I was really thrilled by the podcast you sent. It was a unique experience, seeing philosophy living in our culture. I’ve never before heard my work discussed like that, and rarely as intelligently. What was wonderful were all the digressions, but then everyone got back to the issues, and usually you came out right -or right enough, given where I was in the path of my thought when I wrote those essays.
…So thanks for the stupendous honor you have done me here. I enjoyed every minute, including the song at the end.
I was pleased and surprised by this discussion. Three former philosophy students took on the task of discussing different texts, and though there is a lot of irreverent comments on professional philosophy, it is very high level. I listened to the whole podcast, and felt exalted afterward.
PEL is really a lovely site, and I can see why it is popular. Incidentally, Kurt Baier, who was a moral philosopher who chaired the dept when I was at Pitt, noted that Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living, but added — the over-examined life is not worth writing home about either!
Intelligent and funny – a rare combo
The best philosophy podcast on iTunes. In fact, one of the best podcasts on iTunes. These guys know their stuff, and importantly, know how to explain obscure philosophical concepts to the uninitiated. The fact that all 3 guys have a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. Highly recommended. Some of the early episodes suffer from twitchy audio, but they’ve resolved those problems now. The episodes on Hobbes and Nietzsche are particularly good episodes with which to start.
Seriously fun and informative conversations
Like: Unlike most philosophy podcasts, this one really works. It’s a long-form (over an hour, usually) discussion among three former philosophy grad students discussing brief readings from core philosophy. What keeps this show on my subscribe list is that they explain their core arguments in clear English, and don’t hesitate to object to it, or each other, in an entertaining and unpretentious way. This is not an abstract discourse on ideas, either; these guys care about how philosophy helps us better undstand what’s really going on in our experience. In their own words, they focus on ideas instead of fetishizing dead guys. Further, it’s not a contentious-for-the-sake-of-“good radio” show, but a fun and collaborative discussion among people who appear to care about the personal philosophical enterprise. Needs Improvement: They sometimes break one of their self-imposed rules, by assuming that you *do* know some philosophy. For example, in the show on Camus, they just start discussing Existentialism (a term that’s taken on all kinds of meanings in the wild) without any introductory definition of what it is or how it arose. So before they get to the text’s core argument I would appreciate a bit more stage setting which better indicates who this philosopher was, when they lived, and what they’re reacting to. They often get to much of this material, but often much later in the episode. Verdict: If you’ve been looking for an accessible philosophy podcast, and don’t mind the long format, you should try this show. I strongly advise starting with episode 1, as references to previous episodes appear to accrete. Definitely worth listening to.
Compelling & thought provoking.
Really interesting stuff guys. I appreciate the opposing views and the respect you give to the subject matter and each others opinions. You’ve got another subscriber.
— Quinten Schmit
A thoughtful, fun, provocative podcast.
Do you miss breezy, chatty conversations over Very Important Matters with friends where laughs and ideas keep roll ing? Then these are your fellows. Lofty matters considered with a tell-it-like-it-is style. Hosted by self-exiled scholars with productive lives outside the Ivory Tower, but who find the fun in throwing water balloons of reality-check wisdom back over their shoulders .
— Bruce Scherer
I listen therefore I am
These three guys go along way to making dry, academic tomes exciting! (Yes … that’s a good thing). I’m glad they came down from their ivory towers to illuminate ideas to the masses ! I can hardly wait until they tackle Wittgenstein … if they can make me understand him I will owe them my first born! Great podcast guys … look forward to each new episode!
— Howard Seaton
Danto Digs it
I have surveyed literally hundreds of podcasts, and this is one of my favorites. It’s smart, engaging, and it makes difficult ideas accessible to non specialists — something that’s not easy to do. This was all backed up by what Arthur Danto recently had to say about the podcast. “I was really thrilled by the podcast. It was a unique experience, seeing philosophy living in our culture . I’ve never before heard my work discussed like that, and rarely as intelligently. What was wonderful were all the digressions, but then everyone got back to the issues, and usually you came out right -or right enough, given where I was in the path of my thought when I wrote those essays.” Keep up the good work guys.
— Lifelong Learner
One of my favorite podcasts!
This podcast is just the right mix of humor, serious debate, and deep philosophical thought. I look fOlWard to each time my iTunes podcast listing cycles and shows a new episode to enjoy. Keep up the great work guys!
— Fred Hsu
best philosophy podcast
honest, intelligent, entertaining, brilliant.
One Great Podcast
Having been a mathematics grad student many years ago who spent way too much time in Saul Kripke’s office in the philiosophy department I have to say that this is the most critical and well read philosophy podcast on itunes. These guys not only seem to –! be able to present this stuff in a meaningful and non-academic way (read jargon free) but at the same time they do not pass over or dumb down the technical difficulties … as a working mathematician (read topologist) who still loves and reads these books they have really improved my hour long commute to DC …..
Irreverent yet well-informed, a delightful listen
As an amateur philosopher, I am always looking for ways to broaden my understanding of the great philosophers, but have neither the time nor discipline to actually read through them. The Partially Examined Life feels like it was created just for me! –! These guys have done their homework, but aren’t afraid to admit the limits of their own understanding. They provide an accessible introduction to many of the great works and ideas, and more importantly have a great time doing so. Philosophy hasn’t been this much fun since Socrates stopped doing stand up after the two-drink hemlock minimum.
