Beginner friendly if listened to in order! For anyone interested in an educational podcast about philosophy where you don't need to be a graduate-level philosopher to understand it. In chronological order, the thinkers and ideas that forged the world we live in are broken down and explained.

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!

Direct download: Episode_045_..._Rousseau_Government_pt._1.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:26pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_044_..._Slavery.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 9:02pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_043_..._Tolerance.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:38pm PDT
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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! 

Direct download: Episode_042_..._Optimism.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:01pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_041_..._Belief.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 5:27pm PDT
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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 cliché 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!

 

Direct download: Episode_040_..._Superstition.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 4:04pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_039_..._Before_Our_Very_Eyes_-_The_Limits_of_Empiricism.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 9:36pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_038_..._Leibniz_pt._2_-_The_Best_of_All_Possible_Worlds.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:29pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_037_..._Leibniz_pt._1_-_A_Million_Points_of_Light.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 10:32pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_036_..._John_Locke_pt._2_-_The_Blank_Slate.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 3:34pm PDT
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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!

 

Direct download: Episode_035_..._John_Locke_pt._1_-_From_Sea_to_Shining_Sea.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 10:34pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_034_..._Spinoza_pt._2_-_Force_of_Nature.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:09pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_033_..._Spinoza_pt._1_-_From_Baruch_to_Benedicto.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:01pm PDT
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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!

 

Direct download: Episode_032_..._Blaise_Pascal_pt._2_-_EV_your_way_to_success.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:04pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_031_..._Pascals_Wager.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 5:02pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_030_..._Descartes_pt._3_-_God_Exists.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 3:14pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_029_..._Descartes_pt._2_-_Visionary_Genius2.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 5:23pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_029_..._Descartes_pt._2_-_Visionary_Genius.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:23pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_027_..._Thomas_Hobbes_pt._2.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 12:02am PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_026_..._Thomas_Hobbes_pt._1_-_The_Social_Contract.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:41pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_025_..._A_Scientific_Method_For_Your_Life.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 5:55pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_024_..._Montaigne.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:55pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_023_..._Machiavelli.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 7:11pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_022_..._Blast_off_to_the_Renaissance.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:18pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_021_..._One_God_-_St._Thomas_Aquinas.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:04pm PDT
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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!

Direct download: Episode_020_..._Two_Medieval_Approaches_To_God.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 2:05pm PDT
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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!

 

Direct download: Episode_019_..._Three_Islamic_Truths.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 8:40pm PDT
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On this episode of the podcast we learn about Avicenna, an Arabic philosopher who is most known for his “Flying Man” thought experiment. We discuss the mind-body connection (or lack thereof) and ask ourselves what becomes of an iPhone if you pulverize it in a blender. We also work in two Breaking Bad references, and apply Avicenna’s Flying Man argument to modern day ethical dilemmas relating to life support. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

Direct download: Episode_018_..._Avicenna.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 6:15pm PDT
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On this episode of the podcast, we learn about the medieval neoplatonist philosopher Boethius. We find out how he came to be wrongly convicted of treason and subsequently sentenced to death, and how this led him to write a philosophical text that solved one of the oldest problems in philosophy. We manage to compare the main characters of Boethius’ book to Lady Liberty and Eeyore selling a rice cooker on QVC, and explain why Boethius believed that we’re all just contestants on a never-ending episode of Wheel of Fortune. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

Direct download: Episode_017_..._Boethius.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 1:38pm PDT
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On this episode of the podcast, we discuss St. Augustine, a philosopher who is known for merging the ideas of Neoplatonism and Christianity. We learn how an unsuspecting child led St. Augustine to devote his life to Christianity through divine intervention, and find out why he thinks crying babies are sinners. We also discuss St. Augustine’s explanation of the concept of time and why he claims that the past and future don’t really exist. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

Direct download: Episode_016_..._Saint_Augustine.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 5:27am PDT
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On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Plotinus, a Neo-Platonist philosopher who lived in Rome during "the crisis of the third century.” We discuss the difference between religion and philosophy and question whether or not JK Rowling stole parts of Harry Potter’s backstory from Plotinus’ life. We also learn about Plotinus’ Hierarchy of Being and use the phrase “Polaroid picture” more times than Outkast does in their hit song “Hey Ya!”. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

Direct download: Episode_015_..._A_Period_of_Transition_-_Plotinus.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 9:13pm PDT
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On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Middle Platonism and the Race to the Dark Ages. We learn how Philo of Alexandria reconciled Judaism with Plato's vision of God as a master craftsman, and find out how this relates to building an IKEA bookcase. We also discuss the important distinction Plutarch made between a flatterer and a friend, and why he would have absolutely hated Facebook. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

Direct download: Episode_014_..._The_Hellenistic_Age_Pt._5_-_A_Race_To_The_Dark_Ages.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 3:54pm PDT
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On this episode of the podcast, we continue our study of the Hellenistic Age, this time focusing on Skepticism. We find out how Pyrrho used Skepticism to endure surgery without anesthesia, and learn why you can never really know if a pomegranate is a pomegranate. We also discover how winning the lottery could be the worst thing that ever happens to you, and compare Skepticism's key philosophers to their Smurf counterparts.
 
All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!
Direct download: Episode_013_..._The_Hellenistic_Age_Pt._4_-_Skepticism.mp3
Category:Philosophy -- posted at: 9:58pm PDT
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