Making the Abundance of Philosophy on Video More Usable


An effort is underway to curate the vast number of philosophy videos that can be found on YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and elsewhere on the web.

PhilVideos aims to create a free searchable online platform of philosophical videos selected not by algorithm, but by academics, and categorized not just by topic and speaker but also intended audience (e.g., introductory, advanced), type (e.g., lecture, interview, animation, movie clip), and accessibility. It also aims to include a chat feature by which viewers can get in touch with experts. Each video will be connected with corresponding topics or papers on PhilPapers.

The creators of the project write:

PhilVideos is a project born at the University of Genoa at the initial suggestion of Carlo Penco (professor of Philosophy of Language) and developed by Nicolò Metti (philosopher and videomaker) with the YOUniversity non-profit organization. Our platform begins with a database of hundreds of selected videos and grows through ongoing classification.

We aim to have a suitable platform by April 2022, after testing the reliability of the classification work. We also need to enrich our platform with new videos and provide the portal with all the normal features required (discussion space, blog, chat or video chat, intelligent search engine), and extend the classification work. The platform will be free to use for all.

The project is still in its development phase. You can learn more about it here, as well as donate to its fundraising effort or volunteer time to help with it.

You can also follow the project on Twitter and Facebook.

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Brian Banhardt
9 days ago

I appreciate that people are often watching videos on their phones these days, but I’m just not sure how much we should encourage video watching in a world where students are not reading enough physical texts. When I was a student in Philosophy, students carried around philosophy books and great texts, usually a bag full of them wherever they went. They underlined and wrote in the margins, and talked about the texts with their friends and teachers. You don’t see enough of this kind of thing these days — with students always looking at their phones, watching Tick Tock (? excuse my ignorance) and chatting using the “Insta” websites. I think we’d be better off pressing back against all of this by encouraging more serious reading of physical texts, and less videos! Of course, this is not the fault of the good people of Genoa, who are just meeting demand. But I think we as a society ought to put our foot down and say that Philosophy must be pursued through physical books like it has for so many hundreds of years!Report

Timmy J
Timmy J
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
9 days ago

OldManYellsAtCloud.jpgReport

Shay Allen Logan
Shay Allen Logan
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
9 days ago

I love, love *love* “kids these days” (KTD) as an argument form. I have semi-seriously puttered around with writing something about KTD for quite a while. This post brilliantly combines three of my favorite flavors of KTD:

  1. I don’t know what x is, but it’s definitely bad.
  2. x was done differently in my day. So how it’s done now is bad.
  3. x was done differently in my day. And now it’s on all of *you* to fix that.

1 is amazing as a phenomenon. It’s feels very close to Moore’s paradox (“it’s raining, but I don’t think it’s raining”), in that the first part of the assertion ought to undercut any warrant for making the second part. But somehow it’s not perceived that way, and I genuinely don’t know why.

2 is the most classic KTD of them all; it’s rare to find an instance of KTD that isn’t also an instance of 2.

3 reflects a different type of cognitive dissonance than 1, a dissonance that’s interesting in its own right. On the one hand, the first part of it reflects the belief that the speaker is part of a different culture than the culture under discussion (which is presumably the culture of the listener). The second part reflects a belief that the members of the listener’s culture will be open to an a moral appeal from the speaker. But it seems that the sort of appeal being made (an appeal to change cultural norms) is only appropriate to make within a culture, not across cultures. Thus, where the first part assumes a difference in cultures, the second part assumes a sameness. Odd.

Altogether, bravo. Of course, all forms of KTD are utterly useless when it comes to showing their conclusions true. But goddamn if this ain’t a humdinger of an example.Report

Not a chance
Reply to  Shay Allen Logan
9 days ago

Hey, who needs the principle of charity when you’ve got a theory to sell!Report

Shay Allen Logan
Shay Allen Logan
Reply to  Not a chance
9 days ago

Ok, I gotta know: what’s the charitable interpretation of “You don’t see enough of this kind of thing these days — with students always looking at their phones, watching Tick Tock (? excuse my ignorance) and chatting using the “Insta” websites. I think we’d be better off pressing back against all of this by encouraging more serious reading of physical texts, and less videos!”

I honestly don’t see how this could be anything other than an instance of KTD1. Right there in the middle of it is the confession of ignorance. Right there at the end of it is the claim that it needs to be pushed back against.

The real fun part is that you almost never see the two parts this close together! To have both halves of the Moore-esque paradox this close to each other is truly remarkable.

But hey, maybe I’m missing something. That’s happened before. So tell me, what’s the charitable interpretation? I’m genuinely interested.

Or maybe you’re cool with this as an instance of KTD1, but think my KTD2 and KTD3 diagnoses are off? That’s cool. But honestly, I’m rereading the comment and I don’t see what I’m missing.Report

Not a chance
Reply to  Shay Allen Logan
9 days ago

I think that a charitable reconstruction reveals that there are no instances of your three fallacy schemas. That doesn’t mean that the OP’s argument is sound, or even especially clear. But your gloss of it seems accurate only superficially (although I confess that KTD 3 doesn’t even seem superficially applicable; “we’d be better off pressing back” clearly isn’t “it’s on all of you to do so”).

Here’s how I might reconstruct it:

(1) There is something valuable about a book-centric philosophical education which is lost in a video-centric philosophical education.

