Descartes’s Horror?


Examining Descartes’s Cogito, one can find that rather than philosophy and reason being a shield from horror and madness, the truth might be the opposite.

The Philosofa Podcast

philosophy image 3

The premise of the show is to take two stand-up comedians as hosts, and let them chat with philosophers and other intellectuals about a philosophical topic. This is a good idea. Philosophers spend years – decades, even – on a single thought; comedians are quick, sharp, and keen to learn. When it works well, a good comedian can process and summarize philosophical arguments into crystals of intelligence that make for perfect podcast material.

The Nietzschean Comedian


We all need to talk about death especially our own. “I’m talking about something that everyone NEEDS to start talking about, which is death. That is my work as a comedian now, fortunately or unfortunately,” says T. J. Miller. This Nietzschean comedian is starting to put fairly serious philosophy into his stand-up act

“Modern Day Philosophers”: Reading Wikipedia with Comedians

I was recently alerted to the existence of an up-and-coming podcast that just started last summer called Modern Day Philosophers. Hmmmm, is that like the New Books in Philosophy podcast, bringing to light the work of under-appreciated academics? No, as you can see by the guest list: These are for the most parts established comedians […]

Berkeley Discussed on BBC’s “In Our Time”


A few listeners have pointed us at Melvyn Bragg’s recent podcast on Berkeley (listen to it here). It starts off with the oft-cited anecdote about Samuel Johnson claiming to have refuted Berkeley by kicking a stone: obviously, such a stone that I can kick is not an “idea in my head.” As should have been […]

What Can Regular Words Do?

From wikipaintings

Question: What do Ludwig Wittgenstein, this sentence, and shooting your neighbor’s donkey have in common? Well, not much really—unless you listen to In Our Time’s excellent (not PEL-excellent, but pretty close) introduction to Ordinary Language Philosophy.

Robert Skidelsky on Work

Robert Skidelsky in How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (2012) uses a 1930 essay from John Maynard Keynes (which you can read here) as a jumping-off point to argue, like Bergmann, that productivity gains enabled by past technological advances make it totally reasonable that we now should be working fewer hours than […]

“Very Bad Wizards” Podcast on Free Will

A point neglected in the moral discussion in our recent episode is free will. She-who-will-not-be-named (read her view here) on the one hand insists on the supremacy of empirical science but on the other hand insists that our freedom and hence moral responsibility is obvious and inescapable. So that should make her a compatibilist, but […]

On Daniel Coffeen, Rhetoric, Deleuze and Such


[editors note:  Daniel was our guest on the Deleuze episode recently and will be posting a bit in our blog over the next couple of weeks] Since I discovered Deleuze in grad school, he has pervaded in various ways my teaching, writing and thinking. My dissertation proffered a model of rhetoric and specifically the trope; […]

Mark Pitches Philosophy to Clergy


In our “Why Do Philosophy?” episode, we give a sales pitch for philosophy: for being interested in reading this stuff (and what makes it appeal to us more than popular science or history or literature, though those are all great too). I recently got the chance to make this pitch to an audience of liberal […]

Other Podcasts on Buber

Here’s my report on what I listened to in preparation for our episode. -Rabbi Joshua Haberman held a retreat in 2008, seemingly for a bunch of other Rabbis, but I’m not clear on this, and so gave four interactive lectures on Buber that provided a lot of the background I was drawing on. (Itunes link; […]

Iván Szelényi Lectures on Marx & Alienation

I referred in the episode to a number of lectures on Marx that helped me to put the German Ideology into perspective with Marx’s other texts and filled me in on few of the Young Hegelians that he criticized. These were from Yale’s Foundations of Modern Social Theory course by Iván Szelényi. (Get them from […]

More on Marx? (on Diet Soap and Elsewhere)

[Editor’s Note: Thanks for Doug Lain of the Diet Soap Podcast for weighing in here with his extensive experience with Marxism.] Mark, Seth and Wes finally arrived at the philosopher who matters most over at the pinko podcast Diet Soap.  While I plan on writing a response to their comments, and most especially to respond […]

