Panel Discussion

Posted October 31st, 2016

Trick or Treat?  Jimmy joins Randy, Heather, and Glenn to talk about stoicism.




  • Swaggy
  • Swaggy

    Thanks, Jimmy, Randy, Heather, Glenn! I really enjoyed this episode as well as the latest episode of the Book of Abraham.

    I was considered for a really great job at this hot new company in the NYC area and I ended up not getting it. I was so bummed out for the past 6 days. Then I listened to Glenn’s episode before this where he was riffing on how people pray for God to abrogate the free agency of employers so they can get the job. I really enjoyed the truth in that episode. Then this episode hit and I was blown away as well. Mixing humor with the philosophies of men isn’t that bad!

  • Heather, a friend once suggested that if I didn’t wish to be disturbed by other airline passengers or the cabin crew, I should put a sign around my neck that read, “Do Not Disturb. I’m holding the plane up with my mind.” I never tried it (I only wanted to sleep), but it would probably buy you the privacy you need to pray the plane safely to its destination.

  • I am basically a fan of Sam Harris and I have to side with Heather on the “professionally trained philosopher” versus the the itinerant raver argument. The comparison to classically trained musicians versus self taught singer/songwriter/musician types is very apt. There is a lot to be said for classical music. I enjoy it very much and pay hundreds of dollars a year for season tickets to the symphony here. But there is no way I would dismiss all of the pop, folk, jazz, blues, rock, rhythm and blues, etc., etc. that has grown up outside of the classical music establishment. More truth lives in popular music of one kind or another than just about anywhere else.

    In my undereducated opinion, the rigidity of classical philosophy is every bit as constrictive as religious doctrine. An “outsider” such as Sam Harris doesn’t know exactly what conclusions the discipline of philosophy, as an institution, has come to over the centuries and so, in some people’s opinion, he should not be allowed to speak, or at least not be listened to until he learns to sing all of the same tunes in exactly the same way the philosophy profession sings them.

    I used to listen to atheist versus whoever debates and even try to participate on one side or the other occasionally, but professional philosophers have a real propensity for disappearing up their own asses. If you can’t discuss a topic in their terms on their terms, you’re not welcome and won’t be responded to. They keep having the same debates over and over again. They can’t have any new ones because all of the possible conclusions were come to hundreds of years ago. It’s like Kabuki: people enjoy it, but it’s not like everyone doesn’t know how it turns out.

    I liked Jimmy’s characterization of Mormonism as a “cartoon religion.” I couldn’t agree more, but I think the atheism that derives from classical philosophy has also become a cartoon religion. As much as atheists hate being called a religion, they are just that, and if you don’t learn the doctrine, you’ll never become a serious player. You’ll be Leonardo DiCaprio doing Shakespeare and I have to admit there’s a case and half against that.

    Classical philosophy would carry a lot more weight if we weren’t still mired in a world dominated by assholes and idiots. Philosophers might make some beautiful music, but you still have to go home and vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson or whoever.

  • Swaggy

    I’m reminded of something that the Dalai Lama said. That if Science proves Buddhism wrong in something, then Buddhism will have to change. I feel like that’s one of the benefits of the Scientific Revolution.

  • thirdNephite

    I used to like Heather but she just gets more and more bitchy with each episode. Fascinating subject, aggravating rigidness from Heather.

    • Swaggy

      Like your opinion matters.

      • thirdNephite

        Good comeback Swaggy. Keep trying…

        • Swaggy

          Please work on your issues.

          • ThirdNephite

            Will do

    • I love to argue. Particularly with Jim who is a friend of mine. He enjoys it, too. We had a fine time and parted with enthusiastic promises to do this again. You should read our emails about Emily Dickinson if you want to see real rigidity and bitchiness from both sides.

      • thirdNephite

        No thank you

        • James Snyder

          Well, I think it’s time to take your troll self and kick it–all by yourself little boy!–out onto the streets.

          • ThirdNephite

            Ok. I look forward to hearing more from you in upcoming podcasts

      • Swaggy

        Why is it that women who argue get called “bitchy” and guys who argue get called “strong” or “forward”. It’s total bullshit.

        • ThirdNephite

          Had I said Heather was a bitch while also extolling the ‘strong’ manly men arguments of the male guests your argument would make sense

      • black_and_delightsome

        Not sure why you even bother to respond. He is obviously a troll. I know his kind, the mostly guys who use the so called “PC” culture as an excuse to expose their misogyny, xenophobia, and racism.

      • James Snyder

        I like Heather love to argue too. With a good interlocutor you find yourself wondering if you know what you thought you knew. You get chances to become clearer in your way of looking at things, more alert to blind spots, more aware that you’re walking around with unexamined assumptions. This can happen even when there’s thorough disagreement, as there is between Heather and me w/respect to Harris and Emily Dickinson. In any case, our Harris excursus is tangential to the point of the podcast, which looks at Stoicism as a philosophical tradition worth thinking about post-Mormon. I am not a Stoic, but I was grateful to learn from the Stoics when I left the church. Re this podcast, I’ll just mention that Heather’s insight about what it is to leave a place, a city or a town, attending closely to the world you’re leaving, is perhaps the most important observation I’ve taken from the podcast, as is the reminder I got of Randy’s heartbreaking story about almost losing Grady, which of course I’ve known from the day it happened.

