PFS Podcast: Jonathan Rauch on his acclaimed new book

July 24, 2021 1 min read

Below is a link to our first podcast, a 52-minute interview of Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings scholar and journalist who is one of America’s sharpest and most original thinkers, by Stuart Taylor Jr., president of Princetonians for Free Speech. The subject is Jonathan’s highly acclaimed new book, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth. It is a deep dive into how Western thinkers have used evidence and logic since the enlightenment to determine what is true and what is false, making possible enormous progress in science, medicine, philosophy, politics, law, and other human affairs.

Most important for today’s world, Rauch explains the threats to all this progress, to the health of what he calls the reality-based community, and even to our way of life, from the Trumpist “firehose of falsehoods” on the far right and the totalitarian cancel culture that is coming to dominate academia, the news media, and other educated elites on the left. The book includes a muscular defense of free speech, which is vital to the constitution of knowledge.

The many glowing reviews include those of columnist George Will, who calls Rauch “a James Madison for this era,” and former American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen, who says: “Starting from first principles and applying them to headlines as recent as the storming of the U.S. Capitol in 2021, The Constitution of Knowledge provides the map we've been waiting for.”

LINK TO PODCAST

Leave a comment


Also in Princeton Free Speech News & Commentary

Commentary: Progressives failed a lesson in free speech

April 19, 2024 1 min read

Anais Mobarak
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: Last spring, my Arabic language instructor instituted a policy that non-Muslim students refrain from eating or drinking in class during Ramadan. When I objected to this rule, she told me that the problem with Americans is that we “care too much about our rights.” As such, I was very surprised to see her name appear on an open letter demanding that the administration “defend academic freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to peaceful assembly” in the context of advocacy for “Palestinian liberation.”

Unfortunately, the recent controversy surrounding Charter Club has demonstrated that progressive voices on campus have failed to recognize the value of free speech beyond its usefulness as a political instrument. Thus, as a community, we must work to foster an ideologically-free understanding of free speech.
Read More
Commentary: America, Jews, and the Ivy League

April 16, 2024 1 min read

Tal Fortgang
Commentary

Excerpt: Once upon a time, not even a decade ago, the most important place in the world to me was a nondescript building on Washington Road in Princeton, New Jersey. Sitting in the shadow of Princeton University’s vaunted eating clubs, the Center for Jewish Life hosted daily prayer services, kosher meals, and most of the memorable conversations that made Princeton so formative for me.

It was Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living that was in the news this past October after an undergraduate threatened to “shoot up” the building, “stab” and “slit the throat” of any Jews he saw there, rape any Jewish women he encountered, behead any Jewish babies, and “shoot all you pig jews.” His threat put a fine point on the major dilemma American Jews must now confront. Are the Ivies our Promised Land or, in the post–October 7 era, a place where we might be gathering for annihilation?
Read More
Commentary: Community is built on empathy; stop politicizing it

April 16, 2024 1 min read

Ava Johnson
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: I’m a first-year, and in less than a year, it’ll be time for me, my friends, and the Class of 2027 to join eating clubs. When we do, we’ll be looking for spaces where we can relax, socialize, and be among friends. We’re looking for places where we can have a reprieve from the fast pace of Princeton life, places where we can eat dinner, play pool, and sit around in complete comfort.

A few weeks ago, Matthew Wilson, a columnist and a member of the Charter Club wrote a column in the ‘Prince’ titled “We must not let eating clubs be ideological safe spaces.” This confused me — what is an eating club if not a safe space for its members? From the outside looking in, the clubs seem to be exactly that: a place for members to feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe.
Read More