This is the first-ever episode of the Bad Philosopher Podcast. In this episode, I start off with some background about Bad Philosopher, discuss how I got into philosophy, and then we jump into some metaphysics via Friedrich Nietzsche, Mary Wollstonecraft, and finally the great text of the Bhagavad Gita.

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This episode is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts .

Timestamps:

  • 10:27: Origins of my philosophy journey
  • 34:56: Nietzsche on the death of God
  • 44:11: Mary Wollstonecraft on hedonism
  • 52:45: Metaphysics of the Bhagavad Gita
  • 1:00:20: Secular metaphysics and outro

Food for thought:

I'd love to read your responses to these questions in the comments.

  1. Where do you stand with your belief in a deity? (ie. religious, agnostic, or atheist?)
  2. Do you think the lack of belief in a deity is a problem for society, as identified by Nietzsche? Why or why not?
  3. What sorts of metaphysical intuitions do you have about the world, if any (ie. is it made up of just material stuff, or might we be living in a computer simulation?)?

Recap:

  • In this episode, I spend 20+ minutes discussing my early life, up until the point where I discover Nietzsche via a friend's t-shirt at the age of 16. This t-shirt revelation blows my mind and ultimately changes my path in life. If you want to avoid me talking about my depressing teenage years, you can skip ahead to the actual philosophy part at 34:56 or so.
  • From here, we begin philosophizing by reading Nietzsche's "God is dead" passage from The Joyous Science, and discussing what Nietzsche is trying to get across here. He's definitely not gloating about it—rather, he's extremely worried about the implications for society and ponders what humanity has left to believe in, if not a deity. And only Nietzsche could pull this revelation off in such dramatic fashion:

"Do we smell nothing yet of the divine putrefaction? For even gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him! How shall we, the most murderous of all murderers, ever console ourselves?" [1]

  • We connect this thread to Mary Wollstonecraft who, writing in A Vindication for the Rights of Woman nearly a century before Nietzsche, argues that women and men should be treated equally in society because God has created them with the same faculties of reason and intellect. Her argument is that the only reason women seem less intellectually capable in her time is because women aren't granted a proper education, which inevitably leads to their faculties being suppressed by men. She also says that the purpose of life (for both men and women) is to pursue reason and virtue (why else would God have created both with such faculties? She asks), but that women are being prevented from doing so due to their oppression by men.
  • With this thought in mind, Wollstonecraft concedes that, if there were in fact no immortal soul, then a human being's purpose wouldn't actually be the pursuit of reason and virtue. Rather, the most logical thing to do in this scenario would be to go on a hedonistic binge. As she states:

"Supposing for a moment, that the soul is not immortal, and that man was only created for the present scene; I think we should have reason to complain that love, infantine fondness, ever grew insipid and palled upon the sense. Let us eat, drink, and love, for to-morrow we die, would be in fact the language of reason, the morality of life" [2]

  • This sort of thinking echoes Nietzsche's concern that without belief in God, society doesn't have any out-of-the-womb purpose for humans to orient themselves by. And what could we possibly invent that could replace God?
  • We follow this up with some passages from the Bhagavad Gita, where the warrior-prince Arjuna discusses the nature of reality with Krishna (an embodied avatar of the Supreme Being of Hinduism, Vishnu). Basically, Arjuna doesn't want to go into a great battle and slaughter a ton of people, and Krishna explains through metaphysics why this is in fact the ethical (and, as it happens, Arjuna's divine duty).
  • Krishna reveals himself as the Supreme Being and shows Arjuna that, in time, everyone dies anyways—that by going into battle, Arjuna is simply doing the bidding of the Supreme Being and hastening the inevitable deaths of all of those who are present on the battlefield. In the climax of this interaction, Krishna famously states:

"I am time, the destroyer of all; I have come to consume the world. Even without your participation, all of the warriors gathered here will die." [3]

  • Finally, we end things with some remarks on the possibility of a secular metaphysics: as bad philosophers, it's our responsibility to create our own meaning in life.

Additional Content:


Works Cited:

  1. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Joyous Science, passages 124 & 125 (pp. 141-142). Translated by R. Kevin Hill. Penguin Classics 2019. Original text published in German in 1882; 2nd expanded edition in 1887.
  2. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, chapter 2. Originally published in 1792.
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1 (pp. 195-198). Translated by Eknath Easwaran. Nilgiri Press, 2nd edition. 2009. Originally transmitted orally, this text dates back to 1st-millennium BCE.

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