Ralston College presents a lecture delivered on March 17th, 2022 by Theodore Dalrymple (aka Anthony Daniels) on H. G. Wells’s extraordinary ‘scientific romance,’ ‘The Time Machine’.  A brilliant seer and prophet with a very pessimistic view of humanity, Wells was, nevertheless, a naive and shallow political thinker. The two sides of his mind—the artistic and the ideological; the ‘unofficial’ and the ‘official’—were in conflict. In his writings and personal life, Wells embodied the cultural and philosophical schisms underlying the most important political and sociological questions of our time.  Wells’s prescient insights, and troubling self-contradictions point to deep questions at the heart of human nature.

Stephen Blackwood speaks with the Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Vernon L. Smith. They begin by defining and exploring commonly misunderstood economic terms—markets, capitalism, equilibrium—and then unpack the discoveries of Dr Smith’s pioneering experiments in economics, which—against widely held assumptions—revealed the operation of beneficence and non-zero-sum reciprocity at the heart of free exchange. ‘Self-interest’ is thus profoundly re-evaluated. Paradoxically, the only way to self-realization is through concern for others.

Also, Vernon recommends for further reading, especially on the topic of his experimental games, which are described but not entirely comprehensible in the podcast, the following: Vernon L. Smith (1991) Papers in Experimental Economics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ralston College presents a lecture with Iain McGilchrist followed by a discussion and audience Q & A with Stephen Blackwood. McGilchrist’s presentation is inspired by his new book, The Matter With Things, and his central thesis and basic observation is that every thing is dependent on its opposite. He examines this paradox across an impressive range of thinkers, texts, and traditions: from Iroquois legend and Japanese gardens to Romantic poetry and modern physics. McGilchrist also explores the ramifications of this understanding of existence for our current moment and articulates how an over-emphasis on left-hemisphere thinking has led us to a depletion of meaning and happiness precisely because we pursue such things as ends in themselves.

The event took place online on October 26th, 2021.

Ralston College presents a conversation between Stephen Blackwood and award-winning architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni, followed by an audience Q&A. A voice of penetrating clarity and prophetic power, Al-Sabouni discusses the role of architecture in cultivating or undermining our social fabric, arguing that the seeds of the devastating Syria Civil War were sown by the choices of architects and city planners. Though born of particular and painful experience, Al-Sabouni’s insights on the nature of human life and community are universal, and offer consolation and hope amidst the civic alienation and aesthetic degradation facing so many of us today.

The event took place online on June 24th, 2021.

In Part II of their discussion Stephen Blackwood and Alexander Stoddart speak about the transhistorical community of past, present, and future. Stoddart explicates his Schopenhauerian view of art as life-denying and thus paradoxically able to help us relinquish our own will to power. He contrasts this view with that of a shallow presentism, a self-absorbed modernist outlook that views the present as inherently superior to both past and future, cutting off its own vital resources and neglecting its fundamental obligations. Stoddart shows another way.

Artists, Art, and Writings Mentioned in this Episode: Homer; Palmyra; Br’er Rabbit and the Tar-Baby; Arthur Schopenhauer; Sean-Paul Sartre; Michel Foucault; Friedrich Nietzsche; Walter Scott; Richard Wagner; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; Charles Dickens; Walter Pater; Gian Lorenzo Bernini; Buddhas of Bamiyan; Trajan’s Forum; The Colosseum; Bartolomeo Colleoni Monument; The Shard of London; Albert Speer’s Volkshalle (“People’s Hall”); T. S. Eliot: “Four Quartets”; Gone with the Wind, House of Tara (Antebellum architecture); Richard James Wyatt; Lincoln Memorial; John Flaxman: Am I Not a Man; Thomas Banks profile of Thomas Muir of Huntershill (https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/artists/thomas-banks); Edgar Degas; Paul Cézanne; Pierre-Auguste Renoir; The Acropolis; Tyche; Statue of Tyche and Plutus in Istanbul; Statue of Liberty; Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro; Mount Rushmore

Have we killed Homer for good? Stephen Blackwood and historian-farmer Victor Davis Hanson examine the state of the contemporary West by returning to its ancient Greek origins. They explore the richness of its first principles, including self-critique, the elevation of rational understanding, the democratization of learning, and the unification of thought and action. They also bring to light our current cultural crisis: the uncritical rejection of the inherited past, an intellectualism divorced from reality, and a surrender to relativism at the cost of true self-reflection. They close by reflecting on the lateness of the hour, and offer a vital call to seek and speak truth, to ignite the fire of independence of mind, and to remember that while we may know more than those who came before, they are, as T.S. Eliot said, that which we know.

Ralston College presents a lecture with Andrew Doyle followed by a discussion and audience Q & A with Stephen Blackwood. Doyle discusses his new book, ‘Free Speech and Why it Matters,’ and offers trenchant examples of recent curtailment of the freedom of speech and thought. He provides a lively account of why free speech and free expression are vital for a thriving culture and describes the kinds of degradation that result when a wide array of ideas are not examined in the public square. The event took place online on March 4, 2021.