Episode 54, Why Buddhism is True with Robert Wright (Part II)

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Welcome to 'Episode 54 (Part II)', where we'll be engaging in some further analysis and discussion.

Currently Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Robert Wright’s work in journalism, psychology and philosophy has been deeply influential. Robert is the author of many best-selling books including ‘The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, ‘Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, ‘The Evolution of God, and most recently, ‘Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment’.

Our focus for this episode is Robert Wright’s latest book, Why Buddhism is True. In a word, Wright defends the Buddhist view that ‘the reason we suffer is because we don’t see the world clearly’. The reason we don’t see the world clearly, says Buddhism, is because our perception of our own minds and ‘the outside world’ is impaired by illusions. Viewing Buddhism through the lens of evolutionary psychology, Wright argues that we have good reason to think that this Buddhist claim (that suffering is caused by illusion) is true, and that Buddhism also holds the answer to how we can alleviate ourselves from illusion and suffering.

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Contents

Part I. Why Buddhism is True.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.


Episode 54, Why Buddhism is True with Robert Wright (Part I)

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Welcome to 'Episode 54 (Part I)', where we'll be discussing why Robert Wright thinks Buddhism is true.

Currently Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Robert Wright’s work in journalism, psychology and philosophy has been deeply influential. Robert is the author of many best-selling books including ‘The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, ‘Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, ‘The Evolution of God, and most recently, ‘Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment’.

Our focus for this episode is Robert Wright’s latest book, Why Buddhism is True. In a word, Wright defends the Buddhist view that ‘the reason we suffer is because we don’t see the world clearly’. The reason we don’t see the world clearly, says Buddhism, is because our perception of our own minds and ‘the outside world’ is impaired by illusions. Viewing Buddhism through the lens of evolutionary psychology, Wright argues that we have good reason to think that this Buddhist claim (that suffering is caused by illusion) is true, and that Buddhism also holds the answer to how we can alleviate ourselves from illusion and suffering.

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/silently meditates

Contents

Part I. Why Buddhism is True.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.


Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part IV - Further Analysis and Discussion)

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Welcome to 'Episode 53 (Part IV)', where we'll be engaging in some further analysis and discussion.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/wills itself to power

Contents

Part I. The Life of Nietzsche

Part II. Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Part III. Beyond Good and Evil

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion


Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part III - Beyond Good and Evil)

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Welcome to 'Episode 53 (Part III)', where we'll be discussing Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/wills itself to power

Contents

Part I. The Life of Nietzsche

Part II. Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Part III. Beyond Good and Evil

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion


Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part II - Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

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Welcome to 'Episode 53 (Part II)', where we'll be discussing Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/wills itself to power

Contents

Part I. The Life of Nietzsche

Part II. Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Part III. Beyond Good and Evil

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion


Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part I - The Life of Nietzsche)

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Welcome to 'Episode 53 (Part I)', where we'll be discussing the life of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/wills itself to power

Contents

Part I. The Life of Nietzsche

Part II. Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Part III. Beyond Good and Evil

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion


Episode 45, Christianity, Gender and Society (Part II)

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Welcome to 'Episode 45, Christianity, Gender and Society (Part II)', where we'll be discussing secular challenges and responses to the Church's teachings on gender.

Out now! Our audiobook ‘Developments in Christian Thought’ is free to download on all major podcast apps, and at our website www.thepanpsycast.com/audiobook. For more information, take a little peak in the iTunes description (or at the bottom of this page).

The audiobook is made up of 24-chapters, equally divided into 2-parts, which have been imaginatively named Part I and Part II. Part I contains 12 in-depth discussions, in which we talk through the history of theological thought within Christianity (as specified by the OCR Developments in Christian Thought specification). In Part II, we'll be interviewing some of the biggest names in theology and philosophy, to name but a few, Yujin Nagasawa, Joseph Shaw, Eric Metaxas, Christopher Rowland, Alison Stone, Michael Wilcockson, David Ford, Peter Ochs and Tim Mawson!

