Reason–for Hope

After yesterday’s post went up on Facebook, a colleague sent me a link to an absolutely fascinating dialogue between the author of Plato at the Googleplex, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and her husband, Steven Pinker. It was originally a Ted Talk, and it has been rendered as a very clever cartoon.

I rarely watch videos that are longer than a few minutes, and this one is 15 minutes, but it is a brilliant defense of reason–something we in this unreasonable age need rather badly–and the role reason has played in civilizing and improving human society.

Watch it!


  1. I, being science rather than philosophy oriented, am struck more by Sheila’s chosen title. “Reason – for hope”, then I am with the nevertheless entertaining cartoon enhanced dialog.

    Do we have hope, because we know what we can and have accomplished before in bringing about better, or do we hope because we can, and that drives us to find better? Or, does it matter as long as we have both?

    We are each but individuals, but together we are demonstrably the most evolutionarily advanced product of life. We invented “better” though our DNA ancestors had only survival.

    Our individual reason is inextricably linked to our common cultures. We know in the context of what and who we have known. And from that has emerged the infinite diversity of our common species.

    Miraculous. The reason for both hope and dispair.

    Feed on hope, act with reason. Despair is always temporary, failure the foundation of progress. Just never, ever, give up. Hope demands it.

  2. Just recently, I saw Metropolis, an utterly fascinating silent film from 1927. I am struck how its overarching theme applies here. Maria says: There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.

Comments are closed.