Review: Philosophy Bites (Podcast)

Helder da Rocha (CC)Philosophy Books

I’ve alway fancied philosophy, but never was able to find the time to appreciate it’s affinity for semantics and over-thought fictional scenarios. And though I don’t mind reading philosophy, but I’m not exactly able to find the time to do it often.

It is there that I see the excellent Philosophy Bites filling the gap. The podcast, by David Edmunds and Nigel Warburton, is a weekly conversation with a philosopher that are between 10 and 20 minutes long. They run the gamut from classic to contemporary, from analytical to highly practical. Some episodes will tackle the likes of Socrates or Plato, Emmanuel Kant or David Hume, while others deftly handle topics like philosophy in a film like Blade Runner.

All of this is probably be interesting to those with doctorates in philosophy, but it’s also surprisingly accessible to people, like myself, who don’t have such credentials.

The most recent episode that seemed a little esoteric was a discussion of free riding. But though the idea’s not well known, it is very easy to grasp. Free riding is, as the name so ably suggests, taking advantage of the positive actions of others while not participating yourself. The example of being environmentally careless while others conserve is the obvious example that Mr. Edmunds quickly explains within the first 90 seconds of the podcast.

And this problem, like most tackled by Philosophy Bites, are incredibly interesting and very rarely discussed in daily life (at least my daily life). To it’s discredit, one could rightly argue that this podcast, like all philosophy, is more concerned with idle discussion of impractical ideas.

And indeed, the recent discussion of the concepts of past, present, and future could feel to some like a purely academic endeavor. Surely it’s an interesting point, you could argue, that events are the same regardless of whether or not they’ve happened yet. But that’s not exactly something that can or should change the way I live my life.

It’s a completely reasonable argument, but the problems with philosophy itself aren’t problems peculiar to this podcast. And though I might offer one, I’ll leave a full-throated defense of philosophy to other people or times.

I certainly enjoy philosophy for itself, but never find the time to tackle complex texts by authors I probably haven’t heard of. But I can–and gladly do–spend 15 minutes per week listening to a friendly and accessible discussion of those books and ideas that I don’t read. If such a thing seems remotely interesting to you I’d strongly recommend that you give Philosophy Bites a try.