Next week, normal service will resume with ‘Episode 46, Peter Adamson and the History of Women in Philosophy (Part I)’. Thank you for all of your support, especially all of our patrons. Projects like this would not be possible without you. If you want to support the show you can do so by visiting www.patreon.com/panpsycast.

If you listened to last week’s episode, rather than jumping over to our audiobook page, kick back and enjoy 'Chapter VIII. Gender and Society (Part II)'.

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Contents

Part I. Christian Teachings (21:15).

Part II. Secular Challenges and Responses (01:06:30).

Episode 45, Christianity, Gender and Society (Part I)

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Welcome to 'Episode 45, Christianity, Gender and Society (Part I)', where we'll be discussing Christian Teachings on sex and gender.

We've been working tirelessly on our upcoming audiobook, Developments in Christian Thought, which is due to be released, free of charge, on August 28th 2018. If you're listening to this past August 28th, you can find a link to the audiobook in the iTunes description (or at the bottom of this page).

We can't wait to share it with you. So we decided to release one of our favourite chapters early. What you're about to hear is Part I of 'Chapter VIII. Gender and Society'. In this instalment, we look at the history of the Church, relating to issues surrounding sex and gender. 

Next week, we'll be releasing the second instalment of this chapter, where we'll be looking at secular challenges to the church, through the work of thinkers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Harriet Taylor.

The audiobook is 24-chapters long. As well as 12 discussions between myself, Olly and Andrew, you can expect interviews with Yujin Nagasawa, Daniel Hill, Thom Atkinson, Peter Adamson, Joseph Shaw, Eric Metaxas, Christopher Rowland, Alison Stone, Michael Wilcockson, David Ford, Peter Ochs and Tim Mawson. As I mentioned, it's free, so hit the link in the iTunes description. If it's not August 28th yet, then kick back and enjoy 'Chapter VIII. Gender and Society (Part I)'.

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Contents

Part I. Christian Teachings (21:15).

Part II. Secular Challenges and Responses (01:06:30).

Episode 42, The Nature or Attributes of God (Part IV - Further Analysis and Discussion)

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Welcome to Episode 42 (Part IV of IV), where we'll be engaging in some further analysis and discussion.

For religious believers, considering the questions that surround the nature or attributes of God, is important in their attempt to form a coherent understanding of their creator.

In the Summa Theologica, shortly after arguing for the existence of God, Saint Thomas Aquinas writes the following: “Having recognised that a certain thing exists, we have still to investigate the way in which it exists, that we may come to understand what it is that exists.” This seems like a peculiar thing to state. I know that there exists something, but I have no idea as to what this thing is. As Brian Davies points out in his book Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, this not such an odd statement after all. Suppose I attempt to open a door, and something stops it from opening. I might say, ‘well something is certainly in the way’. If it makes sense to make this statement, it also makes sense to ask, 'what is it'?

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This episode is sponsored by Sudio headphones. Sudio provides some of the highest quality and most fashionable headphones on the market - at an affordable price. Click here to find out more!

Don't forget to use the discount code PANPSY for 15% off any purchase.



Part I. Omnipotence
Part II. Omniscience
Part III. Omnibenevolence
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 42, The Nature or Attributes of God (Part III - Omnibenevolence)

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Welcome to Episode 42 (Part III of IV), where we'll be discussing the philosophical questions surrounding 'omnibenevolence'.

For religious believers, considering the questions that surround the nature or attributes of God, is important in their attempt to form a coherent understanding of their creator.

In the Summa Theologica, shortly after arguing for the existence of God, Saint Thomas Aquinas writes the following: “Having recognised that a certain thing exists, we have still to investigate the way in which it exists, that we may come to understand what it is that exists.” This seems like a peculiar thing to state. I know that there exists something, but I have no idea as to what this thing is. As Brian Davies points out in his book Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, this not such an odd statement after all. Suppose I attempt to open a door, and something stops it from opening. I might say, ‘well something is certainly in the way’. If it makes sense to make this statement, it also makes sense to ask, 'what is it'?

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/attempts to reconcile evil with its existence

This episode is sponsored by Sudio headphones. Sudio provides some of the highest quality and most fashionable headphones on the market - at an affordable price. Click here to find out more!

Don't forget to use the discount code PANPSY for 15% off any purchase.



Part I. Omnipotence
Part II. Omniscience
Part III. Omnibenevolence
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 42, The Nature or Attributes of God (Part II - Omniscience)

Classic Cast.jpg

Welcome to Episode 42 (Part II of IV), where we'll be discussing the philosophical questions surrounding 'omniscience'.

For religious believers, considering the questions that surround the nature or attributes of God, is important in their attempt to form a coherent understanding of their creator.

In the Summa Theologica, shortly after arguing for the existence of God, Saint Thomas Aquinas writes the following: “Having recognised that a certain thing exists, we have still to investigate the way in which it exists, that we may come to understand what it is that exists.” This seems like a peculiar thing to state. I know that there exists something, but I have no idea as to what this thing is. As Brian Davies points out in his book Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, this not such an odd statement after all. Suppose I attempt to open a door, and something stops it from opening. I might say, ‘well something is certainly in the way’. If it makes sense to make this statement, it also makes sense to ask, 'what is it'?

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/attempts to reconcile your knowledge that it will buffer, with its own free-will

This episode is sponsored by Sudio headphones. Sudio provides some of the highest quality and most fashionable headphones on the market - at an affordable price. Click here to find out more!

Don't forget to use the discount code PANPSY for 15% off any purchase.



Part I. Omnipotence
Part II. Omniscience
Part III. Omnibenevolence
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 42, The Nature or Attributes of God (Part I - Omnipotence)

Classic Cast.jpg

Welcome to Episode 42 (Part I of IV), where we'll be discussing the philosophical questions surrounding 'omnipotence'.

For religious believers, considering the questions that surround the nature or attributes of God, is important in their attempt to form a coherent understanding of their creator.

In the Summa Theologica, shortly after arguing for the existence of God, Saint Thomas Aquinas writes the following: “Having recognised that a certain thing exists, we have still to investigate the way in which it exists, that we may come to understand what it is that exists.” This seems like a peculiar thing to state. I know that there exists something, but I have no idea as to what this thing is. As Brian Davies points out in his book Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology, this not such an odd statement after all. Suppose I attempt to open a door, and something stops it from opening. I might say, ‘well something is certainly in the way’. If it makes sense to make this statement, it also makes sense to ask, 'what is it'?

The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/attempts to do the logically impossible

This episode is sponsored by Sudio headphones. Sudio provides some of the highest quality and most fashionable headphones on the market - at an affordable price. Click here to find out more!

Don't forget to use the discount code PANPSY for 15% off any purchase.



Part I. Omnipotence
Part II. Omniscience
Part III. Omnibenevolence
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 37, Religious Language (Part IV – Further Analysis and Discussion)

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Welcome to Episode 37 (Part IV of IV), where we'll be engaging in some further analysis and discussion.

Broadly speaking, the term 'religious language' refers to statements or claims made about God or gods. Many problems arise in the field of religious language, but our principal focus in this episode will be the problems that arise within the Abrahamic religions (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Simply put, it is unclear how one could use human-made language, to talk meaningfully about something infinitely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely loving. This problem is worrisome to believers as it has the potential to undermine their traditions; if we cannot speak meaningfully about God, then the texts and teachings of Abrahamic faiths can only be deemed unintelligible (i.e. impossible to understand). 

In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume alluded to the problem as follows:

But when we look beyond human affairs… when we carry our speculations into the two eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the creations and formulation of the universe; the existence and properties of spirits; the powers and operations of one universal Spirit existing without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, infinite and incomprehensible: We must be far removed from the smallest tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got quite the reach of our faculties.
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Part I. The Via Negativa
Part II. Saint Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Part III. The Verification and Falsification Principles
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 37, Religious Language (Part III - The Verification and Falsification Principles)

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Welcome to Episode 37 (Part III of IV), where we'll be discussing the verification and falsification principles.

