Podcast Episodes

You can also see them organized by topic. For episodes marked “Preview,” you can access the full episode at our store, or you could become a PEL Citizen and get them from our Free Stuff for Citizens page.

  1. Episode 9: Utilitarian Ethics: What Should We Do?


    Discussing Jeremy Bentham’s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation chapters 1-5, John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, and Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.”

  2. PREVIEW-Episode 16: Danto on Art


    Discussing three essays by Arthur Danto from The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1986): the title essay, “The Appreciation and Interpretation of Works of Art,” and “The End of Art.”

  3. Episode 33: Montaigne: What Is the Purpose of Philosophy?


    Discussing Michel de Montaigne’s Essays: “That to Philosophize is to Learn to Die,” “Of Experience,” “Of Cannibals,” “Of the Education of Children,” and “Of Solitude” (all from around 1580) with some discussion of “Apology for Raymond Sebond.”

  4. Episode 35: Hegel on Self-Consciousness


    Discussing G.F.W. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Part B (aka Ch. 4), “Self-Consciousness,” plus recapping the three chapters before that (Part A. “Consciousness”).

  5. Episode 43: Arguments for the Existence of God


    Discussing the arguments by Descartes, St. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, William Paley, Kant, and others, as analyzed in J.L. Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God (1983), chapters 1-3, 5-6, 8, and 11.

  6. Episode 51: Semiotics and Structuralism (Saussure, et al)


    On Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics (1916) (Part I and Part II, Ch. 4), Claude Levi-Strauss’s “The Structural Study of Myth” (1955), and Jacques Derrida’s “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” (1966).

  7. Episode 65: The Federalist Papers


    On Alexander Hamilton/James Madison’s Federalist Papers (1, 10-12, 14-17, 39, 47-51), published as newspaper editorials 1787-8, plus Letters III and IV from Brutus, an Anti-Federalist.

  8. Not School Digest Jan 2013: A Bonus Quasisode


    Excerpts of discussions about Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, an article on emergence called “More Is Different” by Nobel Prize Winning physicist P.W. Anderson, John Searle’s Mind: A Brief Introduction, and Italo Calvino’s trippy science fantasy novel Cosmicomics.

  9. Episode 74: Jacques Lacan’s Psychology


    On Bruce Fink’s The Lacanian Subject (1996) and Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience” (1949).

  10. Precognition of Ep. 82: Popper


    A summary of the first three essays in Karl Popper’s collection Conjectures and Refutations, read by Dylan Casey.

  11. Precognition of Ep. 87: Sartre


    Mark Linsenmayer lays out some themes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism” and the “Bad Faith” chapter (Part 1, Ch. 2) of Being & Nothingness.

  12. Not School Digest #4: Sartre, Heidegger, Zizek, Marx, and Theater


    Excerpts from PEL podcaster & listener discussions on Sartre’s Nausea, Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” Slavoj Zizek’s Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Marx and Engels’s “Communist Manifesto,” Peter Schaffer’s play Equus, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form. Plus an interview with Hillary Sydlowski, leader of the Not School Introductory Readings in Philosophy Group.

  13. Precognition of Ep. 93: Free Will (via Strawsons)


    Guest Tamler Sommers (from the Very Bad Wizards podcast) summarizes Galen Strawson’s “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility” (1994) and his father P.F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (1960).

  14. Precognition of Ep. 95: Gödel


    Guest Adi Habbu lays out Kurt Gödel’s famous incompleteness theorems and describes some highlights from “Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathematics and their Implications” (1951) and “The Modern Development of the Foundations of Mathematics in Light of Philosophy” (1961).

  15. Episode 94: Schopenhauer on Reading, Writing, and Thinking


    On Arthur Schopenhauer’s essays, “On Authorship and Style,” “On Thinking for Oneself,” and “On Genius” (all published 1851). Is the best way to do philosophy (or any art) to self-consciously build on the work of others to advance the genre? Schopenhauer says no!

  16. Precognition of Ep. 96: Oppenheimer’s Rhetoric


    Guest Lynda Walsh describes her book Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy, focusing on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s conflicted position after WWII as science advisor and anti-nuke spokesman.

  17. Episode 95: Gödel on Math


    On two unpublished essays considering the implications of Godel’s incompleteness theorems and asserting mathematical realism. With guest Adi Habbu.

