This is where we put the episodes
episode 85: Just war theory
Pat was feeling militant, so Ben checks his bitch ass with a rundown of Just War Theory. Somewhere between Pacifism (believing war is always wrong) and Realism (believing war will happen no matter what and it rules), there lies a DMZ of ethical theory called Just War Theory, which answers important questions like when it's chill to go to war, what's chill in warfare, and how to be chill with your enemy once the war is over. Listen in as Ben and Pat explore the thorny issues exposed by war, like why is war the only time you can get away with murder? And was the bombing of Hiroshima an unnecessarily weird flex?
episode 84: The swamp man
Pat was feeling swampy (gross!) so Ben freshens him up with a zesty thought experiment called The Swamp Man. Conceived by American philosopher/rip-off artist Donald Davidson, The Swamp Man is a bananas thought experiment meant to illustrate the theory of meaning called semantic externalism. How do you mean the words you say if you’re a Swamp Man who has never experienced anything and never encountered any of the objects of this world? Find out on this very special screaming match of I Learned Nothing.
episode 83: Gilles Deleuze
Pat was feeling rhizomatic (whatever that means) so Benconfounds him with the very upsetting philosophy of noted French Postmodernist Gilles Deleuze. This single-lunged pervert developed some of the most Byzantine theories on metaphysics in the Continental tradition. He claimed, for example, that difference precedes identity, upending 2000 years of Western philosophical traditions. In other words, the thing that makes a thing that thing is not its intrinsic properties, but its differences with other things. Pretty straightforward, right? So naturally, Pat and Ben scream about it for the better half of an hour. Enjoy!
episode 82: Pragmatism
Pat was feeling 'Murican so Ben teaches him about the theory that put America on the map: Pragmatism. Developed by three dick-swinging cowboys of knowledge, Charles Sanders Pierce, William James & John Dewey, Pragmatism holds that truth has nothing to do with how reality actually is. This is a huge flex, as it kinda flies in the face of what philosophy has been trying to prove since forever. Instead, these patriots contend that truth is nothing more than what gets the job done. If a belief, concept, or theory aligns observation such that it helps us achieve our goals, it's truth. In other words, truth is simply whatever gets us to the fucking moon, bitch.
Episode 81: Time
Pat was feeling timeless so Ben puts him in his place by exploring the concept of time. Yeah, this one's a doozy. Amid much screaming, Pat learns the various ways time fucks with all of us. Is it linear or circular? Does the future even exist? Does the past? Do our memories mean nothing? Ultimately, Pat & Ben conclude that time is our greatest enemy, as it never seems to relent and has a 100% kill rate. Also Ben has to learn physics again to (poorly) explain something called light cones to Pat. Just like old times!
episode 80: The Problem Of other minds
Pat was feeling lonely, so Ben cheers him up by teaching him about that classic conundrum: The Problem of Other Minds. Trudging past the filthy opening banter regarding Pat's cunnilingus prowess, the Bois get down to business talking about how we can ever know that other minds exist outside of our own. What if, WHAT IF, you were to wake up too early one day only to discover that the entire world's population except for you is secretly a robot and you've caught them with their (skinsuit) pants down. How do you know this isn't the case and you just haven't caught them yet? How do you know everyone else isn't a robot, merely mimicking human behavior but with nothing going on inside? Will your extraordinary ability to eat box get you out of this haunting ordeal? Listen to find out!
episode 79: Situationism w/ clayton Blackstone
Pat was feeling spectacular, so Ben tags in a heavyweight for philosophical assistance. Comic, friend, and Dean of Philosophy at ACC, Clayton Blackstone helps Ben explain the riotous philosophy of Situationism, founded by legendary French ashtray/Marxist theorist Guy Debord. Together, they drag Pat and themselves out of the bewitching and lurid world of the Spectacle, a Matrix-like world of hollow images that Late Capitalism has built for us to keep us complacent and consuming. Debord's bizarre program of inciting Marxist pranks like some class-struggle clown eventually led to France's biggest riots of the 20th Century in May of 1968. Sous les pavés, la plage!
episode 78: The Uncanny Valley w/ Jake Flores
Pat was feeling broken so Ben invites a dear friend to join in on the fun. In a very special 78th Episode, Ben invites fellow podcast host and unmitigated mess Jake Flores of Pod Damn America to trouble Pat with thoughts about gay robots and whether or not we're keyed into a level of artificial consciousness that we identify a little too closely with our own. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Uncanny Valley. Deja Vu is only the appetizer. The entree: Sublime Horror. Lol. (Give us money. Check out our Patreon: patreon.com/ilearnednothing)
episode 77: bertrand russell: part II
Pat was feeling randy so Ben finishes him off with the lurid details of Bertrand Russell's life & philosophy. In Part II of this disgusting saga, the WisdomBois explore the latter half of Lord Russell's life, including his unapologetic swinging, chronic civil disobedience, and revolutionary attempt to up-end all of philosophy with his spearheading of the Analytic tradition. Introducing a novel approach that takes a cue from common fucking sense, Bertie developed the intriguing philosophy of logical atomism, which Ben explains to Pat by using the auto-erotic suicide of David Carradine as an example. Fun! For once, Pat kind of agrees. With what? Listen to find out, stupid!
episode 76: bertrand russell: part I
Pat was feeling analytical so Ben outlines for him the monumental life and work of 20th Century philosophy's horniest mad lad: British intellectual/fuckboy Bertrand Russell. In a smashing two-parter, Ben teaches Pat about Lord Russell's logical, political, and sexual escapades, which old (and we do mean old) Bertie indulged in throughout his 97 year long life and career. Ben kicks it off by talking about Russell's Paradox, a logical pothole that Russell discovered while trying to work out the fundamental axioms of mathematics. It goes like this: A town barbershop employs a barber who only shaves those who do not shave themselves. Can this barber shave himself? Guess how Pat responds lol.
episode 75: Kavka’s toxin puzzle
Pat was feeling saucy so Ben tantalizes him with philosopher Gregory Kavka's Toxin Puzzle. In this mind-bending thought experiment that sounds like a very special episode of The Price Is Right, an eccentric billionaire (eg. Jeff Bezos' divorced ass) approaches you with a proposition: He will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if at midnight tonight you intend to drink a diarrhea-inducing elixir tomorrow afternoon. You'll feel like shit for 24 hours but there are no lasting side effects. The kicker is, you don't even actually have to drink the elixir. You get paid no matter what, whether you drink it or not, as long as you INTEND to drink it. Can you win the $1,000,000? Listen to find out, bitches!
episode 74: simone de beauvoir
Pat hates women so Ben tries to remedy this by teaching him the existentialist feminism of French philosopher/sex addict Simone de Beauvoir. Born Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, she quickly became known for her intellectual precociousness, going tête à tête with existentialist poster boy (and future fuck buddy) Jean Paul Sartre, writing award winning novels, and outlining a stunning theory on why women have been relegated to a derivative version of human consciousness through the abuses of the patriarchy in her seminal work "The Second Sex". One reason: Women be shopping (says Simone) and they need to fucking stop. Also, Pat thought she was black LOL.
episode 73: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Pat was feeling dialectical so Ben bulldozes him with the humongous theories of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the Leslie Knope of 19th Century German philosophy. This guy literally thought of everything, which is both impressive and exhausting. After wandering off on their requisite tangents (such as names in other languages and Jimmy The Greek's unfortunate on air racial anecdotes), Ben & Pat explore Hegel's zany ideas set down in his mammoth book "The Phenomenology of Spirit." Through this work, Hegel dominated the Post-Kantian philosophical landscape, claiming that all of history is the progression of a World Spirit that overcomes dichotomies like subject vs. object or nature vs. freedom through a dialectical process. Another successful episode!
episode 72: The Frankfurt School
Pat was feeling critical so Ben teaches him the critical philosophy of The Frankfurt School. Founded in 1923 in Weimar Germany, The Frankfurt School was instrumental in revitalizing Marxist theory in the West, exposing the phantasmagoria of late stage capitalism. They identified a new, sinister dimension of capitalism called the Culture Industry, which lulls the working class into compliance, dashing any hopes of the proletariat achieving class consciousness. Ben & Pat explore these ideas through the lives of The Frankfurt School's members: a bunch of bookish Jews chased out of Nazi Germany and ended up settling in the US. We're talking titans such as Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, Theodore Adorno, and friend of the show Herbert Marcuse. It's not delivery, it's Adorno.
episode 71: Søren kierkegaard
Pat was feeling desperate, so Ben makes things worse by introducing him to the despondent writings of proto-Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard. Born in Denmark in 1813 and dying of a shattered heart in 1855, Kierkegaard spent his brief 42 years on this cold, forgotten rock wringing his hands and writing about the overwhelming agony of freedom & the chronic despair that comes with it. Pat & Ben discuss the glum Dane's defining influence on the Existentialist movement of the 20th Century in between shouting matches about where to get decent Italian food in Austin, Texas and whether or not Pat can hit a bird with a ketchup packet. Big Topics, Big Men, Big Podcast.
episode 70: Thomas Hobbes w/ Harrison Hammonds
Pat was feeling authoritative, so Ben has no choice but get help from our heroic armed forces to reassert his sovereignty over the podcast. In other words, Ben and special guest, Harrison Hammonds teach Pat about the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. Thomas Hobbes was a 17th Century English philosopher/narc who argued that political power needs to be vested in and embodied by an all-powerful State, what he called the Leviathan in his eponymous masterpiece, in order for society to function smoothly and peacefully. Without this, humans exist in a Mad Max-esque State of Nature where everyone is literally murdering each other, living lives that are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." AKA The Five Spice Girls of the Apocalypse.
episode 69: god (lol)
Pat was feeling theological, so Ben and his eternal pupil spend their 69th episode (lol) tackling the Biggest Topic Ever: God. Who is God? What are his superpowers? Can we ever know the mind of God? Does He really give a shit about anything we do or even us at all? What is the one true religion? (That one's easy, it's Catholicism.) In a tour de force for the ages, the WisdomBois take on the Almighty and live to tell the tale. Listen and subscribe to hear the full story! Amen.
episode 68: evolution
Pat was feeling Darwinian, so Ben treats him to a crash course on the philosophy of evolution. While Pat diverts Ben's train of thought like branches on the Tree of Life, Ben attempts to explain how Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection upended our view of our role in the universe, showing that the tremendous complexity of all life on this planet is the result of blind luck amid generations of mindless death. Darwin ruined everything and Pat is pissed. More like Evil-ution, amiright guys?
episode 67: John Locke
Pat was feeling liberal so Ben trots out that golden idol of modern democracy, John Locke, and his sacred teachings on individual rights and the consent of the governed. This fool started his career as a doctor but his inability to resist blowing up the idiocy of divine rule cemented his legacy as perhaps the most important political philosopher in the Western tradition. Just like the American patriots he influenced a generation later, he had a complicated relationship with the radical ideas he espoused in the face of the very real dilemma of slavery. His involvement, direct or not, in establishing slavery in the Colony of Carolina makes it hard to square with his argument for individual liberty as the ultimate source of power.
