Practically 20 years after philosophy professor Ken Taylor (1954-2019) and professor emeritus of philosophy John Perry co-founded the radio present and podcast “Philosophy Speak,” a world viewers follows this system on over 100 stations. By greater than 550 episodes — with titles like “Why We Hate?” and “Are We Dwelling in a Simulation?” — the co-hosts humorously introduce listeners to philosophical concepts and their on a regular basis relevancy.
In response to Devon Strolovitch, the present’s long-standing producer, author, editor and occasional Roving Philosophical Reporter, the seed of the thought got here from the radio present “Automobile Speak,” which lined all issues automotive from a humorous angle.
He stated that Perry thought, “If these guys might make vehicles fascinating to take heed to, absolutely [I] might do the identical with one thing really fascinating like philosophy.”
After a number of years of discussing the idea, Perry discovered a co-partner who believed in his imaginative and prescient: the late Ken Taylor. Whereas they have been initially turned down by KQED in San Francisco after creating two demo episodes, they discovered a house in KALW, a Bay Space public radio station, and began their reside pilot in August 2003.
Because the present’s launch, a key theme has been the intersection of expertise, philosophy and science — unsurprising, contemplating the present’s origins in Silicon Valley. In response to co-host and professor of French and comparative literature Josh Landy, folks don’t all the time think about the broader societal impacts of pursuing new frontiers, however they need to. Apple, amongst different tech corporations, has resident philosophers on workers who assist reply questions on whether or not one thing ought to be created, not can be created, he stated.
“The extent that individuals are inventing new applied sciences, full steam forward,” he stated. “Transfer quick and break issues. How about decelerate and don’t break issues?”
The present’s format integrates each social and analytical views to unify what’s historically a tech v. philosophy conundrum.
“I believe they’re actually linked. Everyone needs to be scientifically literate, however all people also needs to be culturally literate,” co-host and philosophy professor Ray Briggs stated. “One of many different issues that philosophy and different artwork disciples do is train you find out how to … take aside an argument and see its elements.”
“Philosophy Speak” was designed to mannequin this analytical strategy. In response to Stolovitch, the unique co-hosts have been “discouraged by the character of public discourse and thought that philosophy supplied a method to shed gentle, not warmth, on up to date social and political points together with timeless questions concerning the final nature of issues.”
Landy stated it’s important to acknowledge the significance of pondering critically and discovering the “pleasure of the lifetime of the thoughts.” With ongoing backwards and forwards and the witty probing of concepts, the co-hosts debate subjects primarily based on mutual understanding and respect.
“I would love listeners who’ve a robust opinion to finish up contemplating challenges to that opinion … not as threats to themselves, however as methods to entertain a special perspective and be taught,” stated Briggs.
Every week, the co-hosts talk about extensively with Laura Maguire Ph.D. ’05, the present’s director of analysis and occasional co-host, and Strolovitch to finalize an episode matter that either side can debate the next week. As succinctly captured by the present’s well-known tagline, the first aim of those weekly episodes is to ship “this system that questions every little thing, besides your intelligence.”
The present’s enchantment may also be attributed to the truth that philosophy is embedded deeply inside at the moment’s popular culture, as seen in tv reveals akin to “The Good Place.”
“I knew concerning the trolley downside earlier than it was cool, however I’m actually glad that it’s cool now,” Briggs stated. “I believe ‘The Good Place’ did an incredible job of popularizing a whole lot of philosophy ideas, and I used to be fairly impressed with how well-researched that present was.”
The podcast additionally lauds standard films with a philosophical bent, awarding them their very personal Oscar-esque awards known as the Dionysus Awards.
“We invent imaginary classes that films might win,” Landy stated. “We take into consideration the films of the previous yr which might be philosophically fascinating, and we now have three completely different segments the place we pit two films towards one another and we’ll discuss to a special visitor.”
Certainly one of final yr’s winners, the Disney film “Cruella” obtained the present’s Dionysus Award for Finest Effort to Redeem 80 Years of Questionable Film Historical past for its intentional complexity.
The enduring relevance of philosophy after practically 20 years of the present is clear within the annual granting of awards just like the one given to “Cruella.”
“I used to be only a listener earlier than I grew to become a co-host,” stated Landy. “It’s wonderful that John and Ken created a radio present about philosophy. Simply to do this is extraordinary… and you understand, there’s nonetheless tons to speak about.”