Stumbling Across Thought

Spending hours and hours in a car is useful for catching up with podcasts, especially when traveling across the desolation that is the Southwest and the different sort of desolation that creeps up from moving into the Great Plains – sadly, not that great in traveling excitement, more plain.

Going back to podcasts though, I love me some Escape Pod, a sci-fi podcast, and Deo’s Shadow, a pagan podcast, but I’ve stumbled across a new podcast Philosophy Bites which seems entirely too dry to be fun, but…then, I’m typecast as a librarian so there you have it.

What I like about this podcast is that it’s breaking down bits of philosophical thought into handy fifteen minute segments and from what I’ve inferred they have some rather reputable people voicing their opinions in a interview style format. The one I really like today was called, “What is Philosophy?”. That segment’s speaker was Edward Craig, a retired professor of philosophy at Cambridge University, who tried to sum up the value and meaning of philosophy.

When asked if philosophy is, and should be, open to everyone, he verbally (yet optimistically) shrugs and says that it already is open to everyone, much like how air is open to everyone. Later he does mention the level that one is immersed in the appreciative discourse may have an effect on the produced depth of thought. He mentions how practicing playing a piano and enjoying it is much different than polished performance by a virtuoso and his/her enjoyment. The virtuoso has a different level of awareness to which he can inject subtle inflections and balance skills to create something more than is just done from a sense of enjoyment.

Where as in rhetorical academia there is a strain of thought that says, “Rhetoric is everything, man”, Craig gets asked if everything is in fact really philosophical. He says he wants to remove the philosophical prefix because he thinks it may squelch other possible avenues of where thought could go. He does figure that if you have a process of thought and produce a result from this thought, it is valuable. Going back to enjoyment, even if enjoyment in struggling with thought is lost, at least you come to an understanding of the level of difficulty that is staged with trying to come across a balanced thought.

There’s something about listening to British men talking about fancy schmancy philosophical thought that gets me a touch weak in the knees, but more than a bit worried that I’ll again meander into the English dialect and tell someone to quit being a “bloody wanker” already and that they should just “fetch me cup o’ tea, eh love?”.


6 Responses to Stumbling Across Thought

  1. eatsbugs says:

    I have this problem with one of the podcasts I was listening to. It was a gaming group, and they are all very simple people. No pretenses about them. A fine combination of dialects, and it was hard to get my mind around them all at first. However, after digging into them for three or four hours at a time, I found myself speaking in a hybrid English accent, and found myself very silly.

  2. Sarah says:

    People paid to think are the smartest people alive.

  3. firewings says:

    Or the best at conning the world.

  4. Sarah says:

    Good point.

  5. I’m glad you liked the Philosophy Bites interview with Edward Craig. I thought the analogy with piano playing was very useful. He wrote a great little book called ‘Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction’. I suspect Edward is a far better pianist than he was letting on (he also played cricket at a very high level in his youth)…After interviewing him at his home in Cambridge, he took us to visit Wittgenstein’s grave (not as a pilgrimage, you understand, but because it was right behind his house, and because David, my co-podcaster wrote a bestselling book about Wittgenstein called ‘Wittgenstein’s Poker’).

    We’ve got plenty more interviews in the pipeline, though I’m afraid some of the forthcoming interviewees have American accents (e.g. Michael Sandel) and Australian accents (e.g. Peter Singer) and some are women (e.g. Miranda Fricker). Sorry about that. We’ll try to keep the fancy schmancy level up though. We hadn’t anticipated the effect you mentioned.

    You might also be interested in my podcast ‘Philosophy: The Classics’ which is at

    Best wishes,

  6. firewings says:

    Wow – thanks for the comment Nigel. I really do appreciate the podcast quite a bit. I’ll have to check your classics podcast as well!

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