DiscoverSean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas38 | Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning
38 | Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning

38 | Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning

Update: 2019-03-1823
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Let’s say, for sake of argument, that you don’t believe in God or the supernatural. Is there still a place for talking about transcendence, the sacred, and meaning in life? Some of the above, but not all? Today’s guest, Alan Lightman, brings a unique perspective to these questions, as someone who has worked within both the sciences and the humanities at the highest level. In his most recent book, Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, he makes the case that naturalists should take transcendence seriously. We talk about the assumptions underlying scientific practice, and the implications that the finitude of our lives has for our search for meaning. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Alan Lightman received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. After a number of years working as a theoretical astrophysicist specializing in black holes and high-energy processes, he scored an international bestseller with his novel Einstein’s Dreams. Increasingly concentrating on writing, he moved from Harvard to MIT, where he became the first professor to be jointly appointed in the sciences and the humanities. He later was made the John Burchard Professor of Humanities at MIT, which he has subsequently stepped down from to devote more time to writing. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics. He is also the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, which supports young women leaders in Southeast Asia. Web page Wikipedia Amazon author page Harpswell Foundation
Comments (3)

Jeremy Dixon

this gentleman seems to Grant religion default ownership over "nonphysical" discussions. which reminds me, what the hell even is non-physical? when you say you believe in the material world I don't even understand what you are saying. I don't think the distinction makes any sense. If there actually was a Casper the ghost in my house right now and we found him we would be able to interact with him physically and so it seems to be less about material vs immaterial and more about known vs unknown vs unknowable

Mar 18th
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Jeremy Dixon

I don't think your guest is representing his side of the argument very well. Have this talk again but with a philosopher

Mar 18th
Reply

Pedro Abreu

His talk about faith makes me think about the Three Body Problem sci-fi book

Mar 18th
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38 | Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning

38 | Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning