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Philosophy Videos and Podcasts

By Bruce Barbour - April 2023

I have recently joined a philosophy discussion group. The membership of the group is not professional philosophers. Nor is the group typically made up of people who have tertiary level education in philosophy - though there may be one or two. Even the leader is not a person who has tertiary level education in philosophy, though he has taught other subjects at a tertiary level. He just has an interest in philosophy and has done private study in the area and wants to share his interest in the subject.

Personally I also have had an interest in philosophy and over the years, and have read a number of books on the subject. Since joining the group my interest in philosophy has been rekindled. The biggest change between the earlier years of my interest and now is the wealth of material on philosophical subjects on the Internet and in particular on Youtube.

I agree that listening to and viewing philosophy on YouTube videos and listening on Internet podcasts is the lazy man's (or woman's) way of approaching philosophy. It is not sufficient for an academic study of the thoughts of philosophers - though you often see in the comments uni students who are doing philosophy commenting that they understand a topic better after seeing the video.

The approach is quite adequate for me. I do not have the time nor the inclination to become an academic philosopher. I just want to hear of and think about the many varied and interesting, and sometimes strange and contradictory, ideas of some of the truly great minds of humanity. Sometimes to agree. Sometimes to disagree. To go to primary source material would involve reading hundreds, if not thousands, of books. And some of the primary source books that I have looked at are fairly impenetrable to the casual reader. However having watched quite a few videos it has encouraged me to start reading again in this field. 

The best of the YouTube sites and podcast can condense complex philosophical materials into an understandable (and often entertaining) form, suitable for people who are not philosophers.

Below I provide a list of some of my favourite YouTube channels and podcast sites on philosophy. There are plenty of other philosophy channels on YouTube of varying quality and interest. And other podcasts on the Internet as well. These are often worth investigating as they can sometimes nail it on a particular topic of interest even if they are not as good on others.

YouTube Channels

Jeffrey Kaplan - is an American philosophy professor who created YouTube videos for most of his introductory philosophy university course. (He also appears to be writing in mirror - a skill that only a very few can do in real life. Can you guess how he does it in these YouTube videos? The hint is in the word - video.)

Philosophy Vibe - Don't be put off by the animated characters that are used to present these videos. The videos are comparatively short and to the point. One of the aspects I really like is that they usually also present the counter argument to the original argument.

Wireless Philosophy -  They say "Our mission is to introduce people to the practice of philosophy by making videos that are freely available in a form that is entertaining, interesting and accessible to people with no background in the subject." They say there are contributions from "professors from Yale, Stanford, Oxford, MIT, and more!"

The Living Philosophy - Often has interesting takes on philosophers and their philosophies.

Einzelganger - often interesting. Though he has a couple of philosophies he likes to promote.

Eternalised - The presenter is self taught in the area of philosophy and psychology - mainly from reading books - and a few videos as well. However his videos are often interesting.

Podcast Sites

Philosophize This - There are over 170 episodes so far (April 2023). A new episode is added most weeks. Typically half hour podcasts. Usually interesting. Also on YouTube.

Philosopher's Zone - from our own ABC (Australia). Usually half hour interviews with an academic philosopher or an author, discussing a particular philosophical idea. Interest varies depending on topic and the interviewee.

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