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Philosophize This Podcast by Stephen West

Philosophize This Podcast

by Stephen West

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Stephen West's Philosophize This! is a podcast devoted to applying important philosophical ideas to 21st century life. With each episode, West offers a brief, educated, and often funny monologue on topics that include anything from how philosophy can help us overcome insecurity, to what Marx really thought of religion. Deeper thoughts on thorny ethical problems are lightened by the friendly and ever-curious tone that West brings to each discussion. A must for anyone that agrees philosophy can still help us understand the World's most important underlying problems.


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Episode #101 ... Heidegger pt. 2 - Science and Technology


Sun, Apr 30, 2017


Today we discuss Martin Heidegger and his views on Modern Technology. 



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Episode #100 ... Heidegger pt. 1 - Phenomenology and Dasein


Fri, Apr 14, 2017


Today we begin our discussion of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger by looking at his roots in Phenomenology and his revolutionary concept of Dasein. 



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Episode #099 ... Schopenhauer pt. 2 - Ethics


Wed, Mar 29, 2017


Today we talk about the ethics of Arthur Schopenhauer. 



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Episode #098 ... Schopenhauer pt. 1 - Metaphysics and Love


Tue, Mar 14, 2017


Today we begin our discussion on Arthur Schopenhauer.



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Episode #097 ... Wittgenstein ep. 1


Wed, Mar 01, 2017


Today we talk about Ludwig Wittgenstein. 



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Episode #096 ... Is Ayn Rand A Philosopher?


Fri, Jan 20, 2017


Today we talk about Ayn Rand. 



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Episode #095 ... Are you living in a simulation?


Fri, Dec 30, 2016


Today we discuss the famous paper by Nick Bostrom about the probability that we are living in a simulation. 



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Episode #094 ... A Look at Suffering


Thu, Nov 24, 2016


Today we look at the concept of suffering from multiple different angles including the philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the movement in Transhumanism known as The Hedonistic Imperative. 



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Episode #093 ... Nietzsche pt. 4 - Love


Sun, Nov 06, 2016


Today we look at the concept of love from several different angles in an attempt to better understand our own thoughts on love. 



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Episode #092 ... Nietzsche pt. 3 - Thus Spoke Zarathustra


Tue, Oct 04, 2016


Today we talk about Nietzsche's famous work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. 



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Episode #091 ... Nietzsche pt. 2 - The Will to Power


Wed, Sep 21, 2016


Today we talk about Nietzsche, the concept of the Will to Power and the dangers of predatory buffalos. 



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Episode #090 ... Nietzsche pt. 1 - God is dead and so is Captain Morgan


Fri, Aug 26, 2016


Today we begin our discussion on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. 



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Episode #089 ... Simone De Beauvoir - The Second Sex


Wed, Aug 17, 2016


Today we discuss the revolutionary work of Simone De Beauvoir entitled: The Second Sex



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Episode #088 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 3 - The Great Debate


Wed, Jul 27, 2016


Today we talk about the great post WW2 debate between Sartre and Camus. 



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Episode #087 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 2


Thu, Jul 14, 2016


Today we talk about the philosopher Albert Camus.



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Episode #086 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 1 - Freedom


Wed, Jun 29, 2016


Today's episode is the first installment of a series on the great Cold War era thinkers Sartre and Camus. Today we lay the foundations for the line of thinking known as existentialism and focus on Sartre's view of freedom. 



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Episode #085 ... Peter Singer on Effective Altruism


Tue, Jun 21, 2016


Today we talk about the great Peter Singer, his views on the unique moral obligations that we face as members of modern society and how we might fulfill the obligations in the most effective manner. 



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Episode #084 ... William James on Truth


Tue, Jun 14, 2016


Today we take a look at William James and his work on the concept of Truth.



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Episode #083 ... Henry David Thoreau


Sat, Jun 04, 2016


Today we take a look at Henry David Thoreau's views on the individual, society and civil disobedience. 



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Episode #082 ... Austrians and Marx


Thu, May 26, 2016


Today we talk about various classic critiques of Marx's economics made by the Austrian School of Economics. I really wanted to call this episode "X Marx the Spot", but it didn't make enough sense and wasn't very search friendly. 



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Episode #081 ... Capitalism vs. Communism


Wed, May 11, 2016


Today we talk about Karl Marx and his famous critiques of Capitalism.



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Episode #80 ... Feuerbach on Religion


Tue, May 03, 2016


On this episode we talk about Ludwig Feuerbach and his (occasionally) controversial views on the origins of religion.



