About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Rationally Speaking podcast: Rebecca Goldstein

Our guest Rebecca Newberger Goldstein joins us to talk about Baruch Spinoza and Kurt Gödel, the subjects of her books "The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel" and "Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity."  The topics include the idea of "Spinoza's God" and his concept of a theory of everything, their views on the limits of reason and objective reality, Gödel's theorems and its repercussions in philosophy and mathematics, and his legendary friendship with Albert Einstein.  She also talks about  her novels and her experience of being both a novelist and a writer of non-fiction works.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein grew up in White Plains, New York, graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College and immediately went on to graduate work at Princeton University where she received her Ph.D. in philosophy. In 2008, she was designated a Humanist Laureate by the International Academy of Humanism, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Emerson College. Currently she is a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology, Harvard University. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the coveted MacArthur “Genius Award.” She was named Humanist of the Year 2011 by the American Humanist Association, and she was given the "Freethought Heroine Award" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2011. In addition to her non-fiction works, she is the author of a number of novels, including "The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind" and "The Dark Sister." Her latest work is "Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God."

Rebecca's pick: "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."


  1. Hi Massimo,

    I assume you mean "Freethought Heroine Award" here, though I could be wrong...perhaps this is an aspect of the humanist community with which I was not previously familiar! :-)

  2. What a great coincidence! I happen to be reading through Goldstein's book about Kurt Godel right now. A philosophy professor I was talking to had recommended it as a book about a rationalist who was part of the Vienna Circle. This immediately peaked my interest. So far, it has been terrific.

    I appreciate the description about the book about Spinoza. Definitely now on my list.

  3. Yep, definitely on my list as well. This has got to be in the 5 best RS podcasts, the whole conversation was fascinating.


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