  18. Episode 96: Oppenheimer and the Rhetoric of Science Advisers


    Discussing Lynda Walsh’s book “Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy” (2013) with the author, focusing on Robert J. Oppenheimer. What is the role of the science adviser? Should scientists just “stick to the facts,” or can only someone with technical knowledge make decisions about what to actually do?

  19. Episode 101: Maimonides on God


    On Guide for the Perplexed about God’s lack of properties, featuring guest comedian Danny Lobell of the Modern Day Philosophers podcast.

  20. Episode 102: Emerson on Wisdom and Individuality


    On Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The American Scholar” lecture (1837) and his essays “Self-Reliance” and “Circles” (1841). Be yourself! Don’t conform! Realize your oneness with the universe!

  21. Episode 107: Edmund Burke on the Sublime


    On A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, where young Burke lays out our knee-jerk aesthetic reactions, including those to scary things at a safe distance.

  22. Episode 108: Dangers of A.I. with Guest Nick Bostrom


    On Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and Strategies (2014) with the author. What can we predict about, and how can we control in advance, the motivations of the entity likely to result from eventual advances in machine learning?

  23. Ep. 109 Aftershow (Preview) with Stephen West


    The first chunk of our new after-the-episode, featuring Stephen West from Philosophize This! Become a Citizen to get the full discussion and be part of the next Aftershow on Feb. 15 at 1pm Eastern.


  1. Jake

    August 1, 2014

    Hey! I’m sure you read this a lot, but, where is your Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” episode?

    • Profile photo of Mark Linsenmayer

      Mark Linsenmayer

      August 3, 2014

      I was contemplating a 2-fer for her a la Sandel. If gender trouble is her “classic” work to discuss w/o her, what would be the newer work to have her on w us to talk about, and is her current book good?

      • dmf

        August 3, 2014

        if you want a sort of conversational/topical text Dispossession isn’t bad but if you want a more systematic work than Giving an Account of Oneself would probably be the answer, would be a good guest/topic to push the Rhetoric/Philosophy issue and to perhaps eventually make a foray into ordinary language philosophy.

      • Brennan Lester

        December 14, 2014

        “Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex” is a book Butler wrote 3 years after Gender Trouble that is considered in many ways an essential clarification and refinement of her insights from that one. Butler’s “Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex” may be a very helpful short essay to read (her elucidation of Beauvoir’s famous dictum “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman” makes it much easier to understand the aim of Butler’s theory of performativity).

        Not to get wrapped up in the specter of influence, but if precursory readings are a concern; Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, if only the first volume, is the work that most closely defines Butler’s methodology concerning history and subjectivity. I was just recently listening to your episode on Foucault’s Discipline & Punish and his History of Sexuality came up over and over again, so perhaps now would be a good time to revisit Michel!

  2. Caroline

    August 2, 2014

    After being confined to bed by bronchitis for the last few days, I have found your discussions to be a great source of comfort. Although it is much easier to turn on TV instead of giving a damn about existential questions, the struggle itself, even without certain answers, is valuable. Thank you so much for the time and effort you guys have put into these talks.

  3. Ian

    August 7, 2014

    Hey, I love this whole project, and I want to thank you so much for it. It’s helped me think clearly through a lot of problems (both personal and academic) and I think you guys have done a great job of providing access to a difficult and sometimes exclusivist field without sacrificing content. Thank you.

    I know you guys probably get requests all the time, but I hope you don’t mind if I pitch another at you: could you guys please please maybe do some kind of introduction to Habermas? Maybe an outline of the theory of communicative action, or maybe the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, or anything really. I could really use some help. Thanks so much for being awesome!

    • Jason

      August 11, 2014

      Ditto on Habermas.

  4. Malebranche

    August 28, 2014

    When are you going to do an episode on Malebranche?

  5. Gabriel

    September 1, 2014

    Hi guys! Very much enjoying your shows and would like to suggest a recommendation
    George Spencer Brown ‘Laws of Form’
    I read it every now and then and feel that it expresses densely logical and phenomenological topics you touch. At the same time I wonder as an amateur philosopher how legit the work is, so to have it reflected by you guys would be a treat

  6. Adiste

    October 2, 2014

    I’d love to hear an episode on Korzybski and General Semantics.

  7. Jackson

    October 5, 2014

    One idea for a different kind of episode might be to review a film with philosophic issues and have a regular or two or a guest portray a philosopher who joins in the review.

    Have you considered reviewing Richard Linklater’s Waking Life?