episode 66: agency
Pat was feeling irresponsible so Ben clues him in on the fundamental philosophical concept of agency. As the defining characteristic of what we call 'persons', agency is that quality we believe we must possess in order to be considered conscious, autonomous actors in the world. Without it, we'd be nothing but mindless robots. But what is agency? What does it consist in and what about it makes what we do "actions" rather than just "events"? Needless to say, this is a baffling line of questioning for Pat, who looks to his banjo for answers only to find the hollow indifference and deafening silence one would expect from an inanimate object. Are we any different? Tune in to find out!
episode 65: The Mind-Body Problem
Pat was feeling well mental, innit? So Ben decides to spill the tea about perhaps the most intractable problem in the history of philosophy: The Mind-Body Problem. This issue has been a titanic pain in the ass since Descartes very Frenchly waded into it back in the 1600's. Basically, it boils down to this: We clearly experience an inner, subjective dimension of life consisting in thoughts, beliefs, desires, intentions, etc, that also seems to be autonomous from the external, physical world we encounter. Some would say that this mental aspect of our experience can control parts of the external, physical world, specifically through our bodies. But how do we square this with our current scientific understanding of the world, which is purely materialistic and doesn't need The Mind to explain our behavior. Anyway, in 400+ years, philosophers haven't really made any significant progress on this, so of course Pat is bewildered and furious. Listen, Learn and Subscribe!
episode 64: Art Part II: Son of Art
Pat was feeling A E S T H E T I C so Ben continues their meandering discussion about Art and its role in philosophy. In our first ever sequel -- Art Part II: Son of Art -- the WisdomBois discuss art's capacity as a medium of expression, giving voice to those ineffable aspects of human life that can't normally be put into words. In the wake of Banksy's totally bonkers stunt at Sotheby's, where he shredded his own art piece after it was purchased for over $1 million bucks (LOLOL), they go into art's dubious role as a political/social tool. Also, Ben tricks Pat into analyzing comedy.
episode 63: art
Pat was feeling artsy so Ben sends him on a sensual journey thru A E S T H E T I C S. The youngest and sexiest of the six branches of philosophy, aesthetics covers questions like “What is Beauty?”, “What is Art?” and “How much can I pawn my Oberlin degree to pay for this $12 Old Fashioned?” Haha just kidding. Pat faces down his old nemesis once again as he takes on the Virgin from Germany, Immanuel Kant, on the issue of aesthetic judgement & taste, and whether your opinion on deep-dish pizza makes you a bad person.
Episode 62: moral luck
Pat was feeling lucky so Ben destroys his whole world with the maddening paradox of Moral Luck. Devised by philosophers Bernard Williams & Thomas Nagel, this dilemma basically occurs when you get blamed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Why should you get slapped with a manslaughter charge just because that kid ran into the road? You were just as drunk as Pat driving home and all he got was a DUI. This time Ben loses his shit at Pat as they discuss the intersection of morality & chaos, and ask "Is it Justice?" or is it "Just Us?"
episode 61: Jacques Lacan
Pat was feeling traumatized so Ben introduces him to the unhinged ramblings of Jacques Lacan, Freud acolyte and harbinger of French Postmodernism. Through the yearly lectures he hosted in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan developed a bonkers theory that our unconscious is structured like language, navigating three zones: The Imaginary, The Symbolic, & The Real. Also, as infants, we witness an Ideal we'll never achieve when we look at ourselves in the mirror for the first time in a horrifying ordeal called The Mirror Stage. Ooh-la-la!
episode 60: philippa foot
Pat was feeling virtuous so Ben schools him on the ethical theory of British philosopher/schoolmarm Philippa Foot. As the granddaughter of US President Grover Cleveland (true story), Foot knew a thing or two about what it is to be virtuous and all but single handedly revived the long lost tradition of virtue ethics pioneered by Aristotle over 2000 years ago. By concentrating on what makes a good person rather than a good action, her approach was a response to pedantic legal eagle virgins like Kant or Spike Lee who insist on "doing the right thing."
Episode 59: jacque Derrida
Pat was feeling deconstructed so Ben bewitches him with the philosophy of influential French pompadour Jacques Derrida. Derrida is perhaps THE bad boy of postwar French philosophy. In calling out the trendy school of Structuralism dominating the intellectual landscape of 1950s Europe, this Algerian French Jew became the inadvertent poster boy for Postmodernism. His groundbreaking critical approach known as Deconstruction has since made every CompLit major of the past 40 years nut at the mention of it. Basically, he upended millennia of Western metaphysical tradition by denying the presence a fixed meaning behind texts, leaving Ben & Pat to pick up the shattered pieces.
Episode 58: Pascal’s wager
Pat was feeling lucky so Ben convinces him to wager his ETERNAL SOUL. Just joshing ya! We like to have fun here at I Learned Nothing. Seriously, though, on our latest episode, Ben teaches Pat about French philosopher/theologian/mathematician/dipshit Blaise Pascal and his famous thought experiment, Pascal's Wager. It goes like this: instead of proving the existence of God, why not gamble on it? What've you got to lose? Subscribe & listen to learn more!
episode 57: Peter Singer
Pat was feeling altruistic so Ben opens his eyes to the utilitarian philosophy of Australian lunatic and Princeton professor Peter Singer. As Ol' Tomato Can Dean and Benny Culo discuss the pros and cons of murdering Hitler back when he was a helpless infant, they suss out the finer points of Singer's consequentialist ethics.The greatest benefit to the greatest number and the ends justify the means. Sounds good on paper right? So would you kill a baby to save millions of people? (Pretend you didn't know he was gonna grow up to be Hitler.) (Ok, whatever, just listen to the episode.) (Subscribe on iTunes and check out our Patreon.)
