DiscoverWithin Reason#70 Philosophize This! - A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy
#70 Philosophize This! - A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy

#70 Philosophize This! - A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy

Update: 2024-06-021
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This episode delves into the world of philosophy with Wes, the host of the popular "Filosophy" podcast. Wes shares his journey into philosophy, emphasizing the importance of finding something you're genuinely interested in, rather than following a strict chronological order. He suggests starting with secondary sources like the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then exploring primary texts. Wes also discusses the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy, highlighting the former's focus on logic and systematization and the latter's emphasis on narrative and meaning. He concludes by advocating for Simone de Beauvoir as an underrated philosopher, praising her emphasis on openness and curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge. The episode then transitions to a discussion about the benefits and challenges of doing philosophy content for a living. Wes reflects on the constant feedback he receives from viewers, acknowledging both the positive aspects of having immediate access to counterarguments and the responsibility that comes with sharing his interpretations of philosophical ideas with a large audience. He emphasizes the importance of encouraging viewers to engage with the source material and not take his word for it. Wes also shares his perspective on the value of philosophy, highlighting its difficulty and the rewards that come with persistent effort.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction and Wes's Philosophy Journey

This Chapter introduces Wes, the host of the "Filosophy" podcast, and discusses his approach to the show, which aims to humanize philosophy and make it accessible to a wider audience. Wes shares his experience of starting the podcast and how his approach has evolved over time, emphasizing the importance of listening to his audience and making the content as engaging as possible.

00:01:41
The Value of Philosophy

This Chapter explores the question of why anyone should care about philosophy. Wes argues that philosophy is essential for critical thinking, understanding assumptions, and formulating questions effectively. He compares philosophy to martial arts, suggesting that it's a valuable tool for improving one's thinking and navigating complex moral situations.

00:10:32
Getting Started with Philosophy

This Chapter provides practical advice on how to get started with philosophy. Wes emphasizes the importance of finding something you're genuinely interested in, rather than following a strict chronological order. He recommends exploring secondary sources like the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then moving on to primary texts. Wes also suggests using the algorithmic method, looking for philosophers whose names you've encountered in other areas of interest.

00:25:53
Analytic vs. Continental Philosophy

This Chapter explores the difference between analytic and continental philosophy. Wes explains that analytic philosophy emphasizes logic, systematization, and formal logic, while continental philosophy focuses on narrative, meaning, and a more poetic approach. He uses examples like Albert Camus's novel "The Outsider" to illustrate the difference between these two approaches.

01:04:05
Underrated Philosophers

This Chapter discusses the concept of underrated philosophers. Wes highlights Simone de Beauvoir as a particularly important figure, praising her emphasis on openness and curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge. He contrasts her approach with more traditional, goal-oriented methods of learning, emphasizing the value of embracing uncertainty and exploring new perspectives.

01:09:21
Overrated Philosophers

This Chapter explores the concept of overrated philosophers. Wes discusses David Hume as a potential candidate for this title, highlighting his apparent contradiction in his theory of empiricism and the missing shade of blue example. He acknowledges that his opinion might be influenced by his contrarian nature and the popularity of Hume among atheists.

01:12:44
Benefits and Challenges of Doing Philosophy Content

This Chapter delves into the benefits and challenges of doing philosophy content for a living. Wes discusses the constant feedback he receives from viewers, acknowledging both the positive aspects of having immediate access to counterarguments and the responsibility that comes with sharing his interpretations of philosophical ideas with a large audience. He emphasizes the importance of encouraging viewers to engage with the source material and not take his word for it. Wes also shares his perspective on the value of philosophy, highlighting its difficulty and the rewards that come with persistent effort.

Keywords

Filosophy
Filosophy is a popular philosophy podcast hosted by Wes, known for its accessible and engaging approach to complex philosophical ideas. The podcast covers a wide range of topics in philosophy, from ancient Greek thinkers to contemporary issues.

Analytic Philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a branch of philosophy that emphasizes logic, clarity, and precision in argumentation. It often uses formal logic and seeks to analyze concepts and propositions in a rigorous and systematic way. Key figures in analytic philosophy include Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Gottlob Frege.

Continental Philosophy
Continental philosophy is a broad term encompassing a range of philosophical traditions that emerged in continental Europe, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. It often emphasizes themes such as existence, meaning, and the human condition. Key figures in continental philosophy include Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Martin Heidegger.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a free online resource that provides comprehensive and peer-reviewed articles on a wide range of philosophical topics. It is a valuable tool for students, researchers, and anyone interested in learning more about philosophy.

Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was a French existentialist philosopher, novelist, and feminist. She is best known for her groundbreaking work "The Second Sex" (1949), which explored the social and cultural construction of gender and challenged traditional notions of femininity. Beauvoir's philosophy emphasized the importance of freedom, responsibility, and authenticity in human existence.

David Hume
David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy, particularly for his contributions to empiricism, skepticism, and the philosophy of mind. Hume's work has had a profound influence on subsequent philosophers, including Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill.

Empiricism
Empiricism is a philosophical theory that emphasizes the role of experience in the formation of knowledge. Empiricists believe that all knowledge ultimately derives from sensory experience, and that reason alone cannot provide us with knowledge of the world. Key figures in empiricism include John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

Missing Shade of Blue
The missing shade of blue is a thought experiment used by David Hume to illustrate a potential counter-example to his theory of empiricism. Hume argues that all ideas are derived from impressions, which are sensory experiences. However, he acknowledges that it is possible to imagine a shade of blue that one has never seen before, suggesting that some ideas might not be directly derived from impressions. This thought experiment raises questions about the limits of empiricism and the nature of imagination.

Philosophize This
Philosophize This is a popular philosophy podcast hosted by Stephen West, known for its accessible and engaging approach to complex philosophical ideas. The podcast covers a wide range of topics in philosophy, from ancient Greek thinkers to contemporary issues.

Q&A

  • What is the best way to get started with philosophy?

    Wes recommends finding something you're genuinely interested in, rather than following a strict chronological order. He suggests exploring secondary sources like the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then moving on to primary texts. He also encourages using the algorithmic method, looking for philosophers whose names you've encountered in other areas of interest.

  • What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy?

    Analytic philosophy emphasizes logic, clarity, and precision in argumentation, often using formal logic. Continental philosophy focuses on narrative, meaning, and a more poetic approach. Analytic philosophers might focus on analyzing concepts and propositions, while continental philosophers might explore themes like existence, meaning, and the human condition.

  • Why is Simone de Beauvoir an underrated philosopher?

    Wes believes Simone de Beauvoir is underrated because she emphasizes openness and curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge. He contrasts her approach with more traditional, goal-oriented methods of learning, emphasizing the value of embracing uncertainty and exploring new perspectives.

  • What is the value of philosophy in a world of specialization?

    Wes argues that philosophy helps us see the forest for the trees, linking together different disciplines and asking better questions about the problems we face. He suggests that continental philosophy, in particular, is valuable for its ability to provide a broader perspective and help us understand the meaning and implications of our specialized knowledge.

  • How can I find good secondary sources for a particular philosopher?

    Wes recommends using the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) as a starting point. He suggests finding secondary sources on Amazon or Goodreads and then cross-checking them with the SEP to see how many times they are referenced in the bibliography. This can help you determine whether a source is still relevant to the current discussion.

  • What is the role of intuition in philosophy?

    Wes suggests that good philosophy often takes an idea that you already find intuitive and helps you articulate and understand it more clearly. He believes that philosophy can help us draw out what is already within us, rather than simply imposing new ideas.

  • What is the importance of moral thought experiments?

    Wes argues that moral thought experiments, even if they are not real-life situations, can be valuable for honing our ethical reasoning skills. He believes that engaging in these thought experiments can help us develop a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of moral dilemmas.

  • What is the relationship between philosophy and action?

    Wes acknowledges that some people criticize philosophy for being too theoretical and lacking practical action. However, he points to figures like Socrates and Simone de Beauvoir as examples of philosophers who embodied their philosophy in their lives. He believes that philosophy can inspire us to act in accordance with our values and make a difference in the world.

  • What are the benefits and challenges of doing philosophy content for a living?

    Wes discusses the constant feedback he receives from viewers, acknowledging both the positive aspects of having immediate access to counterarguments and the responsibility that comes with sharing his interpretations of philosophical ideas with a large audience. He emphasizes the importance of encouraging viewers to engage with the source material and not take his word for it.

  • Why is philosophy so difficult?

    Wes acknowledges that philosophy is difficult because it requires persistent effort and engagement with complex ideas. He encourages listeners to be patient with themselves and to stick with it, as the rewards of philosophical inquiry are worth the effort.

Show Notes

Steven West is the host of "Philosophize This!" one of the world's most popular philosophy podcasts. Listen to it here.

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#70 Philosophize This! - A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy

#70 Philosophize This! - A Beginner's Guide to Philosophy