About the Podcast
What exactly is this podcast about?
Philosophy, philosophers and philosophical texts. The format is an informal roundtable discussion, with each episode loosely focused on a short reading that introduces at least one “big” philosophical question, concern or idea.
What are you guys trying to do here?
This podcast is our attempt to recreate the good old days when we’d meet up after a seminar to drink beer and talk shop or get some teaching yas out where students couldn’t talk back. We’re recording it to share the our joy in “doing” philosophy with all who care to listen while ranting bitterly about the profession that we so long ago escaped.
What makes you guys more qualified to talk about this stuff than all those University professors?
Who is this aimed at? Do I have to know anything about philosophy? Will I feel insulted by this if I already know a lot about philosophy?
Whoa, there Mr. or Ms. Insecure and/or Touchy, don’t worry yer little and/or enormous head about that. We aim to to assume no knowledge (of anything, even, like, basic facts of arithmetic or… like… hygiene), and we believe that even the most withered old Socrates-clone will find the proceedings very entertaining and thought-provoking, if not actually, well, informative.
Do we have to do the reading before listening to the individual episodes?
Well, if we don’t assume you know anything about philosophy, we certainly don’t assume you know anything about the text we are discussing (see how I did that…A includes B, so if you don’t know A, you don’t know B. ). That being said, we believe that reading the texts before listening will make the podcasts more entertaining and informative. Also, they happen to be interesting, intellectually stimulating, fun and really important parts of the cultural history into which you were born (most of you anyway).
Should people listen to the podcast episodes in order, or does that matter?
Each episode is self-contained, but we invariably make some references to things said in previous episodes, so if you just want to hear about a few particular topics, sure, go listen to those episodes, but if you will likely eventually slog through them all, you’re best off starting with the first episode.
Where are the old episodes?
At the bottom of any given page, like the podcast episode page, is a small link that says “Older Entries,” so you can find them that way. Here are the oldest ones, and here are the next-oldest. They’re all on the iTunes store there, too, but note that when you search there, the initial “search result” window will show some but not all of our episodes, with no apparent way to subscribe; you have to actually click on the name of the podcast from there to get to our iTunes store page.
OK, I’m intrigued, how do I get and listen to this digital stream of wisdom?
You can click on the “play” button underneath each episode on the main page, download the mp3 files directly to your computer and play them on your PC/Mac, transfer them to a portable music player, or if you have iTunes, click here and subscribe.
Um, I notice that on iTunes the podcast is labelled “Explicit”. I thought this was about Philosophy and great ideas…?
The podcast covers great ideas, thinkers and texts and while the subject matter is for mature and rational minds, it is not “adult.” It’s just difficult to talk passionately about philosophy (and for at least one of us, drink beer) and not drop an f-bomb once in a while. Hence the label: you are now officially warned.
How am I meant to listen to this podcast?
What? What kind of question is that? Oh, OK… as you may have noticed, the episodes are long… not long compared to a real-life late-night gab session among actual philosophers, and not long compared to the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings, but maybe longer than you may be used to in a podcast.
Well, first off, don’t just sit there at your PC listening to the whole thing, unless you’re at work and want to burn time, in which case, we’re your men. Go get an iPod or a Zune or something else that plays mp3 files, load the episodes on to it, and listen while driving cross country, while exercising or while on a stake-out. I personally like to listen while lying in bed, so that I then fall asleep somewhere in the middle and it gives me awfully strange dreams (like maybe dreaming that I’m in fact dreaming and not really perceiving this keyboard!). Better yet, listen to this instead of your loved ones.
What’s with this blog?
The blog is intended to provide supplemental information to the podcast and provide a forum for us podcasters (including our guest podcasters) to share interesting philosophy resources and things we’re thinking about that for whatever reason don’t make it on the show. On occasion, we also use it to show off our other projects (e.g. Mark’s music). It’s also a prime way for you to participate, by replying to these blog entries. You can initiate new discussions and share resources with our readers yourself through the Facebook group.
Who did that art with the guy with his brain showing? It’s pretty cool.
Why, that was Ken Gerber, whose other work can be found at http://cartoonstand.wordpress.com/.
And the music?
Mark says: Since I do the final editing and posting of these audio files, I get to shunt in things from my back catalog that seem possibly slightly thematically appropriate. The instrumental intro to the podcast was actually repurposed from a clip I created (very quickly) as part of my job, from a video about how great transportation libraries are. I do have a band right now with recent, very nice-sounding albums for sale: http://www.newpeopleband.com, and you can hear much more music at http://www.marklint.com/samples.htm.
How do you guys do this and make it sound like you are sitting together when you live all over the US?
We do a Skype conference call and each one of us records our audio on our local computer, using either Audacity (freeware), Sound Forge, or (when using macs) Garageband. After we are done, Wes and Seth send their files to Mark using dropbox and he combines them together (using Cubase), adds music, spends WAY too long removing some of the verbal ticks and pauses and particularly dumb comments (Seth and Wes have been helping more with the editing lately, but Mark almost always does a final listen and removes additional material), adds a bunch of metadata to make it look right in mp3 players and posts the finished file.
Is that expensive or something?
For hosting these blog pages and all of Mark’s music files, and for the first several months of hosting the podcast files, we used web space generously donated by Mark’s brother-in-law Brian Casey, who runs rootlevelservices.com. Also, while we’re thanking people, comedian/juggler/photographer/web designer Josh Casey set up this WordPress blog for us, and Dan Colman of the popular culture blog openculture.com helped us get the feed working and sending things to iTunes.
We now pay a modest fee for space on libsyn.com for our podcast episode space, and we’d happily accept donations to help with that:
You can also buy a T-Shirt or something. We also tend to get a (very) small amount of money when you click on one of our Google ads or when you follow one of our Amazon store links and buy something. Interestingly, we still get the commission from Amazon even if you buy something other than what we provided the link for, so I highly encourage you to support us by, whenever you’re going to buy something there, start on our page (like, say, an episode announcement link) and click through to do your shopping. In fact, we’ll give you a nice, giant ad to click on so you can come back here and find this easily:
Wow, that banner ad just stunned me. I’m not sure I like you any more, and I don’t have any more questions.
Fine. Go away, then.
But…can’t I just BE here…with you?
Fickle, aren’t you? Oh, alright. Go join the Facebook group or post comments on these here blog posts (you can see which postings have the most recent active discussions on the “Forum” tab here), and we’ll likely respond. Respond to comments by your fellow listeners! Follow us on Twitter and retweet our blog posts! Have our blog e-mails sent to you on a near-daily basis (you can enter your email address at the top right of this page) and forward them around! Start a community! Have PEL listening parties! Oh, and go on the iTunes store and give us a nice review, OK? Thanks.
Wait… Can I be on the show itself?
Well, maybe. If you’re particularly knowledgeable in some area of philosophy that you think we could use help with (e.g. non-Western), or are an academic in some field related to philosophy (e.g. science, art) with some background in philosophy, and if you have experience with graduate-level education and/or public speaking (teaching, podcasting, philosophy meet-up groups, lawyering), then drop us a line and give us some detail re. what topics you’d be interested in talking with us about. Failing that, I advise you to participate in the discussions on this blog and demonstrate to us how clear and insightful you can be, and what resources you’d bring to the table in participating on an episode.
Note, though, that we schedule these things pretty far out, and perpetually have a long list of topics that we’d like to cover, so if we end up leaving you in limbo for months and months, or don’t get around to including you at all, please don’t feel bad.