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Context with Brad Harris

Brad Harris, Historian

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Context with Brad Harris
Context with Brad Harris

Context with Brad Harris

Brad Harris, Historian

660
Followers
3.3K
Plays
145
Raised
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About Us

What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? What are humanity's best ideas? Join award-winning historian Brad Harris as he engages these fundamental questions and interprets the biggest historical forces that shape their answers, from the rise of civilization and the development of modern science to the spread of disease and the growth of globalization.

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Welcome to Context.  I'm Brad Harris.

I earned my PhD at Stanford University in the history of science and technology.  Poised to become a university professor, however, I grew concerned about certain aspects of academia....  

The scholarly emphasis at universities has become esoteric and even cynical.  Big ideas, such as the rise of modern science, democracy, and globalization are overshadowed by narrower studies of things like the politics of emotion and cultural constructions.  Too many professors dwell on what humanity has done wrong at the expense of understanding what is good and what is true in the work of civilization.  Furthermore, I worried that, as a professor, I would spend most of my time influencing only small, privileged groups of university students and colleagues, even while our society as a whole seems in need of historical perspective more than ever.

Podcasting liberates me to engage more inspiring historical ideas with a much wider audience, and Himalaya liberates me to connect with you much more directly.

We all want to navigate toward greater prosperity, and we can argue over politics and values all day in the effort, but unless we understand our historical context our discourse will be bloated with bad assumptions and progress will stall.  We owe it to our future to be better historians.

I am deeply grateful to have a growing community of people who value these ideas as much as I do.

Thank you so much,
Brad

Latest Episodes

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Ad-free AvailableToday I'm speaking with Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, a historian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would be hard to find a scholar better equipped to enhance our historical perspective on how we decide what's true. Jennifer and I challenge each other's thinking on whether ideas about natural rights were discovered or created, whether or not the distinction between objective truth and pragmatic truth really matters, how we reconcile timeless values with scientific disruption, and more.

86 MIN2 weeks ago
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The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom

Ad-free AvailableAllan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind became one of the most influential books of the last 50 years, instigating a battle over the soul of the American university that’s been raging ever since. It became a powerful weapon in Bloom's fight against a morally and intellectually crippling form of relativism infecting America’s educational system by reminding us that the goal of education is not to become open to all ideas, but to cultivate the search for the best ideas.

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Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph Ellis

Ad-free AvailableIn this episode, we witness the birth of the most powerful idea in history and how it came to define the meaning of America. This is the idea that argument represents the best path to progress and to justice for all, and that to institutionalize this via a Constitutional right to freedom of speech is the best way to preserve a prosperous society. Joseph Ellis captures the story behind this idea inFounding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

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Latest Episodes

What's True?

Ad-free AvailableToday I'm speaking with Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, a historian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would be hard to find a scholar better equipped to enhance our historical perspective on how we decide what's true. Jennifer and I challenge each other's thinking on whether ideas about natural rights were discovered or created, whether or not the distinction between objective truth and pragmatic truth really matters, how we reconcile timeless values with scientific disruption, and more.

86 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
What's True?

The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom

Ad-free AvailableAllan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind became one of the most influential books of the last 50 years, instigating a battle over the soul of the American university that’s been raging ever since. It became a powerful weapon in Bloom's fight against a morally and intellectually crippling form of relativism infecting America’s educational system by reminding us that the goal of education is not to become open to all ideas, but to cultivate the search for the best ideas.

70 MINMAY 2
Comments
The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom

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Ad-free AvailableIn this episode, we witness the birth of the most powerful idea in history and how it came to define the meaning of America. This is the idea that argument represents the best path to progress and to justice for all, and that to institutionalize this via a Constitutional right to freedom of speech is the best way to preserve a prosperous society. Joseph Ellis captures the story behind this idea inFounding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

38 MINAPR 4
Comments
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph Ellis

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