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Episode #079 ... Kierkegaard on Anxiety


Wed, Mar 23, 2016


On this episode of the podcast we talk about Kierkegaard's views on the value of anxiety and the plight of one in its grips. 



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Episode #078 ... Marx and Kierkegaard on Religion pt. 2


Wed, Jan 27, 2016


Today we talk about Soren Kierkegaard and his views on the function and value of religion. 



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Episode #077 ... Marx and Kierkegaard on Religion pt. 1


Sun, Jan 17, 2016


Today we discuss Marx, his views on religion as a means of oppression, and his connection to Hegel's Dialectic. 



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Episode #076 ... Hegel's God


Thu, Dec 31, 2015


Today we talk about Hegel and a unique possibility of what God could be. 



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Episode #075 ... How To Win An Argument Pt. 2


Mon, Dec 21, 2015


Today we answer listener questions clarifying How To Win An Argument Pt. 1 and discuss several other common logical fallacies, how to spot them and how to deal with them. 



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Episode #074 ... Hegel Returns


Thu, Dec 17, 2015


Today we talk about an overview of Hegel and what is truly important about his work. 



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Episode #073 ... How To Win An Argument Pt. 1


Tue, Dec 01, 2015


Today we take a look at several common logical fallacies and how to spot them in the throes of a passionate argument. You will be a better person having listened to this episode. 



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Episode #072 ... Insecurity


Wed, Nov 18, 2015


On this episode of the podcast we talk about insecurity and why we think and act the way we do. 



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Episode #071 ... Is Killing Animals For Food Morally Justifiable?


Sun, Nov 01, 2015


Today we talk about whether killing animals for food is morally justifiable.



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Episode #070 ... Off Moodiness


Tue, Oct 20, 2015


On this episode we talk about the most profound thing you will ever hear in your life: how to quell negative emotions. 

 



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Episode #069 ... An Appeal To Reason


Mon, Oct 12, 2015


Stephen West rambles relentlessly about stuff no one cares about. 



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Episode #068 ... On Moodiness


Tue, Oct 06, 2015


On this episode we talk about one angle of the complex subject known to us all as: moodiness. 



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Episode #067 ... What Hegel Was Saying!


Mon, Sep 21, 2015


We continue our unfortunately abridged discussion on Hegel from last episode. 



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Episode #066 ... Hegel pt. 1 - Introduction


Mon, Sep 14, 2015


Introduction of the philosophy of Hegel



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Episode #065 ... Mary Wollstonecraft


Mon, Sep 07, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. First, we learn about the unexpected origin of The Royal Humane Society and how they assisted Mary Wollstonecraft. Next, we learn about the many ways Wollstonecraft challenged societal conventions and why she believed that women were essentially slaves to their husbands during her time. Finally, we consider the behavioral conditioning that is perpetuated by society even today and think about how we enact change when we’re not satisfied with the results. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #064 ... Interpreting Interpretations


Wed, Aug 19, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Hermeneutics, or “the art of avoiding misunderstanding.” First, we meet Johnny--a disgruntled Philosophize This! listener who is bored and frustrated by episodes about philosophers who make unverifiable speculations about metaphysics. Next, we discuss the effects our individual biases have on the way we interpret the world around us, and how this changes the reality we experience. Finally, we examine why Hermeneutics is so important, how this relates to Kant’s metaphysical claims, and why Johnny may want to consider giving those ideas a second glance. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #063 ... Kant pt. 8 - Limits of Knowledge


Wed, Jul 01, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Kant’s views on the limits of human knowledge. First, we ask ourselves why we seek knowledge at all and whether there will ever be an endpoint to our search for it. Next, we discuss our human experience of the world in contrast to the world as it actually exists and what limits this imposes on our ability to know. Finally, we learn why Kant believed in god, human souls, and free will, and the important distinction he made between two types of faith-based thinking. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #062 ... Kant pt. 7 - Suicide


Tue, Jun 23, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the morality of suicide. We begin by questioning our own biases and assumptions about suicide and where they come from. Next, we examine suicide from a Christian perspective by considering the arguments posed by St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Finally, we discuss the perspectives of enlightenment thinkers Hume, Voltaire, and Kant and ultimately discover that suicide may not be as easy to categorize as many people think. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #061 ... What is Enlightenment?


