Sociologist Kathy Giuffre studies creativity and social networks. Her debut novel 'The Drunken Spelunker's Guide to Plato' blends a look at dive bar culture with ancient philosophy.
Kathy Giuffre

Sociologist Kathy Giuffre has spent much of her career as an objective outsider who writes about cultures that are not her own. She studies artistic communities and creativity in the South Pacific, and eventually this work encouraged her to examine her own life and the spaces she grew up in. Her debut novel “The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato” (John F.

Book cover to Ronald Manheimer new book 'Mirrors of the Mind.'
Jorvik Press/2015

Many think of philosophers like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Augustine as confined to dusty old anthologies and philosophy survey courses.

But retired philosophy professor Ronald Manheimer wanted to change that perspective and take readers out of philosophers' heads and into their lives. His new book, "Mirrors of the Mind: Reflecting on Philosophers' Autobiographies" (Jorvik Press/2015) delves into the lives of some of the most well-known philosophers.


Host Frank Stasio talks with Manheimer about how these great thinkers' lives informed their theories.

Split-brain studies have illuminated how the brain functions and raised bigger philosophical questions like: what is a mind, and what would it mean to have two minds?
Wikimedia Commons

Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that uses brain damage or atypical brains to theorize about the structure of the mind.

Elizabeth Schechter is a philosopher who uses cognitive neuropsychology to ponder bigger philosophical questions like: What is a mind? What is self consciousness? What would it mean to have two minds?

Image of Daoud Haroon practicing a first instrument.
Daoud Haroon

Daoud Haroon has lived many lives in his 81 years. He grew up in the jazz clubs of Boston, shining shoes of many of the jazz greats as a young boy, and later playing alongside them as a percussionist and trombonist. He has worked in a wide range of trades from hat making to house painting. 

Reel to Reel book cover shows a galaxy

Poet Alan Shapiro says good science writing, like good poetry, asks questions and evokes a sense of wonder. His new book, "Reel to Reel" (University of Chicago Press/2014), takes inspiration from biology, astronomy and physics.

The poems move between the intimately familiar and the vastly unknowable, considering both the frustrations of political hypocrisy and the mysteries of human consciousness. 

Homeric Turns, Part 2

The gods laugh, that’s what they’re good at, laughing.They laugh at the crippled god, his shriveled legs,
His hobbling, and his mother, in a little
Shadow play of suffering at the sight of him,
Her crippled baby, laughs the loudest, and then
Laughs even louder when she hurls him out
Of heaven, and he falls, and while he falls
The laughter echoing around him is
The measure of the pure unbreathable cold
Height of the heaven he’s falling from and through,
Hilarity of light and air, delight’s
Effacement of everything but itself.
And the crippled baby tumbling to earth
In a charade of terror? Don’t let him
Deceive you—he’s a god—he’s laughing too.

When we talk about human rights, we’re usually solidly in the expertise of political scientists. But professors of English and philosophy may have a role to play, too. That’s the goal of The Second Annual Conference on Human Rights and the Humanities. It’s being held by the National Humanities Center, and it brings together a variety of experts to discuss human rights.

What is this ability to step into someone else’s shoes? To imagine how they feel, to hurt for them or to be happy for them?