Eliezer Yudkowsky and Luke Muehlhauser on Modern Rationalism (Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot)


I’m generally skeptical when someone proclaims that “rationality” itself should get us to throw out 90%+ of philosophy. So I was a bit puzzled when someone on our Facebook group pointed at some articles by Luke Muehlhauser (specifically “Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline” and “Train Philosophers with Pearl and Kahneman, not Plato and Kant”), host of […]

Theologians on Quine

In our Quine episode, I mentioned a religious podcast where the participants used Quine’s undermining of verificationism to argue that any secular-based knowledge is groundless, and thus that we need revelation in order to have knowledge at all. The podcast in question was this Philosophy for Theologians episode on “Two Dogmas of Empiricism.” (I’ve blogged […]

Mary Webster on Paul Revere Radio

As part of the run-up to our Federalist Papers episode, I listened to this interview on the Paul Revere Radio podcast interviewing Mary E. Webster, who published a couple of volumes of The Federalist Papers in “modern English.” I can think of few texts with which this podcast is in contact which is less in […]

Better Philosophy through Science Fiction?


For your weekend podcast-listening pleasure, a friend of the podcast pointed me to the most recent episode of the Rationally Speaking podcast in which the hosts take up science fiction and chew on what kinds of philosophical insight might garnered from such speculative fiction. (Beware those who, like Seth, abhor the thought experiment!) In the […]

Martin Evans on “Candide”

A Stanford course on iTunes U, “Literature in Crisis,” includes two lectures on Candide: here and here. These are by Martin Evans, Chair of the English Department. As a literature guy, he has a bit to say about satire: why it flourished in this age in particular (because of the relative peace and stability, which […]

Seth’s Interview with Dan Mullin

Worst jobs - Philosopher

Dan Mullin is a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher who runs a blog called The Unemployed Philosopher’s Blog.  His mission statement is to challenge the view that a philosophical education isn’t of much value for employment.  As he says:  My name is Daniel Mullin and I’m a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher. The other […]

Theistic Objectivism (more on Dallas Willard)

This post is a follow-up on my Dallas Willard post from a few days ago. A couple of reader comments on that (on the blog and Facebook) shamed me into re-listening to the second half of Willard’s lecture and newly listen to the Q&A afterwards. I can now say that his positive story is not […]

Dallas Willard on Nietzsche and Jesus

Here’s another Nietzsche lecture, from Stanford’s Veritas forum, which you can listen to as a podcast (iTunes link) or watch a video: Watch it on Vimeo. Dallas Willard is an unapologetic Christian, and pursues a post-modern tack similar to the one I cited in my review of the Philosophy for Theologians podcast: Modern philosophy tried […]

Andrew Mitchell (Entitled Opinions) on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra

We’ve done two Nietzsche episodes (here and here), yet neither of them has been on Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which is arguably Nietzsche’s most famous work, and certainly one of his most fun to read. Well, Robert Harrison’s Entitled Opinions podcast out of Stanford has filled that gap, with a great, long interview with Andrew Mitchell […]

David Burrell on Nietzsche and “Trust”

Stony Brook University’s Templeton Research Lectures series features several lectures from early 2007 by David Burrell, an Emeritus Professor in philosophy and theology from Notre Dame University, as well as a Catholic Priest. His specialty appears to be Medieval Studies, focusing on the ties between the various Abrahamic religions, and the lectures on Maimonides and […]

Fake Nietzsche Live and Insane

Jessica in our Nietzsche on truth episode did a good job making Nietzsche sound nice and sane. On this episode of the Dead Authors Podcast (a Paul F. Tompkins vehicle performed live on stage), comedian/impressionist James Adomian portrays him as certifiably insane. It appears that some research went into this faux interview (which also features […]

Norm Schultz (Mile High Sanity Project) on Aristotle’s Ethics

In preparation for our Aristotle Politics episode, I checked out a new semi-philosophy podcast called the Mile High Sanity Project, as they had an episode on Aristotle’s ethics. I say “semi-philosophy,” because the podcast is made up of three guys in different disciplines. They trade off being the lead guy on episodes, so the philosophy […]

