It is the question that has rocked humanity for millennia, the conundrum that has confounded scientists, philosophers, politicians, artists and everyone in between: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Aristotle postulated that both chicken and egg were essential properties of the universe, extending infinitely back in time. 400 years later, Plutarch sat on the fence of the issue, looking down on either side at the Sussex hen on his left, the poached eggs on his right, unable to choose between them. In the 16th Century, Christianity cracked it: of course the chicken came first! No need for an egg when an omnipotent God is around. But enlightenment philosophers debunked this soon after – “What folly!” exclaimed Diderot. Stephen Hawking revolutionised the field – or at least he would have done if black holes hadn’t taken up an undue portion of his career.
And here we find ourselves, as confused as Plutarch and in need of help from the world’s greatest thinkers to settle this issue once and for all. Should we continue on our quest to settle this issue? Are we right to turn to the biologists to tell us, or does the issue in fact lie deeper? Should we instead be asking, what even is an egg, and can we ever know if chickens are real?
“Do not count your chickens before they are hatched" - Aesop
Legendary American philosopher, Daniel Dennett, theoretical physicist - come - astrobiologist, Sara Walker, and evolutionary biochemistry Professor Nick Lane tackle the most fundamental question of all. Hosted by Güneş Taylor.