Mental Floss

Western Philosophy (2002)

 

 

Populated with a mixed bag of experts, with competencies ranging from ancient philosophy and religious thought to more contemporary philosophical ideas and problems, ‘Western Philosophy’ chooses to trace the evolution of (western) philosophy from classical Greece, its development in Europe through the medieval period and the enlightenment into modern existentialist thought. This audio-visual asks ‘what is philosophy, why it is important’, and examines its intricate relationship with religion, spirituality, and the sciences. Has its moments and misses – probably not a bad way to spend three hours of your precious time. Or should I say, being and time. Split into three parts.

Read More…

Pierre Bourdieu: Sociology is a Combat Sport

‘La sociologie est un sport de combat’ was how Pierre Bourdieu stated it. My first brush with Bourdieu was through the articulation of ‘cultural capital’ and ‘symbolic violence’. It is quite a challenge to engage with the ‘Bourdieuesque’ deployment of language – complex constructions and almost a maze-like language interface. But, it is all worth the while. Apart from being a prolific ‘sociological genius’, what strikes me most is that he became, through his ‘combat sport’, an inspiration for so many movements opposed to neo-liberalism and globalisation in France and elsewhere. His legacy of social concern lives on, and the world is better for that.

Read More…

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Faith and Language

Wittgenstein in many ways opened quite a few vistas for me to re-examine my epistemological and existential bearings. The first excerpt here from 1984 gives a rather crisp and lucid account of Wittgenstein’s ‘reliogiosity’ and his piercing contemplation of the notion of Faith-God. The second excerpt (Bryan Magee in conversation with Professor Anthony Quinton) provides a glimpse into his central and important philosophy of language, both the pragmatic view of language as well as the logical view. The first excerpt is split into two parts and the second excerpt is split into five.

Read More…

Bertrand Russel: Face to Face. March 4th, 1959.

In 1959, as part of the BBC series “Face to Face”, the influential mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russel had an engaging conversation with John Freeman, touching on various aspects of his professional and personal life. Russel comes across as a particularly ‘like-able’ human being, with an abiding mistrust of human war making and hate mongering, and according to him “… love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more closely and closely interconnected we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way and if we are to live together and not die together we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.” A timely message from back in time for these times of strife and hate.

Read More…

Carl Gustav Jung: An Extraordinary Journey. 1957

In this candid 1957 interview, conducted just four years prior to his death, influential thinker and founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung discusses his remarkable life and career – from early work with Sigmund Freud and Jung’s break with psychoanalysis to his groundbreaking explorations of the dream world. Guided by insightful interviewer Richard I. Evans, this conversation is at once an intimate self-portrait and a unique commentary on the scope and meaning of his life’s work.

Read More…

Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School. 1978

In this rare televised broadcast from February 2, 1978, the philosopher and political theorist Herbert Marcuse explains how the Frankfurt School re-evaluated Marxism when world economic crisis failed to destroy capitalism as predicted by Marx. He also analyses the philosophical roots of the student rebellions of the sixties. Its intruiging to see Marcuse explain his philosophical and political positioning. (Split into five parts. Language is English.)

Read More…

Judith Butler, Gender Theorist

Judith Butler is the Maxine Elliot professor in the departments of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley and this 2006 ‘bio-pic’ by Paule Zajdermann (for German French TV Channel ‘arte’) gives a perspective on her intellectual life and her influential thought. This includes interviews and sections of her lectures. (in English and French with French subtitles | split into six parts). The voice-over is in French (without subtitles), but thankfully its brief, and, she speaks in English (with a bit of German). Sync problem with part four, just listen in.

Read More…

Anthony Giddens lectures at the USC Annenberg: On Globalization

‘Globalization and Communication’ is what Anthony Giddens lectures about in this recording from 2008 at the USC Annenberg. A sociologist of considerable repute and a prolific author to boot, Giddens talks about the impact and debate of globalization, calling it the single most important debate of the beginning of this century. He also considers this as one of many debates pointing to the dislocation with the enlightenment project. Includes a Q & A with a pointer to India as well. Give it a listen, accept OR reject him.

Read More…

Michel Foucault: Self and Subjectivity (Lecture). 1983

The work of late French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault wields a wide and considerable influence on structuralist and post structuralist thought across a broad range of disciplines in philosophy, humanities and social sciences, to this day. I was quite excited to hear Foucault’s voice in this, articulating his thoughts as only he can. The ultra heavy French accent takes a while to listen in to, but once you do, the ride is great. He examines Western culture’s conceptual development of individual subjectivity. Recorded at the University of California, Berkeley, April 1983. (Note: There are some distortions in the audio once a while (sound sped up), but the ‘rough patches’ get over quickly.)

Read More…

1 2 3 4  Scroll to top