Sun, Jun 14, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Kant’s answer to the question “What is enlightenment?” We begin by recounting the story of how Kant came to answer this question in the first place and why this was an important question to consider at the time. Next, we examine why Kant believed that we impose immaturity on ourselves by outsourcing our thinking to others. Finally, we discuss why it takes courage to think for yourself and the importance of “daring to be wise." All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #060 ... The Sublime


Mon, Jun 01, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we attempt to tackle the elusive concept of the sublime. We begin by clarifying everything the sublime is NOT, and then attempt to pin it down by considering a common motif that is has been associated with the sublime throughout history. Next, we discuss several anecdotes from people who have experienced the sublime and why one described it as “an agreeable kind of horror.” Finally, we discuss how the sublime relates to beauty and question some commonly made assumptions about ugliness. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #059 ... Kant pt. 4 - Categorical Trolley Cars


Thu, May 28, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we analyze the infamous Trolley Car Problem and think about it in relation to Kant’s categorical imperative. First, we discuss the value of thought experiments and call into question the concept of “common sense”. Next, we look at the Trolley Car Problem from various perspectives and try to understand why we react to it in the ways we do. Finally, we discuss Kant’s categorical imperative and four other prerequisites he felt were necessary for arriving at moral principles. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #058 ... Deontology vs Consequentialism


Wed, May 20, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of Kant, this time focusing on ethics. We begin with a thought experiment that calls into question whether or not lying is morally justifiable if it results in preserving human life. Next, we discuss the nature of morality and question the validity of the sources from which we typically derive these concepts. Finally, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of Deontology and Consequentialism and find out that there isn’t an easy answer when it comes to how human action should be judged. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #057 ... Kant pt. 2 - The Actual Introduction


Mon, May 11, 2015


On this episode of the podcast we continue our discussion of Kant, this time focusing on his contributions to the debate between rationalism and empiricism . We begin by reviewing the major points of contention between the rationalists and empiricists regarding how we arrive at knowledge. Next, we learn about Kant’s “eureka!” moment, which arose from his discovery of a major assumption made by empiricist David Hume. Finally, we find out why Kant believed that we can never truly know the external world as it actually is, an idea which calls into questions basic concepts like space, time, and causality and goes well beyond the “veil of perception” discussed in previous episodes. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #056 ... Kant pt. 1 - An Introduction to the Introduction


Wed, Apr 22, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we begin our discussion of Immanuel Kant. We first examine the historical context Kant was born into and consider the challenges philosophy was faced with, thanks to David Hume. We also discuss the change in the way humans were beginning to look at the universe during Kant’s time. Finally, we hear what Kant has to say about whether or not we can know anything beyond “I think, therefore I am.” All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #055 ... Interview on Hume with Massimo Pigliucci


Wed, Apr 01, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, Massimo Pigliucci calls in to help tie together some loose ends in our overview of David Hume. Massimo is a professor of philosophy at City University of New York. He is the author of the best sellers Philosophy of Pseudoscience and Answers For Aristotle, and is currently working on a book called How To Be A Stoic. 



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Episode #054 ... Hume pt. 4 - Art


Fri, Mar 27, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Hume’s views on taste and find out whether or not all of our opinions about art are equally valid. First, we compare the poetry of Shakespeare and Shel Silverstein, the music of Beethoven and Skrillex, and throw in the profound prose of Spongebob Squarepants just for good measure. Next, we examine some of the biases that influence our ability to judge art, and Stephen correctly guesses your favorite song of all time by throwing a dart at the Top 40 chart from your senior year of high school. Finally, we learn how to be better art critics by employing the five qualities Hume sets out as pre-requisites for Art Appreciation 101. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #053 ... David Hume pt. 3 - Custom


Mon, Mar 16, 2015


On this episode of the podcast we talk about David Hume's thoughts on the soul, the self and how "custom is the great guide of human life." All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #052 ... David Hume pt. 2 - Design


Thu, Mar 05, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of David Hume. This time, we focus on Hume's response to the Teleological Argument, which goes a little something like this: “Look at how perfectly everything works! All of this must have been designed by God.” We also learn about Hume’s view on miracles, and find out how unimpressed he is that Bruce Willis was the sole survivor of that train accident. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #051 ... David Hume pt. 1


Wed, Feb 25, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we take a break from the The Island to spend some time talking about Desmond Hume and how great he was at pushing that button in the hatch every 108 minutes. Just kidding… this episode is about David Hume! First, we learn about Hume’s ‘is’ versus ‘ought’ distinction and how not being mindful of this pitfall can lead us down a dangerous path. Next, we discuss the limitations of science and learn what Hume thought should fill in the gaps it leaves (spoiler alert: it’s not religion). Finally, we discuss Hume’s thoughts on causality and ensure that you’ll never think about playing pool the same way again. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #050 ... Are You Left Or Right?


