Philosophy & Other Big Ideas

In Our Time: Philosophy

BBC Radio 4

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From Altruism to Wittgenstein, philosophers, theories and key themes.
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Bergson and Time

51:20 | May 9th

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and his ideas about human experience of time passing and how that differs from a scientific measurement of time, set out in his thesis on 'Time and Free Will' in 1889. ...Show More

49:59 | Jun 14th, 2018

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas of Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755) whose works on liberty, monarchism, despotism, republicanism and the separation of powers were devoured by intellectuals across Eu...Show More

44:12 | Mar 19th, 2015

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of Al-Ghazali, a major philosopher and theologian of the late 11th century. Born in Persia, he was one of the most prominent intellectuals of his age, working in such centres of learning as Baghda...Show More

46:33 | Jan 22nd, 2015

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss phenomenology, a style of philosophy developed by the German thinker Edmund Husserl in the first decades of the 20th century. Husserl's initial insights underwent a radical transformation in the work of his student Mar...Show More

42:10 | Dec 18th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the philosophy of truth. Pontius Pilate famously asked: what is truth? In the twentieth century, the nature of truth became a subject of particular interest to philosophers, but they preferred to ask a slightly dif...Show More

45:08 | Dec 4th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Zen. It's often thought of as a form of Buddhism that emphasises the practice of meditation over any particular set of beliefs. In fact Zen belongs to a particular intellectual tradition within Buddhism that took root ...Show More
The Philosophy of Solitude

47:06 | Jun 19th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the philosophy of solitude. The state of being alone can arise for many different reasons: imprisonment, exile or personal choice. It can be prompted by religious belief, personal necessity or a philosophical need ...Show More
Bishop Berkeley

47:29 | Mar 20th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work of George Berkeley, an Anglican bishop who was one of the most important philosophers of the eighteenth century. Bishop Berkeley believed that objects only truly exist in the mind of somebody who perceives...Show More
Ordinary Language Philosophy

41:57 | Nov 7th, 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Ordinary Language Philosophy, a school of thought which emerged in Oxford in the years following World War II. With its roots in the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ordinary Language Philosophy is concerned with the m...Show More

42:12 | Feb 7th, 2013

Angie Hobbs, David Sedley and James Warren join Melvyn Bragg to discuss Epicureanism, the system of philosophy based on the teachings of Epicurus and founded in Athens in the fourth century BC. Epicurus outlined a comprehensive philosophical system ...Show More
Bertrand Russell

42:15 | Dec 6th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the influential British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Born in 1872 into an aristocratic family, Russell is widely regarded as one of the founders of Analytic philosophy, which is today the dominant philosophical tr...Show More
Simone Weil

42:06 | Nov 15th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the French philosopher and social activist Simone Weil. Born in Paris in 1909 into a wealthy, agnostic Jewish family, Weil was a precocious child and attended the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, achi...Show More
The Ontological Argument

42:11 | Sep 27th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Ontological Argument. In the eleventh century St Anselm of Canterbury proposed that it was possible to prove the existence of God using reason alone. His argument was ridiculed by some of his contemporaries, bu...Show More

42:09 | Jul 5th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Scepticism, the idea that it may be impossible to know anything with complete certainty. Scepticism was first outlined by ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates is reported to have said that the only thing he knew fo...Show More

41:53 | Jun 28th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of the Arab philosopher al-Kindi. Born in the early ninth century, al-Kindi was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and supervised the translation of many works by Aristotle and others into Ara...Show More

41:57 | Apr 19th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Neoplatonism, the school of thought founded in the 3rd century AD by the philosopher Plotinus. Born in Egypt, Plotinus was brought up in the Platonic tradition, studying and reinterpreting the works of the Greek th...Show More

41:57 | Dec 8th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Writing in the 5th century BC, Heraclitus believed that everything is constantly changing or, as he put it, in flux. He expressed this thought in a famous epigram: "No man ...Show More
The Continental-Analytic Split

42:06 | Nov 10th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Continental-Analytic split in Western philosophy. Around the beginning of the last century, philosophy began to go down two separate paths, as thinkers from Continental Europe explored the legacy of figures inc...Show More
David Hume

42:10 | Oct 6th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work of the philosopher David Hume. A key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, Hume was an empiricist who believed that humans can only have knowledge of things they have themselves e...Show More

