Leon Wieseltier

October 7, 2014 - Leon Wieseltier 10/07/2014 Views: 20,827

The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier discusses the anthology "Insurrections of the Mind" and the importance of rational thinking in a democratic society. (6:47)

>> STEPHEN: WELCOME BACK!

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS HERE TODISCUSS THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE LIBERAL MAGAZINE "THE NEWREPUBLIC."

THIS MONTH'S CENTER FOLD, F.D.R.

AGAIN.

PLEASE WELCOME LEONWIESELTIER!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING

HERE.

>> MY PLEASURE.

>> STEPHEN: FOR THOSE WHO MAYNOT KNOW, YOU ARE A WRITER,

CRITIC, PHILOSOPHER AND LONGTIME EDITOR OF "THE NEW

REPUBLIC." THERE'S YOURLIBERAL RAG. THE MAGAZINE

CELEBRATES ITS HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, AND

HAS RELEASED A NEW BOOK CALLEDINSURRECTIONS OF THE MIND,

100 YEARS OF POLITICS ANDCULTURE IN AMERICA.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ACULTURAL CRITIC?

DO YOU HAVE A CRITIQUE OF OURPRESENT CULTURE?

>> OH, I DO, YES.

I DO.

IT'S A VERY ELABORATE ONE.

YES.

SO -->> STEPHEN: TEN WORDS OR LESS.

TEN WORDS OR LESS -- TOO MUCHDIGITAL, NOT ENOUGH CRITICAL

THINKING, MORE PHYSICAL REALITY.

>> STEPHEN: THAT'S TEN, DAMN! NOONE'S EVER DONE THAT BEFORE.

>> STEPHEN: THAT'S TEN, DAMN! NOONE'S EVER DONE THAT BEFORE.

SO YOU'RE ONE OF THEM LITERARYTYPES.

>> MM-HMM(LAUGHTER)

>> STEPHEN: THE MAGAZINE WASFOUNDED 100 YEARS AGO.

THAT'S THE BEGINNING TO HAVE THEPROGRESSIVE ERA IN THE U.S.

>> IT WAS.

>> STEPHEN: WHAT'S THEDIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PROGRESSIVE

AND WHAT WE THINK OF AS ALIBERAL TODAY.

>> SOMETIMES THEY GET CONFUSEDAND LUMPED TOGETHER.

THE PROGRESSIVES ARE MORE TO THELEFT OF US.

>> STEPHEN: OF YOU?

TO THE LEFT OF YOUR HAIR?

>> ACTUALLY, WAY TO THE LEFT.

THIS IS CENTRIST HAIR.

(LAUGHTER)>> STEPHEN: WHO ARE SOME OF

THE GREAT MINDS WHO HAVEINSURRECTIONS OF THE MIND?

>> JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, ORSONWELLS.

>> STEPHEN: KEYNES ECONOMICS --I PAY YOU TO DIG A HOLE,

TOMORROW I PAY YOU TO FILL ITIN, THAT CAT?

>> APPROXIMATELY.

>> STEPHEN: CLOSE ENOUGH FOR MYSHOW.

>> ALL RIGHT THEN

>> STEPHEN: IT SEEMS LIKE THEPEOPLE OF THE NEW REPUBLIC

ARE FOLKS WHO BELIEVE INTHINKING, OKAY.

>> WE DO. IT'S PRETTYOUTRAGEOUS, I KNOW.

>> STEPHEN: IT IS.

(LAUGHTER)NOT VERY POPULAR THESE DAYS.

SELL ME ON THINKING.

(LAUGHTER)BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE TO THINK

MUCH ANYMORE.

I CAN JUST FEEL, AND I CAN ALSOOPEN ANY EYES AND TAKE THE

DIGITAL FIRE HOSE FROM MY SCREENAND WATCH VIDEOS AND PICTURES

OF, YOU KNOW, SOMEONE'S PIE-->> AND MISTAKE THAT FOR

THINKING.

>> STEPHEN: NOT MISTAKING IT FORTHINKING, I'M PREFERRING IT.

I UNDERSTAND.

