May 21, 2018

The People Have Spoken - Podcasts Start With Plato!

As I start writing this, we are about to hit a major milestone on Patreon.  Thanks to several recent generous pledges, and several longstanding supporters increasing their level of support, we are right on the threshold of another goal!  And once we pass it, I have committed to doing something major.

For several years, viewers, subscribers, followers, and other fans of my main YouTube channel have been asking me to convert those videos into podcast episodes that they could listen to on the go.  I'd say at this point, I've been asked about that well over 1,000 times.  Doing that sort of work takes a good bit of time, so I committed to starting that process once I reach a sufficient level of crowdfunding support on Patreon.  And now we're almost there! (if you'd like to get us over the line, here's where you can become a supporter).

I don't do a lot of "market research" when it comes to my various projects.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I do almost none.  I'm much more about studying and presenting the material in ways that are faithful to the texts and thinkers, rigorous but also accessible to the world-wide audience of people interested in philosophy.  Before starting up the podcast, though, I thought it might be prudent to get some input about what material I should start with,  So I ran a poll, and we've already got some useful results.

May 16, 2018

New Circuit Meet The Old Circuit

So far, this has been the year of finally getting fit.  My wife enrolled us both in a local gym, and after about a month of watching her go regularly, I decided to start making the time myself.  That was about three months ago.

I started out doing just 40 minutes of cardio - elliptical, rowing, and treadmill - a few times a week.  My cardio workouts now last an hour - 20 minutes of elliptical, 20 of rowing, 10 of the side-stepper, and 10 on a significantly inclined treadmill.  I'm still not a fan of any of those, I have to admit.  But about a month in, I also added the weight machine circuit, and that sort of workout I can say I have come to enjoy, and even look forward to.

You might not know this, but "circuit training" and "weights circuit" are terms that decades back meant something quite different.  They're what, technically speaking, we call "equivocal" or "polysemic" - that is, they have multiple distinct meanings.  When I first started training in high school, and then continued it passionately through my army, college, work, and into my grad school days, I used that earlier meaning.  Then I got out of shape for years, and when I started exercising again, I did so on my own.  Not part of the gym culture, I had no idea that the terms had changed their signification and reference.  And so it was only recently that I learned what they now mean.  I had an experience tonight that brought the old meaning back to mind for me.

May 11, 2018

May AMA (Ask Me Anything) Session Tomorrow!

We have another of our online AMA - Ask Me Anything - sessions coming up tomorrow.  I started hosting these last year for my viewers, subscribers, readers, and other fans.  We use YouTube Live for these events, and you can access it by clicking on this link, once the session starts. You can even click on it now, and set up a reminder for the event.  The session will take place between 12-1 PM Central Time, this Saturday, May 12.

Usually there are already a few questions or comments lined up for me when the event starts.  And as it goes on, they do tend to accumulate a bit quicker than I can work through all of them.  So - just a bit of advice - if you want to be fairly sure that I'll get to your question or comment, you definitely want to ask it early on!  I don't always have the time to get to all of those people ask at the end (even with often going overtime in these sessions).

If you'd like to see the  previous sessions, engaged in fielding questions, addressing comments, even tackling complaints and confusions, here are the links to those previous six AMA sessions:
All the time and labor involved in these - and many other - 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.

May 5, 2018

Nine Videos on Descartes' Discourse on Method

A few years back, I created a one-off video in my Core Concept series on Rene Descartes' famous four "rules of method".  I was developing resources for students in my online World Views and Values class at Marist College (there's also an inexpensive open-enrollment version of that class you can check out or enroll in), and I noticed that some of them were getting a bit confused about the Cartesian approach.  So I shot that video, intending eventually to create more content on Descartes.

My viewers and subscribers liked that video, and for quite some time have been asking me when I would start producing more content on Descartes.  So last month, I managed to set aside the time to shoot eight more videos on the Discourse on Method, creating an entire series covering most of the key ideas and passages of that work.

Here are the links to those nine videos:

I do have to caution that these videos are not intended to substitute for actually reading the work.  In the case of the Discourse, you really don't want to deprive yourself of the experience of reading Descartes.  He's a very clear and readable writer, and it's a rather short work designed specifically to introduce his thought to a general public (he deliberately wrote it in French, rather than the Latin of many of his other works).

Later on down the line, I hope to also produce a whole slew of new videos on two other works by Descartes: his Meditations on First Philosophy, and his Passions of the Soul.  If you'd like to support my ongoing work - or if you find my videos valuable, and just want to give back a bit - consider becoming a Patreon supporter on my page.

Apr 30, 2018

Eight New Interviews and Appearances

Since the last time I posted about guest appearances and interviews, back in February, I've kept fairly busy on that front.  Because of my focused YouTube channel, my business ReasonIO, and my work as editor of Stoicism Today, I get requests to talk about a variety of topics coming in pretty regularly.