42:13 | Feb 15th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work and influence of Maimonides.Widely regarded as the greatest Jewish philosopher of the medieval period, Maimonides was also a physician and rabbinical authority. Also known as Rambam, his writings include a...Show More

42:14 | Oct 21st, 2010

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of logic. Logic, the study of reasoning and argument, first became a serious area of study in the 4th century BC through the work of Aristotle. He created a formal logical system, based on a type of arg...Show More
William James's 'The Varieties of Religious Experience'

42:18 | May 13th, 2010

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' by William James. The American novelist Henry James famously made London his home and himself more English than the English. In contrast, his psychologist brother, William, was d...Show More

41:47 | Dec 10th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Serafina Cuomo, John O'Connor and Ian Stewart discuss the ideas and influence of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans.The Ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras is probably best known for the ...Show More

42:18 | Oct 29th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests AC Grayling, Beatrice Han-Pile and Christopher Janaway discuss the dark, pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer.As a radical young thinker in Germany in the early 19th century, Schopenhauer railed against the dominant i...Show More
St Thomas Aquinas

42:18 | Sep 17th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg discusses the life, works and enduring influence of the medieval philosopher and theologian St Thomas Aquinas with Martin Palmer, John Haldane and Annabel Brett. St Thomas Aquinas' ideas remain at the heart of the official doctrine of th...Show More
Logical Positivism

42:20 | Jul 2nd, 2009

Melvyn Bragg discusses Logical Positivism, the eye-wateringly radical early 20th century philosophical movement. The Logical Positivists argued that much previous philosophy was built on very shaky foundations, and they wanted to go right back to th...Show More
Baconian Science

42:09 | Apr 2nd, 2009

Patricia Fara, Stephen Pumfrey and Rhodri Lewis join Melvyn Bragg to discuss the Jacobean lawyer, political fixer and alleged founder of modern science Francis Bacon.In the introduction to Thomas Spratt's History of the Royal Society, there is a poem...Show More
The School of Athens

42:18 | Mar 26th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The School of Athens – the fresco painted by the Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael, for Pope Julius II’s private library in the Vatican. The fresco depicts some of the most famous philosophers of ancient times, inc...Show More
Thoreau and the American Idyll

42:09 | Jan 15th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 19th century American writer and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. Anti-slavery activist and passionate environmentalist, Thoreau was above all a champion of self-reliance and individualism. He was also a champion...Show More
The Consolations of Philosophy

42:20 | Jan 1st, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the consolation of Philosophy. In the 6th century AD, a successful and intelligent Roman politician called Boethius found himself unjustly accused of treason. Trapped in his prison cell, awaiting a brutal execution, h...Show More
Aristotle's Politics

42:04 | Nov 6th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most important works of political philosophy ever written - Aristotle’s ‘Politics’. Looking out across the city states of 4th century Greece Aristotle asked what made a society good and developed a language ...Show More
Godel's Incompleteness Theorems

42:08 | Oct 9th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss an iconic piece of 20th century maths - Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems. In 1900, in Paris, the International Congress of Mathematicians gathered in a mood of hope and fear. The edifice of maths was grand and ornate bu...Show More
The Translation Movement

42:14 | Oct 2nd, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the greatest intellectual projects in history - the mass translation of Greek ideas into Arabic from the 9th century onwards.One night in Baghdad, the 9th century Caliph Al-Mamun was visited by a dream. The phil...Show More

42:16 | Sep 25th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of the five thousand and the general subject of miracles. Miracles have been part of human culture for thousands of years. From St Augustine in the 4th century through the mediev...Show More

42:05 | Apr 24th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Materialism in Philosophy – the idea that matter and the interactions between matter account for all that exists and all that happens. We trace the descent of materialism from the ancient Greek philosophers Democritus ...Show More

42:10 | Mar 20th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rich and radical ideas of Soren Kierkegaard, often called the father of Existentialism.In 1840 a young Danish girl called Regine Olsen got engaged to her sweetheart – a modish and clever young man called Søren Kier...Show More
The Social Contract

41:49 | Feb 7th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Social Contract and ask a foundational question of political philosophy – by what authority does a government govern? “Man was born free and he is everywhere in chains”. So begins Jean Jacques Rousseau’s great work...Show More