I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WOULD, BUTHERE'S THE REASON, A DEMOCRATIC

SOCIETY, AN OPEN SOCIETY PLACESAN EXTRAORDINARY INTELLECTUAL

RESPONSIBILITY ON ORDINARY MENAND WOMEN BECAUSE WE ARE

GOVERNED BY WHAT WE THINK, WEARE GOVERNED BY OUR OPINIONS, SO

THE CONTENT AND THE QUALITY OFOUR OPINIONS AND THE QUALITY OF

THE FORMATION OF OUR OPINIONS ISWHAT BASICALLY DETERMINES THE

CHARACTER OF OUR SOCIETY ANDTHAT MEANS IN A DEMOCRACY IN AN

OPEN SOCIETY, A THOUGHTLESSCITIZEN OF A DEMOCRACY IS A

DELINQUENT CITIZEN OF ADEMOCRACY.

(APPLAUSE)>> STEPHEN: I THOUGHT YOU WERE

STILL FILIBUSTERING.

I'M SORRY.

>> NO.

>> STEPHEN: WHAT ABOUTFEELING?

>> HUMAN LIFE WILL NEVER SUFFERFROM TOO LITTLE FEELING.

WE ALL FEEL ALL THE TIME.

WE'RE MORTAL CREATURES.

WE HAVE HEARTS.

>> STEPHEN: YES.

THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT TOMISTAKE OUR HEARTS FOR OUR

MINDS.

THEY DO TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

IF WE WERE ONLY HEARTS OR MINDSWE WOULD BE MONSTERS, BUT WE'RE

BOTH.

SO THE ROLE OF THE MIND IS TOACTUALLY QUESTION SOME OF THE

ASSUMPTIONS AND DOGMAS ANDPREJUDICES OF THE HEART.

>> STEPHEN: BUT THERE'S ATHIRD ORGAN YOU'RE LEAVING OUT

>> I BET THERE IS.

>> STEPHEN: WELL, THERE'S AFOURTH.

THANK YOU FOR RAISING THE LEVELOF THE CONVERSATION.

>> STEPHEN: THERE'S YOUR GUT,THERE'S YOUR GUT

THERE'S THE MIND, SAYING WESHOULD DO SOMETHING

DIFFERENT!

THEN YOUR HEART, OH, THIS IS HOWI FEEL ABOUT THE THINGS YOU'RE

DOING. AND THEN THERE'S MY GUTTHAT TELLS ME THIS IS RIGHT.

>> RIGHT.

>> STEPHEN: I GO WITH MY GUTBECAUSE MY GUT IS RESPONSIBLE

FOR THE ACTIONS THAT REQUIRECOURAGE, WHICH ARE MY BALLS.

>> RIGHT.

I SEE.

ALL RIGHT.

I SEE.

>> STEPHEN: MY GUT AND MYBALLS --

(LAUGHTER)MY GUT AND MY BALLS ARE FIGHTING

MY BRAIN AND MY HEART.

>> IT'S VERY BEAUTIFUL.

WE'VE JUST MET SO I'M NOT GOINGTO DISCUSS SOME OF.

THIS I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT THEGUT BUT A GUT REQUIRES

EDUCATION.

I BELIEVE IN EDUCATED GUTS.

THE IMPORTANT THING IS WE HAVEREASON FOR OUR BELIEFS AND

THEN WE ARTICULATE AND THENDEFEND THE REASONS.

>> STEPHEN: HERE'S A REASONFOR MY BELIEFS.

>> ALL RIGHT.

>> STEPHEN: THEY FEEL GOOD.

(LAUGHTER)IT FEELS GOOD TO THINK THAT WHEN

I DIE I WILL GO TO HEAVEN.

THAT FEELS GOOD.

IT FEELS GOOD TO THINK THAT I AMRIGHT.

THAT FEELS GOOD.

>> WELL, YOU KNOW THAT IT'SPREPOSTEROUS TO THINK THAT

BECAUSE ONE FEELS SOMETHING THATIT'S THE TRUTH.

>> STEPHEN: NO, IT'S NOT TRUE.

IT'S TRUTHY.

WHICH IS GREATER THAN TRUTH.

IT IS INASSAILABLE BECAUSE MYTRUTH IS BASED UPON WHAT I WANT

TO BE TRUE -->> RIGHT.

>> STEPHEN: -- RATHER THANANYTHING THE FACTS COULD

POSSIBLY SUPPORT.

YOUR TRUTH REQUIRES WORK, MINEREQUIRES MERELY A DECISION.

I'LL BEAT YOU TO THE TRUTH PUNCHALL THE TIME.

>> I CONGRATULATE YOU ON LIVINGIN A WORLD ENTIRELY YOUR OWN.

>> STEPHEN: THANK YOU.

IT'S CALLED THE COLBERT NATION!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

(LAUGHTER)(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THE NEW REPUBLIC INSURRECTIONSOF THE MIND! GET IT ALL!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!