“Philosophize This!” is a beginner-friendly podcast hosted by Stephen West in Seattle, Washington. It aims toward audiences who are interested in educating themselves in philosophy without having to attend university.
West has his own website where he sponsors his podcasts, books, blogs, merchandise and contributions. He has other forms of social media as well, such as Twitter, Facebook and Discord. You can monetarily support the show by shopping on Amazon through his website, which you can easily do by going to the homepage of “Philosophize This!” and clicking on the Amazon banner.
Every aspect of “Philosophize This!” is amazing, especially the book lists. Featured under the “Books” tab, West posts book recommendations that delve deep into the rabbit hole of philosophy. As a double-major in classics and professional writing, I have read a good amount from West’s recommended list, and I must admit, his selections are thought provoking.
West also entices his audience members, including me, with philosophical theories that range from Ionian Pre-Socratic philosophy to Carl Schmitt and liberalism, which is detailed in his latest podcast. Each episode runs 30-45 minutes long and can be found on a variety of platforms, such as iTunes, Spotify, Sticher, Google Play and YouTube.
However, if you don’t like listening to podcasts in episodic order, worry not. West’s website contains transcripts that summarize each episode. The transcripts are short and as equally entertaining as their corresponding podcasts, so if you choose to skip an episode, you can read what was covered and then better understand West’s references in the next one you pick up.
Where little information can be found on West himself, his content is packed full of research and opinions. The amount of well-informed detail explains why “Philosophize This!” is such an impeccable podcast. West even goes the extra mile in cultivating his content by first discussing ancient philosophers and their philosophies, and then applying the discussions to today’s dilemmas. From there, he dwells on a solution, if there is one, but of course there is never one single solution in philosophy. Toward the end of each episode, he imparts a question on the listener for them to dwell upon until the next time.
If you’re a newcomer and looking for recommendations, I would highly suggest episodes 98 and 99: “Schopenhauer pt. 1- Metaphysics and Love” and “Schopenhauer pt.2 – Ethics.” These two episodes are what had me hooked to “Philosophize This!” because of how much Schopenhauer’s outlook on life resonates with me as a college student.
Arthur Schopenhauer, who was inspired by Plato and Kant, was considered the ultimate pessimist. He approached life with self-discipline, arguing that in order to achieve a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition for wanting what’s best for others in the face of a world filled with endless strife, then we need to minimize our natural desires.
I think most college students can relate to me when I say that I want to achieve a more tranquil frame of mind during my college career. Alas, having a total stress-free college experience will probably almost never be the case. However, after listening to West go on about Schopenhauer’s beliefs and goals to having a minimalistic lifestyle, I thought I should give it a try.
Why, you may ask? Let me give you a bit of background. My day-to-day life revolved around working 40-60 hours a week, surviving college courses and a weekly internship, maintaining a social life, feeding the cat three times a day and trying to stay financially afloat after paying bills. In short, I was on the verge of a meltdown. I couldn’t stand to live such a cyclic, busy lifestyle anymore.
It may come as no surprise to you that it was difficult to achieve peace like Schopenhauer recommends by giving up my natural desires for eating cheesecake, drinking beer and having sex. I quickly realized that giving up the only stress-free things in my life that I enjoyed wasn’t going to give me a peaceful state of mind. I was still exhausted from work and facing the stress and anxiety that continuously built up from every aspect of my life.
So, using the art of reason that Schopenhauer and West think that society is so susceptible to, I made my own philosophy of how to achieve tranquility. I believe that rather than giving up all natural desires to reach a tranquil state of mind, why not just give up the things that hinder what gives you enjoyment? I needed to give up my stress.
I chose to begin looking at the necessary things in life, like my job, internship, money and cat, in a positive way instead of a stressful way. While letting go of the stress was admittedly very difficult, I eventually stopped pulling my hair, biting my nails and stress eating. I started to feel more at ease and began to function better at work. For the first time, I was genuinely happy, because concentrating on that stress had taken up a lot of time and hindered my efforts to truly enjoy and pursue the pleasures in my life.
Though I didn’t pursue Schopenhauer’s exact belief — because let’s be real, it’s 2019, and I don’t believe that natural desires are a sin, like a certain 19th century pessimist does — I still found some value in his ideology: simply give up the hindrances in life.
“Philosophize This!” is an influential podcast that I believe everyone, including non-college students, should listen to. West adds a modernized spin to ancient philosophy in a way that allows you to gain some insight on life. If you are seeking an educational podcast, or have even the slightest interest in philosophy, please don’t hesitate to listen; you won’t regret it! Anyone can listen and contemplate philosophy. While not every theory might apply exactly to you, it might help you discover some things about your own life, like it did for me and my stress. The key to being a philosopher is questioning everything and admitting to knowing nothing.