Past Events

Past EventsMonday, March 7

Genes and Genesis

Rebecca Goldstein
Steven Pinker
Jonathan Sacks

Psychologist Steven Pinker has been described as one of the 100 most influential people in the world today. In a series of bestselling books, he has applied evolutionary theory to the study of the mind, seeing the brain as a computer and human nature as instinctive, shaped and determined by natural selection.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is a leading exponent of Judaism, both as a scholar and a theologian. He has written extensively about Judaism’s emphasis on moral responsibility and the development of moral values as fundamental to the religion.

Can these two views be reconciled? In this unique session, they debated with American philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein the big questions of free will, morality and the existence of universal truths.

Rebecca Goldstein is Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College, Hartford.  She has won two National Jewish Book Awards for her work, which includes the novel The Mind-Body Problem (1983).

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard. His research on language and cognition has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the American Psychological Association. His books include The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (1999) andThe Blank Slate:The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002).

Jonathan Sacks became Chief Rabbi of Great Britain in 1991. He was educated at Cambridge where he obtained a first in philosophy and is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at King’s College London. In 1995 he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life. He is the author of over 13 books, including Radical Then, Radical Now(2001) and The Dignity of Difference (2002).

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Jonathan Safran Foer discusses his novel Here I Am with Hephzibah Anderson at an out-of-festival event.