    • jackson

      October 18, 2014

      I discovered that the diet soap podcast did an episode on waking life but barely from a Marxist perspective. I think there is more there that you all could discuss. it would tie a number of ideas from different episodes. but perhaps u aren’t interested….your call

  8. Schizophrenic Hegel

    October 10, 2014

    Hey guys!
    Of course, I think you’re absolutely brilliant and I find your podcast, if not my primary source of education, my primary source of entertainment.

    I was just thinking, you’ve had some episodes about Hegel and you’ve also mentioned Fichte and Schelling. I’ve found very little material about them, besides them being mentioned, and I was wondering as a suggestion if you perhaps could do an episode about them and their impact on Hegel’s metaphysics. I find german idealism to be something very insane and totally bat-shit exciting – I think it would be a great and inspiring episode. Also, I think, maybe, Hegel will make a lot more “sense” to people if they know something about his predecessors.

    I have no idea what your supposed to read – perhaps some groundwork from Fichte and Schelling and then some general discussion about their impact on Hegel…?

    It would really make things a lot more easy – okay, maybe not easy, but at least – enjoyable.

    Some signs of appreciation – from Sweden.

    • Profile photo of Mark Linsenmayer

      Mark Linsenmayer

      October 12, 2014

      Hi, SH from Sweden,

      I’d definitely like to do some Fichte and/or Schelling within the next year. Thanks for reminding me! Best, -Mark

  9. Fred

    October 16, 2014

    Loved listening to you destroy Ayn Rand. Now you have Nozick lined up and that’s all good but I’d like to suggest that you take a look at Michael Huemer’s The Problem of Political Authority. Unlike Rand and Nozick I dare say you will find it extremely challenging. (Philosophically that is, it’s an easy and accessible read)

    • Fred

      October 16, 2014

      Clarification: the *first half* of Michael Huemer’s The Problem of Political Authority, not the second half.

  10. Dan

    October 19, 2014

    Ok, here is yet another request. Plato’s Philebus (huzzah, let’s talk knowledge and pleasure) and an episode on philosophy and literature (or philosophy of literature) with some examples from literary works that have a philosophical bent e.g. works of Jane Austen or Shakespeare. I’m guessing you’ll need a guest for either of these topics.

  11. Sina

    October 23, 2014

    Hi I really love your podcast. However, there is one thing that gets me distracted. Recently I’ve noticed it’s the fact that it’s a traditional podcast, i.e. it doesn’t have a video. Everytime I listen to something without video it’s very likely for me to zone out. Would that be a possibility to film yourselves as well?


    • Profile photo of Seth Paskin

      Seth Paskin

      October 23, 2014

      Hey Sina
      When we first started the podcast 5 years ago, the bandwidth requirements for video were prohibitive and we had issues just keeping the audio strong over Skype. We could add video now through Google hangouts or something else but there’s really nothing to see. Us sitting there with headphones. In my case you would just see my spit guard.

      Also, we record about 2.5 – 3 hours that get edited down to the 1.5 average podcast. I wouldn’t want to be on display for that length of time :)

  12. Professor Onion

    November 3, 2014

    Chomsky says that there is no relation between words and things out there in the world. Would like to hear you guys chat about this, specifically in response to Wittgenstein.

  13. Profile photo of Cezary


    November 5, 2014

    Here’s my suggestion: Capital in the 21st Century by Piketty.

    I feel this is one of the few works in economics that has made it into popular parlance. This would also be an opportunity to discuss a work that has resonated with more people than the select few that enjoy academic philosophy.

    It would be easy to edit the reading selection down as the brunt of the book is statistics supporting his theses. You could also discuss the Wall Street Journal response and Piketty’s rebuttal.

    Just a suggestion. Have loved all the episodes so far.

    • Jean

      November 8, 2014


  14. joe

    November 6, 2014

    good work and great podcast…

  15. A Aron Mcluggins

    November 12, 2014

    EY MAN. Why YALL aint do a episode on doug hofstadter “I AM A STRANGE LOOP” Thats my JAAAAAYYAMMMM

  16. bob

    November 24, 2014

    Love the range of thoughts… have you ever considered covering of the distopian novels of Orwell, Huxley or Zamyatin? (1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, We?) Cumulatively the political ideas expressed within encompass many of the fine philosophies of thinkers before. Just a suggestion…

  17. Blair Nicholson

    December 2, 2014

    I wanted to suggest an episode on Sam Harris’ novel “The Moral Landscape” Particularly a philosophical break down at its weak and strong points. Thanks for your time and I wanted to express my enjoyment in your podcast, great work!

