In this early milestone 50th episode, Matthew reflects a bit by sharing a brief history as to why he proceeded to call the show “Mr. Bright Side,” knowing full well that it would always be confused with the 2004 mega-hit Killers song. He also shares a few personal stories over the years which have reflected back to him his natural tendency to optimism and enthusiasm, long before he ever developed his mature and formal philosophy. Listeners can take a lesson in self-awareness from these reminiscences.
How does charity fit into a life dedicated to gaining—not surrendering—values? If healthy human relationships are about win-wins, and charity is about gaining nothing for oneself, then is it good? And why do many of us feel so unfulfilled after engaging in sacrificial charity, if it’s the right thing to do?
There is a war on against Christmas. And it’s coming from all directions. From one point, it is attacked for being too “commercial” and “material.” From another, and right in step with the general cancel culture that’s pervaded our society, Christmas is maligned for being “exclusive,” as it is taken as the purview of a single religion (and a majority one in the West, which is an even graver sin today): Christianity.
But what if we separated the holiday from religion?
How are billionaires and trillionaires regarded in our culture, and what does it say about us?
Last week, Matthew referred to a children’s science textbook outlining three symbiotic relationships in nature: mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism, and argued that only win-wins (mutualism) are good while win-lose/lose-wins (parasitism) are immoral.
If win-win relationships are possible, why should we want any part of a win-lose or lose-win? Yet lose-win is what conventional morality offers us explicitly if we take it seriously. And we ought to take it seriously. Our self-esteem and mental health depend on it.
What would embolden you to take on a suicide mission against a terrifying and colossal evil? What makes a leader? How can a leader be convincing and motivate those he proposes to lead? Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King shows us the answers.
What is the source of value and production: brain, brawn, or both? How does Disney/Pixar’s ‘Ratatouille’ dramatize the answer? What does intellectual independence look like? What is Anton Ego’s motivation in being a food critic?
Being your own hero means being a role model to yourself and others. It means becoming someone you can look up to, admire, respect. This is self-esteem, and it’s the foundation for happiness.
But it doesn’t require that you achieve superhuman feats or massive achievements in one swoop. Join Matthew as he discusses the daily choices and behaviors that everyone may practice, and how being a hero is attainable for everyone. And necessary for everyone.
“Never has there been a better time to be alive in human history.” So claims the opening line of this podcast.
Guest Jason Crawford delivers an overwhelming case to back it up–which is his business. As a writer on the history of technology and industry, his expertise and encyclopedic ability to highlight example after example of real-world progress in the past centuries, decades, and years will stun you. As a thinker and writer on the philosophy of human progress, he helps reinforce Matthew’s desperate calls to look, see, and appreciate how good we’ve all got it.
The following was written for myself in 2014 but occurred to me when recently reflecting on the reactions to the current pandemic. I went and re-read it and was surprised to see that I found it quite relevant to the current discussion on preventive lockdowns vs. freedom of action in dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So with only very minor edits in formatting, I publish it here.