Sat, Feb 07, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the contrasting political philosophies of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. First, we find out the origin of the terms “left” and “right” in relation to politics, and find out that the meanings of these terms are not as simple as they may first seem. Next, we discuss the opposing viewpoints of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine on how society should progress and implement change. Finally, we think about how their ideas relate to modern issues and consider whether or not their positions are mutually exclusive. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #049 ... Adam Smith pt. 2 - The Tip of the Iceberg of Wealth


Tue, Jan 27, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of Adam Smith. First, we look at two towns with the same name on opposite sides of the US-Mexico border, and consider why their residents have such markedly different standards of living. Next, we ask ourselves what determines a nation’s wealth, which leads us to a discussion of Mercantilism and its various pitfalls. Finally, we learn about Adam Smith’s response to Mercantilism and how his ideas relate back to the two cities from the beginning of the episode. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #048 ... Adam Smith pt. 1 - Specialization


Sun, Jan 18, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we begin our discussion of Adam Smith and how specialization has enabled each of us to live like a king, whether we realize it or not. First, we find out why Stephen is that weird guy who sits alone in the bar smiling to himself. Next, we take a look at what an hour of work buys today versus 200 years ago, and consider how this changes our ideas about wealth. Finally, we find out how pursuing our own self-interests ultimately benefits society and allows us to accomplish more together. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #047 ... Rousseau pt. 3 - The General Will


Sat, Jan 10, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our desert island thought experiment, this time focusing on the general will of the people. First, we examine several interpretations of what "the general will of the people" actually means. Next, we take an in-depth look at Rousseau's interpretation, and discuss the difference between democratic and transcendental will. Finally, we explore the multitude of complications that arise when a government tries to enact the general will after it's (somewhat) agreed upon. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #046 ... Rousseau pt. 2 - Democracy, Aristocracy or Monarchy?


Fri, Jan 02, 2015


On this episode of the podcast, we continue last week's thought experiment about creating a society from scratch on a deserted island. First, we find out how building a society is similar to making cupcakes, in the sense that every ingredient contributes something important and interacts with the other ingredients in a unique way. Next, we discuss “human nature” and consider how our perception of it may be unfairly influenced by a small handful of people. Finally, we compare the three categories into which Rousseau believs all governments can be classified (democracy, monarchy, and aristocracy), and analyze the pros and cons of each structure. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #045 ... Rousseau Government pt. 1


Mon, Dec 15, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we examine the origins of government and discuss several opinions on how to construct the best system. First, we imagine that we’re stranded on an island and are forced to devise a system to organize ourselves into a functional “society.” Next, we discuss Hobbes' and Rousseau’s viewpoints on the state of nature and how it relates to the formation of governments. Finally, we talk about the adverse affects civilization and government have on our happiness and why we should constantly reevaluate the systems that are in place. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #044 ... Slavery


Tue, Dec 02, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we revisit the topic of belief, this time focusing on the ramifications of the beliefs we hold. First, we ask ourselves why we should even attempt to arrive at truth if certainty is impossible, and examine this question in the context of how our beliefs affect others. Next, we introduce slavery as an example of the consequences that can come from false beliefs and learn why Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas argued in favor of it. Finally, we hear Jean Jacque Rousseau’s rebuttal to the pro-slavery philosophers and ask ourselves what practices we might be engaged in today that future generations will see as barbaric. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #043 ... Tolerance


Fri, Nov 21, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we examine the true implications of tolerance and intolerance. First, we ask ourselves the inception-esque question of how tolerant we should be of intolerance, and find out that the answer may not be as simple as it seems. Next, we learn why intolerance was seen as a virtue during Voltaire’s time and discuss the paradox of tolerance. Finally, we consider the age-old question of the relative superiority of hot pockets and lean pockets, and think about the relationship between tolerance and the laws that govern our society. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #042 ... Optimism


Wed, Nov 12, 2014


On this episode, we explore the benefits and drawbacks of optimism. First, we examine the various motivations for pessimism, and hear what Winston Churchill, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Marcus Aurelius have to say about optimism. Next, we think about the vastly different implications of optimism in our personal lives and optimism on a societal level. Finally, we find out why Voltaire thought it was preposterous to think that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds and why he said, "Optimism is the madness of insisting all is well when we are miserable." All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This! 



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Episode #041 ... Belief


Tue, Nov 04, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the many facets of belief. We start out by discussing two major complications that belief brings to the table. First, absolute certainty is impossible--even certainty about the fact that "certainty is impossible”. Second, we can convince ourselves to believe in literally anything we want (such as the belief that demonic possession is achieved through rustling curtains and slamming doors). Next, we talk about justified, true belief and the multitude of ways our beliefs can be proven wrong. Finally, we learn how to put our beliefs under a microscope and why it’s absolutely necessary to do so in order to achieve true knowledge. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize this!



