BBC Radio Podcasts from A History of Ideas

A History of Ideas

Neuropsychologist Paul Broks on Wittgenstein

Paul Broks looks at the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the problem of 'other minds'.

Philosopher Clare Carlisle on Reality and Perception

Clare Carlisle grapples with Bishop Berkley's idea that objects only exist in our minds.

Physicist Tara Shears on Falsification

How can we separate real science from mumbo jumbo? Physicist Tara Shears investigates.

Lawyer Harry Potter on Eyewitness Testimony

Barrister Harry Potter on whether we can believe our eyes.

How Can I Know Anything at All?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how we can know anything at all.

Writer Lisa Appignanesi on the Love of Children

How should we love our children? Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau had some great ideas.

Psychotherapist Mark Vernon on Freud

What is love? Psychotherapist Mark Vernon looks at Freud's ideas on the Greek god Eros.

Theologian Giles Fraser on Altruism

Giles Fraser discusses gene theory versus altruism with Tom Stoppard and Armand Leroi.

Classicist Edith Hall on Aristophanes in Plato

Classicist Edith Hall on Aristophanes's explanation of love.

What Is Love?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas around love.

Philosopher Timothy Secret on Ancestor Worship

Timothy Secret on Confucius. To live well together we must first consider the dead.

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on Plato's Philosopher Kings

Angie Hobbs asks if the ideal state would be run by philosophers not politicians.

Economist Kate Barker on the Free Market

Is a free market the best foundation for a fair, dynamic society?

Historian Justin Champion on Toleration

Professor Justin Champion examines Locke's Letter on Toleration.

How Should We Live Together?

Melvyn Bragg and guests debate how we should live together.

Philosopher Barry Smith on Descartes and Consciousness

Philosopher Barry Smith explores ideas about consciousness.

Philosopher Jules Evans on Jung and the Mind

Jules Evans explores Jung and the shadow inside all of us.

Writer AL Kennedy on Sartre and the Individual

Writer AL Kennedy explores existentialist ideas about the individual.

Paul Broks on John Locke and Personal Identity

Paul Broks asks how we can be sure we are the same person that we were yesterday.

What Does It Mean to Be Me?

Barry Smith, Paul Broks, AL Kennedy and Jules Evans discuss the self.

Historian Alice Taylor on Habeas Corpus

Historian Alice Taylor on the slippery justice of extrajudicial detention.

Thomas Hobbes and Civil Disobedience

Criminologist David Wilson looks at Thomas Hobbes and his 'social contract' theory.

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on the Veil of Ignorance

Angie Hobbs, Leif Wenar and David Runciman debate and explore the ideas of John Rawls.

Barrister Harry Potter on Deterrence

In this edition of a series of programmes on justice, Harry Potter examines deterrence.

What Is Justice?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas about justice.

Ayn Rand and Selfishness

Neuropsychologist Paul Broks looks at the idea of leading a good life by being selfish.

Naomi Appleton on the Buddha's Four Noble Truths

Naomi Appleton explores the Buddha's Four Noble Truths.

Justin Champion on Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic

Justin Champion looks at the roots of our culture's belief in the moral power of hard work

Philosopher Jules Evans on Aristotle and Flourishing

Philosopher Jules Evans asks Gus O'Donnell how to measure the good life.

How Do I Live a Good Life?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how to live a good life.

Archaeologist Matt Pope on tools and human evolution

Archaeologist Matt pope looks at the role of technology in early human evolution.

Surgeon Gabriel Weston on medical technology

Surgeon Gabriel Weston sees how medical technology has changed us.

Historian Justin Champion on Francis Bacon

Historian Justin Champion on 17th-century polymath Francis Bacon.

Writer Tom Chatfield: Has technology rewired our brains?

Tom Chatfield on whether modern technology enhances or diminishes us.

How Has Technology Changed Us?

Melvyn Bragg is joined by Tom Chatfield, Gabriel Weston, Justin Champion and Matt Pope.

Giles Fraser on Wittgenstein and Blade Runner

Theologian Giles Fraser on Wittgenstein and Blade Runner

Barry Smith on Noam Chomsky and Human Language

Philosopher Barry Smith on Noam Chomsky and human language

Catharine Edwards on Seneca and facing death.

Only humans know they will die. Catharine Edwards on the Stoic philosopher Seneca

Simon Schaffer on humans, apes and Carl Linnaeus

Simon Schaffer on botanist Carl Linnaeus who first classified humans among the apes

What Makes Us Human?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what makes us human.

Historian Justin Champion on William Whiston's Comet Theory

Historian Justin Champion on William Whiston, the spiritual father of the Philae lander.

Theologian Giles Fraser on Thomas Aquinas

Theologian Giles Fraser on brilliant medieval scholar St Thomas Aquinas.

Astronomer Carole Mundell on the Big Bang

What put the bang in the Big Bang? Can scientists tell us what happened before creation?

Jessica Frazier on Creation Myths

How did the world begin? Jessica Frazier canvases the views of the great religions.

How Did Everything Begin?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins of everything.

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on the Value of Conscience

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on the value of conscience and moral intuition.

Lawyer Harry Potter on Morality and the Law

Lawyer Harry Potter examines whether the law should enforce good morals.

Neuro-psychologist Paul Broks on Morality and the Brain

Neuropsychologist Paul Broks on moral decisions and the brain.

Theologian Giles Fraser on Moral character

Giles Fraser on moral character and Aristotle's Virtue ethics

How Can I Tell Right From Wrong?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss different ideas of morality.

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on Beauty and Morality

Philosopher Angie Hobbs examines whether beautiful things are also moral.

Historian Simon Schaffer on Beauty and Evolution

Historian Simon Schaffer on whether evolutionary science explains the existence of beauty.

Vicky Neale on the Mathematics of Beauty

Mathematician Vicky Neale on the mathematics of beauty and the beauty of mathematics.

Barry Smith on the Philosophy of Good Taste

Philosopher Barry Smith on David Hume's ideas about cultivating good taste.

Why Are Things Beautiful?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss different ideas of beauty.

Neuroscientist Paul Broks on Free Will and the Brain

Paul Broks brings neuroscience to the philosophical question of whether we have free will.

Theologian Giles Fraser on Religious Freedom

Theologian Giles Fraser believes true freedom comes from accepting constraints in life.

Lawyer Harry Potter on Individual Freedom and the State

Barrister Harry Potter on John Stuart Mill's ideas about individual freedom and the state.

Philosopher Angie Hobbs on Positive and Negative Freedom

Angie Hobbs on Isaiah Berlin's distinction between positive and negative freedom.

What Does It Mean to Be Free?

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas about freedom.