  18. Adam

    December 29, 2014

    Hi guys, big fan! Just wanted to say (apart from all the other fantastic and amazing episodes) I really enjoyed and find myself ruminating on the Sandel episodes. There was a great dynamic with conflicting arguments that had very real and present ideas that were extremely interesting to hear be battered back and forth by some informed minds (for once!) Again not to say that this doesn’t happen with the other episodes, this one just seems to be stuck in the ol’ mind lately as I walk around thinking,

    I wish I could go on about how important I think your show is to discourse in the modern landscape. But it would most likely be an anticlimactic read for you all and keep you away from podcasting.

    Keep up the great work!


  19. Doc Benway

    December 31, 2014

    I’d love to hear an episode on Alain Badiou. His book ETHICS: AN ESSAY ON AN UNDERSTANDING OF EVIL is short and concise enough that you could easily read the entire text before a discussion, and have a pretty decent grasp of his project and his theory of ethics [the book was written for French high school students]. The perfect follow-up text is PHILOSOPHY AND THE EVENT, which is really a series of interview discussions, and it is really good because he explicates his four proposed realms of Truth: love, art, politics, and science. Of course, if you really wanted to dig into the nuts and bolts of his project, you’d have to read BEING AND EVENT, where he lays out his use/understanding of set theory

  20. priya talwar

    December 31, 2014

    Hi Team PEL,
    I have only started listening in to your podcast. Amazing job no doubt and please keep up the efforts. I wonder whether you guys have your own or had doubts or hesitated or hesitate even now about what you are doing on PEL.
    I am writing from India and am always concerned why I (even though I graduated in literature in English) know none of the great philosophical writing or writers from India. Sad but anyway, PEl is something most people can relate with, that’s why it works so well.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Sokratis Karayiannidis

      December 31, 2014

      They did do an episode on Nagarjuna, who comes from India. The basic problem though is that in the West, nobody studies Indian philosophy in a philosophy department; you can only really study Indian philosophy in the West if you study Indian language and literature at university. Consquently philosophy students graduate with a very one-sided view of what philosophy is and can be. The podcasters mentioned they would like to do more episodes on Indian philosophy–perhaps if you or someone you know has more experitise on Indian philosophy, then something can be arranged?

  21. Erlend

    January 7, 2015

    Great show, guys! Would you consider doing an episode on Peter Wessel Zapffe? I think that would be both entertaining and interesting.

    Shine on,

    • Profile photo of Mark Linsenmayer

      Mark Linsenmayer

      January 7, 2015

      Thanks, Erlend. I hadn’t heard of him; he looks very in line with some of the other existentialists we’ve covered. I’ll keep him in mind, and if we get enough requests for him over time, then we’ll likely add him to the list. Best, -Mark

      • Doc Benway

        January 9, 2015

        Or you might consider Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Ligotti is highly regarded in Weird Fiction circles, and is considered the modern, cranky heir to H.P. Lovecraft. “Conspiracy” is a culmination/survey of numerous nihilists and their best cases that, well, life really isn’t worth living. Ligotti isn’t a philosopher proper, but he tries his darndest. His prose is inky black, which would make it perhaps a bit more enjoyable reading than one typically gets from the philosophical set. I believe that Peter Wessel Zapffe is one of the philosophers discussed in the text. “Conspiracy” was also an inspiration on the show True Detective [particularly, Detective Rust Cohle], but don’t hold that against it ;-)

    • Ioannis

      January 11, 2015

      This guy sounds really interesting–I second!

  22. Nik

    January 21, 2015

    I only just found this podcast…I can’t believe how much incredible content is housed on this website!! Is this not the greatest public repository of philosophical discourse ever created??? I have an estimated 120 hours of listening enjoyment and countless more hours of background reading to get caught up, but loving every minute of it. Thank you!!

  23. Profile photo of Pablo


    January 31, 2015

    I know you have already done a Merleau-Ponty episode, but it would be awesome to hear your analysis of the Phenomenology of Perception. The literature you guys read on the Phenomenology of Perception, while helpful, is a very cursory representation of the book. I think most of your concerns would be answered if you read the book itself. There are some extremely good criticisms of rationalism and empiricism, not to mention the most effective refutation of the mind/body dualism that I have ever encountered. “The Body as Object and Mechanistic Physiology” is one of the most influential chapters I have ever read in my philosophical career. Finally, the chapter dealing with sexuality is both disturbing and comical at the same time, which might make for some good PEL comedy banter!

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