Alan Saunders and Han Baltussen on Aristotle’s Legacy

The Philosopher’s Zone is now publishing repeats in light of Alan Saunders’s passing, but one of the most recent of these is more or less on target for us: “Aristotle on Aristotle,” an interview with Han Baltussen that gives a quick overview of his life, the preservation of his works (i.e. most of the best-written […]

Mark Vernon on Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship

As mentioned in the episode, Mark Vernon recorded a series of lectures on Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship (listen to the lectures on iTunes). These were published in 2006 in conjunction with his book, The Meaning of Friendship. As stated in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s account of Aristotle’s view, the source material in Aristotle seems […]

In Memoriam: Alan Saunders

Alan Saunders of Radio National on Australian Broadcast Corporation

 It was with great sadness this weekend that I heard via Facebook and on the Australian Broadcast Corporation website of the untimely passing of Alan Saunders.  Saunders was the host of the ABC Radio National program The Philosopher’s Zone, a weekly broadcast covering a broad range of topics, both in philosophy and outside of philosophy in a […]

Can the Ethical be Primary?

Emmauel Levinas from Wikipedia

I was listening again to Mark’s interview on Douglas Lain’s Diet Soap podcast and was struck by an interesting question posed by Doug.  He was talking about how ontology seemed to be the starting point for philosophy (Thales) and asked whether ontology was required for ethics and if Mark knew of any philosophical points of […]

Our Texas Profs Revisited

Galen of Pergamon from

We have on occasion had reason to call attention to our former professors and colleagues from UT.  Yesterday I was hit with a blast from the past when I heard R.J. “Jim” Hankinson interviewed on The History of Philosophy podcast.  He was, of course, talking about Galen.  I’m pretty sure he’s the world expert on […]

Stephen Batchelor and Treatment of Magic on Buddhist Podcasts

In preparation for our Flanagan discussions, I listened to several episodes of both The Secular Buddhist and Buddhist Geeks. I still don’t feel like I’ve really at bottom decided what I think of either of them, but both have articulate hosts and interview lots of people apparently big in the Western Buddhist community (I can’t […]

Thumos, Dogs, and Authority

Socrates famously calls dogs “philosophical animals” in Plato’s Republic. In this vein, a friend of mine, Gary Borjesson, has a book coming out that’s in large part a philosophical meditation on our relationship with dogs and the nature of friendship. I’ll get to posting about the book itself this summer, but he had a nice […]

Paul Fry (Yale) on Levi-Strauss (and the rest of ’em)

On the podcast both Derick and I made some references to Paul Fry’s literary theory course, which includes lectures on Saussure, Levi-Strauss, and Derrida. It’s a much longer course, of course, so you can get ahead of us to get a handle on the dreaded Lacan, or see what Fry has to say on feminism […]

The Digested Read on ZAMM (and Other Works)

In looking for other podcasts on Pirsig, I ran across The Digested Read podcast by John Crace, which is sort of a literary humor thing, where Crace retells the gist of famous books using snarky oversimplifications. In his episode on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, he’s none too sympathetic towards Pirsig’s philosophy, which […]

Peter Kail’s Hume Overview on the Elucidations Podcast

Folks looking for a clear, concise Hume review with some nice additional details after our epistemology and ethics episodes on him would benefit from this Elucidations episode featuring Oxford Lecturer Peter Kail. Kail gives a more comprehensive biography than we did, covers induction (note that we also discussed this issue a bit on our Nelson […]

Historyish Podcast Profile of Foucault


In looking for Foucault supplementary audio, I ran across a fairly new podcast, “Historyish,” which appears to be run by people involved with the University of Warwick and the Postgraduate Forum for the History of Medicine. Their October 2011 episode on Foucault can be found here; the page itself includes some of the biographical information […]

Thomas Sheehan (on Entitled Opinions) on Phenomenology

Harrison and Sheehan

If you’re still confused about what phenomenology is, what Husserl was about, and how he relates to Heidegger, this October 2011 episode of the Entitled Opinions podcast may help clear things up. Interviewer Robert Harrison starts the discussion expressing the excitement of applied, humanistic phenomenology, i.e. as it was used by existentialists like Sartre. Sheehan […]