episode 56: Pythagoras
Pat was feeling proportional so Ben riles him up with some crazy talk about numbers, music, and reincarnation -- oh shit, it's Part 3 of our Third Greek Triple Stack. The Circle is Complete. The WisdomBois cap it off with a riveting account of the OJ of the Ancient World: Pythagoras. Haunting the nightmares of middle school masturbaters everywhere, Pythagoras did way more than just nerd out about triangles. He started a cult based on the mystical property of numbers, their expression through music, and how we're all gonna be reincarnated so who cares if you sleep with a few of your followers' wives. Also, he may or may not have killed a dude lol.
episode 55: democritus
Pat was feeling giggly so Ben tells him of the ticklishly deviant philosophy of Democritus, a real piece of work who many consider to be the father of the scientific method. Unlike his mopey counterpart Heraclitus, Chuckles over here considered life to be absurd, with no inherent purpose, just collections of matter blindly hurtling through an uncaring void. And just like that, he came up with atomic theory over 2000 years before the rest of the nerds by guessing. Then he celebrated by getting lit and laughing to death while watching a donkey eat figs. Fuck this guy.
episode 54: heraclitus
Pat was feeling weepy so Ben reveals to him the obscure, emo-ass teachings of "The Weeping Philosopher" AKA Herclitus. In the much anticipated 3rd installment of our Peabody Award Winning Greek Triple Stack Series, the WisdomBois cover the Pre-Socratics, a crew of ancient, diner-owning Greeks who planted the seeds of Western philosophy & science before Socrates even hit puberty. In Part 1, Ben tells Pat about the mystical philosophy of Heraclitus, who believed the only constant in life is change and nothing is permanent. Tweeting mystical nuggets of wisdom a century before Plato, this puto baffled the classical Greek philosophers that came after him with what many consider to be the best answer to Buddhism the West has to offer. Everything flows, bitch.
episode 53: mary wollstonecraft
Pat was feeling Pat-riarchal (get it?) so Ben sits his penis-having ass down and teaches him about Mary Wollstonecraft, an iconic Enlightenment thinker and arguably the very first feminist philosopher in the Western tradition. In her classic book "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman," Wollstonecraft exposes the patriarchy for the first time, bringing to light how centuries of mansplaining have conditioned women into being subservient and pursuing shallow, ephemeral goals at the expense of their rights and personal growth. Her solution? Emancipation and education for all women. Listen in as the WIsdomBois dish about the very first WisdomGurl. It's a wild ride.
episode 52: mary's room
Pat was feeling colorblind, so Ben calms his mind with a soothing thought experiment: Mary's Room. As the WisdomBois enjoy hearty bowls of soup during their newest segment "Just Souping Around," they explore a troubling scenario thought up by Australian philosopher/bogan Frank Jackson. A genius-level neuroscientist named Mary, who was raised in a black & white laboratory her entire life and has never seen color, escapes and for the first time sees a red rose. Listen to find out what happens next.
episode 51: jordan peterson w/ Jay whitecotton
Pat was feeling friend-zoned so Ben reaches out to Jay Whitecotton, William M. Hicks Professor of Postmodern Studies at Duke University and Pat's roommate, to talk about the earth-shattering "philosophy" of consummate edgelord Jordan B. Peterson. In this installment, Jay guides Ben and Pat through the murky swamps of postmodern thought, the Versus Culture, and the virtual battlefields on which so many InCels and SJWs fight maniacally for the hearts and minds of tired, confused people. Pat mostly stared at his phone for this one and only perked up when Jay mentioned stuffed-crust pizza. Join the DSA.
episode 50: baruch spinoza
Pat was feeling cosmic, so Ben turns him onto the pantheistic philosophy of 17th Century Rationalist Baruch Spinoza. Harbinger of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, this Portuguese Dutch Jew developed a system of thought so at odds with the Jewish thought of the time that he ended up getting excommunicated from the Amsterdam Jewish community, giving them a feisty middle finger on the way out. Basically, Baruch AKA Barry AKA Benedictus AKA Bento Spinoza cast doubt on the notion of God being a personal agent with intention, a huge no-no among the Jews cast out from Spain and Portugal at the time. Instead he equated God with Nature, implying that all existence unfolds as an inevitable process and that we're all simply manifestations of God itself. Note the "it", not the "He". God has no personhood, agency, or intention, and is therefore no different than a cosmic, natural force. The cause of it all. In the meantime, the WisdomBois learn that littering is hilarious, Pat's family is anti-semitic, and that giraffes are kosher. Fuck yeah.
episode 49: The medium is the message w/ Joe Faina
Pat was feeling extremely online af lol so Ben brings in fellow philosopher and our 9th fucking guest Joe Faina to explain why we’re all so angry and stupid all the time. Turns out, our behavior and interaction with the world around us is controlled by the platforms through which we express ourselves. As Marshall McLuhan famously declared, “The Medium is the Message.” In other words, Social Media, our iPhones, the Internet, TV, radio, writing & even language itself have pigeonholed our human experience and distilled our essences into nothing but a slurry of enraged idiocy. Excuse us while we drag whoever’s responsible on Twitter.
episode 48: the transcendentalists
Pat was feeling self-reliant so Ben welcomes him to the early 19th century philosophy of the Transcendentalists. As the US’s first showing in America’s Got WiseGuys, the Transcendentalist movement drafted the top thinkers of the day to go hard in the paint: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau & Margaret Fuller. Together, they crafted a hybrid philosophy championing spiritual independence, American self-reliance, civil disobedience, and generally telling society to fuck off.
