Apr 9, 2021

Eight Videos On Philosophy As A Way Of Life

This semester, I have been teaching a class at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design titled "Philosophy, Mindfulness, and Life".  "Mindfulness" in that title has a much more broad scope than just contemporary mindfulness movement teachings and techniques.  The class is actually much more focused on what has come in recent years to be referred to a "Philosophy as a Way of Life".

That formulation is most closely associated with the French 20th century philosopher Pierre Hadot, but as I've discussed elsewhere, it is a way of understanding and doing philosophy that has been around since antiquity and continued on down to the present, developing through a number of traditions and movements (and Hadot would agree with this).

Earlier in the semester, I created eight new core concept videos specifically on Philosophy as a way of life for my students enrolled in that class.  I knew they would also be of interest to a much broader audience, so I'm bringing them all together here in one place.  

Five of them are on chapter 3 of Pierre Hadot's book Philosophy As A Way Of Life, entitled "Spiritual Exercises".  

Three of them are on John Sellars' excellent article, "What Is Philosophy As A Way Of Life".

I hope you find them useful for understanding this way of understanding and engaging in philosophy!

Apr 2, 2021

April AMA (Ask Me Anything Session) Coming Up Tomorrow Noon Central

Every month I hold an online AMA - an Ask Me Anything - session for my viewers, listeners, readers, supporters, and other fans. They're hosted on YouTube Live, and I record each session so that people who would like can go back through them.

The next one is coming up tomorrow at Noon Central Time  If there's a question you've been wanting to ask me, pop in to the session and I'll do my best to provide an answer for you. You'll want to get your questions in early, since these sessions tend to draw a lot of viewers, and many of them ask questions.

Since some people ask a lot of questions in these sessions, I prioritize people who haven't yet had a question answered, rather than just answering multiple questions by the same person.

If you click on the video link here, you can go right to the YouTube page. There you can get a question into the queue ahead of time, and you can also set a reminder for when the session starts, if you'd like.

If you'd like to watch and listen to any of the earlier AMA sessions - you can also see what all the questions and comments were for that session by looking at the chat replay on the left side of the screen - here's a link to a playlist containing all of them.

The work involved in these free online events are underwritten by my Patreon supporters. Their pledges help me earn a living for myself and my family doing work I love - making philosophy accessible to people of all walks of life, all over the world.  If you'd like to become a supporter, here's where you can do that.

I hope to see you there, and look forward to an engaging conversation!

Apr 1, 2021

Ten Podcast Episodes on Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra

The very first book by Nietzsche I read, more than 30 years ago, is Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  I'd heard a lot about him from other authors, and I think I remember someone advising me that this was the work to start with, so in my freshman year of college, I bought the copy I still have, and started reading.

Now decades later, it's a work that I teach fairly often, not only in Existentialism classes, but also sometimes in Intro to Philosophy as well.  Some time back, I created a series of core concept lecture videos on book 1 of the work. And then, I converted those into Sadler's Lectures podcast episodes, boosting the sound quality and editing them.

My hope is that you find these episodes useful, interesting, or entertaining. As always, if you'd like to make a contribution to helping me continue my work making classic philosophical texts, thinkers, and topics accessible for people worldwide, consider becoming a monthly supporter on Patreon. If you'd like to make a one-time donation, you can do so directly on Paypal, or on Buy Me A Coffee.

Mar 20, 2021

Next Thinkers for Sadler's Lectures Podcast Selected

Every once in a while, I do polls about which authors' works I should focus on next for the Sadler's Lectures podcast. I ran one earlier this week in three places - Twitter, YouTube, and Patreon - and I think at this point in time I can call the winner of the poll:  Thomas Hobbes.  I'll be producing podcast episodes from the recent core concept videos on his masterwork, Leviathan. 

For those who don't already know, the stock of 800 or so core concept videos I have produced provide the raw material for the podcast episodes. Hence the title "Sadler's Lectures" - that's exactly what they are, lectures I gave originally in video form, and then converted to audio, boosting sound quality, taking out filler words, and exporting into mp3 format podcast episodes.

The four alternatives for the polls were:

  • Anselm of Canterbury - On Freedom of Choice
  • Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
  • Lev Shestov - All Things Are Possible
  • Frantz Fanon - Black Skin, White Masks
Each of these is a work on which, in the last several years, I produced a sequence of short lecture videos, and which I intended eventually to get to producing podcast episodes on.  I'll be doing so for all of them in which remains of this month and throughout next month.  The only question was where I should start.

I take the votes from the polls and add them all together. My Patreon supporters, however, get their votes much more heavily weighted than the general public - each of their votes counts as 20 votes.  17 Patreon supporters have voted.  80 or so people voted on Twitter, and over 700 on YouTube.  Here's how the votes came out (Patreon + Twitter + YouTube)
  • Thomas Hobbes 80 + 14 + 260 = 354
  • Anselm of Canterbury 100 + 23 + 175 = 298
  • Frantz Fanon 80 + 31 + 175 = 286
  • Lev Shestov 80 + 15 + 91 = 186

So, there you go!  I'll be starting with Thomas Hobbes, then moving on to Anselm, then to Frantz Fanon, and then Lev Shestov.  I've got my work cut out for me.  You'll see me posting the podcast episodes in my social media, but if you want to listen to them as soon as they come out, you might want to subscribe to the Sadler's Lectures podcast.  You can do so at its home on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Player FM, iHeart Radio, and plenty of other places online.

