Clear and Present Danger - A history of free speech
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Episode 13: Expert Opinion - Jonathan Haidt
In this episode, we do a bit of time travel and leave the 17th century for a discussion of free speech on American college and university campuses today. Our guest is New York University professor Jonathan Haidt, who is a co-author with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff of “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure,” which is already among Amazon’s top 20 bestselling books. But in looking at the present challenges to free speech on...
Episode 12: Expert Opinion - Teresa Bejan
We enter the early modern age with an expert opinion featuring Teresa Bejan, associate professor at Oriel College, Oxford University and author of “Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration.” In this episode, Jacob and Teresa will discuss political thought on tolerance and the limits of religious speech in early modern England and colonial America. The episode investigates the writings of intellectual rock stars John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke and the less famous...
Episode 11: The great disruption - Part II
In episode 11 we continue to survey the wreckage after hurricane Luther was unleashed on Europe with the Reformation. When the Reformation mutated and spread across the continent a burning question arose: Can people of different faiths live together in the same state? Should social peace be based on tolerance or intolerance? We look into questions such as You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn, and Stitcher, or download episodes...
Episode 10: The great disruption - Part I, the printing press and the viral Reformation
The disruptive effects of the internet and social media on the spread of information are unprecedented. Or are they? In episode 10 of Clear and Present Danger, we cover the invention, spread, and effects of the Gutenberg printing press: What significance did this new technology have for the dissemination of knowledge and ideas?Why was the printing press instrumental in helping a German monk and scholar break the religious unity of Europe?What happened when new religious ideas raged...
Episode 9: Expert Opinion - Christine Caldwell Ames
Our last stop in the Middle Ages is an interview with professor Christine Caldwell Ames, who is an expert on medieval heresy and inquisition in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The discussion highlights the similarities and differences between Christianity, Catholic and Orthodox, Judaism, and Islam when it comes to defining and policing orthodoxy. Among the topics discussed are: Was the Medieval Inquisition motivated by worldly power or religious zeal?What effect did the Medieval...
Episode 8: The hounds of God - medieval heretics and inquisitors
From the High Middle Ages, Europe developed into a “persecuting society,” obsessed with stamping out the “cancer” of heresy. But questions about how this was accomplished — and the consequences of these developments — abound: We try to answer these questions — and more — in the latest episode of our Clear and Present Danger podcast. You can subscribe and listen to Clear and Present Danger on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, TuneIn and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from...
Episode 7: Expert Opinion - Peter Adamson
In our second expert opinion episode, Jacob Mchangama talks with Peter Adamson, who is a professor of philosophy at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and host of the podcast “History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps.” We’ll discuss medieval freethinking and freethinkers from both the Islamic world and the Latin West. Where was the soil most fertile for medieval freethinking? What was the impact of Muslim philosophers like Avicenna and Averroes on European thought? And finally, who...
Episode 6: The Not So Dark Ages: Medieval Intellectuals and Freethinkers
In episode 6 we’ll get “medieval on yo asses”! Find out why the Middle Ages were as much a period of reason and inquiry as inquisition and persecution. Why was the famous medieval intellectual Pierre Abelard both castrated, forced to burn his works and condemned to silence by the church? How did the combination of Aristotelian philosophy and the development of universities create a “killer app” institutionalizing reason and science? What are the parallels between clashes over academic...
Episode 5: The Caliphate
Why did the medieval Abbasid Caliphs have almost all ancient Greek works of philosophy and science translated into Arabic? How did the long list of medieval Muslim polymaths reconcile abstract reasoning with Islamic doctrine? Who were the radical freethinkers that rejected revealed religion in favor of reason in a society where apostasy and heresy were punishable by death? And why are developments in the 11th century crucial to understanding modern controversies over blasphemy and...
Episode 4: Expert Opinion - Paul Cartledge
In our first expert opinion segment, Jacob Mchangama talks to Emeritus Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge University Paul Cartledge. With his intimate knowledge of ancient Greece, we dive deeper into the concepts of free speech and democracy in Athens that were discussed in episode one. What are the differences between free speech in the Athenian democracy and free speech in a modern liberal democracy? What limits did religion set for Athenian free speech? Was Plato a totalitarian?...
Episode 3: The Age of Persecution
Why did the polytheist Ancient Romans persecute the followers of the new Jewish sect of “Christians” in the first three centuries AD”? How high was the price that Christians had to pay for casting away their ancient religious traditions for the belief in salvation through Jesus Christ? Did Roman Emperor Constantine end religious intolerance with the Edict of Milan? And why did the Christians persecute the pagans – and each other – once Christianity became the state religion of the Roman...
Episode 2: Liberty or License - Free Speech in Ancient Rome
Rome was the most powerful empire in antiquity. But were the Romans free to speak truth to power? Did history’s first successful Women’s March takes place in Rome? And who came out on top when the words of Cicero clashed with the ambition of Caesar and armies of Octavian? Why did historians and astrologers become endangered species when the Republic became an empire? Find out in episode 2 of “Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech”. Stay up to date with Clear and Present...
Episode 1 - Who wishes to speak?
The democracy of Ancient Athens was the birthplace of equal and uninhibited speech. Or Isegoria and parrhesia to the Athenians. Jacob Mchangama guides you through how oratory was central to the idea and practice of Athenian democracy. What Athenian style free speech entailed for ordinary citizens, comedians, philosophers, and orators. How oligarchic coup d’etats twice drowned Athenian free speech in blood and repression. The extreme methods used by Demosthenes to become the greatest orator...
Episode 0 - Why free speech?
Only 13% of the world’s 7,4 billion people enjoy free speech. 45% live in countries where censorship is the norm. Still, more than half the world’s population across cultures and continents think free speech is very important. But why is that? Where does the principle of free speech come from? How has it been developed over time? Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express...