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David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he teaches courses on Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics.

He is the author and editor of a number of books including “The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys“, “The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions“, and probably most famously, “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm Of Coming Into Existence“.

In today’s episode we explore the concept of antinatalism, the philosophical idea that procreation is morally bad because of the inevitable suffering that beings will experience as a result of their being brought into existence.

We examine David’s assertion that “even the best lives, contrary to popular opinion, ultimately contain more bad than good”, why the negative aspects of life tend to go unrecognized, whether the scale of immorality for bringing life into the world is culturally dependant, why the testimonials of people who claim to have lead a happy life ought not be to taken at face value, the anti-natalist position on sex and abortion, and whether or not there’s anything we can do as a species to make coming into existence worthwhile.

 

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Related Links

r/antinatalism – Anti-natalism community on Reddit (over 12,000 members)

Book Recommendations

          

Image courtesy: RANT 73

Gregory B. Sadler PhD

Greg Sadler (@philosopher70) is a philosopher, academic entrepreneur and writer.

He is the president and co-founder of ReasonIO, a project aimed at taking difficult philosophical texts and thinkers and making them accessible to non-philosophers, as well as providing philosophical workshops, consulting and counselling services to organizations, students and members of the public.

His YouTube channel boasts almost 50,000 subscribers and more than 4.7 millions video views to-date, with more than 1300 videos on everything from existentialism to utilitarianism, and lectures on the teachings of philosophers as diverse as the ancient Greeks like Plato and Aristotle right the way up to modern thinkers such as Martin Heidegger and Albert Camus.

Greg is the editor of Stoicism Today, the official blog for the Modern Stoicism Organization, and the producer of the “Half Hour Hegel” video series.

In today’s episode we explore the various causes and manifestations of anger, the difference between chronic and acute anger, and the relationship between anger and vengeance.

We discuss why some people’s anger becomes directed inwards, towards the self, while other people’s anger is directed towards other people and the outside world, why anger can sometimes be a productive or even an enjoyable experience, and we close up by turning to stoic philosophy for some tips and advice on how to avoid hitting the roof when you’re absolutely fucking steaming.

 

Related Links

ReasonIO – Greg’s website

Greg’s YouTube Channel

Stoicism Today – The official blog for the Modern Stoicism Organization

Greg’s Patreon – Support his YouTube work and gain access to exclusive content

Book Recommendations

               

Image courtesy: Fred

Dr. John Cromby

Dr. John Cromby is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Leicester.

He is author of “Feeling Bodies: Embodying Psychology” a book which explores the nature of feelings and their relationship with other psychological phenomena, and co-author of “Psychology, Mental Health and Distress” which was a British Psychological Society Book of the Year in 2014.

John is part of the team that produced the recent “Power, Threat, Meaning Framework” which is intended as an alternative to more traditional ideas of mental ill health based on psychiatric diagnosis.

He is also a member of the Midlands Psychology Group, a group of psychologists who believe that psychology has served to make people individually responsible for their own misery by ideologically detaching us from the world we live in, and that what are too often seen as private predicaments are in fact best understood as arising out of the public structures of society.

In today’s episode we discuss why the origins of psychological distress lie outside the individual, why modern psychology tends to overstate the amount freedom and flexibility that people have in responding to negative circumstances, why notions such as willpower and resilience are more likely the byproduct of prior advantage than voluntary acts of will, why discussions about economic, political and ideological influence are sorely lacking in discussions around mental health, and why acknowledging the limits of our own personal power can actually prove quite liberating.

 

Related Links

Midlands Psychology Group – for a social materialist psychology

Draft Manifesto for a Social Materialist Psychology of Distress –  identifies the main assumptions of a social materialist psychology

David Smail’s books @ Karnac Press (cheaper than Amazon for brand new copies)

Book Recommendations

                    

Images courtesy: Taecilla 

 

Dr. Christopher Hamilton

Dr. Christopher Hamilton is Reader in Philosophy at King’s College, London, where he teaches philosophy, literature and film.

His research interests include the relationship between philosophy and literature, and between moral, religious and aesthetic value, the nature of good and evil, the philosophy of tragedy, and the work of both Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard.

He is the author of a number of books including “How to Deal with Adversity“, “A Philosophy of Tragedy“, and the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion “Middle Age” from the Art of Living Series.

In today’s episode we discuss the philosophy of middle age, and the midlife crisis.

What does it mean to be middle aged, when does middle age start and why does it matter? We discuss the relationship between the midlife crisis and such things as loss of identity, the search for meaning, and the fear of death.

We ask why the crisis of middle age tends to be a uniquely male phenomenon, whether or not our cultural worship of youthfulness is justified, reasons why the midlife crisis can sometimes find expression in immature and reckless behaviour, but also, why purchasing a leather jacket and a convertible sports car might not necessarily be such a bad thing.
 

Related Links

Christopher’s Profile at King’s College London

Christopher’s Speakers Profile at the Institute of Art and Ideas (includes a bunch of different video talks and debates)

Christopher’s FREE online course on Life, Meaning and Morality

Book Recommendations

                          

Image courtesy: Ubi Desperare Nescio

Just a bit of fun to bring in the new year. We subjected my little boy Roman and his cousin Oliver (both 7-years-old) to a bunch of philosophical questions to see what kinds of answers their innocent young minds might conjure up.

 

 

If you fancy running some of these past you own kids, here are 20 philosophical questions I cobbled together from various questionnaires scattered around the interwebs:

  1. Do aliens exist? Why/why not?
  2. How do you know you’re not just dreaming right now?
  3. How would the world be different if animals could talk?
  4. If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make, and why?
  5. If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?
  6. If you could give one gift to every kid in the world, what gift would you give?
  7. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
  8. If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
  9. What makes somebody a good friend?
  10. Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
  11. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
  12. If you had three wishes, what would they be?
  13. When you’re scared, what do you do to make it less scary?
  14. Who’s the worst person in the world?
  15. Who’s the best person in the world?
  16. What is the most disgusting thing you can think of?
  17. What’s the hardest thing about being a kid?
  18. If you could time-travel, where and when would you go?
  19. What is the meaning/purpose of life?
  20. What is the key to happiness?

Be sure to let us know of you got any particularly funny or creative responses from your little ones in the comments sections below.

Image courtesy: Lord Jim

 

Prof. Massimo Pigliucci

Massimo Pigliucci (@mpigliucci) is Professor of Philosophy at CUNY City College, New York.

He is the co-founder and former co-host of the Rationally Speaking podcast, and founder of the philosophy blogs Footnotes to Plato and How to Be a Stoic.

He is the author of a number of books including “Nonsense on Stilts, How to Tell Science From Bunk“, “Answers for Aristotle, How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life“, and the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion, “How to Be a Stoic, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living“.

In today’s episode we explore the philosophy of stoicism, and why being a stoic has nothing to do with being a grumpy bastard.

We explore the four cardinal virtues of stoicism: practical wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance, the ways in which stoic philosophy relates to modern psychological therapies like CBT,  how stoicism can make your more flexible in the face of adversity, and we even give you three starters exercises to flex your fledgling stoic muscles.

 

Related Links

How to Be a Stoic – An Evolving Guide to Practical Stoicism for the 21st Century

Footnotes to Plato – Because all (Western) Philosophy Consists of Footnotes to Plato

Massimo’s YouTube Channel

Stoic Philosophy Facebook Group

Stoic Fellowship – Helping to Build, Foster, and Connect Stoic Communities Around the World

Book Recommendations

                          

Image courtesy: Bradley Weber