episode 47: Arthur Schopenhauer
Pat was feeling pessimistic so Ben tries to lift his spirits with the philosophy of dour German 8th-grader Arthur Schopenhauer. Born in Danzig in 1788, Schopenhauer grew up in the sunny afterglow of the Enlightenment and absolutely hated it. He developed a philosophy in response to the Enlightenment's unbridled pep, seeing Reason as nothing but a representation of something bigger, dumber and far more violent: the Will. The Will compels us to strive for ultimately nothing meaningful. Money, Power, Love -- it's all bullshit. So just be an artist. Watch out for snakes!
episode 46: the famous violinist w/ judge john dean
Pat was getting too big for his britches so Ben invites Pat's literal father, Federal Judge John Dean, to weigh in on a loony thought experiment called The Famous Violinist. Concocted by Pat's arch-nemesis Judith Jarvis Thomson, this thought experiment provides a defense of abortion in the most convoluted way possible. It just so happens that Pat's dad, after a failed attempt to become a Catholic priest, wound up studying law instead and clerked for Justice Blackmun, the guy who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade. Listen & subscribe to hear 3 men talk about a woman's right to choose. What could go wrong? (Srsly tho, support Planned Parenthood.)
episode 45: modal realism
Pat didn't know how to cut an onion, so Ben introduces him to the many worlds of Modal Realism. Developed by philosopher David Lewis, Modal Realism contends that there are multiple universes that exist alongside ours and they're composed of every possible scenario conceivable in our language. Crazy, right? Anyway, Ben and Pat scream at each other and come to the conclusion that you can't find a good pastrami on rye in this state. Also check out our Patreon.
episode 44: slavoj zizek w/ Avery Moore
Pat was feeling ideological so he invites his & Ben's mutual friend Avery Moore to help explain the philosophy of Slovenian lunatic Slavoj Žižek. Using Žižek's penetrating analysis/incoherent ramblings, Ben & Avery expose the insidious lure of Late Capitalism and show Pat how its ideology perverts reality to trap us in a Matrix of consumerism. We also confirm the latent Nazism of Pokemon Go.
episode 43: osho
Pat was feeling unfulfilled so Ben brought him into a wild, wild country to meet Osho AKA Rajneesh Bhagwan, transcendent guru, pied piper of Baby Boomers, and war criminal of Oregon. Have you ever felt empty? Like you were destined for so much more? But no one set you up to grab what was yours? Then come gather round, fellow sannyasins. What motivated this Rolex-donning, Rolls Royce-driving diva? Listen, rate, & subscribe to learn more.
Episode 42: Niccolo Machiavelli
Pat was feeling conniving so Ben taught him the underhanded ways of Niccolo Machiavelli. Born in 1469 (heh heh) in Florence, Italy, Machiavelli became world-renowned for his amoral guidebook on how to be the most ruthless Mafia don in the world. Read by the likes of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Napoleon, and Stalin, Machiavelli's "The Prince" touched off a whole new era of political theory that dispensed with ethics and taught you how to run shit so you never got got. Basically, don't trust anyone, not even luck.
episode 41: John Duns Scotus w/ Patrick Sirois
Pat was feeling dense so Ben brought in our 6th fucking guest, Medieval scholar Patrick Sirois, to talk about the philosophy of John Duns Scotus. In a crossover episode for the ages, the WisdomBois talk with the host of Lie, Cheat & Steal to get to the bottom of the univocity of Being, haecceity & the problem of universals, and where the word “dunce” comes from. Spoiler alert: it’s the dude’s name.
episode 40: What is it like to be a bat?
Pat was feeling misunderstood so Ben put things in perspective by asking what it would be like for Pat to be a bat. This insane question was put forth in 1974 by philosopher of mind Thomas Nagel to illustrate how unique & intractable the issue of subjective experience is in the face of scientific scrutiny. How can we possibly know what it's like to shriek in front of us to navigate our world while flying around as a furious, blind monster. Nagel's answer: We can't.
episode 39: Logical fallicies
Pat was feeling duped so Ben gave him a crash course in logical fallacies. From ad hominem attacks, to begging the question, Ben shows Pat how to identify the various ways people use faulty logic & fuzzy reasoning to trick poor saps into falling for FAAAKE NEWS. The WisdomBois also discuss Ben's notorious sharing of fake memes on Facebook and how a certain middle school science teacher got a little too close to Pat's sister.
episode 38: Monkeys Typing Shakespeare
Pat was feeling cheeky so he asked Ben to shed some light on easily the most profound question in all of human thought: How long would it take for a bunch of monkeys to randomly type out all of Shakespeare’s plays? After a meandering journey through the principles of probability, the meaning of Art, and the baffling silliness of the British, the answer drove them both to irreparable insanity.
episode 37: Sigmund Freud
Pat was feeling neurotic so Ben had mutual friend & Director of The Vienna Institute of Psychoanalysis Jared Hawley come on the show to talk about Sigmund Freud. Freud was a serious scientist/naughty pervert who had some wacky theories about our unconscious lives and also had massive issues with cigars & cocaine. It’s Freud, baby! (Please ignore the sniffles. We all had colds.)