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Episode #040 ... Superstition


Thu, Oct 16, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we explore superstition in its various forms and examine the ways Berkeley and Voltaire tried to eliminate it in their work. First, we think about the superstitions we subscribe to in our everyday lives, whether it’s “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” or “the key to happiness is buying lots and lots of stuff.” Next, we learn why Berkeley wanted to throw out the notion that true reality lies behind the veil of perception and find out his answer to that clich? question about a tree falling in the forest. Finally, we begin our discussion of Voltaire and find out why he called Christianity "the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world.” All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

 



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Episode #039 ... Before Our Very Eyes - The Limits of Empiricism


Wed, Oct 08, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we explore the idea of reality and how our senses prevent us from perceiving its true nature. First, we launch a smear campaign against human eyes and their limitations. Next, we discuss the difference between deductive reasoning (the kind you see on CSI) and inductive reasoning (the kind you see on Bill Nye the Science Guy). Finally, we touch on Locke’s theory of primary and secondary qualities and end with Berkeley's teaser for next week’s episode: “To be is to be perceived.” All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #038 ... Leibniz pt. 2 - The Best of All Possible Worlds


Thu, Oct 02, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of Gottfried Leibniz. First, we delve more into the feud between Leibniz and Isaac Newton, which we briefly mentioned last week. Next, we ask ourselves why God sometimes allows Steve Buschemi to murder innocent hitchhikers and why this question is so crucial to Leibniz. Finally, we return to the issue of free will vs. determinism and wonder whether we’re ever actually free to decide what kind of cheese to buy. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #037 ... Leibniz pt. 1 - A Million Points of Light


Tue, Sep 23, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we begin our discussion of Gottfried Leibniz. First, we find out what important invention created a riff between Leibniz and Isaac Newton. Next, we learn about Leibniz’s theory of Monads (which are basically the atoms of the spirit world), and how they are programmed to ensure that we are living in the best of all possible worlds. Finally, we learn about Leibniz’s distinction between “necessary truths” and “truths of fact,” and how knowing the difference can save you a lot of time and confusion. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #036 ... John Locke pt. 2 - The Blank Slate


Mon, Sep 15, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of John Locke. We first admire how brave Locke was to share his ideas during a time when dissent earned you the privilege of being drawn and quartered (literally… quartered). Next, we discuss Locke’s views on the Nature vs. Nurture debate and how they differed from those of the Continental Rationalists. Finally, we find out what kind of changes Locke would make if he were the Secretary of Education (e.g., more dancing and less required reading). All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #035 ... John Locke pt. 1 - From Sea to Shining Sea


Tue, Sep 09, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we begin learning about John Locke. First, we ask ourselves whether or not we own our bodies and what other things we are entitled to simply by virtue of being born. Next, we consider whether its possible to develop a system of ethics by studying the world around us, just as we develop systems of science and mathematics. Finally, we discuss the three unalienable rights Locke believes humans have (they’ll sound a bit familiar!), and why he thinks its the government’s job to uphold those rights. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

 



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Episode #034 ... Spinoza pt. 2 - Force of Nature


Tue, Sep 02, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue learning about Spinoza, this time focusing on his concept of God. We begin by asking ourselves whether or not Stephen’s English bulldog Charlie is part of God, and analyzing the implications of our answer. Next, we discuss the concept of “substance” and what Spinoza thought the only one true substance was (hint: it’s not water). Finally, we consider how Spinoza’s concept of God/Nature impacts his thoughts on free will and why he would say Stephen has no choice but to imitate a drunk person singing “I Love Rock and Roll” every time he drives past that certain billboard. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #033 ... Spinoza pt. 1 - From Baruch to Benedicto


Tue, Aug 26, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Baruch De Spinoza. We find out why it was not only life-threatening to have an unpopular opinion during the time Spinoza lived, but also potentially very profitable. We also question whether religion is really to blame for the violent acts that are committed on its behalf, and find out why Spinoza was exiled from his community and forced to live a life of solitude. Finally, we read excerpts from Spinoza’s correspondence with his ex-friend Albert Burgh regarding Christianity and find out whose arguments hold the most water (spoiler alert: Spinoza wins). All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #032 ... Blaise Pascal pt. 2 - +EV your way to success!!


