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Overthink

English, Cultural, 1 season, 108 episodes, 4 days, 3 hours, 25 minutes
About
The best of all possible podcasts, Leibniz would say. Putting big ideas in dialogue with the everyday, Overthink offers accessible and fresh takes on philosophy from enthusiastic experts. Hosted by professors Ellie Anderson (Pomona College) and David M. Peña-Guzmán (San Francisco State University).
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Success

Cooked, slayed, delivered, ate. In episode 108 of Overthink, Ellie and David break down what it means to succeed, and why this sneaky word pervades our society today - in everything from the ambitions of classic American stage figures, to the refined effortlessness in Zhuangzi’s tales, to the corporate world of buzzwords. Your hosts discuss party planning, tenure tracks, inspirational quotes, haters, why science seems so successful, and the pitfalls of thinking we’ve got it all figured out. Plus, in the Patreon bonus, they reflect on the interpersonal tensions of sharing successes, and making the best of our mishaps.Check out the episode's extended cut here!Works DiscussedSimone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of AmbiguityHenri Bergson, Matter and MemoryWilliam Desmond, “Philosophy and Failure”Ralph Waldo Emerson, What is Success?Arthur Miller, Death of a SalesmanHilary Putnam, Mathematics, Matter and MethodThomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific RevolutionsArthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and RepresentationTim Wu, “In Praise of Mediocrity”Zhuangzi, “The Secret of Caring for Life”Patreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail |  [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the Show.
7/16/202458 minutes, 27 seconds
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Fun

Even philosophers need downtime. In episode 106 of Overthink, Ellie and David take a break and chase down fun’s place in today’s world — from its aesthetic opposition to the highbrow realm of beauty, to its peculiar absence from philosophical discourse. What role does fun play in the good life? How does fun relate to art, play, and ritual? Can you really have fun by yourself? And what happens when the lines blur between the fun and the political?Check out the episode's extended cut here!Works DiscussedTheodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of EnlightenmentRey Chow, The Age of the World TargetErna Fergusson, Dancing GodsMichel Foucault, The History of MadnessPierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Plato to FoucaultJohan Huizinga, Homo LudensImmanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of JudgmentLawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/LowbrowAlan McKee, Fun!: What Entertainment Tells Us About Living a Good LifeDavid Peña-Guzmán and Rebekah Spera, "The philosophical personality"Jen D’Angelo & Mariana Uribe, Mamma Mia! But DifferentPatreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.com Instagram & Twitter | @overthink_pod Email |  [email protected] YouTube | Overthink podcastSupport the Show.
6/18/202458 minutes, 20 seconds
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Civil Disobedience with Noëlle McAfee

Do political subjects have a default obligation to obey the law? In episode 105 of Overthink, Ellie and David discuss civil disobedience in the present context of university activism for divestment from genocide in Gaza. They chart the genealogy of the concept of disobedience in political theory, from Thoreau and MLK through to today. Together with guest Noëlle McAfee, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Emory University, they reflect on the relationship between legal protest, civil disobedience, and political dialogue, and think about why activism must be part of any healthy democracy. Focusing on the psychoanalytic concept of ‘breakdown’, McAfee discusses the disproportionate administrative and militarized crackdown on student organizing that we are witnessing across American campuses today.Check out the episode's extended cut here!Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail Julia Kristeva, Powers of HorrorNoëlle McAfee, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis Noëlle McAfee, Democracy and the Political Unconscious John Rawls, A Theory of Justice Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government Donald Winnicott, “Fear of Breakdown” Iris Marion Young, “Activist Challenges to Deliberative Democracy”Patreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.com Instagram & Twitter | @overthink_pod Email |  [email protected] YouTube | Overthink podcastSupport the Show.
6/4/202453 minutes, 34 seconds
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Reading

This is one for the books. In episode 104 of Overthink, Ellie and David consider what makes reading so rewarding, and, for many people today, so challenging! How did society shift toward inward silent reading and away from reading aloud in the Middle Ages? How have changes in teaching phonics and factors of classism, accessibility, and educational justice made it harder for the young to read? Why is reading philosophy so hard, and how can we increase our reading stamina?Check out the episode's extended cut here!Works DiscussedMarcel Proust, Journée des LecteursSimone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful DaughterJulie Andrews, MandyAdam Kotsko, “The Loss of Things I Took for Granted,” SlateAlberto Manguel, A History of ReadingDavid Abram, The Spell of the SensuousMaryanne Wolf, Proust and the SquidPatreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail |  [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the Show.
5/21/202459 minutes, 25 seconds
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Laziness

We’re taking it easy! In episode 103 of Overthink, Ellie and David take a leisurely dive into laziness, discussing everything from couchrotting to the biology of energy conservation. They explore Devon Price’s idea of the ‘laziness lie’ in today’s hyperproductive society and search for alternatives to work through Paul Lefargue’s 19th century campaign for ‘the right to be lazy.’ They also look into the racialization of laziness in Ibn Khaldun and Montesquieu’s ideas on the idle tropics, and think through how the Protestant work ethic punishes laziness, even when technology could take care of the work.Check out the episode's extended cut here! Works DiscussedDevon Price, Laziness Does Not ExistRoland Barthes, “Let us dare to be lazy”Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperienceJared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and SteelChristine Jeske, The Laziness MythIbn Khaldun, MuqaddimahPaul Lafargue, The Right to be LazyKarl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist ManifestoMontesquieu, The Spirit of the LawsMax Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of CapitalismPatreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail |  [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the Show.
5/7/202458 minutes, 42 seconds
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Mixed-Race Identity

