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Classics in Crisis: Why We Shouldn’t ‘Cancel’ Aristotle

With calls to “cancel” prominent people becoming commonplace, even major historical figures like Aristotle are likely targets.

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Onkar Ghate and Aaron Smith discuss Agnes Callard’s New York Times opinion piece “Should We Cancel Aristotle?” and the culture wars over which figures should be taught, tolerated, venerated, or toppled.

Among the topics discussed are:

  • Why Callard’s weak defense of Aristotle is worse than no defense;
  • What standards should determine whether a given historical figure should be taught or studied;
  • What positive values you can gain by studying world-class thinkers of the past like Aristotle;
  • Why many criticisms of historical figures’ views are anachronistic and unjust;
  • Why the language of “cancelling” and “cancel culture” distort thinking.

Also mentioned in the discussion are Bryan W. Van Norden’s “Who Is Cancelling Aristotle?” and Daniel James Sharp’s “David Hume Tower: A Tale of Quiet and Shameful Erasure.”

This podcast was recorded on September 16, 2020. Watch or listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple Podcasts Google PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch archived episodes here.

Podcast audio:

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Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith, Ph.D. in philosophy, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute where he lectures and develops educational content for the Institute’s intellectual training and outreach programs.

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