Jeffrey Rosen On Virtue And Learning
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This is a free preview of a paid episode. To hear more, visit Jeff is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, where he hosts “We the People,” a weekly podcast of constitutional debate. He is also a professor of law at the George Washington University Law School, and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. A former house-mate of mine and friend for 40 years, Jeff began his journalistic career writing some stellar essays on the Supreme Court in the TNR when I was editor. The author of many books, his new one is The Pursuit of Happiness: How Classical Writers on Virtue Inspired the Lives of the Founders and Defined America. You can listen right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — on the transcendence of deep reading in the age of distraction, and the hypocrisy of many Founding Fathers on slavery — pop over to our YouTube page. Other topics: growing up in NYC with a father who’s a renowned hypnotherapist and a mother who’s a social worker; educated at the Dalton School — “a beacon of liberalism”; reconciling faith with reason; the intellectual tradition in Catholicism; God as reason (logos); Jeff’s deep reading during Covid; Seneca’s essays on time; Cicero’s treatise on old age; Aurelius’ Meditations; Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues; temperance and prudence; Socrates; Plato; Aristotelian balance; Pythagorus; Blazing Saddles; “without virtue happiness cannot be”; Jefferson’s 12 virtues; his rank racism and contradictions over liberty; Sally Hemings; George Wythe freeing his slaves; the Founders building a new society based on ancient wisdom; Cicero at the center of that project; the Bhagavad Gita; the Stoics as Taoist; John Adams as tempestuous and striving for humility; treating his brilliant wife as his equal; making up with his enemies (e.g. Jefferson); Madison and the Federalist Papers; Douglass teaching himself to read; Freud and the substitute of character for personality; delayed gratification; “everything goes to s**t in the Sixties”; Gen Z’s pursuit of happiness ending in anxiety; the quiet life of the 18th century vs the “dazzling array of distractions” today; regaining concentration through deep reading; how all the great books of the ancient world are free online; balance, deliberation, and equanimity as keys to good government; the preternatural calm of Obama; the danger of demagogues; Trump as the anti-Christ of liberal democracy and the antithesis of the Founders. Browse the Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy (the first 102 are free in their entirety — subscribe to get everything else). Coming up: Rob Henderson on class and “luxury beliefs,” Christian Wiman on resisting despair as a Christian, George Will on Trump and conservatism, Abigail Shrier on why the cult of therapy harms children, Adam Moss on the artistic process, and Richard Dawkins on religion. Please send any guest recs, dissents, and other pod comments to [email protected].
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