Today I talked to David Birch about his new book Pandora's Book: 401 Philosophical Questions to Help You Lose Your Mind (with Answers) (Iff Books, 2021). We were joined by Fred Matser, author of Beyond Us: A Humanitarian’s Perspective on Our Values, Beliefs and Way of Life (Iff Books, 2021)
“Is perfume art?” That might not be the kind of philosophical inquiry you expect! Just a sign of how innovative David Birch’s book is as he explores both the usual seminal questions that philosophers have pondered through the ages, as well as questions his students would enjoy. As a result, this episode spans a range of topics from “Are you a stranger to yourself?” to “Is it possible to have dignified sex?” David’s rich answers propel the conversation here, but no more so than does Fred Matser’s own deliberations. Fred’s mission – to restore a sense of curiosity that doesn’t settle for living a life that privileges the intellect over how we experience the world through our senses and feelings. A fun, final question: “Which of these would you most like to excel in: strength, intelligence, kindness or beauty?” You have to listen to the episode to learn which option David and Fred, in turn, chose—plus the option favored by your host, when everyone laid-their-cards-on-the-table.
David Birch teaches philosophy and religious studies at Highgate School in London and also works with the Philosophy Foundation. Fred Matser is the founder and chairman of the Fred Foundation and a leading Dutch humanitarian.