Podcast: Leon Kass on His Life and the Worthy Life

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Chapter 1: Growing Up—The Prophets Without the Law

Chapter 2: Between Athens and Jerusalem

Chapter 3: Patriotism, Identity Politics, and the Jews

Chapter 4: The Image of God

Chapter 5: The Miracle of Modern Israel

What is the good? How can wisdom-seeking men and women discover it? And how can knowing it help us live worthy lives?

These are the questions Professor Leon Kass has been pursuing for over half a century. Born into a secular, Yiddish-speaking home, Dr. Kass earned his medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry before turning his attention to the world of the humanities and the wisdom of Athens. Thus began a decades-long career of teaching and public service that has taken him from the University of Chicago to the President’s Council on Bioethics, from Washington think tanks to Israel’s first liberal arts college. During this time, Professor Kass has been a prolific writer, publishing countless essays, many of which have now been gathered in his newest book, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times.

In this remarkable podcast, Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen sits down with his teacher and mentor for a wide-ranging conversation about Professor Kass’s new book as well as his life, work, and intellectual journey. They discuss the Jewish milieu of Kass’s youth, the nature of liberal learning, the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible, and the winding path Dr. Kass has followed as he moves—intellectually and spiritually—ever closer to Jerusalem.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as Midnight Three by Sirus Music.

This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience of pre-college students at one of Tikvah’s summer programs. Click here to learn more about our educational offerings for students and young professionals.

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