This time around, I can say that I've done something new - at least new for me - with my first television appearance on our local NBC station.  I've also continued to make appearances on radio shows, podcasts, and video interviews.

Here are my most recent appearances:

Interview on TMJ-4 News “Ask The Expert”: a television interview hosted by Charles Benson and Shannon Sims, discussing what philosophy is, how it applies to our daily lives, the uses of critical thinking, and the recent Milwaukee SOPHIA event – you can watch here

Interview on KJZZ’s "The Show": an Arizona Public Radio interview hosted by Steve Goldstein, discussing what modern Stoicism is, its roots in ancient Stoic philosophy, some general concepts and practices, and why so many people are interested in Stoicism at present – you can listen here

Guest Appearance on Riverwest Radio's "Image For Hire": a full hour as a guest on the Skrauss' radio show, discussing topics ranging from speculative fiction, Philip Dick, Michael Moorcock, philosophy as experiential and experimental, Stoicism, Roman history and politics, Seneca, Cicero, and the internet - you can listen here

Interview on My Own Worst Enemy podcast: hosted by Danny Whittaker, two full hours discussing what resources and perspectives philosophy contributes to understanding and managing anger, whether anger can be productive, how anger can get directed inward, and different ways anger manifests itself - you can listen here

Interview on Stoic Solutions podcast: hosted by Justin Vacula, discussing what "in accordance with nature" means within classic and contemporary Stoicism.  This leads us into all sorts of other topics connected with Stoicism as well - you can watch or listen here

Guest Appearance on Creative on Purpose: hosted by Scott Perry, a roundtable discussion on Stoicism, the music business, critical thinking, and whether creativity is a virtue or not featuring myself and Scott Tarulli – you can watch or listen here

Interview on the Axiological Atheist Channel: hosted by Damien AtHope, discussion of the nature of practical philosophy, what is required to make philosophical concepts understandable and applicable for general audiences, and how philosophy can help us to clarify our values – you can watch or listen here

Interview on Benjamin A Boyce's Channel:  hosted by Benjamin Boyce, a discussion ranging over the current state of academia, American politics, practical philosophy, prospects for philosophy in the public sphere, and bits of my backstory - you can watch or listen here

Apr 23, 2018

Nine Answers to Common Questions About Stoicism

A few months back, I started a new video series - Answers to Common Questions - to address some of the recurring questions, puzzles, and confusions I see coming up in various settings.  Sometimes they are posted as comments on my YouTube videos, during my online events, or in various social media (I'm on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn regularly).  Sometimes they're coming up in various philosophy-related forums or in sites like Quora.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that it might be useful to create videos as responses.  It's an engaging medium, to start with, and given my current digital presence, they would probably reach quite a few people.  And, having answers in easily linked-to video forms would allow me to provide some useful information with just a minimum of writing, copying, and pasting.

Since Stoicism is of major interest in the present and will likely continue as such in the foreseeable future, the questions and confusions that come up about that struck me as a good place to begin. There are a number of other Stoicism-related topics that I'll be shooting these videos about in the coming months, but it won't be Stoicism all the time for good - there are a lot of other common questions on a host of other philosophical thinkers and topics I'm hoping to get to down the line!

Here are the videos I have produced up to this point:
So, if those are questions on your mind - or if reading those titles piques your curiosity - click on those links and see if the answers sort matters out for you. As I mentioned, I'll be shooting a lot more of these, both about Stoicism and about other topics in philosophy as well. 

If you'd like to support the work that I put in on these and my other videos, consider becoming a Patreon supporter!

Apr 17, 2018

Not Just What - But When - Should We Doubt?

For years I have taught a course online for Marist College, called World Views and Values.  It's essentially an Introduction to Philosophy course, with a bit more emphasis set upon the conception of the world, the social and political sphere, and human nature.  Starting out as a 10-week course, in the last year or so, it has been shortened to an 8-week term - so it's a pretty intense experience for students in the school of Professional Studies, who often have had no background in philosophy.

In the course, we spend one week going through Rene Descartes' Discourse on Method - concentrating mainly on parts 1-4 of the work, but looking as well at the discussion of human beings, machines, and animals in part 5. One key theme of Descartes' work is doubt.  He employs what is called "methodological" or "hyperbolic" doubt as a tool - that's absolutely distinctive to his approach.  And, of course, there are a number of lingering worries that can be raised once Cartesian doubt is introduced.

(I should mention - as a side note - that if you're interested in taking an open-enrollment version of that course, based on the earlier 10-week format (which included more content), I offer it in the ReasonIO Academy at this link - Philosophical World Views and Values).

My students enrolled in the Marist course not only study the text, watch lecture videos, download resources, read through lesson pages, and do some writing assignments.  A main dimension of the class - both in terms of their grade (which they definitely care about!) and their learning - develops through their participation in discussion forums.  And one of the questions I ask them - to provoke conversation among my students - is "should we doubt everything?"