— Ernest Prabhakar
Dialogue is the answer
There are several excellent philosophy podcasts available… but given those podcasts’ lecture and/or interview format, they miss the energy, creativity, and genuine community generated by PEL’s 3-5 person conversations… Dialogue is the show’s method–a playful yet respectful give-and-take, in which the podcast’s regulars and guests avoid speaking over each other and instead try to help each other articulate and clarify their respective thoughts and positions about the text(s) at hand. And if you despair of the monologism of contemporary intellectual debate, then you may find that dialogue like this is the answer. This is not a podcast to sample and judge after ten minutes, however. Genuine conversations, like genuine relationships, take time, so if you find one podcast not to your liking, try another, and try to listen to its entirety… Each of the regulars… as well as guests… proves a distinct and reliable voice. One gets to know each speaker’s ethos, and it’s fun to anticipate the moves they make in each conversation, and perhaps even more fun to be surprised by their willingness to deviate from their own norms. The productions are solid, with just enough of a home studio feel to remind you that this show is an avocation for these folks, not a vocation, though they approach the discussions with the seriousness (and serious humor) of a genuine calling. The intellectual depth and breadth are impressive, and the humor is wise, warm, and wry. It’s a pleasure to witness the dialogue that PEL has been developing these several years, and I heartily recommend that others share in the conversation.
— DOD Poet
From Site/Facebook Group Comments
I just wanted to let you guys know how much your work is appreciated. For someone in grad school again now in philosophy (after a decade hiatus post M.A.), this podcast makes for great listening back and forth to campus and during otherwise mind-numbing work. It’s actually better that you three are not traditional, donnish academics – your perspective is fresh and honest rather than edited and revised and edited and revised and… anyway, makes for a great intro to some topics in philosophical history that I didn’t previously know much about.
So I’ve been working my way through the podcast after discovering it through enthusiastic word of mouth a month or so ago. Just now making it to the Danto on Art episode, I was struck by the intro conversation on your views regarding philosophy, specifically Seth’s discussion of just how much time and effort you guys put into doing this. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate that effort. Your podcast/blog is incredibly interesting and entertaining and I hope you find the energy to keep it up. I studied philosophy in college and, having graduated a couple of years ago now, miss it dearly. You guys go a long way toward keeping life interesting and frequently provoke late-night sessions of drunken philosophizing among other recent grad friends of mine. Fantastic work.
Hey guys. I’m a truck driver from Minneapolis. I drive to Iowa, Illinois, back to MN (putting me in Madison, WI four times a week). I am unfortunate enough to have pissed away any opportunity for attending actual academic philosophy courses but fortunate enough to have access to your podcast. It’s been a useful distraction while driving through the BORING Wisconsin countryside. Love what you’re doing, keep it up.
— Travis the philosophizing trucker
“PEL is so appealing to me because by vocalizing your understanding, or attempts to understand, you model critical reading and critical thinking… Thank you for all that you do.”
— Joe Tab
For more reviews, see comments to our About Us page.
Reviews on other Sites
An acquaintance recently introduced me to The Partially Examined Life. It is a blog and podcast on all issues of philosophy. I stayed up later than I should last night listening to the most recent podcast, #38, on Bertrand Russell, math, and logic. I am like a kid in a candy store! Just read through the list of podcast topics and you will see what I mean. Who could not be excited by Locke on political power, anything by Montaigne, and a discussion on the mind that includes Turing, Searle, Chalmers, Churchland, Dennett, et al.?
The guys at the Partially Examined Life site host a philosophy podcast that is worth checking out if you have an interest in philosophy… No cows are sacred with these guys – if you feel the need to hear Socrates referred to as “a major @sshole”, then this is the show for you. Be warned though, this is not a show to listen to while weaving through traffic on a moped or operating heavy machinery. For the casual listener, the show can be quite intense…
I’ve been listening to the podcast The Partially Examined Life in the studio… with much satisfaction. I like the banter, the rim shots, the chemistry between the characters there, the Jack Black-like musician (Mark Linsenmayer ), the sad one with calm voice who usually guides the rudder of the conversation back into the topic (Seth Paskin), the avuncular and wry Wes Alwan. What’s cool is that the internet has shown a spotlight on the life of mind of other communities of philosophy, you don’t have to get tenure to live the properly examined life.
Kudos by Email
I think this is fantastic. However, I cannot sincerely assert that I am glad you sent me this link, as I will surely never sleep again. Very nicely done!
All the best,
— Katie M.
I wanted to say thanks for your podcast, I appreciate the knowlege that you three share so willingly.
And best of all is the enthusiasm and joy that radiates from your friendship, even from sad/calm Seth.
I really appreciate your discussions. I really like the balance you strike with serious subjects, allowing yourselves to play with these huge ideas and making it lots of fun at the same time. It’s like I’m sitting in someone’s living room with a bunch of guys, maybe a beer in hand, and a bowl of chips and guacamole close by. We’re discussing serious life questions, and humor (guy humor, of course) is interjected into the conversation, making pure sense of the discussion, and making the evening so much more fun at the same time. I imagine lots of belly laughs throughout the night. No philosophy discussion should be without at least a few of them. I also like the fact that you’re not afraid to take adequate time to discuss these subjects.