Philosophy Podcasts


One of the joys of being on sabbatical has been time to read and study philosophy. Equipped with my Bose QuietComfort 20i noise cancelling headphones I can clearly hear podcasts as I walk Juno around the streets and riverside parks of Taipei. Here are some quick notes on what I’ve heard so far.


I listened to both semesters of Hubert Dreyfus’ course on Heidegger. You can get the first semester here and the course notes here. The second semester (Division II) is only available via iTunes, and the course materials are available here.

I really enjoyed Dreyfus’ course, even with all the sound problems, long silences while students are speaking off microphone or while he is looking something up in the text, etc. His approach to Heidegger presents him as an analytic philosopher whose most important insights were in Division I of Being and Time. For this reason the second semester is something of a mess. I recommend just listening to the first semester and looking elsewhere for insight into Division II.

One problem with the analytical focus is that it erases the philosopher’s connection to National Socialism. I found Simon Critchley’s lectures at the European Graduate School to be a good corrective to this view. (His series in the Guardian is good too, but more introductory and less critical.)


J.M. Bernstein’s lectures on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit are fantastic. Bernstein is a masterful lecturer and it is such a pleasure listening to these talks. Some sections I have listened to multiple times before going on — and not because they are confusing, quiet the opposite… There is so much richness, detail, and even humor in them that they inspire one to be a better lecturer. I’m only about 1/3rd of the way through right now — it is long course, but I find myslef taking Juno around the block a second time so I can hear a little more before heading home. I had never really been able to get into Hegel in any serious way before and I feel like this course has opened my eyes to the profound influence of Hegel on so many thinkers I admire while also showing how many of them misunderstood Hegel’s larger project.

What’s next?

I’m tempted by Dreyfus’ course on Merleau-Ponty and Bernstein’s course on Kant, but there are also a large number of other great philosophy courses available online. Or maybe I’ll listen to Peter Adamson’s podcast, the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps? It would be great to find stuff that is more contemporary, or less Eurocentric (any good podcasts on Chinese or Indian philosophy?), but I’m mostly just happy there is so much great philosophy available online these days.

Update (Sept. 23, 2015)

I decided to listen to the History of Philosophy podcast which turns out to not be as Eurocentric as I had feared. In fact, Peter Adamson is a specialist on philosophy in the Islamic world and he spends a lot of time on this facinating topic. Also, he just launched a new podcast on the History of Philosophy in India! (Still looking for something good on Chinese philosophy…)