A Point of View

A Point of View

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors including historian Lisa Jardine, novelist Sarah Dunant and writer Alain de Botton.

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Recent episodes (10)

  • Is patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel? 25 July 14

    Fri, 25 Jul 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Republican or royalist we all need something or someone in which to invest our loyalty. Will Self reflects on what really lies behind our sense of patriotism. Producer: Arlene Gregorius

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  • John Gray: Believing in reason is childish: 18 July 14

    Fri, 18 Jul 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple ideas he says. One of the commonest is that history's crimes are mistakes that can be avoided as we gain greater knowledge. But if history teaches us anything, Grey asserts, it's that behaviours and attitudes like cruelty and hatred are permanent human flaws. To imagine that we can become more rational is an example of magical thinking and an expression of the belief in the omnipotence of the human will that psychoanalysts identify as the fundamental infantile fantasy. John Gray believes that we'd all be better off if we saw ourselves as we are: intermittently and only ever partly rational creatures, who never really grow up. Producer: Arlene Gregorius

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  • John Gray: "Isis: a modern revolutionary force"? 11 July 14

    Fri, 11 Jul 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Philosopher and author John Gray argues that the Sunni extremist group Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is actually more of a modern revolutionary force than a reactionary one intent on a reversion to mediaeval values. Surprising as this may sound says Gray, Isis is thoroughly modern. It's organised itself into an efficient company, and has become the wealthiest jihadi organisation in the world. And while it invokes the early history of Islam, the society it envisions has no precedent in history. Some of the thinkers who developed radical Islamist ideas are known to have been influenced by European anarchism and communism, especially by the idea that society can be reshaped by a merciless revolutionary vanguard using systematic violence. Isis is part of the revolutionary turmoil of modern times warns Gray, and until the West grasps that uncomfortable fact, it won't be able to deal with the dangers Isis presents. Producer: Arlene Gregorius

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  • AL Kennedy: To See Ourselves: 04 July 14

    Fri, 4 Jul 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    AL Kennedy argues that the British have much to gain from - in the words of Robert Burns - "seeing ourselves as others see us". Referring to last week's row over the appointment of the new European Commission President, she writes: "the EU's view of Britain might be that we're always yelling in a corner about chips!" An entertaining exploration of the down-sides of personal and national introspection. Producer: Adele Armstrong

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  • AL Kennedy: Battling the Botnets: 27 June 14

    Fri, 27 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It's a tale of "shadowy white-hatted hackers, more shadowy black-hatted hackers and the possibility that the pricey electronic equipment lurking in our homes may not have our best interests at heart". AL Kennedy reflects on the current spate of high-profile viruses that are threatening our computers ... invasive software that may be sending our bank details to criminals every time we connect to the internet. She says as more sophisticated computers become part of more appliances, the potential for virus infection increases. So is it time, she asks, for us to rethink our devotion to these machines? Producer: Adele Armstrong

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  • AL Kennedy: If You Haven't Got Anything Nice to Say ... :20 June 14

    Fri, 20 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    AL Kennedy argues that our obsession with gossip is affecting our public discourse, and corrupting its content. She traces the history of gossip, explores how gossip is edging out real news and how it's taken over our political lives. "Gossip obscures truth" she writes, "sours our outlooks on each other and can trivialise any debate". She concludes that "we really could do with a lot less of it". Producer: Adele Armstrong

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  • AL Kennedy: No Burning Required: 13 June 14

    Fri, 13 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    "Humanity's past thoughts are my inheritance" writes AL Kennedy. "I need them in order to learn how to prosper in the long term". As more and more public libraries close their doors, AL Kennedy argues that we must reassess the importance of books. She says library closures, culled GCSE reading lists, moves towards reducing prisoners' access to books are part of a "perfect storm" which means we're losing books on all sides. Producer: Adele Armstrong

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  • Tom Shakespeare: Bring Back the Heptarchy! 06 June 14

    Fri, 6 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Scotland could become independent. So, asks Tom Shakespeare, should England consider returning to an earlier order – a heptarchy of seven independent jurisdictions?

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  • Tom Shakespeare: Disability 30 May 2014

    Fri, 30 May 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Many people assume that disabled people must be unhappy. But the empirical evidence doesn't back this up. In A Point of View, Tom Shakespeare argues that disability is nothing to fear.

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  • Tom Shakespeare: Religious but not spiritual: 23 May 14

    Fri, 23 May 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    A growing number of people are describing themselves as spiritual but not religious. This is not a trend of which Tom Shakespeare approves. In this week's Point of View he argues, rather, that we should be religious but not spiritual. Producer: David Edmonds

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