Episode 36: Epicureanism
Pat was feeling indulgent so Ben teaches him the decadent philosophy of Epicureanism. The secret to happiness is harnessing pleasure and avoiding pain, as told by Epicurus in the 3rd Century BC. Also, we're nothing but atoms, nothing happens to us when we die, and the gods, if they exist at all, don't give a shit about you. In other words: You ain't here for a long time, you're here for a good time.
episode 35: stoicism
Pat was feeling agitated so Ben initiates him into the unflappable school of Stoicism. In Part 2 of our Second Greek Triple Stack, Ben & Pat explore the life & thought of founder Zeno of Citium, who emphasized the use of Reason to live according to Nature, mastery of the Passions to achieve happiness, and generally how to be less of a pussy. They also discuss Stoicism's popularity with the Romans, especially as adopted by philosopher/Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
episode 34: cynicism
Pat was feeling cynical so Ben schools him in the Ancient Greek philosophy of Cynicism, pioneered by uncompromising sage/public masturbator Diogenes of Sinope. Pat & Ben recount Diogenes' crazy antics to illustrate the principles & values that underpin the Cynical ethos: an austere lifestyle, speaking truth to power, and a wholesale rejection of conventional morality (hence the public masturbating).
episode 33: cornel west
Pat was feeling revolutionary so Ben explains to him the philosophy of Cornel West, former Princeton professor and Ben's close, personal friend. Close enough to call him "Brother." Pat & Ben explore Brother West's ideas on socialism, neo-pragmatism, and the historicity of democracy. Most importantly, Pat learns how to turn philosophy into action through PRAXIS: Practicing Radical Astronauts Xenophobes Is Stupid.
episode 32: The Self
Pat was feeling schizophrenic so Ben brings in an expert to set him straight: our 4th guest Carina Magyar! Carina and Ben help Pat navigate the thorniest of philosophical issues: What is the Self? Which part of the Self corresponds to which member of the WuTang Clan? Did Michael Jordan kill his dad? What would you do if an exact copy of you threw a concert on Mars? Find out on the latest installment of I Learned Nothing!
episode 31: david hume
Pat was feeling Caledonian so Ben introduces him to the groundbreaking philosophy of Scottish genius David Hume. Ben guides Pat through the misty moors of our mind, explaining how Hume, the Groundskeeper Willy of Philosophy, tackled the issues of causation, logical induction, and the ‘is/ought’ distinction in morality. How can we predict anything based on what we've seen before? What makes murder wrong? Get learnt ya daft fookin wankers!
episode 30: the archetypes
Pat was feeling haunted by the ghosts of our past so Benintroduces him to The Archetypes and Carl Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious. Deep within our psyche lives a retinue of ancient comic book characters -- the Hero, the Trickster, the Shadow, Santos the Grill Cook -- who provide the basis of our myths and have influenced our species' behavior for eons. Let's get to know them. Also, Pat learns that the continents don't just float on top of the ocean, which...Jesus, Pat, c'mon.
episode 29: The enlightenment
Pat was feeling unenlightened so Ben blesses Pat with the story of The Enlightenment. Back in the 1700's, a bunch of French perverts got together and decided enough was enough. Church and State should be kept separate. The King is a douche bag. We should only use reason to decide how to live. Also, apparently Jean-Jacques Rousseau became King Pop Daddy of the Enlightenment after a tortured childhood full of spanking and sex with older broads. Noice!
episode 28: vedanta
Pat was feeling trapped so Ben teaches him about Vedanta, one of the six classical schools of Hindu philosophy. After an in depth tour of The Hindu Cinematic Universe, Ben explains the central concepts of samsara, moksha, karma, atman and Brahma. In other words, how do we escape the prison of endless birth, death & rebirth so we can finally reunite our souls with the Ultimate Reality? Ben & Pat also revisit their Catholic upbringing and confirm that Stan Lee sucks and should just die already. Namaste!
episode 27: Martin Heidegger
Pat was feeling spiteful so he made Ben explain the philosophy of problematic genius/unapologetic Nazi Martin Heidegger. Through his teeth, Ben tells Pat about Heidegger's earth-shattering insights on Being, his cowardly involvement with the Nazi party, and the unique experience of human beings as the only form of Being conscious of itself and its own inevitable death. The Wisdom Boys also discuss the artistic work of evil men and Pat reveals that his father is a retired judge who murdered dogs. This ep is packed with flavor, you guys.
episode 26: The New Atheists
Pat was feeling blasphemous so Ben reveals to him the secret teachings of The New Atheists. Also known as "The Four Horsemen" by every freshman in your dorm who considered himself a genius, this quartet of smug pricks includes rival podcaster Sam Harris, deceased British drunk Christopher Hitchens, zoologist and memelord Richard Dawkins, and actual philosopher Daniel Dennett. Like the old atheists, they deny the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. However, these nerds think religion is actively harmful and must be stopped. Is Pat up to the challenge?
Episode 25: michel foucault
Pat was feeling marginalized so Ben taught him the postmodern philosophy of French scholar and horny maniac Michel Foucault. Specifically, Pat wanted to know how & why our current society's system of knowledge was being used as a weapon of power against him and other deviants. The Wisdom Boys talk madness, criminality, and hardcore fucking sex. Ben also gives a play by play of the famous televised debate, deftly mediated by a shy Dutchman, between Foucault and his intellectual adversary, the ancient Jew known only as Noam Chomsky. Sacre Bleu!
episode 24: Daoism
Pat wanted to take a load off so Ben tells him about the Way AKA the Dao. In a wild, meandering episode, Ben and Pat talk about the ancient Chinese philosophy of Daoism, and explore its relation to Being, Non-Being, Laoze, Donald Trump, Chinese dinosaurs, The Band, whiskey, Alan Watts, bloodthirsty cats, and the drunk, faithless English. It's a hell of a ride. Won't you join us? Dao you doin'?
