Philosophy is a discipline, but it’s also a major. Most people who do it are on college campuses. We’ve spent the last fifteen years talking to the professors, now it’s time for the students. What’s it like studying philosophy in a culture obsessed with job readiness? Are professors’ expectations difficult to meet? How much of what you learn feels academic and how much is intimate, requiring self-examination and behavioral change?
In this special episode of Why? Radio, host Jack Russell Weinstein interviews four of his current students to learn what studying philosophy is like in their own words. They discuss their struggles with learning during Covid, the difficulties of attending university as am indigenous student, and, in some very moving discussion, the experience of being in Jack’s class….Continue reading “What’s it Like Being a Philosophy Student?” with guests Samuel Amendolar, Terese Azure, Madilyn Lee, Sara Rasch
Community colleges don’t seem to get the respect they deserve. They’re perceived as second-rate institutions or places for people who need extra help. Is this true? Is this fair? Are they fundamentally different than four-year colleges and universities? Can we judge them the same way or are they incomparable? On this episode of Why? we…Continue reading “What Are Community Colleges For?” with guest Brian Huschle
Free speech is probably the most valued and cited right in the U.S. Constitution, yet it faces a tremendous backlash from the younger generation. The Supreme Court has expanded free speech to include almost all forms of expression just as the internet makes it virtually impossible to distinguish truth from lies. And, as we face powerful protests from Black Lives Matter, white supremacists, and people who oppose wearing masks in public, we’re forced to ask, if one of these groups has the freedom to express themselves, must they all?…Continue reading “Is Free Speech worth it?” with guest Thane Rosenbaum
Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein has been a faculty member at the University of North Dakota for almost nineteen years, yet he can’t remember a single moment when the school has not been the subject of criticism or controversy. As he explains it, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the voice of the university in the face of this disagreement. I can’t fathom how it feels to have every word and gesture represent your institution, and not your own life and work.” Yet, this is exactly what this episode is inspiring people to do, imagine what it’s like to be in charge. So, join Jack and his guest, John Ettling, the recently-retired President of the State University of New York, Plattsburgh for a discussion about university leadership in the modern age. …Continue reading “What’s it like to be a University President?” with guest John Ettling
Host Jack Russell Weinstein remembers his professor and mentor, David N. Mowry who passed away on April 23, 2019, at the age of 78. In a powerful and emotional tribute to their relationship, Jack reflects both on David’s career and his own life. David was a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh, and the founding director of their university’s honors program. Jack graduated from Plattsburgh State in 1991, with a B.A. in philosophy….Continue reading “Requiem for A Philosophy Professor: Remembering David N. Mowry”
Should we still read Shakespeare? That is a harder question than one might think. As universities focus on diversity, marginalized writers, and widening literary traditions, the so-called “dead-white man” becomes the symbol of everything unjust. Is this fair in Shakespeare’s case and does he still have stuff to teach us? And, how should we read him anyway? How do we approach someone whose work is so vast and so intimidating?…Continue reading “Is Shakespeare Still Relevant?” with guest Adam Kitzes
One in six Americans take psychiatric drugs, yet the country is becoming less happy. As a people, we are angry, suspicious, and alienated, but we are not the first generation to feel this way. The existentialists got there first. On this episode of Why? Radio, we look at this 19th and 20th century philosophical movement to consider what its adherents might have to say about Facebook, happiness, and integrity. We consider the meaning of freedom, agency, success, and even boxing, to explore what it means to live full, honest lives in an age of social networks and materialism. …Continue reading “Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age” with guest Gordon Marino
When we think of college, we think of sports: of the big 10, of the NCAA, of the draft. We identify schools by their colors and mascots. Yet, the more money college sports earns and the more professionalized it becomes, the more horrified many are by the impact they have on universities. On the next episode of Why? Radio we’re going to examine this head on, asking about the impact of sports on academics, looking at how they have complete changed student culture.
…Continue reading “Are Sports Destroying American Universities?” with Murray Sperber
The college sports industry is worth fifty to seventy billion dollars annually and is governed by a single organization, the National Collegiate Athletics Association. What happens if they’re not fair? What happens if there are deep systematic problems that no one has the power to fix and they won’t budge? Taylor Branch noted civil-rights historian, claims that the NCAA is immoral, that it’s racist, and that it has, the “unmistakable whiff of plantation on it.” On this episode of WHY? we’ll talk about the philosophy of college sports and the controversial agency that governs how college athletes live their lives. …Continue reading “The NCAA and its Universities” with Taylor Branch
Catherine and Sheryl are in the early twenties, studying at a major university, and are ready to take on the world. They are two Chinese women with every opportunity in the world, and they, like everyone their age, want to know how to proceed. How does it feel to be the hope of a nation, the first generation to experience economic security and freedom of movement? Join WHY? as we ask what it’s like to grow up amidst the fastest changes in Chinese history….Continue reading “WHY? Goes to China: Young, Female, and Upwardly Mobile in Shanghai.” with Catherine Gao and Sheryl Jiang
Brian Leiter joined Why? in April but technical difficulties prevented us have having anything but a short conversation. In this episode, he generously returns to try again.
What is the difference between a philosopher and a philosophy professor? What does the world think a philosopher is and how does this square with the philosopher’s own self-image? The next episode of Why? looks closely at the philosopher’s job, exploring both the perennial question of its relevance and the tremendously competitive hiring process that almost every professional philosopher must endure. Join guest Brian Leiter for an insider’s look at the profession of philosophy, and a discussion about the future of the discipline: where is philosophy now, how has it changed, and how will it evolve over the next decades? …Continue reading “The Profession of Philosophy Redux” with Brian Leiter
Plagued with technical difficulties, the first two thirds of this episode features host Jack Russell Weinstein offering his thoughts on the topic, responding to internet questions, and meditating on his own experiences as a philosophy professor. Brian Leiter appears for a brief discussion towards the end….Continue reading “The Profession of Philosophy” with Brian Leiter
Is a book on the web still a book? Do hyperlinks change the role of narrative? What is an author if anyone can publish anything whenever they want? These questions frame Why?’s first episode in front of a live audience. Recorded at the newly renovated opera house in New Rockford, North Dakota, guest Crystal Alberts will crack open “philosophy of literature” to help us investigate our assumptions about reading, writing, and art in general. An expert in “new media,” we will take the opportunity to ask her the kinds of questions that come up all-too-often in today’s computerized world. What does interactivity do to the experience of reading? How does the urgency of “hipness” compare with the time-tested lessons of the classics? What does the world “classic” mean anyway? Is the feel of paper on your fingers a necessary component of good reading?…Continue reading “Literature in the Digital Age” with Crystal Alberts