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Can Philosophy Be the Magic Pill to Heal Society?

Pass the Mic Podcast Series is an unscripted group discussion which give in the power of many voices.

Each episode begins with one expert - an open-minded and passionate individual who has spent a great deal of time investigating and researching a certain topic. During our hour, a small group of 4 to 6 people will explore complex and difficult concepts with curiosity, uncertain beliefs and the willingness to objectively listen and learn from the shared insights of others.

Our second episode discusses philosophy with an attempt to answer the following question: Can Philosophy Be the Magic Pill to Heal Society?

Starting the Conversation

As the podcast host, Virginie Glaenzer paved the way for this conversation to explore the usefulness and efficiency of Philosophy in our modern times and a discussion on how ancient and modern philosophies can teach us to live in uncertainty without being paralyzed.

The group conversation was led by Melissa Nadia Viviana, an Existentialist author and Beat Philosopher who writes about satire, memoir, philosophy of the mind, and existentialism.

Melissa started our discussion by explaining why she changed her academic focus from the study of Psychology to Philosophy. She sees Psychology as “dehumanizing” people into objects. Our culture is made up of institutions that create our relationship with the world and tell us how to feel about our relationship to the world. This makes our ability to understand our own internal feelings, more of an intellectual experience that is combined with an emotional experience. On the other hand, she suggests that Philosophy, in its intended form, fulfills the subjective role of understanding the world around us.

Listen to Melissa’s introduction.

Welcoming Our Guests

We were honored to welcome our panel of special guests eager to discuss the usefulness of philosophy in our modern society.

Melissa Nadia Viviana is an existentialist author and Beat Philosopher who writes satire, memoir, philosophy of the mind, and existentialism.

She spent the past 8 months traveling through the U.S. with her Dalmatian and hosts two brand new podcasts: “The Beat Philosopher” which discusses memoir, psychology, and philosophy of the mind, and “Calm AF Existentialist” which explores Eastern Philosophy and wisdom.

Gordon Marino, PhD - Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf.

Having earned his PhD University of Chicago, MA University of Pennsylvania, and BA Columbia University, Gordon Marino ‘s areas of specialization include the History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and Kierkegaard. Professor Marino is the author of The Existentialist’s Survival Guide, Kierkegaard in the Present Age and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, American Poetry Review, and many other periodicals. Marino is also the Curator of the Hong Kierkegaard Library.

Tim Freke is a pioneering philosopher whose bestselling books, inspirational talks, and life-changing events have touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. He is the author of 35 books, translated into 15 languages, including a top 6 Amazon ‘Surprise Bestseller’ and Daily Telegraph 'Book of the Year.' In his latest books Deep Awake and Soul Story, Tim offers a revolutionary approach to awakening for the 21st century and a visionary new understanding of the nature of reality. Tim is the creator of Unividualism: A Deeper Way of Living and the founder of The International Community of Unividuals.

Agnes Callard, PhD - Associate Professor at the University of Chicago. Agnes Callard is an Associate Professor in Philosophy.

She received her BA from the University of Chicago in 1997 and her PhD from Berkeley in 2008. Her primary areas of specialization are Ancient Philosophy and Ethics and her published works include Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming and countless papers.

Matt Belair - Author, Athlete, Coach, Speaker and Podcast Host. Matthew Belair is the host of the top rated Master Mind, Body and Spirit show and best selling author of Zen Athlete: A Guide to Self Mastery. Matt has trained with 34th Generation Shaolin Kung Fu Monks in China, Trekked Mount Everest, studied meditation with Tibetan monks, explored Egypt with the resonance science foundation and traveled the world in pursuit of truth and self-mastery. As a podcast host, coach, and speaker Matt is an avid researcher and experimenter in exploring human performance and conscious evolution.

Each had their own unique response to the question: Can Philosophy Be the Magic Pill to Heal Society? Listen to the tour de table of our participants and their own unique responses:

Key Shared Insights & Perspectives

Material Science vs. Philosophy

One of the major distinctions between material science and philosophy is that science seeks knowledge and makes us feel more comfortable than philosophy because it offers a concrete process and answers. Philosophy, on the other hand, seeks wisdom, breaks things down and focuses on the unknown.

Melissa explains, “I feel that a lot of people need knowledge to give them security. So institutions tell you enough to make you feel secure. Philosophy is not that way. Philosophy is scary. Because you're telling people there's so many questions left unanswered.”

Tim admits at the beginning of all his speeches, “I don't know anything - now what's my best guess?"

Agnes adds, “We all like liking each other, and we all like getting along and kind of praising one another...there’s just a deep way in which philosophy isn’t that.

Data vs. Stories

Humans have a basic need for a story or narrative to frame their beliefs and philosophy plays a role in helping people find a more meaningful narrative.

Tim feels the deep questioning of things (ie. philosophy) will create a new narrative, “one that holds together and can embrace the spectrum and ambiguity of my experience of life and what I see of others’ experiences of life.”

Melissa adds, “If you tell a human being this is the data that supports why you are the way you are, the human being would actually need it to be translated into a story in order for it to have any impact on their lives.

Individual Take-aways

As we came at the end of the hour, our group ended the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.

Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.

Final Thoughts to Consider

Most of us discover philosophy while studying in college or high school. But do we look at philosophy, in later years, to interpret the world around us?

We must remember that what makes us human is the meaning we give to our experiences.

Inherent in this realization is the ability for us to look at the world objectively through our own set of experiences, rather than subjectively through a set of experiences that have been molded and framed by the institutions around us.

Thus, Philosophy done right should be uncomfortable and unsettling as we step into the unknown and uncertainty and use it to help us interpret ourselves with, perhaps, the vision of living a more authentic life.

If this short summary resonated with you, go to YouTube to view the entire discussion or listen on iTune, Spotify, Speaker or SoundCloud.

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