level of military expenditures and turn these savings to peaceful and people-oriented uses.” -Humanist Manifesto II
“This book (War is a Lie) is every American’s best defense against the greatest danger we face as human beings: the threat of war. (David) Swanson reveals how American leaders (from both major political parties) have confused the public to create the illusion of consent for endless destruction and slaughter. Behind the fear-mongering, flag-waving and lies of George W. Bush and the blandishments of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama lies the ugly reality that our leaders have been seduced by political ambition, delusions of military superiority, and the promise of secrecy and impunity to commit otherwise unthinkable crimes.” — Nicolas J. S. Davies, Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.
Stephen G. Post on his new book, The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times
Stephen speaks widely on themes of benevolent love and compassionate care at the interface of science, health, spirituality, and philanthropy. His work has been featured in periodicals such as Parade Magazine and O: The Oprah Magazine, and on such media venues as The Daily Show, John Stossel, 20/20 and Nightline. He has addressed the U.S. Congress on volunteerism and public health.
Research has revealed that when we show concern for others—empathizing with a friend who has lost a loved one, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, or volunteering to mentor a school-aged child—we improve our own health and well-being and embrace and give voice to our deeper identity and dignity as human beings. The Hidden Gifts of Helping explores the very personal story of Stephen and his family’s difficult move and their experience with the healing power of helping others, as well as his passion about how this simple activity—expressed in an infinite number of small or large ways—can help you survive and thrive despite the expected and unexpected challenges life presents.
Is our socioeconomic system consistent with our human nature?
How do our brains make us who we are?
These are among the primary questions that we on ETFF regularly ask. On this our Spring Fund Drive Special we will be offering to our listener supporters a couple of premiums (including Zeitgeist III) that we think shed a little light on these questions.
Tune in for the usual deep discussion and call in to help us remain on the air, as we continue to examine what’s primary to the human condition, and raise some funds to sustain us.
On Empathy; Two-Part Special!
Audio 1 here!
Audio 2 here!
Earlier this month, as some of us celebrated the founding of our country, we may have wondered how very different our society might have been had our founding fathers understood our empathetic nature. Instead, we live in a society…where we are all presumed to be self interested adversaries, who can be coerced into cooperating in exchange for financial rewards.
But today there is a new view of humanity and it’s being expressed by an ever widening range of writers, thinkers, and scientists. Rather than the traditional assumption that humans are primarily selfish and anti-social, this new view recognizes that our primary drive is social. A healthy human is inclined towards cooperating, and gets pleasure from taking care of others and making a positive social contribution.
Continue reading “Show’s 324 – On Empathy w/ Jeremy Rifkin”