According to Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” According to Camus, once a life is examined and one truly understands its absurdity, one is left with the question: why continue? [See my 2010 blog entry: Why I Don’t Commit Suicide]. Maybe the solution is to have a partially examined life: examining life while keeping one’s wits about it.

Well the good news is a group of witty ex-philosophers have an awesome series that will help you with this process. Their Podcasts are free, and they are AWESOME. Here are links to the first fifty of them, each post with a PDF of the episode’s reading materials. You can also get the Podcasts from iTunes, also for free.

Ep. 1: Plato’s Apology. Part 2.

Ep. 2: Descartes’s Meditations

Ep. 3: Hobbes’s Leviathan

Ep. 4: Camus: “The Myth of Sisyphus” and “An Absurd Reasoning”

Ep. 5: Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics

Ep. 6: Leibniz’s Monadology

Ep. 7: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Part 1

Ep. 8: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Part 2, plus Carnap

Ep. 9: Utilitarianism: Bentham and Mill

Ep. 10: Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals

Ep. 11: Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals

Ep. 12: Chuang Tzu

Ep. 13: Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy

Ep. 14: Machiavelli’s The Prince and Discourse on Livy.

Ep. 15: Hegel’s Introduction to the Philosophy of History.

Ep. 16: Arthur Danto’s The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art

Ep. 17: Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Ep. 18: Plato’s Theaetetus and Meno

Ep. 19: Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics

Ep. 20: William James’s Pragmatism plus C.S. Peirce

Ep. 21: Essays on mind by Alan Turing, Gilbert Ryle, John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Dan Dennett

Ep. 22: William James’s “The Will to Believe” and more Pragmatism

Ep. 23: Rousseau’s Discourse in Inequality

Ep. 24: Spinoza’s Ethics

Ep. 25: More Spinoza’s Ethics

Ep. 26: Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents

Ep. 27: 2nd century Buddhist Nagarjuna’s Reasoning and Emptiness

Ep. 28: Nelson Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking

Ep. 29: Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death

Ep. 30: Schopenhauer’s On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Ep. 31: Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations

Ep. 32: Heidegger’s Being and Time

Ep. 33: Montaigne’s Essays

Ep. 34: Frege’s “Sense and Reference,” “Concept and Object,” and “The Thought”

Ep. 35: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Ep. 36: More Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Ep. 37: Locke’s Second Treatise on Government

Ep. 38: Bertrand Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Ep. 39: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion; Speeches to its Cultured Despisers

Ep. 40: Plato’s Republic

Ep. 41: Patricia Churchland’s Braintrust (with her as a guest), plus Hume

Ep. 42: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland and Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice

Ep. 43: J.L. Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God

Ep. 44: Selections on atheism by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Dan Dennett.

Ep. 45: Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, Book III and Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments

Ep. 46: Plato’s Euthyphro

Ep. 47: Sartre’s Transcendence of the Ego

Ep. 48: Merleau-Ponty’s “Primacy of Perception”

Ep. 49: Foucault’s Discipline and Punish

Ep. 50: Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Selections on semiotics and structuralism by Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Jacques Derrida.

So go for it: partially examine your life!

Also, if you’re interested in other forms of philosophy-made-accessible, you might like the (free) documentary Examined Life that features interviews with Peter Singer and other big thinkers. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it before today, Alain de Botton does a great series on Philosophy: a Guide to Happiness which was probably my first introduction to philosophy when I borrowed the DVD from Belrose Library sometime in 2006. It’s GREAT.

You know what I really don’t understand: why isn’t Philosophy taught as a subject in high school? One would think that teaching children HOW think rather thank feeding their minds with WHAT to think, might be beneficial for a democratic fast-changing society like ours… Hm… maybe that’s a topic to partially examine some other day.