With all of the social and political turmoil we are embroiled in currently, some friends of mine have been turning toward the words of philosophers and academics to make sense of the world. Modern and historical minds have long been addressing topics that may deeply concern us or blow our minds. The ponder the lack of ethics from first world governments, or examining why certain pop culture tropes resonate so well with us. One of the best parts about living in this day and age is easy, digestible access to these discussions over podcasts, and these are my favorite podcasts to pack a bowl, fold a load of laundry, and become a little more enlightened.
Pop Culture Philosophers (also on youtube) is on the lighter end of the spectrum of thought provoking content, because it highlights the more insightful aspects of our favorite nerd franchises and topics. Some of their topics include the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and westerns, but also more specific meaningful franchises like Nintendo. My personal favorite episode delves into artificial intelligence, and one of the hosts theorizes that humans strive to create AI because it is a method of living on vicariously through our creation, and would be ideal if it could self evolve. Fans of Spike Jonze’s Her will love this episode.
In Our Time is from BBC and proclaims to keep a “history of ideas” and with episodes starting in 2010, there are plenty of historical ideas to examine relay to modern listeners. I love the relation of once-popular ideas to what we know today, such as my favorite episode where Venus is examined. It was believed to be jungle-like, then discovered to be volcanically hot and crushing in pressure, but the most curious question is whether Earth will face the same fate? Definitely a must for apocalyptic fantasizers.
Why Radio investigates themes and deeper motivations for actions in our everyday lives. Episodes about animals and free will for the scientific, or the relevance of Shakespeare for the romantic, or big data’s threats to democracy for the questioning. I personally love the episode about the possibilities of medical technology increasing human lifespan indefinitely- I suppose I fear my own mortality, but I’m more than willing to listen to theories of people wiser than myself.
Terence McKenna With Art Bell is actually an interview series of Terence McKenna recorded in the late 90s. McKenna believed that time has varying qualities when we experience it as “living, feeling creatures,” instead of being a nondescript medium. This is just one of the many rabbit holes explored by the technonaut and radio host. I think everyone, weed smoker or otherwise, can relate to the agonizing question of why certain periods of time feel amazing while others can’t go right. Absolutely fascinating.