EP 165 Lene Rachel Andersen Part 1: Libertism

Jim talks with Lene Rachel Andersen in the first of a two-part series about her new book Libertism: Grasping the 21st Century. They discuss rediscovering the word libertism, hypermodernity vs. metamodernity, combining experience from different epochs in fruitful ways, distinguishing metamodernity from metamodernism, why culture is ours and we can change it, gardening rather than designing, random variation in populations, catering to & learning from the outliers, reasoned free speech on the internet, why people with reach have a responsibility to speak up, evolutionarily stable strategies (ESS’s), how the steam engine destroyed craftsmanship, the welfare state as an ESS, the species exclusion principle, coherent pluralism, loops within loops in complex systems, why the bunker-builders will all die of cholera, regenerative agriculture, soil as the real basis of our civilization, finding inflection points, the global climate as a chaotic system, the meaning crisis, how language created the inner/outer duality, providing the services of religion without the metaphysical baggage, participating in the loops of nature, different historical conceptions of the sacred & why we need all of them, religion & social infrastructure, scale-free networks & hubs of meaning-making, whether AI & capitalism can coexist, and much more.

Currents 068: Jonathan Rowson on the Chess Drama

Jim talks with Grandmaster chess player and philosopher Jonathan Rowson about the recent drama between Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann in the Champions Chess Tour. They discuss Rowson’s chess background, the bare facts of the kerfuffle, Niemann’s persona & career trajectory, present evidence for whether Niemann cheated & the reasonable odds that he won fairly, how Carlsen might know whether he cheated, Carlsen’s special information access, theories about how cheating in chess might be accomplished, the risk of paranoia in chess & chess culture, and much more.

Jonathan Rowson is co-founder and director of the research institute Perspectiva based in London. He is also the former director of the Social Brain Centre at the Royal Society of Arts and is a chess grandmaster and three-time British Chess Champion. His books include The Seven Deadly Chess SinsChess for ZebrasSpiritualize: Cultivating Spiritual Sensibility to Address 21st Century Challenges, and, The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life.

EP 164 John Markoff on the Many Lives of Stewart Brand

Jim talks with John Markoff about his new biography, Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand. They discuss the meme of Brand as a Zelig, his role as a catalyst, the Pace Layers model, why Brand wasn’t a pure libertarian, a Hemingwayesque boyhood, a commitment to conservation, relentless networking, the influence of Frederic Spiegelberg, involvement with psychedelics, his work at a logging outfit, a strong negative reaction to tribalism & why tribal resonances are never the edge, Brand’s reading habits, North Beach bohemianism, periods of womanizing, Al Hubbard & the roots of the human potential movement, the Sequoyah Seminar, military service, the International Foundation for Advanced Study, working as organizer with Kesey & the Merry Pranksters, Brand’s resistance to being “on the bus,” creation & significance of the Whole Earth Catalog, influence of Buckminster Fuller, failure of the Whole Earth Software Catalog, creation of The Well, the Ecopragmatist Manifesto & Brand’s defense of nuclear energy, the Global Business Network, the Long Now Foundation & getting people to think long-term, and much more.

John Markoff is an affiliate fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human Centered Artificial Intelligence and a staff historian at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. He has written about technology and science since 1977. From 1988 to 2016 he reported on technology, science, and Silicon Valley for the New York Times. His work has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize four times, and in 2013 he was awarded a Pulitzer in explanatory reporting.

Markoff is the co-author of The High Cost of High TechCyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, and Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw. He is the author of What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry and Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots. He and his wife live in Palo Alto, CA.

EP 163 Benedict Beckeld on Western Self-Contempt

Jim talks with Benedict Beckeld about his new book Western Self-Contempt: Oikophobia in the Decline of Civilizations. They discuss the meaning of oikophobia—hatred of one’s homeland—its recurrence throughout history, the prevalence of oikophobia in the U.S., a continuum from xenophobia to oikophobia, finding the Aristotelian golden mean, oikophobia in academia, the development of self-criticism in ancient Greece and in Rome, the relationship between oikophobia & decadence, the conquest of Rome by Christianity, how freedom & religion regulate oikophobia, the Enlightenment & its relation to progressivism, the noble lie, the “religion that is not a religion,” two opposite oikophobic tendencies, the double-edged sword of liberty, liberation without progressivism, the civilizational problem of boredom, and much more.

Benedict Beckeld is a philosopher and writer who holds a PhD in Philosophy and Classical Philology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His latest book is Western Self-Contempt: Oikophobia in the Decline of Civilizations (2022), published by Cornell University Press.