Tue, Aug 19, 2014


On this episode of the podcast we continue our discussion of Blaise Pascal, this time focusing on his assertion that man is “the supreme paradox of creation.” First, we learn about Pascal’s early life and feel completely inadequate when we learn that he invented the calculator (yes, the calculator) at age 18. Next, we learn why Pascal believed it was impossible to arrive at scientific truth, and how this led him to develop the foundations of probability theory. Finally, we discuss "expected value" and how Barack Obama utilized it to secure his residency in the White House and avoid living underneath a freeway overpass. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

 



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Episode #031 ... Pascal's Wager


Tue, Aug 12, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we begin our discussion of Blaise Pascal by examining Pascal's Wager. We begin by hearkening back to last week's episode and imagine Pascal as Descartes' wingman in a door-to-door campaign to convince us to believe in God. Whereas Descartes tries to prove that God exists, Pascal simply argues that believing in God is the most logical choice (assuming you want to avoid eternal damnation). We then examine various arguments for and against Pascal's wager, including some submitted by our Twitter followers. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #030 ... Descartes pt. 3 - God Exists


Tue, Aug 05, 2014


On this episode of the podcast we conclude our three-part installment on Rene Descartes. First we discuss what the concept of God meant to Descartes. Then we discuss why the concept of God was crucial for his system to be received well. Finally we imagine how it would feel to be lambasted by the most annoying/brilliant Jehovah's Witness in the history of the world. All this and more on this episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #029 ... Descartes pt. 2 - Visionary Genius


Wed, Jul 16, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our three-part series on Rene Descartes. First, we discuss the obvious but unprovable superiority of fresh-caught tuna to Chicken of the Sea and how this parallels the divide between the continental rationalists and the British empiricists. Next, we learn about Descartes’ early life and how he essentially became Steve Jobs with neck ruffles. Finally, we examine the difference between people who avoid the boulder and those who find a way to demolish it. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #028 ... Rene Descartes pt. 1 - a little context


Wed, Jul 09, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we begin learning about Rene Descartes. First, we find out why the entire human race can be compared to the loud, obnoxious guy at a party who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. Next, we examine Descartes’ rigorous method of doubt and how it involves Morpheus from the Matrix and Sully from Monsters Inc. Finally, we think about how doubt can help us live better lives and why, when it comes to our beliefs, one bad apple really does spoil the barrel. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #027 ... Thomas Hobbes pt. 2


Tue, Jul 01, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of Thomas Hobbes. First, we learn about how Hobbes views fear, and find out how Stephen was almost murdered while eating a Five Dollar Footlong. Next, we examine the differences between the approaches of Thomas Hobbes and Francis Bacon when it came to achieving scientific progress. Finally, we find out why Hobbes thought language was so important, and how his ideas could help you prevent your wife from thinking you’re ‘in da club’ when you’re not. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #026 ... Thomas Hobbes pt. 1 - The Social Contract


Tue, Jun 17, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Thomas Hobbes. We first ask ourselves what it would be like to live in a society with no laws or government, much like the scenario depicted in The Purge. Next, we question whether or not humans are inherently selfish and how this affects the way we relate to each other. Finally, we find out why society needs a quarterback, so to speak, and why it’s important that we follow his playbook even when we don’t understand the plays. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #025 ... A Scientific Method For Your Life!


Tue, Jun 10, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Francis Bacon, a 16th century English philosopher. We first discuss what it meant to pursue knowledge during  the time Francis Bacon lived and why he thought that scientific advancement should be society’s chief priority. Next, we examine Bacon’s “Four Idols of the Mind,” which were the biases he believed prevented humans from thinking scientifically. We touch on everything from germ theory to diet fads to healthcare reform to gender inequality, with some Flamin’ Hot Cheetos thrown in for good measure. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #024 ... Montaigne


Wed, Jun 04, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Michel de Montaigne. We first discuss how a case of 16th century road rage led to a near-death experience which ironically helped Montaigne overcome his fear of dying. Next, we learn why Montaigne valued personal experience above all other evidence, and how his philosophy drew from the four dominant schools of thought of the Hellenistic age. Finally, we find out why Montaigne thought that “to philosophize is to learn how to die,” and how he believed this idea could be put into practice. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #023 ... Machiavelli


Tue, May 20, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss The Protestant Reformation and Machiavellianism. We begin by examining what it was like to live during the Renaissance under the rule of The Church and why the people of that time could have really benefited from Google Translate. Next, we dispel a common misconception about Machiavellianism by discussing the subjective nature of virtue. Finally, we find out why Machiavelli thought that rulers needed to act immorally at times in order to be successful. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #022 ... Blast off to the Renaissance!


