25 episodes

What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? What are humanity's best ideas? Join award-winning historian Brad Harris as he engages these fundamental questions and interprets the biggest historical forces that shape their answers, from the rise of civilization and the development of modern science to the spread of disease and the growth of globalization.

Context with Brad Harris Brad Harris, Historian

    • History

What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? What are humanity's best ideas? Join award-winning historian Brad Harris as he engages these fundamental questions and interprets the biggest historical forces that shape their answers, from the rise of civilization and the development of modern science to the spread of disease and the growth of globalization.

    Reflections from A Distant Mirror

    Reflections from A Distant Mirror

    Plague, political chaos, the looming prospect of another civil war... what century are we in?

    To retain historical perspective, and to find inspiration in how humanity has recovered from far greater upheavals in the past, we turn to Barbara Tuchman's book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

    To support Context and access supporter-only episodes: https://www.patreon.com/context

    For more info: https://bradharris.com/

    • 39 min
    2+2=5

    2+2=5

    I went slightly mad producing this episode. But then, the line between our reality and the fiction of 1984 has become far too blurry for my comfort.

    George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948 - a very different historical context with very different threats. And yet, the dark sides of human nature he explored through his novel are still very much with us today.

    To help support Context and access supporter-only episodes, visit https://www.patreon.com/context

    Learn more at https://bradharris.com

    • 26 min
    All Things Being Equal

    All Things Being Equal

    One of the worst features of our society, we are told, is wealth inequality. But, what is the historical truth about wealth inequality?

    Drawing inspiration from Walter Scheidel's book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality, we explore the history of wealth inequality and discuss how the cure has tended to be far worse than the disease.

    To support Context and access bonus episodes, join me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/context

    Learn more at https://bradharris.com 

    • 30 min
    Approximating Perfection

    Approximating Perfection

    The history of calculus may seem irrelevant to most of our going concerns, but as author and mathematician Strogatz shows, the spirit of calculus expresses one of the best ideas humanity has ever had: greatness is not to be found in the end, but in the effort.

    Support the show on https://www.patreon.com/context

    Learn more at https://bradharris.com

    • 20 min
    Science as a Candle in the Dark

    Science as a Candle in the Dark

    Carl Sagan was a brilliant popularizer of science.  His book, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, helps to inspire clear thinking when chaos reigns supreme.  Here, I share my thoughts on the important themes of that work.  

    To access bonus episodes and all regular episodes ad-free, join me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/context

    Learn more at https://bradharris.com

    • 20 min
    What If Our Ignorance Outgrows Our Potential?

    What If Our Ignorance Outgrows Our Potential?

    There is an overlooked rule in history: far more is lost and forgotten than is preserved and remembered.

    Humanity knows more and is more powerful than ever. But, are we getting wiser? 

    What if our ignorance outgrows our potential? What happens when rich and powerful societies lose their wisdom and forget what made them great in the first place? 

    It's happened before, and there is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Stephen Greenblatt that tells the tale: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.

    • 35 min

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