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Arts & Culture

The Philosophy And Psychology (And Physics And Metaphysics) Of Holes

Mike Burns
flickr creative commons
A hole.

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

And then there's trypophobia, an irrational fear of clusters of holes and cracks.

And finally: We've just found a black hole right in our cosmic backyard.


  • Chrissie Giles - A science writer and the global health editor at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • Marina Koren - Staff writer at The Atlantic
  • Achille Varzi - Professor of philosophy at Columbia University and the coauthor of Holes and Other Superficialities

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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