Diet Soap (C. Dereck Varn and Doug Lain) on Epistemology

I’ve been talking to Dereck (aka Skepoet) about coming on as a guest with us (on Saussure), and I noticed this new episode of Diet Soap features he and Doug Lain in a wide-ranging conversation on skepticism and its relation to phenomenology. One interesting point to add to the PEL deliberations on the growth of […]

Poetry v Philosophy, Round 2


Still listening to Essential American Poets put out by The Poetry Foundation.  I just listened to the latest episode on Charles Simic.  He ends the episode by reciting his “The Friends of Heraclitus”.  It is about the loss of beloved friend and companion with whom the referenced subject has had many philosophical discourses, walking around […]

PEL Gets Reviewed by Podthoughts (Colin Marshall)

One of the better-written reviews of our podcast can be found here. I quote: At least three hosts at a time trying to interpret, in their own natural and thus imprecise language, a philosophical text itself composed in its own natural and thus imprecise language, opens up infinite opportunity for purely semantic argument. The show’s […]

Brian Leiter’s New Philosophical Categories

A really good interview with Nietzsche scholar and opinionator Brian Leiter appears in 3:AM Magazine, where he drops pithy quotes on Obama, Nietzsche, Marx, and Foucault. But he also appears to have a new argument to sell. Leiter advocates a new way to divide the philosophical canon, not into “contintentals” or “analytics,” but rather into “naturalists” […]

Ed Creeley on Phenomenology and Theater Performance

It’s a strange but established fact that a number of strains in continental philosophy are most readily found in university departments other than philosophy: post-modernism, critical theory, semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, etc. I’d not previously thought, though, that this extended to phenomenology. Here is at least one example of this happening: It’s a podcast (not sure […]

Daniel Coffeen on Bergson’s Matter and Memory

One of the name-drops on the Sartre episode is Henri Bergson, a philosopher who was in vogue in France at the time Sartre wrote, famous among other things for promoting and anti-atomic epistemology. Kant, for instance, thought that we get our idea of number out of time, meaning that time is essentially something we can […]

Quassim Cassam (via Elucidations) on Skepticism


I’ve been listening of late to more Elucidations (which we’ve written about before), which features Matt Teichman from our Frege episode. Their episode 23, “Quassim Cassam discusses transcendental arguments,” serves as a nice point of re-engagement with epistemology in light of our touching on that in our Sartre episode (and moreso in my Close Reading). […]

I’m declaring a moratorium on Nazi examples in moral philosophy

Anti Nazi spraylogo

OK, I was listening to the latest episode of Philosophy Bites, where Nigel “Daddy Warbucks” Warburton is interviewing Sean Kelly about Homer and Philosophy.  I have documented elsewhere my love and admiration of Warburton and the podcast, so this is not in any way to be construed as a criticism.  But a couple of things […]

Paul Boghossian (via Philosophy Bites) on Moral Relativism

We’ve discussed Paul Boghossian and his book against relativism a bit in our Nelson Goodman episode. See my blog post on this from last year. In this interview on the Philosophy Bites podcast, Boghossian talks about moral relativism, giving some shades of the view: e.g. you could be a relativist about manners but not really […]

Buddhism Naturalized?

Owen Flanagan

Given our recent exploration of moral theory, the excitement around our announcement of a Euthyphro episode and my own current interest in Buddhist thought, I guess it was inevitable that I would stumble across and then buy this book.  Or perhaps it was that Mark mentioned it in an email which I had overlooked.  In […]

Poetry Fights Back

Allen Tate

If you’ve listened to our Danto episode, our Republic episode or read any Plato yourself you know that the Big P didn’t have a high regard for poetry.  If you’ve listened to anything we’ve done over the last year, you know Mark doesn’t have a high regard for my blog posting efforts.  I do start […]

Rationally Deferring to Bob Price on Empirical Christianity

I’d promised myself I was going to move on to ethics and stop posting about religious issues, but due diligence requires me to relay this follow-up to my discussion of Mike Licona claiming empirical support for the Resurrection. As I alluded to in my exchange with Ernie P. about empirically grounding Christianity, arguing about historical […]

Does Post-Modern Skepticism Support Religious Belief?

