Rebecca Goldstein: The Atheist with a Soul

SAT, JAN 30, 2010 (00:28)

Author and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein discusses her latest work, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, which is perhaps best described as a hybrid. It is indeed a novel, with its share of psychology, mathematics, and academic politics, but it concludes with an appendix outlining these 36 arguments, as well as their rebuttals, in the language not of fiction, but of philosophy. So, as in many of Goldstein’s earlier novels, this one manages to fold ideas into art.

Rebecca Goldstein received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, and went on to teach philosophy before trying her pen at fiction. Her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem, was a critical success, and she went on to write five other novels, including Properties of Light, Mazel, and The Dark Sister. She has also written non-fiction studies of the mathematician Kurt Godel, and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

ThoughtCast speaks with Goldstein in her home in the Leather District, in downtown Boston.

+ BIO: Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is a philosopher, scholar, and award-winning novelist. Her latest novel is 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction. Her books include the novels The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, and Mazel, and nonfiction studies of Kurt Godel and Baruch Spinoza. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1996, Goldstein has also received Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

+ BIO: Jenny Attiyeh

My name is Jenny Attiyeh, and I began my career in 1987 in London as a freelance reporter on the arts for the BBC World Service Radio. I remember my first interview for “Meridian”, as the program I worked for was called. It was with Placido Domingo, and I’ve never been so nervous since.

After my work permit ran out, I returned to Los Angeles, my home city, and continued as an arts reporter for KCRW, an NPR station in Santa Monica. While there, I reported and produced an award-winning documentary on Japanese-American internment during World War II. Shortly after, I was accepted to a National Public Radio residency, which brought me to Washington, D.C. and to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston to report stories for NPR’s Performance Today. I later attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

After that, I remained in New York City for 9 years, during which time I worked primarily as a reporter on television and radio. I hosted and produced a weekly arts and culture segment for WNYC TV, a PBS station, until it went out of business (thanks to then Mayor Giuliani, who sold the station). Before the lights went out, I managed to produce a mini-documentary on the making of a Philip Glass opera, “Les Enfants Terribles.”

I worked next as a correspondent for a nationally televised PBS program called “Freedom Speaks” which focused on the media, until it too was taken off the air. (I detect a pattern here…) In between gigs, I also worked as a reporter for WBAI radio, a Pacifica station, and WNYC radio, an NPR station, covering local politics and the arts. I then moved to Maine, where I lived by the harbor in Kittery, and worked as a reporter for New Hampshire Public Television. There, I covered the ‘99/2000 New Hampshire presidential primary season, and interviewed the major presidential candidates. I also participated as a panelist in nationally televised presidential debates, hosted by Peter Jennings and Tim Russert.

Following the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary season, I moved to Boston, where I did freelance writing on academics, the 2004 presidential campaign and the single life, among other subjects. From this base, in early 2005, I launched ThoughtCast.

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