Episode 23: the veil of ignorance
Pat wanted to know the best way to form a just society so Ben explains The Veil of Ignorance. Developed by political philosopher & Baltimore scumbag John Rawls, The Veil of Ignorance is a thought experiment where people in charge of designing a just society imagine that they know nothing about the particular attributes they'll have in this new society. This ensures that the people will be unbiased when deciding on the principles their society will be based on. It confuses the shit out of Pat so he just yells at Ben about Fox News.
episode 22: Existentialism
Pat was feeling a looming sense of Angst so Ben introduces him to the chain-smoking, eye-rolling, turtleneck-wearing philosophy of Existentialism. As they stare into the black, meaningless Void that is our lives, Ben & Pat follow the trail of ideas that make up the existential tradition. They discuss the fear & trembling of Kierkegaard, the death of God (again), and Sartre's call to live authentically and avoid bad faith. Life is absurd and only we can define our selves. Also Pat learns how to say "existentialism" for the first time.
episode 21: zeno's Paradoxes
Episode 21: Pat's incessant questions have withered Ben's patience & health down to a nub, so Ben reaches out to our 3rd fucking guest, Duncan Carson! Duncan & Ben irritate Pat with the Paradoxes of Zeno, a Pre-Socratic philosopher and drunk who laid out several paradoxes (zany situations) challenging our conventional ideas of motion, space & time. Pat learns about the epic race between Achilles & the Tortoise, threatens people who like ranch, and rants loudly about mathematics. Ben and Duncan were never seen again.
episode 20: confucius
Pat was feeling less than confident in the state of our society, so Ben teaches him the ways of Confucius, or as he will henceforth be known: Master Kong. Pat and Ben discuss Master Kong's theories on what makes for a harmonious society, what makes for a chill bro, and how to attain the most coveted virtue in Confucius' ethical system: Ren, or human-heartedness. They also cover the difference between Eastern and Western conceptions of society, and Pat has a meltdown about thought experiments. All hail Master Kong and his Master Dong.
episode 19: The Chinese Room
Pat was feeling dumber than a robot so Ben invites him to check out The Chinese Room. Developed by philosopher John Searle, The Chinese Room is a thought experiment that challenges the notion of Strong AI -- Strong Allen Iverson. Ben and Pat explore the nature of machine intelligence, The Turing Test, and what it means to understand a language. Can machines think like us? What's it like when a robot beats off? Not a game, not a game, not a game...Practice.
episode 18: free will
Pat was wondering if he was really in control of his choices, so Ben explains the concept of Free Will. Do we really decide the course of our own lives? Do choosy moms really "choose" JIF? What justifies our system of criminal justice if all of our actions are determined by physics? Pat and Ben explore the implications of choice, will, and what makes our behavior truly a part of our selves. Also, don't suck your friend's blood on the bus. It's weird.
Episode 17: Herbert Marcuse
Pat was feeling seductive so he asked Ben about 1969 Playmate of the Year/Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Pat & Ben wear velvet smoking jackets as they discuss Marcuse's ideas, like how Marxism needs a Freudian pick-me-up, and how capitalism has conditioned us into a one-dimensional society where we're forced to either consume or die.
episode 16: the scholastics
Pat was getting nostalgic about his Catholic school days (where he first met Ben) so he and Ben get into some Catholic shit. They cover the medieval philosophy of SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, Ockham's Razor, and Peter Abelard's junkless crotch, among other things. Ironically, these philosophies, which currently underpin all of Catholic theology, wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for Muslims, whom the Church handsomely rewarded with a bunch of crusades. Ad Majorem Gloriam Dei, bitch.
episode 15: aristotle
Pat could barely sit still as he and Ben wrap up their award-winning Greek Triple Stack series with main Logic Daddy himself - Aristotle. Ben explains the 4 Causes, the Syllogism and Aristotle's virtue ethics. Pat learns that Aristotle was the only person who could yell at Alexander the Great in public without getting murdered. Pat liked Aristotle better because he's a more down to earth bro and doesn't imprison children in caves to grow up blind and stupid like Plato did. As a result, Pat doesn't yell at Ben. We all have fun. Hooray!
episode 14: plato
Pat was wondering what the Big Idea was, so Ben introduces him to the Idea Man himself: Plato. Long considered Socrates' successor and consigliere, Plato has a lot to say about Justice, Truth, and how to hang during an epic Greek smoke sesh. Pat & Ben talk about the Republic and Plato's Theory of Forms. Everything is peaches & cream until they get to the Allegory of the Cave. Pat hates the metaphor and yells at Ben about it, noting that it's a contrived device to make a fairly obvious point
episode 13: Socrates
Pat was curious about how this whole philosophy thing got started in the first place, so Ben sits him down and tells him about Socrates, the toga-wearing, hemlock-chugging maniac who kicked off this non-stop wisdom party. In the first installment of a 3-part series, "The Greek Triple Stack," Ben and Pat talk about a man from Athens who asked so many questions, the state executed him just for being annoying. But that couldn't stop what he already started: the Western philosophical tradition as we know it. All without writing anything down. Real piece of work, this guy.
episode 12: The Problem of Evil
Pat was wondering why God allows bad things to happen to good people, so Ben explains The Problem of Evil. Long used by atheists to challenge the existence of God, this issue has been irritating religious people for millennia. Ben and Pat discuss how annoying atheists are, how little God gives a shit whether you believe in him or not, and the different responses theists (folks who believe in God) have developed to solve this problem. This includes the sheisty, lawyerific response Ben came up with in his thesis to ultimately graduate from Princeton. Should be a doozy.