One of our listeners (and contributors! Thanks again!) Ernie P. has posted on our Facebook page: You all (on the podcast) seem to assume that ‘belief in the irrational’ is a strongly correlated with religious belief; I would argue that (depending on how you define it), it is a factor in all human belief, and […]

Eric Reitan (via Pale Blue Dot) Refereeing the Atheism Debates

I’ve written before about Eric Reitan, a modern follower of Scheleirmacher, and on this episode of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot, Reitan gives I think a great explanation of the disagreement between the new atheists and humanistic, liberal Christians: they may agree on nearly all of the same principles (being against Biblical inerrancy and […]

More Pale Blue Dot on Epistemology and Christianity

Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot presents quite a bit of this ongoing debate in its nearly 100 episodes (and can also set you up with a fairly thorough set of ideas re. contemporary ethics; I’ll post on that after the Hume/Smith ethics episode goes up). In this interview with Gregory Dawes from the University […]

Fully Engaged Feminism Podcast on Our Feminism Episode

Podcaster Laura graciously commented on our Gilman/Gilligan episode in the first few minutes of her most recent Fully Engaged Feminism podcast. She thought we were not harsh enough on Gilman for her eugenics views and found our approach to gender, “especially our references to trans individuals,” somewhat frustrating. I don’t actually recall any references at […]

Mike Licona (via Pale Blue Dot) on Historical Evidence for Resurrection

Maimonides image on Wikipedia

Continuing to chase down threads engendered by the Hume’s argument against miracles thread, I listened to the lengthy episode #2 of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot, a podcast run by Luke Muehlahuser, proprietor of This is an interview with Mike Licona, who describes himself on the podcast as a historian who’s extensively studied […]

“Philosophy for Theologians” on Aquinas and Other Topics


In a recent post I recommended the “Philosophy for Theologians” podcast for more information about Hume on miracles. I’ve now listened to their first several episodes and can give a more comprehensive (both in the sense of covering more of there work and in the sense that I better understand their point) evaluation. First, this […]

Against Hume on Miracles: Ronald Nash and Daniel Schrock

No one (I think) came forward with citations against Hume’s stance on miracles in response to my post, so I did a bit of listening to available options on iTunes about this issue to see if it would do the job: First, episode 15 of this “Christian Apologetics” course by the late Ronald H. Nash […]

Are Men Naturally Predisposed to Excel in Life?

Watch on YouTube A 1999 episode of In Our Time was ostensibly about “feminism,” but in fact addressed a narrower and more pressing issue: Are men “by nature more competitive, ambitious, status-conscious, dedicated, single-minded and persevering than women”? And if so, doesn’t that mean men are biologically better disposed than women to achieve material success? And […]

Autonomy and Moral Development: Piaget/Kohlberg/Gilligan

For a little more detail on how Gilligan’s account of moral development differs from and responds to those of her predecessors, check out this page from the U. of Illinois Office for Studies in Moral Development and Education. Given that it’s aimed at educators, the emphasis is on how schools can affect moral development. I […]

What Is Nothing?

My mind was blown today by the fantabulous 1973 short “What Is Nothing?” featuring some stoned grade schoolers wondering about the different types of non-existence. It features Rifftrax commentary to make it tolerable, and can be experienced if you have a buck to spare: More info on the video, including sample clip. Because caterpillars matter […]

Riding the Zeitgeist – Moral sentiment and pyschopathy

I never said I wasn

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Ethics at Duke, was recently interview on The Philosopher’s Zone about the moral judgment of psychopaths.  One of the key questions at issue is whether psychopaths understand what is morally wrong, why it is so and just don’t care, or whether they don’t know what is morally wrong.  This ties in […]

