David Edmonds (Uehiro Centre, Oxford University) and Nigel Warburton (freelance philosopher/writer) interview top philosophers on a wide range of topics. Two books based on the series have been published by Oxford University Press. We are currently self-funding - donations very welcome via our website http://www.philosophybites.com
Arash Abizadeh on Thomas Hobbes' Ethics
Thomas Hobbes is best known as author of Leviathan which is usually read today for its theory of political authority. Here Arash Abizadeh discusses Hobbes' ethics, the theory of what we are and what are obligations are to each.
Steven Nadler on Spinoza on Free Speech
Spinoza was famously heretical in his views. No surprise then that he defended free expression. Here Steven Nadler discusses Spinoza's views on this topic with Nigel Warburton.
Suki Finn on the Metaphysics of Nothing
What is the status of something that is an absence, like a hole? Suki Finn explores the metaphysics of nothing in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast. Suki is also the editor of a new book based on Philosophy Bites interviews with women philosophers selected from our archive Women of Ideas, to be published by Oxford University Press in April.
Peter Salmon on Derrida on Deconstruction
Jacques Derrida was a controversial philosopher whose writing could be fiendishly difficult to read. Nevertheless he had many followers. Here Pete Salmon, author of a recent biography of Derrida, manages to give a clear account of what Derrida meant by deconstruction.
This episode was sponsored by St John's College. For more information about the college go to www.sjc.edu/podcast
David Bather Woods on Arthur Schopenhauer on Compassion
Nigel Warburton discusses Schopenhauer's views on compassion with David Bather Woods
Samantha Rose Hill on Hannah Arendt on Pluralism
Hannah Arendt's experience of the Eichmann trial in 1961 led her to reflect on the nature of politics, truth, and plurality. Samantha Rose Hill, author of a biography of Arendt, discusses the context for this, and the key features of Arendt's views.
We are grateful for support for this episode from St John's College - for more information about the college, including online options, go to sjc.edu/podcast
Support for stimulating conversations
I wholeheartedly recommend this podcast. I am a creative, discerning individual who plans to donate $ to back up this claim. These are the types of conversation that I luckily have with my husband on a regular basis. They provide a refreshing instillation of intelligence which are so needed in modern times. I hope Philosophy Bites has staying power beyond the lifetimes of it hosts. And if it doesn’t it provides an everlasting presence for this soothing insightful inquisitive interviewer. Thank you!!! All my gratitude. Paula Acheson in Kansas City
Too much catering to religion
The best thing about this show is when the philosophers present opposing views in the interest of philosophical analysis, without getting upset. However, all such opposing views are absent when the topic of religion (all too frequent) or mainstream liberal ideals come up.
So “optimism only makes sense if you believe in god who can make good on all the evil in the world…. so believing in god is the pragmatic way to justify optimism”. How can the speaker get away with such a logically flawed argument without a hint of an argument from Warburton?
The next episode presents Pascal’s Wager, which basically says that believing in god is simply a rational decision. The speaker proclaims Pascal as a genius who has endless contributions to philosophy and Warburton doesn’t utter a word about the logical fallacy in Pascal’s statements.
Religion pervades every aspect of society. It does not need philosophy to help it out. Philosophy is the only tool we have to formalize rational arguments, and here we are trying to rationalize faith. The sophists taught us to argue both sides of every argument. Nigel Warburton falls short on the topics where this is needed the most.
Good but ....
I enjoy these bite-sized episodes which (for me) serve as an intro to Western philosophers who I have heard about. In the episode on Schopenhauer, however, the glancing reference to Indian “classical” or as I would put it, ancient texts deserves more in-depth analysis and an episode of its own. Schopenhauer did more than “borrow” from ancient Indian texts; these works seem formed the basis of some of his philosophy. Too often eastern texts are used merely as references. There must be an acknowledgment of their profound influence on western thought and literature and even popular culture -from Schopenhauer to Star Trek to The Matrix -what is now known as Hinduism is behind all of these.