I have never listened to a podcast before and when trying to decide which to pick for this assignment, I was overwhelmed by the amount of podcasts available. I chose Modern Day Philosophers with Danny Lobell. I was drawn to it because Lobell is a comedian and during his podcasts, he talks with other comedians about philosophy. The podcast’s general mission is to ask whether or not comedians are modern day philosophers.
I like the idea of the show—a comedian who’s self aware enough to understand he doesn’t know much about philosophy which is in line with Socrates’ theory, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. I like this context behind the show. It shows that at some level, the host is aware. Although in the episode I listened to, he does not acknowledge this quote or theory. Fellow comedian and guest for episode two, Rick Overton, begins by talking about how the speed of our current society makes a well-thought out philosophy hard to sell. I find this interesting in light of our recent readings in The Information Diet. The dialogue between both comedians provides an easy to follow and enjoyable discussion about a discourse that can be difficult and, at times, requires several readings and layers of understanding.
The show begins by discussing current society and philosophy. It then jumps into the past and Lobell explains they will be reading Plato. They picked Plato based off of Overton’s improvisation skills, which the host theorizes is an exercise that pulls things out of your subconscious that are already there, not so much what you make up. They choose the story in which Plato questions Meno’s slave. Plato tries to prove that we have an innate knowledge and virtue. By questioning the slave about geometry in which the boy had no knowledge, Plato proves that the boy’s soul had an innate and pure knowledge before birth because he is capable of answering Plato.
Both the host and the guest read parts of Plato, discuss it, and relate it to improv. They also apply Plato’s points and discuss ways in which they agree and ways in which they don’t. Then they begin to discuss the meaning of life, what they believe in, spirituality, and religion. I enjoy the parts where Overton analyzes the differences between spirituality and religion. He describes spirituality as an improvisation and a continuous effort to not just take the “dogma of written words”, i.e., religion. They take a really dark and funny approach when looking at serious subjects such as Jesus, dogma, corporations, etc.
I also really enjoy when they start talking about reincarnation. Both Lobell and Overton are laid back and unpretentious enough to admit they don’t have any answers and don’t really know. They talk about how society has a “prove it to me” attitude. Instead, Overton says he doesn’t make declarative statements, he just asks questions and no one has the right to tell him not to. He also states that declarative statements only last within a moment in time. Lobell says that he isn’t able to jump onto any religious extremes, yet he can’t jump onto an atheist extreme, which he admits positions him in the middle. This is the reason that he enjoys philosophy. They also begin discussing that all philosophy is dependent on who you ask.
One thing I did not like is that their discussion of religion, spirituality, and reincarnation understandably took them off the track of their Plato discussion. Plato and the story of Meno and his slave never gets brought up again, or any of Plato’s other stories. Although this is fine, I think that Lobell should make a point to let listeners know they won’t be getting back into it. I would recommend this podcast to listeners that are looking for serious philosophical discussion, but with a lighthearted and easy attitude that is sometimes snarky and possibly offensive.