42:06 | Jan 3rd, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Algerian-French writer and Existentialist philosopher Albert Camus. Shortly after the new year of 1960, a powerful sports car crashed in the French town of Villeblevin in Burgundy, killing two of its occupants. One...Show More

41:49 | Nov 8th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Persian Islamic philosopher, Avicenna. In the city of Hamadan in Iran, right in the centre, there is a vast mausoleum dedicated to an Iranian national hero. Built in 1952, exactly 915 years after his death, it’s a ...Show More

42:14 | Nov 1st, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss morality by taking a long hard look at the idea of guilt. The 18th century politician and philosopher Edmund Burke was once moved to comment: “Guilt was never a rational thing; it distorts all the faculties of the hum...Show More

42:02 | Sep 27th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek philosopher Socrates, acknowledged as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Born in 469 BC into the golden age of the city of Athens, he has profoundly influenced philosophy ever since. In fact, his imp...Show More
Common Sense Philosophy

42:08 | Jun 21st, 2007

Melvyn Bragg looks at an unexpected philosophical subject - the philosophy of common sense. In the first century BC the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero claimed “There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it”. Indeed, in the h...Show More
Ockham's Razor

42:10 | May 31st, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the philosophical ideas of William Ockham including Ockham's Razor. In the small village of Ockham, near Woking in Surrey, stands a church. Made of grey stone, it has a pitched roof and an unassuming church tower but p...Show More

28:13 | May 3rd, 2007

Melvyn Bragg discusses the Dutch Jewish Philosopher Spinoza. For the radical thinkers of the Enlightenment, he was the first man to have lived and died as a true atheist. For others, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he provides perhaps the most pro...Show More

42:09 | Feb 8th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, Karl Popper whose ideas about science and politics robustly challenged the accepted ideas of the day. He strongly resisted the prevailing empiricist consensus...Show More

42:07 | Dec 7th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Anarchism and why its political ideas became synonymous with chaos and disorder. Pierre Joseph Proudhon famously declared “property is theft”. And perhaps more surprisingly that “Anarchy is order”. Speaking in 1840, he...Show More

42:08 | Nov 23rd, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss altruism. The term altruism was coined by the 19th century sociologist Auguste Comte and is derived from the Latin “alteri” or "the others”. It describes an unselfish attention to the needs of others. Comte declared th...Show More

42:22 | Oct 5th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the philosopher Averroes who worked to reconcile the theology of Islam with the rationality of Aristotle achieving fame and infamy in equal measure In The Divine Comedy Dante subjected all the sinners in Christendom to...Show More

42:12 | May 18th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great nineteenth century political philosopher John Stuart Mill. He believed that, 'The true philosophy is the marriage of poetry and logic'. He was one of the first thinkers to argue that a social theory must enga...Show More

41:46 | Mar 2nd, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of friendship. In Greek and Roman times, friendship was thought of as being an essential constituent of both a good society and a good life; a good society because it lay at the heart of participative civic...Show More

28:09 | Jan 19th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss relativism, a philosophy of shifting sands. "Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definit...Show More
The Oath

42:11 | Jan 5th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the importance of the oath in ancient Greece and Rome, The importance of oaths in the Classical world cannot be overstated. Kings, citizens, soldiers, litigants all swore oaths, inviting divine retribution if they prov...Show More

28:07 | Dec 1st, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great 17th century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes who argued: "During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of e...Show More

42:01 | Nov 17th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the American philosophy of pragmatism. A pragmatist "turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad apriori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and or...Show More

28:09 | Oct 20th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Cynics, the performance artists of philosophy. Eating live octopus with fresh lupins, performing intimate acts in public places and shouting at passers by from inside a barrel is behaviour not normally associated ...Show More

42:03 | Jul 14th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Karl Marx. "Workers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains", "Religion is the opium of the people", and "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs". That should be enoug...Show More

28:21 | May 19th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss beauty and its qualities."Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."That was John Keats' emphatic finale to his Ode on a Grecian Urn. It seems to express Plato's theory of ...Show More
Abelard and Heloise

41:33 | May 5th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the story of Abelard and Heloise, a tale of literature and philosophy, theology and scandal, and above all love in the high Middle Ages. They were two of the greatest minds of their time and Abelard, a famous priest an...Show More