Broadly speaking, the term 'religious language' refers to statements or claims made about God or gods. Many problems arise in the field of religious language, but our principal focus in this episode will be the problems that arise within the Abrahamic religions (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Simply put, it is unclear how one could use human-made language, to talk meaningfully about something infinitely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely loving. This problem is worrisome to believers as it has the potential to undermine their traditions; if we cannot speak meaningfully about God, then the texts and teachings of Abrahamic faiths can only be deemed unintelligible (i.e. impossible to understand). 

In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume alluded to the problem as follows:

But when we look beyond human affairs… when we carry our speculations into the two eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the creations and formulation of the universe; the existence and properties of spirits; the powers and operations of one universal Spirit existing without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, infinite and incomprehensible: We must be far removed from the smallest tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got quite the reach of our faculties.
The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/commits itself to the flames

Part I. The Via Negativa
Part II. Saint Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Part III. The Verification and Falsification Principles
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 37, Religious Language (Part II – Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein)

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Welcome to Episode 37 (Part II of IV), where we'll be discussing Saint Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Broadly speaking, the term 'religious language' refers to statements or claims made about God or gods. Many problems arise in the field of religious language, but our principal focus in this episode will be the problems that arise within the Abrahamic religions (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Simply put, it is unclear how one could use human-made language, to talk meaningfully about something infinitely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely loving. This problem is worrisome to believers as it has the potential to undermine their traditions; if we cannot speak meaningfully about God, then the texts and teachings of Abrahamic faiths can only be deemed unintelligible (i.e. impossible to understand). 

In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume alluded to the problem as follows:

But when we look beyond human affairs… when we carry our speculations into the two eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the creations and formulation of the universe; the existence and properties of spirits; the powers and operations of one universal Spirit existing without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, infinite and incomprehensible: We must be far removed from the smallest tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got quite the reach of our faculties.
The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/commits itself to the flames

Part I. The Via Negativa
Part II. Saint Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Part III. The Verification and Falsification Principles
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 37, Religious Language (Part I – The Via Negativa)

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Welcome to Episode 37 (Part I of IV), where we'll be discussing religious language and 'the via negativa', also known as 'the apophatic way'.

Broadly speaking, the term 'religious language' refers to statements or claims made about God or gods. Many problems arise in the field of religious language, but our principal focus in this episode will be the problems that arise within the Abrahamic religions (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Simply put, it is unclear how one could use human-made language, to talk meaningfully about something infinitely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely loving. This problem is worrisome to believers as it has the potential to undermine their traditions; if we cannot speak meaningfully about God, then the texts and teachings of Abrahamic faiths can only be deemed unintelligible (i.e. impossible to understand). 

In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume alluded to the problem as follows:

But when we look beyond human affairs… when we carry our speculations into the two eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the creations and formulation of the universe; the existence and properties of spirits; the powers and operations of one universal Spirit existing without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, infinite and incomprehensible: We must be far removed from the smallest tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got quite the reach of our faculties.
The file size is large, please be patient whilst the podcast buffers/downloads/commits itself to the flames

Part I. The Via Negativa
Part II. Saint Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein
Part III. The Verification and Falsification Principles
Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion

Episode 36, The Daniel Dennett Interview (Part I - Philosophy of Religion)

Welcome to Episode 36 (Part I of II), where we'll be discussing philosophy of religion with Professor of philosophy, Daniel C. Dennett.

In the words of A. C. Grayling, Professor "Daniel C. Dennett is perhaps the most distinguished philosopher in the world".

In a 2013 study by Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, alongside philosophers Slavoj Zizek and Peter Singer, Daniel Dennett was ranked amongst the top 5 global thought leaders.

Currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, Daniel is best known for his contributions to cognitive science, philosophy of mind and philosophy of religion. His works Consciousness Explained, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Breaking the Spell and his latest work, From Bacteria to Bach and Back have had an immense impact in the worlds of philosophy and science. 

For many, Daniel Dennett, known as ‘one of the four horsemen of new atheism’, is a household name, celebrated as a man who has explained away the hard problem of consciousness, religion, and fundamental questions surrounding free-will.

