Why does the pursuit of rationality often lead to an explosion of irrationality?
Historian and philosopher Justin E H Smith presents a sweeping account of irrationality from antiquity to today - from the fifth-century BC murder of Hippasus for revealing the existence of irrational numbers to the rise of Twitter mobs and the election of Donald Trump. Far from humans being ‘rational animals’, Justin argues the evidence suggests the opposite. Hear how, from sex and music to religion and war, irrationality makes up the greater part of human life and history.
Ranging across philosophy, politics, and current events, Justin challenges conventional thinking and argues that history reveals that any triumph of reason is temporary and reversible. In fact, rational schemes, notably including many from Silicon Valley, often result in their polar opposite.
Meet the author of Irrationality: A history of the dark side of reason and discover why it is irrational to try to eliminate irrationality.
About the speaker
Justin E H Smith is Professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Paris 7–Denis Diderot. His books include The Philosopher: A History in Six Types (Princeton). An editor at large of Cabinet Magazine, he also writes frequently for the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and other publications. Follow him on twitter @jehsmith