Mark on the Diet Soap Podcast

Some months back, author Douglas Lain (targeted at a future guest on P.E.L., probably for Zizek, but this won’t happen particularly soon) and I chatted off-the-cuff for a podcast that I for once did not have to edit. I can’t promise what I had to say there to be particularly new to any consistent P.E.L. […]

David Eagleman and Daniel Dennett on Free Will and Neuroscience

Wes’s recent post on David Eagleman led to my listening to the Philosophy Bites episode interviewing him. Eagleman’s point here is that the criminal justice system assumes a model of free will that is unsustainable given what we know about neurology, and he gives examples like a normal guy with no apparent deviant impulses suddenly […]

Math Mutation Podcast on “New Math” and Russell

In the Russell episode, I brought up “new math,” whereby young people were taught set theory. The podcast I was referring to was Math Mutation Podcast #145: “Why Johnny Couldn’t Add.” Given how short the episodes are, it appears as if the author (Eric Seligman) has actually posted transcripts. Here’s the one on new math […]

Happy Birthday David Hume!

David Hume

This month lots of people are celebrating David Hume’s 300th birthday, including our friends at The Philosopher’s Zone and Philosophy Bites.  Both have dedicated a series of podcasts to this most important thinker in our tradition and if you aren’t a Humeophile or don’t know that much about him, I’d definitely recommend checking out their […]

Clare Carlisle’s Spinoza Walk-Through (via The Guardian)

I just stumbled across an 8 part series on Spinoza (discussed by us here), completed today and begun here on 2/7/11, written by U. of Liverpool lecturer Clare Carlisle, who I see has written some books on Kierkegaard,which will give you some idea where she’s coming from. I’ve not read the whole series, but it […]

Tolkien (and Cory Olsen) on Fantasy as Transcendence

Listening to Dreyfus’s Heidegger lectures has gotten me looking around a bit among the “iTunes U” selections. It’s interesting to me that these are separated from podcasts generally when there is often little difference between the two types of selections, and that podcasts sanctioned by universities can still absolutely blow, particularly if they’re just unedited […]

EconTalk on the Technological Singularity

Our blogger and guest podcaster Daniel referred in response to my previous post that EconTalk with host Russ Roberts (pictured) and guest Robin Hanson of George Mason University did an episode on “The Technological Singularity.” The idea here is that at a few points in history, there’s been a technological breakthrough that fundamentally transformed how […]

Buddhism Podcasts?

One of my goals in the run-up to our Buddhism episode was to listen to a bunch of many Buddhism/Zen-related podcasts (there seem to be more of these than philosophy ones) and post some reviews. However, though I sampled bits of maybe six of them, I have nothing that I actually want to recommend, but […]

Elucidations Podcast: Brian Leiter on Religious Tolerance

OK, if the atheism debates are so squalid, then what’s the moderate, “philosophically respectable” approach to some of the issues that come up in them? A recent episode of the University of Chicago philosophy podcast Elucidations featured philosophy uber-blogger Brian Leiter (who taught my philosophy and the law class at U. Texas). Leiter addresses the […]

Schizophrenia, Philosophy & Freud

While we’re following up on the Freud podcast, I caught this interesting show from ABC National Radio in Australia on schizophrenia and philosophical investigation.  The show is called All in the Mind, hosted by Natasha Mitchell.  In this episode, she interviews Dr Paul Fearne, who suffers from schizophrenia but managed to acknowledge it, get help […]

GeeksOn David Brin, Modern Intellectual (Philosopher?)

I just listened to a great conversation with author David Brin on one of the podcasts that inspired me to create ours: GeeksOn. The episode is here. Brin is a sci-fi author and technical consultant with a Ph.D. in astrophysics. For a fun bit of moral analysis of pop culture, see his 1999 article […]

Baggini interviews “new atheist” AC Grayling

We’ve gotten into a little discussion of the new atheist movement, an area well covered by other podcasts (meaning we likely won’t devote substantial time to it on our podcast, though we’ll certainly discuss religious philosophy). To get clear on one of its key arguments, that it’s religious moderates that create a climate where extremism […]