Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unabomber world views - Entitled Opinions

Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was not just a terrorist. He also was a social critic and in the podcast Entitled Opinions, host Robert Harrison and his guest Jean-Marie Apostolidès dig into the thoughts and writings of the Unabomber.

They make a point, ostensibly, in distancing themselves from Kaczynski as an activist and emphasize they do not agree with his ideas. Apostolidès begins to explain why his ideas, nevertheless, are interesting and relevant for discussion. Harrison expresses some affinity with some of the ideas, although he categorically disagrees with the conclusions. The bottom-line, I think, seems to be that in our rapidly developing world, Kaczynski's ideas are bound to pop up and need to be evaluated and critically assessed for they carry insights or point to truths that otherwise may not be ascertained that clearly.

It is interesting how Apostolidès eventually identifies Kaczynski as a writer. Not as an activist, a philosopher or even a terrorist. He was a writer and he reverted to violence to get attention to his writings. The psychology of Kaczynski, thus, is that of a failed person and his ideas badly written, missing the point and in their anti-technology stance, overtaken by the present. Kaczynski in other words, is yet another Luddite met over the course of progress. What could be added is an analysis of a historian how every technology driven change in society over history has produced its own Luddites and Unabombers.

More Entitled Opinions:
Byzantine Culture,
Jimi Hendrix,
Sartre's Existentialism.

New season of In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time has made a flying start of the new season. Three issues have passed us already and the fourth is about to come on-line. As usual, once the new episode is available in the feed, the old one is removed. Make sure you get the chapters and keep them for later listening. There almost never an issue of IOT you will regret having spent your precious 45 minutes of listening time to.

I already gave a short review of the opening of the season, St. Thomas Aquinas, but in the mean time we have also had two other excellent discussions. One about the Newton vs Leibniz controversy and one about the fascinating and enigmatic black sheep of Egyptian Pharaohs: Akhenaten.

The Leibinz-Newton controversy hardly turns out to be a relevant controversy for mathematics. It seems more of a championship of prestige between England and Germany, between the Anglo-Saxon world and the European continent. And in the end, it is once again a mention of both the genius as well as the miserable character of Isaac Newton.

Akhenaten (Akhnaton) is the story of reconstruction of a history for which we have little facts to go on, yet that contains all the elements to trigger wild imagination. One of those issues is the seeming monotheism of Akhenaten. Was he the first monotheist in history? If he was a monotheist, but if you accept that, what would be the relation with Moses, taking the Hebrews out of Egypt and establishing that oldest monotheistic religion we still have today? At least they could have given the temporal distance between the two. But more time goes to discussing Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti and the religious revolution he brought about.

More In Our Time
St. Thomas Aquinas,
Logical Positivism,
The Sunni - Shia split,
Revenge Tragedy,
The Augustan Age.