Tue, May 13, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we begin learning about the Renaissance. We first discuss the Black Death, a bacterial plague that wiped out 30-60% of the population of Europe. We examine how the population crisis caused by the Black Death led to an economic and political crisis that was ultimately the catalyst for a paradigm shift in philosophical thought. We also learn about the Humanist philosopher Erasmus, who, unlike the philosophers we’ve discussed on recent episodes, did not think that fusing faith and reason was a very good idea. It was much simpler than that. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #021 ... One God - St. Thomas Aquinas


Mon, May 05, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about the Christian Aristotelean philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas. We begin by examining a song by The Postal Service which sets the stage for a discussion about how often humans mistake correlation with causation. Next, we learn about Aristotle’s conception of God as “The Unmoved Mover” and his thoughts on the nature of infinity. All of these ideas lead us to St. Thomas Aquinas’ quest to reconcile Aristotelianism and Christianity, which he approaches by arguing that the Christian belief that God created the universe and the Aristotelean belief that the universe has always existed are not mutually exclusive ideas. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #020 ... Two Medieval Approaches To God


Thu, Apr 24, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the concept of God from a philosophical perspective. We first broaden our definition of God by recalling the multitude of ways that the philosophers we’ve already studied have approached the subject. Next, we examine St. Anselm’s famous “Ontological Argument” in proof of God’s existence, which is strangely reminiscent of a tongue twister Ron Burgundy might use to prepare for his evening newscast. Finally, we learn why Moses Maimonides would say that the first rule of God is, “You do not talk about God.” Or at least, “You do not talk about what God is, only what he isn’t.” All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #019 ... Three Islamic Truths


Mon, Apr 14, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the nature of truth and examine it through the lenses of three Islamic philosophers who each had a different approach to truth seeking. We first discuss Al Kindi and what he would have to say about modern day news organizations and their approach to reporting the “truth.” Then, we learn about Al Ghazali, who at one point became so skeptical about our ability to discover the truth, he actually made himself physically ill. Lastly, we take a look at Averroes who desperately wanted philosophy and religion to be business partners. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

 



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Episode #018 ... Avicenna


Fri, Apr 04, 2014


On this episode of the podcast we learn about Avicenna, an Arabic philosopher who is most known for his “Flying Man” thought experiment. We discuss the mind-body connection (or lack thereof) and ask ourselves what becomes of an iPhone if you pulverize it in a blender. We also work in two Breaking Bad references, and apply Avicenna’s Flying Man argument to modern day ethical dilemmas relating to life support. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #017 ... Boethius


Wed, Mar 26, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about the medieval neoplatonist philosopher Boethius. We find out how he came to be wrongly convicted of treason and subsequently sentenced to death, and how this led him to write a philosophical text that solved one of the oldest problems in philosophy. We manage to compare the main characters of Boethius’ book to Lady Liberty and Eeyore selling a rice cooker on QVC, and explain why Boethius believed that we’re all just contestants on a never-ending episode of Wheel of Fortune. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #016 ... Saint Augustine


Fri, Feb 28, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss St. Augustine, a philosopher who is known for merging the ideas of Neoplatonism and Christianity. We learn how an unsuspecting child led St. Augustine to devote his life to Christianity through divine intervention, and find out why he thinks crying babies are sinners. We also discuss St. Augustine’s explanation of the concept of time and why he claims that the past and future don’t really exist. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #015 ... A Period of Transition - Plotinus


Thu, Feb 13, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Plotinus, a Neo-Platonist philosopher who lived in Rome during "the crisis of the third century.” We discuss the difference between religion and philosophy and question whether or not JK Rowling stole parts of Harry Potter’s backstory from Plotinus’ life. We also learn about Plotinus’ Hierarchy of Being and use the phrase “Polaroid picture” more times than Outkast does in their hit song “Hey Ya!”. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #014 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 5 - A Race To The Dark Ages


Sat, Jan 18, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Middle Platonism and the Race to the Dark Ages. We learn how Philo of Alexandria reconciled Judaism with Plato's vision of God as a master craftsman, and find out how this relates to building an IKEA bookcase. We also discuss the important distinction Plutarch made between a flatterer and a friend, and why he would have absolutely hated Facebook. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #013 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 4 - Skepticism


Sun, Jan 05, 2014


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our study of the Hellenistic Age, this time focusing on Skepticism. We find out how Pyrrho used Skepticism to endure surgery without anesthesia, and learn why you can never really know if a pomegranate is a pomegranate. We also discover how winning the lottery could be the worst thing that ever happens to you, and compare Skepticism's key philosophers to their Smurf counterparts.
 
All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!