28:14 | Mar 4th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Stoicism, the third great philosophy of the Ancient World. It was founded by Zeno in the fourth century BC and flourished in Greece and then in Rome. Its ideals of inner solitude, forbearance in adversity and the accep...Show More
The Mind/Body Problem

42:08 | Jan 13th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the mind/body problem in philosophy. At the start of René Descartes' Sixth Meditation he writes: "there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and mind is entirely ...Show More
Machiavelli and the Italian City States

42:06 | Dec 9th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. In The Prince, Machiavelli's great manual of power, he wrote, "since men love as they themselves determine but fear as their ruler determines, a wise prince must rely upon...Show More

28:21 | Dec 2nd, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the extraordinary mind of the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. In 1907 Sigmund Freud met a young man and fell into a conversation that is reputed to have lasted for 13 hours. That man was the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gust...Show More

42:07 | Oct 14th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discusses rhetoric. Gorgias, the great sophist philosopher and master of rhetoric said, "Speech is a powerful lord that with the smallest and most invisible body accomplished most godlike works. It can banish fear and remove g...Show More
The Han Synthesis

27:57 | Oct 14th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Han Synthesis philosophies of China. In The Analects the Chinese sage Confucius says of statecraft: "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place...Show More

42:05 | Oct 7th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Jean-Paul Sartre, the French novelist, playwright, and philosopher who became the king of intellectual Paris and a focus of post war politics and morals. Sartre's own life was coloured by jazz, affairs, Simone de Beau...Show More

28:23 | Sep 30th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea of Politeness. A new idea that stalked the land at the start of the eighteenth century in Britain, Politeness soon acquired a philosophy, a literature and even a society devoted to its thrall. It may seem to r...Show More

28:23 | Jun 10th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Empiricism, England’s greatest contribution to philosophy. At the end of the seventeenth century the philosopher John Locke wrote in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding: “All ideas come from sensation or reflectio...Show More

42:19 | May 6th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what defines a hero and what place they had in classical society. On the fields of Troy a fallen soldier pleaded with Achilles, the great hero of the Greeks, to spare his life. According to Homer, Achilles replied, “Do...Show More

42:22 | Dec 4th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, work and legacy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. There is little doubt that he was a towering figure of the twentieth century; on his return to Cambridge in 1929 Maynard Keynes wrote, “Well, God has arrived. I met him...Show More

28:19 | Nov 13th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of duty. George Bernard Shaw wrote in his play Caesar and Cleopatra, “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty”. But for Horatio Nelson and so many other...Show More

42:15 | Oct 9th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 19th century Parisian philosophy of life lived for art. In 1848 the young Parisian Henri Murger wrote of his bohemian friends: Their daily existence is a work of genius…they know how to practise abstinence with all...Show More
The Art of War

42:04 | Jun 12th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history and philosophy of warfare. The British historian Edward Gibbon wrote: “Every age, however destitute of science or virtue, sufficiently abounds with acts of blood and military renown.” War, it seems, is one ...Show More

41:04 | Mar 20th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests explore the creative force of originality. How far is it to do with origins, how far with the combination of the discoveries of others, which were themselves based on the thoughts of others, into an ever-receding and replicati...Show More

28:05 | Mar 13th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss redemption. In St Paul's letter to the Galatians, he wrote: "Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery". This conception of Redemption as freedom from bondage is crucial...Show More
The Enlightenment in Scotland

27:56 | Dec 5th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century. In 1696 the Edinburgh student, Thomas Aitkenhead, claimed theology was "a rhapsody of feigned and ill invented nonsense". He was hanged for his trouble - just one victim ...Show More

28:16 | Jul 4th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg considers what it is to be free and how freedom became such a powerful value. Freedom has been a subject of enquiry for philosophers, theologians and politicians who have attempted to define the conditions required for humans to be free,...Show More
The Soul

28:13 | Jun 6th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Soul. In his poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ WB Yeats wrote:An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unlessSoul clap its hands and sing, and louder singFor every tatter in its mortal dress. For ...Show More
The Examined Life

42:05 | May 9th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss self-examination. Socrates, the Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC, famously declared that "The unexamined life is not worth living." His drive towards rigorous self-enquiry and his uncompromising questioning of a...Show More

