Why Are We Here? is a four-part documentary in which Oxford physicist Ard Louis and film-maker David Malone meet scientists, philosophers and writers to discuss questions about meaning and the nature of the universe. The series is now available on CuriosityStream, the ad-free streaming service for documentary films set up by John Hendricks, former chairman of Discovery.
The series covers a wide range of topics including our universe, the non-material world, knowledge and truth, morality and humanity. The Why Are We Here? website was built around the series and currently has 18 interviews. They can either by watched in their entirety or in smaller clips.
Transcripts are available for both the full interview and the clips, and so these can be used with Google Translator should it be necessary.
As well as being organised by individual interviewee, the material is also organised by subject. There is a very short introductory clip from the series for each subject.
One interview which for me was personally interesting was that of Sir Roger Penrose, who is generally regarded as one of the world’s greatest living mathematical physicists and whose more recent work has focused on understanding the nature of human consciousness.
In our new book Customer Experiences with Soul we describe being in relation to Plato’s Ideas, or which others have referred to as the trascendentals. These include beauty, truth and goodness.
The interview starts with the question “If you’re willing, as both of you do, say, look there’s some kind of ideas, truths, in this case mathematical ones, which are woven into the fabric of the universe, could there be other kinds of truths? Like moral truths or aesthetic truths?”
Penrose answers “Other kinds of truths? Well there certainly could be, yes, I’m not saying that mathematical truth is the whole of truth. That would be too arrogant a statement to make. We don’t know of any other area which is so successful in describing the physical world.”
And later in the interview he remarks “Let me put it like this: I am definitely sympathetic to all three of the Platonic ideals. I think beauty is a clear guide to truth. And then the moral I would see even more so, probably.”
The original idea for the documentary came from of David Strachan, managing director of Tern Television. I am sure that many of you will enjoy spending time exploring the site, and watching the many different interviews from some of the world’s top philosophers, scientists and thinkers.