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Episode #012 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 3 - Hallmarks of Stoic Ethics


Fri, Dec 20, 2013


On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of Stoicism, this time focusing on ethics. We learn about the three most noteworthy contributors to Stoic ethics--a crippled slave, a statesman, and the emperor of Rome--and find out how much they actually had in common. We discuss what angry sports fans and Stephen's English bulldog could learn from Stoic ethics, as well as why you should start each day expecting the worst. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #011 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 2 - The Early Stoa and the Cynics


Sat, Dec 07, 2013


This is the first of two episodes on Stoicism; in this episode, we learn about stoic physics and logic. We learn how the Stoics would likely react if faced with a zombie apocalypse and how a shipwreck caused a guy named Zeno to start dabbling in philosophy. We also learn about Diogenes, a man who lived in a tub, urinated in public, barked at passersby, and somehow managed to be envied by Alexander the Great. Finally, we find out what John Locke, Charlie Pace and a wild boar from LOST have to do with Stoic philosophy. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #010 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 1 - Epicurus


Sun, Nov 24, 2013


This week on the podcast, we shift our focus back to Western philosophy. On this episode, we learn about Epicureanism—one of four schools of thought that were prevalent during the Hellenistic Age, which will be our focus for the next few episodes. We find out why Diogenes liked Epicurus’ ideas so much that he permanently graffitied them onto the walls of an ancient greek community center. We also learn why Epicurus thought that the most satisfying part of eating a half gallon of ice cream was the moment after the last spoonful, and why a jacket from Nordstrom really isn’t that much better than a jacket from Target. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

 


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Episode #009 ... The Buddha


Mon, Nov 11, 2013


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about the life of Siddhartha Gautama and his Heisenberg-esque transformation into Buddha. We learn how Buddha left a lifestyle of being fed grapes and being fanned with palm leaves to pursue a life of celibacy, starvation, and sleep deprivation. We also learn about how Buddha reached enlightenment while sitting beneath a fruit tree ? la Isaac Newton, and about the four noble truths which he believed were the key to ending human suffering once and for all. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!
 


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Episode #008 ... Confucianism


Tue, Oct 29, 2013


On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Confucius, a man whose ideas impacted China and eastern philosophy for thousands of years after his death. We find out how Confucius went from being the poor, friendless son of an ancient Chinese 'Teen Mom' to becoming one of the most quoted people in history, as well as how he was reduced to selling his philosophy door-to-door after a brief career as a politician which ended in conspiracy and bribery. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!



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Episode #007 ... Daoism


Sat, Aug 10, 2013


You will acquire great knowledge about the way of the Dao in the coming hour.
Lucky numbers: 1 6 14 27 51 79


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Episode #006 ... Aristotle Pt. 2


Fri, Jul 26, 2013


On this episode of the podcast, we continue learning about Aristotle, a man who created the first system of biological classification, the first system of logic, and the first formal scientific method. We find out why Aristotle was anti-women and pro-slavery, and learn how Plato and Aristotle differed when it came to their definitions of "tree-e-ness." We also learn why Aristotle would have been the world champion of Guess Who? and how to determine whether or not a carnivorous reptile with legs could possibly be a snake.



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Episode #005 ... Aristotle Pt. 1


Sun, Jul 14, 2013


This week we talk about various different applications of Aristotle's ethics in modern life. We discuss making a "plan" for your life, the underlying similarities between all human desires and the best way to live life. 



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Episode #004 ... Plato


Mon, Jul 01, 2013


In this week's episode, we learn about Plato's "Symposium", which you might think of as philosophy's version of fan fiction. We also learn about Plato's "Theory of Forms" and ask ourselves what makes a tree, well, a tree. This leads to discussion of Plato's famous "Allegory of the Cave" and calls into question whether or not everything we see is merely a shadow of its true self. Finally, we learn about Plato's views on society and government and why he thought democracy was one of the worst forms of government, second only to tyranny.



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Episode #003 ... Socrates and the Sophists


Sun, Jun 23, 2013


This week we talk about the prosperity of athens and how it led to the rise and ideas of a group of philosopher teachers called the Sophists, we tied up some loose ends and helped put all that we've learned in the last two episodes into context with a graph of the presocratics, and we ended by talking about a man whose wisdom was only rivaled by his stench, Socrates.  



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Episode #002 ... Presocratic Philosophy - Italian


Sat, Jun 15, 2013


Today we talk about why philosophy is taken for granted, the crazed cult leader of ancient Greek philosophy, Pythagoras, the annoying dark cloud of deductive reasoning, Parmenides and the super hero Empedocles.



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