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A CRITICAL DISTANCE: Literature and Politics

with Timothy Garton Ashvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, July 23, 2001

What is the proper role of the intellectual in public life? Plato believed that philosophers should govern society. He founded his famous Academy with the hope of creating such "philosopher kings." Another philosopher, Immanuel Kant, however, believed that "the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason." Therefore, he argued that intellectuals should keep a proper distance from the political realm. Who is right, Kant or Plato?

THE GOOD DOCTOR? The Case of Henry Kissinger

with John O'Sullivanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, July 23, 2001

To what extent are government leaders personally responsible for the outcomes of foreign policy and war? We review the career of Henry Kissinger, one of the most colorful statesmen of the twentieth century. Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford during two pivotal events in American history, the cold war and the Vietnam War. Is Kissinger guilty, as some have charged, of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his conduct during that era? Or should he be regarded as a bold defender of American freedom during a time of crisis?

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: The Politics of Hollywood

with Rob Long, Harry Shearervia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, July 20, 2001

In 1992, Bill Clinton received 43 percent of the national vote, but he received 83 percent of the vote from film and television writers, directors, and producers. Is Hollywood as liberal as these data suggest? If so, why? Does Hollywood have a cohesive liberal agenda that affects the films and television programs we watch?

THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

with Timothy Garton Ash, John O'Sullivanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, July 20, 2001

In 1946, in the wake of two world wars that left the continent devastated, Winston Churchill famously declared, "We must build a kind of United States of Europe." But for a continent of 500 million people and several dozen nation-states with singular histories, cultures, and identities, how complete and how inclusive can unification be? With the end of the cold war, what is the motivation for continuing on the path toward union? If we are on the threshold of an actual "United States of Europe," what role will, and should, the United States of America have in this new Europe?

RICH MAN, POOR MAN: Income Inequality

with Bruce Bartlett, Peter Orszagvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, July 18, 2001

How much does the gap between rich and poor matter? In 1979, for every dollar the poorest fifth of the American population earned, the richest fifth earned nine. By 1997, that gap had increased to fifteen to one. Is this growing income inequality a serious problem? Is the size of the gap between rich and poor less important than the poor's absolute level of income? In other words, should we focus on reducing the income gap or on fighting poverty?

THE GRAND OLD, OLD PARTY: The Future of the Republican Party

with Newt Gingrich, Nelson W. Polsbyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The presidential election of 2000 highlighted the significant demographic divisions between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The strength of the Republicans lies in the South and in the middle of the country. But the voters that carried those regions for George W. Bush, mostly white and Protestant, are shrinking as a proportion of the overall United States population. Are these demographic changes a serious problem for the Republicans? If so, what can they do to bring groups that have traditionally been Democratic—Hispanics, blacks, and Catholics, for example—into the Republican Party?

POP GOES THE CULTURE: Pop Culture

with Michael Medved, John Podhoretzvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Every year it seems that popular culture goes a little bit further—bigger explosions, more action, more violence, more sex... Is pop culture harmless or should we be concerned about the values presented in pop culture and the effects those presentations have on society? For instance, what is the connection between depictions of violence in films and on television and the incidence of violence in real life? If pop culture is having a negative impact on our society, what should we do about it?

WAGING MODERN WAR

with Wesley K. Clarkvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, June 20, 2001

General Wesley K. Clark served as supreme allied commander of NATO from 1997 to 2000 and directed the allied war effort in Kosovo in 1999. What lessons has General Clark drawn from the war over Kosovo? How should the use of force be applied in an era of competing demands from the public, domestic political leaders, and international allies? Did this war prove that the United States can rely on technology to apply force without casualties, or did it prove that ground troops, now as ever, are critical to achieving military objectives?

WILSON'S GHOST: Robert S. McNamara

with Robert S. McNamaravia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, June 20, 2001

More than eighty years ago, President Woodrow Wilson presided over the U.S. entry into the First World War, promising that it would be "the war to end all war." Wilson promoted "peace without victory" and the creation of a League of Nations with the power to enforce the peace thereafter. At that time, Wilson's vision was dismissed by European and American leaders alike as naive idealism. Today, however, Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. secretary of defense, believes that Wilson's vision is essential to reducing the risk of conflict and war in the twenty-first century.

DARWIN'S GHOST: Sociobiology and Human Behavior

with Paul Ehrlich, Jeffrey Schloss, Lionel Tigervia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, June 1, 2001

What can evolutionary science tell us about human behavior? During the past thirty years, biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists have begun applying Darwinian concepts, such as natural selection and survival of the fittest, to the study of behavior. Are social characteristics, such as aggression, love, and courtship, determined by our evolutionary past and encoded into our genes like physical attributes, such as walking upright or hair color? Are we slaves to our DNA, or does genetic determinism fail to explain fully what it means to be human?

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For more than two decades the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

“Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.”

The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter