Monday, March 15, 2010

Philosophy Bites on Plato, Hume, and Architecture

Perhaps one of the great inventions for working around the home is the I-Pod, and with it, the possibility of listening to podcasts or music while performing tasks that we might otherwise consider drudgery. Today, with the first real spring weather (temperature > 60° and sunshine!), I worked outside (the driveway is beginning to rut like a dirt road). Anyway, I've had a chance to listen to three Philosophy Bites.

Philosophy Bites? These are wonderful, short (15-20') talks with outstanding philosophers about philosophers and philosophical topics. As "bites", laypeople like me can easily digest them. Let me share my three most recent adventures.

Simon Blackburn on Plato's Cave: If, reader, you have not read the allegory of the Cave from Plato's Republic, stop, and go do so. It won't take long, but I suspect that you'll agree that this ancient metaphor remains one of the most arresting and abiding in Western thought. You're skeptical? Have you seen The Matrix, which provides an extended meditation on themes raised in Plato's tale? How about George Lucas's early film, THX 1138? Well, Blackburn had recently written on Plato and this allegory, and this discussion provides a very useful summary and consideration of this foundational metaphor.

Stuart Sutherland on David Hume's critique of the argument from design: One amiable Scot discusses another amiable Scot, the man who serves as the fountainhead of analytical philosophy. Hume, by the way, from this discussion and other considerations of him and his work, seems quite the interesting fellow.

Alain de Botton on architecture: De Botton has recently written a book on architecture, and he discusses the topic in this podcast. His considerations of the topic seem quite insightful and balanced. He is the author of the delightful book, How Proust Can Change Your Life.