    • James Snyder

      Oh, Lord. I think Heather is the best new addition to the Infants. “Bitchy” doesn’t seem to be a helpful word here. Perhaps I’m a bit bitchy from time to time myself. I don’t know. But Heather makes her case each episode, and whatever she argues, it works on me because she offers arguments worth considering. The idea that she’s rigid is silly. She elevates the discussion and makes everyone think. In fact, I wasn’t happy doing this episode until I knew Heather would be part of it.

    • Thomas Moore

      I, definitely enjoyed the argument between Jim and Heather. The only philosophy I had was 3 crdt hours in College and this was much more in depth. I also did not like Sam Harris’ philosophical view on “Free Agency” or “Free Will” and had no tools to back up why I knew his thought/belief was wrong. Now to hear it from Jim was very, very helpful and comforting to my mind. So a huge thumbs up to Heather and Jim for debating this philosophical point; at least for me– It really helped calm my thoughts and gave me a direction to turn to. Thanks again.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Bitchy? Is that a troll trap? Like you’re just waiting for the PC police to roll up so you can make this an exhibition on the PC culture?

      Anyway, Heather is a human that is entitled to her opinion and when you disagree, how ’bout just disagreeing without using female denigrating terms used to marginalize female opinions like “bitchy”. Really, that’s the best you got? That’s your insightful analysis of this discussion? Heather is bitchy? I would love to see how you did “man to man” with Heather in a debate on anything. I really would.

      So if Heather was bitchy, I want bitchy bitches on this podcast to piss off rigid bitches like you and make rigid bitches like me think harder about our rigid bitchy opinions.

      • ThirdNephite

        No trap. Just my opinion. just like you can be a dick sometimes, Matt can be a blowhard, heather can also be a bitch. Just because I think that doesn’t mean I don’t love the show and have listened to every episode about 5x. It also doesn’t mean I’m denegrating women lol but I appreciate you all taking time out of your day to respond

    • Mack Bartschi

      In this current political climate, it was very comforting to hear two adults have a disagreement and make reasonable arguments without raising their voices.

  • Thomas Moore Matthew 7:7-8 “7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

  • Ryan Gregson

    Kortzkinan? Cortchkizog?

    • Ryan Gregson

      Never mind. Kurzgesagt, found it .

      • Kuhl! But I need to be careful. I had to be surgically removed from my office chair a few years ago when I discovered Crash Course and did not move for several days until I had binge-watched all of them. My family and friends still don’t understand my fixation on the Mongols.

        • Ryan Gregson

          I’ll have to check those out.

  • Emily

    Haven’t finished the episode yet, but I love the idea of imagining bad things happening in your life to help you appreciate every day. (And yes, Heather, Randy’s story kills me, too. God.) I was reminded of the advice I got from multiple people when I got married to never even think about divorce, don’t even let it be an option. Like, if you let yourself even think it, it will probably happen. The time I was struggling in my marriage and finally let myself seriously consider divorce, imagine what it would be like, really, it actually helped me see the positive things and want to do better to make my relationship work. So now my stoic bridal shower advice is, when things get bad, think about divorce.

    • Jay

      Randy’s story hit me, too. I tried to spend more one on one time with my kids tonight and made sure I told them how glad I am to be their father.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Perfect response.

  • Daved6

    What’s wrong, infanticiders? I figured it’d been a while since I’ve given you chumps notice (nah that’s not a male invective, that’s for all genders). Thought you’d like to know I got fired thanks to Glenn’s needling (or weird stalking/sleuthing) into my personal affairs. Just playing. I didn’t. But for some reason today I thought, oh what’s up with the infant behaving crew. But I haven’t listened or nothing. I rather enjoyed Stoic philosophers back in the day. Epictetus and Seneca were the ones that I glommed onto. Maybe one of these coming days I’ll tune in.
    Thought I’d say hi and hope things are well. No need…I realize your anger has only increased towards me. Maybe you thought you scared me away? maybe… or my interest has waned. Best wishes

    • Randy_Snyder

      Good to have you back Dave. Glad you didn’t lose your job. I’m not being sarcastic. That would have horrified me.

      • David B

        Mighty big of ya to say, sir, or shall i say surly fellow?

  • Jay

    I’d love to hear the smackdown/smakup of Sam Harris. Listening to Sam Harris’ arguments I had a similar reaction to Jimmy. Harris thinks an FMRI study solves millennia of debate regarding free will and consciousness but I find his arguments unconvincing.

  • Heather I totally feel your pain with Jon Stewart not being on. I miss that guy sooo much. Have you heard he’s working on doing show with HBO? No news on when it airs, but it should be good:

    Also agree with your defense of Sam Harris. He’s very articulate and thoughtful. I love the concept of “steel-manning” an argument as a way of being rigorously, intellectually honest. I feel like if I could communicate my thoughts as clearly as him, I could do anything.