Mar 10, 2021

Worlds of Speculative Fiction Session 50 - R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before

This Saturday, we will host the first of our three sessions in the Worlds of Speculative Fiction series focused on R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy (which is part of his larger Second Apocalypse series).  The session will start at Noon Central Time on Saturday, March 13.

As always in covid-19 times, the session is entirely online, and consists of two parts:
  • At 12 PM Central, the video I produced on The Darkness That Comes Before will premiere in my YouTube channel.  I'll be engaging in live chat with viewers as they watch and listen to the video.  Here's the link for that.
  • At 1:40 PM Central, viewers who are interested are invited to hop on to a Zoom session to continue the conversation about this great book and the series.  Here's the link for that.
We'll be continuing on the next two months with the second and third book in the series, The Warrior Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought.  If you're a fan of this eminently philosophical fantasy writer and worldbuilder, I hope you can join us for these sessions!

Feb 21, 2021

Switching up Authors and Books in the Worlds of Speculative Fiction Series

We're in year six of the Worlds of Speculative Fiction series - which moved from in-person to entirely online due to covid-19 - and I've decided to switch things up a bit.  I had put together a full list of 12 authors and their works (two of which we've done already - Liu Cixin and Philip K. Dick), but as I have been rereading to prepare for the third session, it has struck me that some changes are in order.

The third session was to focus on R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy - The Darkness that Comes Before, The Warrior Prophet, and the Thousandfold Thought - and we'd try to cover all of that in one single 90-minute video, followed by the usual 90-minute Zoom session.  There's two main obstacles to that.

One is that it's a LOT of reading.  Bakker's books are quite readable, but there's a number of characters, many connected sub-plots, and a ton of world-building revealed in each of them.  They come in at about 600, 640, and 540 pages.  So, just a bit under 1,800 pages for participants to read before the session.  Well. . .  that's a lot to expect of people to plow their way through!

The second consideration is that, upon my second read of the first volume, there is so much content to cover in these rich works that, in order to do justice to them, I think we'd need more time. Between the magic system, the back-history, the different races, the religions, the geography, the philosophy there is so much packed into these books that there's no way that we can cover enough of this in 90 minutes.

What I've decided to do is pretty simple.  We're going to spend the next three sessions - March, April, May - discussing Bakker's trilogy.  This is like what we did last year when we covered  Ursula K Leguin's six Earthsea books (each of which was 140-200 pages long) in two sessions.  Looking at the schedule, I've also decided to break the Philip Jose Farmer session, focused on his six World of Tiers books, into two sessions as well.  So that means that someone's gotta go!

Here's what I'm envisioning now:

March - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Darkness That Comes Before

April - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Warrior-Prophet

May - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Thousandfold Thought

June - Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers novels
  • The Maker of Universes
  • The Gates of Creation
  • A Private Cosmos

July - Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers novels
  • Behind the Walls of Terra
  • The Lavalite World
  • More Than Fire

August - A.E. Van Vogt's Weapon-Makers novels
  • The Weapon Shops of Isher
  • Weapon Makers

September - Stanislaw Lem's Ijon Tichy stories
  • The Star Diaries
  • The Futurological Congress
  • Peace on Earth
  • Observation on the Spot

October - Neal Stephenson's Anathem
  • Anathem

November - J.G. Ballard's modern dystopias
  • Crash
  • Concrete Island
  • High Rise

December - Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy
  • Northern Lights
  • The Subtle Knife
  • The Amber Spyglass

Feb 16, 2021

Twelve Podcast Episodes on Cicero's On Friendship

One of the texts I started teaching in my classes years ago is On Friendship by the great Roman philosopher and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero.  I find ways to work reading and discussion of this short but rich book into my Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, and Philosophy of Love and Friendship classes.  I've been surprised by how much students in the 21st century respond to the work - they find a lot of value in its treatment of the topics.

Cicero of course draws upon some ideas and insights derived from Aristotle's own treatment of the topics involved in friendships and relationships, found in his Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics.  But On Friendship isn't just adding to Aristotle a few centuries afterwards.  It is a thoughtful, incisive examination of a number of important issues arising out of friendships.

A while back, I shot a sequence of lecture videos on this work, and more recently, I edited them into a set of episodes in the Sadler's Lectures podcast.  There are twelve of them, covering all of the key ideas of the work in depth and detail.  Here's links to each of these podcast episodes
I hope you find these episodes useful and interesting. As always, if you'd like to make a contribution to helping me continue my work making classic philosophical texts, thinkers, and topics accessible for people worldwide, consider becoming a monthly supporter on Patreon. If you'd like to make a one-time donation, you can do so directly on Paypal, or on Buy Me A Coffee.