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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 #118 ... A Basic Look At Post-Modernism
    Mon, May 21, 2018


    Today we begin a lengthy conversation on the critiques of Post-modernism. 

  • Episode #117 ... Structuralism and Mythology pt. 2
    Sun, Mar 18, 2018


    Today we continue to talk about the projects of Structuralism. 

  • Episode #116 ... Structuralism and Mythology pt. 1
    Sun, Mar 18, 2018


    Today we begin talking about the initial projects of Structuralism. 

  • Episode #115 ... Structuralism and Context
    Sun, Jan 28, 2018


    Today we talk about the origins of Structuralism. 

  • Episode #114 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 7 - The Great Refusal
    Sat, Dec 23, 2017


    Today we talk about Herbert Marcuse's concepts of The Great Refusal and The New Sensibility. 

  • Episode #113 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 6 - Art As A Tool For Liberation
    Sat, Dec 02, 2017


    Today we talk about the revolutionary potential of Art through the eyes of Herbert Marcuse. 

  • Episode #112 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 5 - Civilization
    Mon, Nov 06, 2017


    Today we continue our discussion of Marcuse's work Eros and Civilization. 

  • Episode #111 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 4 - Eros
    Fri, Oct 20, 2017


    Today we talk about Freud's views on civilization and the first half of Marcuse's response to them. 

  • Episode #110 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 3 - The Culture Industry
    Thu, Sep 07, 2017


    Today we talk about an important chapter from The Dialectic of Enlightenment entitled The Culture Industry. 

  • Episode #109 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 2 - The Enlightenment
    Sat, Aug 26, 2017


    Today we talk about the Frankfurt School critique of enlightenment style thinking and Herbert Marcuse's book One Dimensional Man. 

  • Episode #108 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 1 - Introduction
    Thu, Aug 17, 2017


    Today we talk about The Frankfurt School. 

  • Episode #107 ... Simone De Beauvoir pt .3 - Responsibility
    Sat, Jul 29, 2017


    Today we talk about part three of Simone De Beauvoir's work The Ethics of Ambiguity. 

  • Episode #106 ... Simone De Beauvoir pt. 2 - The Ethics of Ambiguity
    Wed, Jul 19, 2017


    Today we talk about the first half of The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone De Beauvoir. 

  • Episode #105 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 6 - The Self
    Sun, Jul 09, 2017


    Today a cloudy, muddled brain weary from fighting off sickness talks about Sartre's view on the self. Thank you for your patience. 

  • Episode #104 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 5 - Consciousness is Freedom
    Thu, Jun 01, 2017


    Today we talk about Sartre's view of consciousness and the notion of radical freedom. 

  • Episode #103 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 4 - The Quest For Certainty
    Wed, May 24, 2017


    Today we tell a story from the history of philosophy in an attempt to prepare us for understanding the Phenomenology of Sartre. 

  • Episode #102 ... Heidegger pt. 3 - Authenticity
    Fri, May 12, 2017


    Today we talk about Martin Heidegger and his concept of Authenticity. 

  • Episode #101 ... Heidegger pt. 2 - Science and Technology
    Sun, Apr 30, 2017


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

  • 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. 

  • Episode #099 ... Schopenhauer pt. 2 - Ethics
    Wed, Mar 29, 2017


    Today we talk about the ethics of Arthur Schopenhauer. 

  • Episode #098 ... Schopenhauer pt. 1 - Metaphysics and Love
    Tue, Mar 14, 2017


    Today we begin our discussion on Arthur Schopenhauer.

  • Episode #097 ... Wittgenstein ep. 1
    Wed, Mar 01, 2017


    Today we talk about Ludwig Wittgenstein. 

  • Episode #096 ... Is Ayn Rand A Philosopher?
    Fri, Jan 20, 2017


    Today we talk about Ayn Rand. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Episode #092 ... Nietzsche pt. 3 - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    Tue, Oct 04, 2016


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

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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

  • 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. 

  • Episode #087 ... Sartre and Camus pt. 2
    Thu, Jul 14, 2016


    Today we talk about the philosopher Albert Camus.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Episode #081 ... Capitalism vs. Communism
    Wed, May 11, 2016


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

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Episode #076 ... Hegel's God
    Thu, Dec 31, 2015


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

  • 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. 

  • Episode #074 ... Hegel Returns
    Thu, Dec 17, 2015


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

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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. 

     

  • Episode #069 ... An Appeal To Reason
    Mon, Oct 12, 2015


    Stephen West rambles relentlessly about stuff no one cares about. 

  • 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. 

  • Episode #067 ... What Hegel Was Saying!
    Mon, Sep 21, 2015


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

  • Episode #066 ... Hegel pt. 1 - Introduction
    Mon, Sep 14, 2015


    Introduction of the philosophy of Hegel

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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. 

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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! 

  • 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!

  • 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!

     

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

     

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

     

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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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