What defines a man?

A look at Israeli fiction and Islamic philosophy

What defines a man?

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen by Nir Kafri

What is it that makes a man good? Is it the sum of his deeds? His intentions and beliefs? Can one moment change everything that has happened before?

This question lies at the heart of Israeli novelist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's acclaimed new novel, Waking Lions. The novel's protagonist, Dr Eitan Green, is a good man who has devoted his life to saving lives. Yet one night, driving home after a long shift in the hospital, he hits a man, an African migrant, on a deserted road. There is little Eitan can do and he flees the scene.

This decision comes back to haunt Eitan as the dead man's wife appears at his door the next morning with Eitan's wallet in her hand. She knows what happened the night before, setting Eitan on a journey full of secrets and lies that will challenge his morality and character.

Susan Cahill talks with Ayelet about this novel, her life as an Israeli novelist, and matters of fiction and morality. Is Eitan really a good man? Or is this question too simple to answer?

Before this though Susan delves into a deeper philosophical ocean with Professor Peter Adamson, founder of the History of Philosophy Without any Gaps. Discussions on morality and philosophy tend to focus around the great Western figures like Plato or Descartes and overlooks the figures from elsewhere in the world. 

Speaking with Susan, Professor Adamson highlights some of the oft overlooked philosophical figures from Islam and further afield. What impact have the philosophers of Islam had on the West and wider world?

This week's music to read to,

The show opens with Breaking Down by Clem Leek before Overhead the Albatross brings part one to a close with Barra. The show ends with Ruins by Portico Quartet.