Episode 11: Hannah arendt
Pat was feeling oppressed (again) so Ben explains the groundbreaking political philosophy of Hannah Arendt, who is way smarter and better at philosophy than that charlatan Ayn Rand. Pat learns about Arendt's theory of the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th Century, why modernity fucked everything up, and how average people become wicked through the Banality of Evil. Fun fact: her book The Origins of Totalitarianism saw a dramatic spike in sales on Amazon the day of Trump's inauguration because no fucking shit. Listen and learn something. Don't be a tool. Punch a Nazi.
episode 10: The ship of theseus
Pat lost his identity and panicked. In an attempt to get Pat's sense of self back, Ben explains The Ship of Theseus paradox. If you replace all the planks of wood from the ship one at a time over the years, is it the same ship in the end? If the old planks are used to build another ship with the exact same design, is that the original ship? If you go into a teleporter that disassembles you atom-by-atom at one end and reassembles you with new atoms at the other end, did you die? Do you step out a clone?? How does this help Pat? Frankly, it doesn't. Pat gets confused and yells at Ben. The End.
episode 9: the brain in a vat
Pat was freaking out because he couldn't tell if we live in a simulation or not. After Pat forces Ben to watch the entire Matrix trilogy, he makes Ben explain the 'Brain in a Vat' scenario. Is any of this real? Can we wake up from this nightmare? And what does all this have to do with 17th Century French pervert Rene Descartes? Pat learns that Cipher kind of had a point, Morpheus is an asshole, and that the most famous quote in the history of philosophy, "I think therefore I am," was Descartes, not Shakespeare.
Episode 8: Terence Mckenna & Alan Watts
Pat wanted to expand his mind so Ben brought in Christina Parrish to explain the psychedelic philosophies of Terence McKenna & Alan Watts. Christina and Ben send Pat on a trip where he learns how to dismantle the Ego and shatter his preconceptions with the help of some groovy learning aids: Psilocybin, LSD & DMT. Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. Bitch.
Episode 7: ayn rand
Pat was being a whiny, entitled bitch, so he made Ben explain the "philosophy" of famous novelist/cult leader Ayn Rand. Pat learns how she used her turgid, hackneyed, pedantic novels as a platform for her ideology, Objectivism. Objectivism is a half-baked philosophy for petulant toddlers emphasizing selfishness as a virtue and rapacious capitalism as the best economic system. Her followers are insufferable. Don't ever talk to them.
Episode 6: Friedrich Nietzsche
Pat sensed something was amiss. Turns out, he was right: God is dead! Pat takes on the case and brings in his partner Ben to find God's killer. Pat suspects syphilitic weirdo Friedrich Nietzsche, but as Ben explains the mercurial philosopher's life and work, the case gets more complicated. In the biggest spoiler in Western intellectual history, we learn that we were the killers the whole time and poor Freddy got framed for the murder, along with another historical catastrophe of the 20th century (Nazism). He may have been a insufferable dick, but he had some intense ideas, like the Ubermensch, eternal recurrence, and the fact that the moral fabric of our society is ultimately based on arbitrary, unsubstantiated values. There's nothing out there that meaningfully separates civilization from chaos, so enjoy life before the Purge starts.
Episode 5: Zen Buddhism
Pat was seeking enlightenment so Ben brought in an expert. John Rabon joins Ben as our first guest to explain Zen, living in the moment and resisting the lures of pleasure. Ben and John enlighten Pat by explaining the history of Buddhism, its ultimate goal of eliminating all desire, and how an unhealthy obsession with immediate gratification and the pursuit of pleasure leads to unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. Buddha would know because Buddha smashed.
Episode 4: Immanuel Kant
Pat was feeling ambitious so he wanted to tackle one of the greats: German philosopher & weird virgin Immanuel Kant. Ben explains Kant's whole mission to Pat, which was basically to lay out a comprehensive, scientific theory of how we know things. He did this by reconciling the two competing theories of knowledge at the time: Rationalism vs. Empiricism. This was an insane thing to attempt, even for a huge nerd like Kant, which may explain why he never left his hometown and never, ever got laid. Pat also advances the theory that Kant's weirdness came from having a super hot mom. Who knows?
EPISODE 3: KARL MARX
Pat was feeling oppressed so he recruits his revolutionary friend Ben to teach him about class struggle, revolution, and the man behind it all: Big Bad Karl Marx. Pat learns about the dialectical march of history, alienation, and why you shouldn't get your leftist rhetoric from teenagers screaming on the Internet. In this episode, we also get a brief cameo from Pat's roommate, Jay, but you probably won't hear him because he wasn't mic'd. Join the DSA! We have nothing to lose but our chains!
episode 2: The Trolley Problem
Pat is obsessed with trains & trolleys. So, to keep Pat engaged, Ben explains The Trolley Problem, a famous ethical dilemma, while teaching Pat the difference between right and wrong. In this very special episode, Pat and Ben discuss deep ideas like actions, culpability and consequences. They also uncover a sinister cabal of philosophers, led by Judith Jarvis Thompson, whose only goal is to murder the nation's obese people using a vast network of trains.
Episode 1: Schrodinger's cat
Pat was curious about Schrodinger's Cat, the famous thought experiment developed by Nobel Prize winning pervert Erwin Schrodinger. Schrodinger's Cat explores the insane metaphysical implications of quantum theory, so Ben had to start off by teaching Pat advanced theoretical physics before explaining how this cat has been fucking with our understanding of reality for years. We also discuss why this involves the ritual torture of household pets and beating off. Tim the Cat listens in horror.