Is This The Breakthrough Philosophy Podcast?


Barry Lam, associate professor of philosophy at Vassar College and a fellow at Duke University has been working on a new philosophy audio program called Hi-Phi Nation (previously). Here’s his pitch:

What if there were a platform where philosophers can collaborate with investigative or beat reporters, nonfiction writers and documentary producers, and use the power of journalism and narrative storytelling to exhibit the power and insight of philosophy of all types to a potential audience that can be much larger and more powerful than print?

Professor Lam sent me rough cuts of a few of the programs over the summer. They indeed seemed to me to be a compelling combination of journalistic storytelling and philosophical investigation. He has now produced a couple of trailers for the show. Here’s one for the first episode, “The Wishes of the Dead.” It gives a good sample of the feel of the show:

The complete first episode and nine others will be available on January 24th. You can subscribe now, for free, on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. A trailer for the whole season is here.

Lam describes Hi-Phi Nation as “a show about philosophy that turns stories into ideas” and is modeling it on other popular programs. He writes:

Some philosophers out there know that shows like Freakonomics, Radiolab, Invisibilia, This American Life, etc., have started a boom of audio production in public and private media, unleashing a lot of money and resources from large media institutions toward audio, all in the interest of producing narrative, documentary-style, seasonal shows dedicated to integrating journalism, narrative-storytelling, and academic research. Audiences are in the millions, and very dedicated. The shows however are heavily skewed toward the economic, psychological, social, and hard sciences.

I’m really appreciative of the existing podcasts and radio shows in philosophy out there, including Philosophy Talk, in trying to balance this skewing. Talk and interview/discussion shows provide daily and weekly content that people who already love philosophy can consume.

I think its time philosophy had its own version of Freakonomics radio, or Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, but with us philosophers taking the helm to make sure we use our academic and curatorial training to do it right.

These kinds of programs take enormous production time, research, and investigative work, and I’ve been essentially a staff of one, but many philosophers out there have contributed, and you will hear their voices on the program.

He includes a request to Daily Nous readers:

I hope you can help spread the word to family, friends, students, and anyone in your network.

Good idea.

There’s more information about Hi-Phi Nation here.

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