In episode 102 of Overthink, Ellie and David discuss diverse ideas of racial mixedness, from family-oriented models of mixed race to José Vasconcelos’ and Gloria Anzaldua’s idea of the ‘mestizo’ heritage of Mexican people. They work through phenomenological accounts of cultural hybridity and selfhood, wondering how being multiracial pushes beyond the traditional Cartesian philosophical subject. Is mestizaje or mixed-race an identity in its own right? What are its connections to the history of colonialism and contemporary demographic trends? And, how can different relations to a mixed heritage lead to flourishing outside of white supremacist categories?Check out the episode's extended cut here! Works DiscussedLinda Martín Alcoff, Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera Rosie Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory Elisa Lipsky-Karasz, “Naomi Osaka on Fighting for No. 1 at the U.S. Open”Mariana Ortega, In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the SelfNaomi Osaka, “Naomi Osaka reflects on challenges of being black and Japanese”Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude Adrian Piper, “Passing for White, Passing for Black” Carlin Romano, “A Challenge for Philosophy”José Vasconcelos, La Raza Cósmica Naomi Zack, Race and Mixed Race Patreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail | [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the show
4/23/202459 minutes, 49 seconds
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Reputation

They say this one is the real deal. In Episode 98 of Overthink, Ellie and David untangle the philosophy behind the way we compare, judge, and defend our reputations. From Machiavelli’s advice to despots looking to stay popular, to disgruntled students venting on their professors online, reputation can glide you to victory or trigger your fall from grace. Exploring concepts like the Matthew effect, the homo comparativus, and informational asymmetry, your hosts ask: Why do both Joan Jett and Jean-Jacques Rousseau refuse reputation’s fickle pleasures? Does David actually have a good work-life balance, or is everyone else hoodwinked? And, what is the place of quantified reputation in an increasingly digital world?Check out the episode's extended cut here!Works DiscussedKwame Anthony Appiah, The Honor CodeJoan Jett & The Blackhearts, Bad ReputationNiccolo Machiavelli, The Prince?Louise Matsakis, “How the West Got China’s Social Credit System Wrong,” Wired MagazineGloria Origgi, Reputation: What It Is and Why It MattersGloria Origgi, Reputation in Moral Philosophy and EpistemologyJean-Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of the Solitary WalkerJean-Paul Sartre, The Transcendence of the EgoAdam Smith, The Theory of Moral SentimentsJordi Xifra, “Recognition, symbolic capital and reputation in the seventeenth century”Overthink EpisodesEp 28, Cancel CultureEp 19, GeniusPatreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail |  [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the show
2/27/202459 minutes, 58 seconds
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Biohacking

Night vision. Superhuman strength. And… kale salad? In episode 95 of Overthink, Ellie and David explore the weird world of biohackers, who leverage science and technology to optimize their bodies. The movement raises rich philosophical questions, from the blurry ethics of self-experimentation, to the consequences of extreme Cartesian dualism, to the awkward tension in our technological nostalgia for a pastoral paradise. If biohacking taps into the basic human desire to experience and investigate, it perhaps also pushes too far toward transcending our bodies. The stakes are political, metaphysical, and ethical — and your hosts are here to make philosophical sense of it all.Works DiscussedDave Asprey, Smarter Not HarderAlison Gopnik, The Philosophical BabyMirjam Grewe-Salfeld, Biohacking, Bodies, and Do-It-YourselfMichel de Montaigne, "Of Experience"Max More, The Transhumanist ReaderJoel Michael Reynolds, "Genopower: On Genomics, Disability, and Impairment"Smithsonian Mag, “200 Frozen Heads and Bodies Await Revival at This Arizona Cryonics Facility”Baruch de Spinoza, EthicsWashington Post, “The Key to Glorifying a Questionable Diet? Be a tech bro and call it ‘biohacking'"Patricia J. Zettler et. al., “Regulating genetic biohacking”Austin Powers (1997)If Books Could Kill PodcastOverthink ep 31. Genomics feat. Joel Michael ReynoldsSupport the show
1/16/202459 minutes, 19 seconds
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Daddy Issues

Who’s your daddy? Episode 90 is all about daddy issues. Ellie and David investigate father-child relations and the sexual, emotional, and familial worlds they create. From summer zaddies and sexy dad bods to hero feminist dads, your hosts travel from psychoanalysis all the way to theology to explore the expansive world of father figures. Do we all, as Julia Kristeva says, harbor unconscious fantasies of seeing our fathers “beaten”? Could civilization itself, as Freud suggests, be rooted in an archaic act of patricide for which we still feel guilty without realizing it? Ellie and David tackle hard questions about how parenthood, gender, and vulnerability interact. They even wonder whether they might have “daddy issues” of their own!Check out the episode's extended cut here!Works DiscussedKatherine Angel, Daddy IssuesSigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo, and "A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men"Carl Jung, A Theory of PsychoanalysisJulia Kristeva, A Father is Being BeatenJenn Mann, "Think You Have Daddy Issues?"Father of the Bride (1991)The Golden Bachelor (2023)Patreon | patreon.com/overthinkpodcast Website | overthinkpodcast.comInstagram & Twitter | @overthink_podEmail |  [email protected] | Overthink podcastSupport the show
11/7/202358 minutes, 1 second