42:10 | Feb 28th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of virtue. When Socrates asked the question ‘How should man live?’ Plato and Aristotle answered that man should live a life of virtue. Plato claimed there were four great virtues - Temperance, Justice, Prud...Show More

28:04 | Jan 24th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss whether 'happiness' means living a life of pleasure, or of virtue. It is an old question, and the Roman poet Horace attempted to answer it when he wrote; 'Not the owner of many possessions will you be right to call ha...Show More

28:16 | Nov 1st, 2001

Melvyn Bragg examines the philosophy of Confucius. In the 5th century BC a wise man called Kung Fu Tzu said, 'study the past if you would divine the future'. This powerful maxim helped form the body of ideas, which more than Buddhism, more than Daois...Show More

28:14 | Oct 18th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins of democracy. In the Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln called it “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the word democracy appears nowhere in the American Constitution; the French R...Show More

27:56 | Jun 28th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss existentialism. Imagine being back inside the bustling cafes on the Left Bank of Paris in the 1930s, cigarette smoke, strong coffee and the buzz of continental voices philosophising about human responsibility and freed...Show More

28:23 | May 3rd, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of evil. When Nietzsche killed off God he had it in for evil as well: In Beyond Good and Evil, he constructed an argument against what he called the “herd morality” of Christianity, and he complained "every...Show More
The Philosophy of Love

28:07 | Mar 29th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the philosophy of love. In Plato’s Symposium a character called Aristophanes tells a story about Love. He says that once, near the beginning of time, there were three types of human, one male, one female and one that w...Show More

28:21 | Feb 8th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Humanism. On the 3rd January 106 BC Marcus Tullius Cicero, lawyer, politician, Roman philosopher and the founding father of Humanism was born. His academy, the Studia Humanitas taught ‘the art of living well and blesse...Show More

28:16 | Nov 16th, 2000

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of Nihilism. The nineteenth-century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote, “There can be no doubt that morality will gradually perish: this is the great spectacle in a hundred acts reserved for the next t...Show More
Laws of Nature

28:05 | Oct 19th, 2000

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Laws of Nature. Since ancient times philosophers and physicists have tried to discover simple underlying principles that control the Universe: In the 6th Century BC Thales declared “Everything is water”, centuries ...Show More
Economic Rights

27:41 | Jan 27th, 2000

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss economic rights. Is democracy the truest conduit of capitalism, or do the forces that make us rich run counter to the democratic institutions that safeguard our rights? The economist Milton Friedman once said, “If fre...Show More

27:58 | Nov 25th, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the problems of consciousness, one of the greatest mysteries facing science and philosophy today. The frustrations, the stubborn facts and the curiosities of today’s thinkers, philosophers, physicists and psychologists...Show More

28:36 | Nov 18th, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss progress. As man has grown in years and knowledge, has he also progressed in terms of happiness and a true understanding of the human condition? It was the Enlightenment which gave birth to the idea of the possibility ...Show More
The Individual

28:07 | Oct 21st, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the concept of the individual. The Renaissance gave birth to the concept of the individual. Shakespeare defined this individual in language which accepted the primacy of the male gender: “What a piece of...Show More

28:00 | Oct 7th, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of Utopia. Both the idea of, and the longing for a perfect society have been in our imagination for centuries, even millennia. Utopian dreams have driven fantasy, Fascism and fine feeling.Utopias, by defini...Show More
Just War

28:14 | Jun 3rd, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea of a just war. There were theories about a justified or noble war before the birth of Christ, but it was his reported teachings and a powerful influence, particularly on the Emperor Constantine, which set the ...Show More
Good and Evil

28:17 | Apr 1st, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss whether religion can still be seen as a way of interpreting and judging good and evil in modern western civilisation and examines what the discoveries of Darwin and our knowledge of the true physiological nature and hi...Show More

28:24 | Jan 7th, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most important events of the 20th century - the rise of Feminism and the subsequent empowerment of women. What have been the most important and lasting changes for women in the last 100 years and what is the...Show More
Cultural Rights in the 20th Century

28:07 | Dec 10th, 1998

On the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations in New York, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the current status of that original declaration. Is it possible for any sort of rights to be ‘universal’?...Show More