In this wide ranging conversation, Michael Medved and David Gelernter touch on scientism, consciousness, and education. Gelernter observes how at times, scientists let their vaunted position get to their head, bullying other disciplines while failing to acknowledge their own limits. Having written extensively on consciousness, he describes the current state of the field and Thomas Nagel’s scandalous opinion that we currently lack the tools to solve this “deepest mystery”. Finally, Gelernter reflects on the state of higher education, specifically with reference to Yale.
A Polymathic Mind
Yale computer scientist David Gelernter is truly a great mind whose interests and knowledge similarly know no bounds. He is a novelist, painter, political commentator, religious thinker, and much more. His books include Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, and Judaism: A Way of Being. Professor Gelernter is a fearless public intellectual who joins us today to confront a sacred cow: science and its role in our culture.
- 01:58 | In what sense is science an “international bully”?
- 04:13 | Acknowledged ignorance and the evolution of consciousness?
- 05:35 | How would you define consciousness, the “deepest mystery”?
- 07:00 | Is there any reason to think consciousness would confer an evolutionary advantage?
- 08:30 | True skepticism and the great sin of Thomas Nagel
- 10:00 | Do we have the tools for understanding consciousness?
- 11:19 | The university system, and failing to “get with the program and shut up”
- 12:00 | The value of peers at a school like Yale and paving the way to a job
- 14:15 | Do our graduates learn anything about their culture and civilization?
- 15:35 | If you were president of the university, what would you focus on?