(2) If so, then we ought not to uncritically promote a video-centric philosophical education over a book-centric one.

(3) Therefore, we ought not to uncritically promote a video-centric philosophical education over a book-centric one.

Might we challenge the premises? Of course. 1 is underspecified, for instance: what is this lost value? It is implied to be a value associated with communal discussion, with the physical writing notes, etc. But it remains unclear. I suspect it is obvious enough how 2 might be challenged. And, of course, the argument might be misplaced—perhaps no one is actually advocating against its conclusion.

I anticipate a response along the lines of: the OP didn’t say 1-3, and he didn’t mean them. I agree that he didn’t say them, at least explicitly. Perhaps he didn’t even mean them. Still, they seem like a relatively obvious, rational reconstruction of the argument, and one which (in the present context) demand charity. If you disagree, that’s fine (and I agree with others that the “old man yells at cloud” vibe is pretty funny). But I’d think your theory is more applicable to popular arguments given by non-philosophers, rather than to those given by philosophers (who would seem to know better).Report

Not a chance
Reply to  Not a chance
9 days ago

(Please excuse my typos; ironically, I’m typing on my phone…)Report

Shay Allen Logan
Shay Allen Logan
Reply to  Not a chance
9 days ago

Ha! As long as you’re not watching videos, I suppose I can let it pass.

Given the author’s clear confession of ignorance, I’m struggling to draw much of a difference between your 1 and my 1. Ok sure, maybe rather than a case of “I don’t know what x is, but x is bad” we instead have a case of “I don’t know what x is, but x is missing something valuable”. But those don’t strike me as different in any important way. And the latter is still pretty Moorean.

As far as KTD3 goes, the important thing to notice is that the author goes from self-ascriptions (this is how things were when I was a student in philosophy) to collective proscriptions (*we* need to do something). There’s some clear effort to loop all of us in on something that’s really the author’s hobby horse. This (watching vidoes) is bad (or, as you prefer, lacks some value) and it’s on all of you (perhaps together with the author, though I confess here that I’m reading in a strong air of “I’m too old to do anything about it” that suggests otherwise) to fix it.

Finally, about knowing better: I guess I expect philosophers to be about as good at avoiding silly fallacies in their comments on blogs as statisticians are at avoiding Monty Hall style errors in their ordinary lives. There’s empirical work on the latter. I’ll let you guess what it says.Report

Gary Bartlett
Gary Bartlett
Reply to  Shay Allen Logan
8 days ago

Isn’t there a fourth version?
4. I had to suffer through x in my day, and it’s only fair that kids today should have to suffer through x as well.Report

Carlo Penco
Reply to  Shay Allen Logan
8 days ago

What about
1* I don’t know what x is, but it’s definitely a fact.

Facts should be taken care of.
Kids use x
We want kids to get interested in philosophy
Let us use x to get to y
(y = my old ways of doing philosophy)

After reading your 1-2-3 KTD I understood that I myself was inside some argument following KTD of kind 1*

😀Report

Carlo Penco
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
9 days ago

Brian, I appreciate the criticism. However, I have young students in front of me every day and they use videos more than I did. Once I realized they were more attentive to a video clip of mine than on my in-presence lessons :-D.
One of my problems was similar to yours: how to bring youngsters to read more? My answer was: let us begin with video clips. They like them, they enjoy them, they build them (some graphic philosophical video clips are really well done!). And starting from video clips, you may easily be brought to read something more to satisfy your curiosity. This is why for each video we put a link to PhilPapers, to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and possibly to other *written* resources. Meanwhile, I admit, after reading many books, I myself enjoyed some videos on philosophy!Report

Brian Banhardt
Reply to  Carlo Penco
9 days ago

You make all good points here, Carlo, and they are well taken. I suppose I should myself consider trying to be more open minded and changing with the times. (Problem is, for a dinosaur like me, I don’t know where to begin! I was very surprised the other day that when I bought software online from Apple, they would not send me a CD, and the chap on the phone said CDs are no longer in use!? News to me!)Report

David
David
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
9 days ago

Wait, this has to be a troll, right? I guess ironically being the old man yelling at clouds is the thing to do.Report

Issac N
Issac N
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
8 days ago

It’s perhaps even possible that reading more and watching less, we could learn to say fewer videos.(Sorry…)Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Issac N
8 days ago

We might even learn about the use/mention distinction and learn to say ‘fewer videos’.
(Turnabout is fair play…)Report

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Brian Banhardt
8 days ago

This is a truly embarrassing comment, which unintentionally sheds light on a cause of declining enrollment in many departments.Report

Andrew Wilcox
8 days ago

One might discredit videos for being “bad”, but remember this: novels were once deemed as “bad” things which poison the mind and were thought to be just a faze. Now novel reading is a multi billion dollar industry. When we switch from media to another source of media, people generally have hesitations.

The spoken word is one form of communication. Videos include spoken word. Videos also include symbols, animations, and other visual characters. The visual is the dominant sense.

It is much easier to fall into a “sponge-like” state and accept videos as brute than readings but it can be done with both. One can read, and one can read critically. One can watch video, and one can watch video critically.

One problem I see is that videos are not classic primary texts. Videos are a secondary source. One day videos may become a primary source. One may just as well annotate parts of videos or create their own notes.

Moreover, one may give video responses and create a discourse, or video comments create discourse as well.Report