We’re going to be discussing Daniel Dennett’s approach to philosophy of religion in Part I, before we dive into philosophy of mind in Part II.

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Part I. Philosophy of Religion

Part II. Philosophy of Mind


Episode 33, Yujin Nagasawa and 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists' (Part II)

Welcome to Episode 33 on 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists' (Part II of II).

Yujin Nagasawa is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, as well as President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion and Co-Director of the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion. Obtaining his PhD from the Australian National University in 2004, Nagasawa’s work in philosophy is extensive, focusing on a range of topics from the problems surrounding consciousness to the nature and existence of God. 

Our focus for Episode 33, is Nagasawa’s ‘The Problem of Evil for Atheists’. The argument can be stated as follows, atheists believe that the world is generally good and they are happy and grateful to exist i.e. they are existential optimists. However, our entire evolutionary biological system is based upon the painful, miserable suffering of the weak. So, why should we think that the world is overall good and that we should be grateful to exist, if our existence depends on a violent, cruel and unfair biological system which guarantees pain and suffering for unaccountably many sentient animals? Nagasawa argues that the theist is in a better position to answer this question than the atheist, suggesting that the problem of evil provides good reason to abandon atheism and adopt theism.

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Part I. 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists'.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.


Episode 33, Yujin Nagasawa and 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists' (Part I)

Welcome to Episode 33 on 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists' (Part I of II).

Yujin Nagasawa is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, as well as President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion and Co-Director of the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion. Obtaining his PhD from the Australian National University in 2004, Nagasawa’s work in philosophy is extensive, focusing on a range of topics from the problems surrounding consciousness to the nature and existence of God. 

Our focus for Episode 33, is Nagasawa’s ‘The Problem of Evil for Atheists’. The argument can be stated as follows, atheists believe that the world is generally good and they are happy and grateful to exist i.e. they are existential optimists. However, our entire evolutionary biological system is based upon the painful, miserable suffering of the weak. So, why should we think that the world is overall good and that we should be grateful to exist, if our existence depends on a violent, cruel and unfair biological system which guarantees pain and suffering for unaccountably many sentient animals? Nagasawa argues that the theist is in a better position to answer this question than the atheist, suggesting that the problem of evil provides good reason to abandon atheism and adopt theism.

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Part I. 'The Problem of Evil for Atheists'.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.


Episode 31, Ludwig Wittgenstein with Prof. Richard Gaskin (Part II - Philosophical Investigations)

Welcome to Episode 31 on Ludwig Wittgenstein (Part II of II) with Prof. Richard Gaskin.

Ludwig Wittgenstein was an Austrian-British philosopher whose work focused on the philosophy of mathematics, logic, the philosophy of mind, and most notably, the philosophy of language.

Wittgenstein’s influence on the world of philosophy has been phenomenal. The study of philosophy was immensely important to Wittgenstein, not only as an academic discipline but as a form of therapy. In Ludwig’s own words, he describes philosophy as, "the only work that gives me real satisfaction".

Wittgenstein’s work can be divided into an early period, exemplified by the Tractatus (our focus for Part I), and a later period, articulated in the Philosophical Investigations (which is our focus for Part II). Early Wittgenstein was concerned with the logical relationship between propositions and the world. He thought that by providing an account of this relationship, he had solved every philosophical problem. The later Wittgenstein rejected many of the assumptions of the Tractatus, arguing that the meaning of words is best understood as their use within a given language-game.

Wittgenstein’s life and work are astonishing. His mentor, Bertrand Russell, described him as "the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating".

This week in Part II, we'll be discussing Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations from 1953. 

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Part I. The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (08:00 in Part I)

Part II. The Philosophical Investigations (start of Part II)

Part III. Further Analysis and Discussion (45:45 in Part II)


Episodes 29-31 are proudly supported by New College of the Humanities. To find out more about the college and their philosophy programmes, please visit www.nchlondon.ac.uk/panpsycast