Almost 20 years after former philosophy professors Ken Taylor and John Perry co-founded the radio present and podcast “Philosophy Speak,” a global viewers follows this system on over 100 stations. By means of greater than 550 episodes — with titles like “Why We Hate?” and “Are We Residing in a Simulation?” — the co-hosts humorously introduce listeners to philosophical concepts and their on a regular basis relevancy.
In accordance with 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 “Automotive Speak,” which lined all issues automotive from a humorous angle.
He mentioned that Perry thought, “if these guys might make automobiles attention-grabbing to take heed to, absolutely [I] might do the identical with one thing really attention-grabbing 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 had 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 dwell pilot in August 2003.
For the reason that present’s launch, a key theme has been the intersection of know-how, philosophy and science — unsurprising, contemplating the present’s origins in Silicon Valley. In accordance with co-host and professor of French and comparative literature Josh Landy, individuals don’t all the time take into account the broader societal impacts of pursuing new frontiers.
“The extent that individuals are inventing new applied sciences, full steam forward,” he mentioned. “Transfer quick and break issues. How about decelerate and don’t break issues?”
However that is slowly beginning to change. Apple, amongst different tech firms, has resident philosophers on workers who assist reply questions on whether or not one thing ought to be created, not can be created, Landy mentioned.
The present’s format integrates each social and analytical views to reconcile what’s historically a tech v. philosophy conundrum.
“I feel they’re actually linked. All people needs to be scientifically literate, however all people must also be culturally literate,” mentioned co-host and philosophy professor Ray Briggs. “One of many different issues that philosophy and different artwork disciples do is train you how you can … take aside an argument and see its components.”
“Philosophy Speak” was designed to mannequin this analytical method. In accordance with Stolovitch, the unique co-hosts had been “discouraged by the character of public discourse and thought that philosophy provided a method to shed gentle, not warmth, on modern social and political points together with timeless questions in regards to the final nature of issues.”
Landy mentioned 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 matters 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 unique perspective and be taught,” mentioned 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 subject 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 the whole lot, besides your intelligence.”
The present’s enchantment can be attributed to the truth that philosophy is embedded deeply inside in the present day’s popular culture, as seen in tv reveals comparable to “The Good Place.”
“I knew in regards to the trolley downside earlier than it was cool, however I’m actually glad that it’s cool now,” Briggs mentioned. “I feel ‘The Good Place’ did an important job of popularizing lots of philosophy ideas, and I used to be fairly impressed with how well-researched that present was.”
The podcast additionally lauds well-liked motion pictures with a philosophical bent, awarding them their very personal Oscar-esque awards referred to as the Dionysus Awards.
“We invent imaginary classes that motion pictures might win,” Landy mentioned. “We take into consideration the flicks of the previous 12 months which can be philosophically attention-grabbing, and now we have three completely different segments the place we pit two motion pictures towards one another and we’ll discuss to a unique visitor.”
One in every of final 12 months’s winners, the Disney film “Cruella” acquired the present’s Dionysus Award for Greatest Effort to Redeem 80 Years of Questionable Film Historical past for its intentional complexity.
The enduring relevance of philosophy after almost 20 years of the present is obvious 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,” Landy mentioned. “It’s wonderful that John and Ken created a radio present about philosophy. Simply to do this is extraordinary … and there’s nonetheless tons to speak about.”