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The Examined Life

Author: Kenneth Primrose

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The Examined Life podcast explores the questions we should be asking ourselves with a range of leading thinkers. Each episode features a different interview, and appeals to those interested in wisdom, personal development, and what it might mean to live a good life. Topics vary from discussing the role of dopamine mining and status anxiety, to exploring the science of awe and attention.

15 Episodes
Show links:Todd's website -'s Substack -'s Substack - Life youtube channel - if the most influential voices in our society are those often left unheard? In this episode, I sit down with Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University and the mind behind "The Art of Insubordination," to unravel the c...
Iain McGilchrist is a rare polymath who draws on his background in literature, philosophy, medicine and the sciences to make a profound argument that the kind of attention we pay to the world determines not only the kind of people we become, but also the world we create. He argues that the brains left hemisphere has a disenchanted and mechanical view of the world, and it is this that has come to dominate the Western World. A consequence of this is that we've lost a sense of the sacred, of bel...
As AI evolves and replaces different human functions, it raises questions about what it is that makes us distinctively human, and whether that distinctiveness can and should be programmed into AI. This is a question that Dr Eve Poole has thought and written a great deal about. Her recent book Robot Souls takes this question seriously, and explores possible trajectories for our future with AI. In this episode we discuss the necessity of human 'junk code', the increasing importance of the human...
Are you optimistic about the future? Do you think we're heading in the right direction as a species? If not, you're in good company. In this episode the writer and speaker Dougald Hine explores what's gone wrong with 'modernity', and what it might mean to think generative thoughts about the future. Dougald speaks with wisdom and clarity about our current predicament, and what kind of thinking and acting we are being called to in this moment.
In this episode the writer and podcaster Elizabeth Oldfield explores the question ‘who is it that I want to be becoming?’ We discuss the pernicious forces that are shaping us, and what it means to be intentional about structuring our time attention around those practices that can deepen and shape our character.
How can we find meaning in life? In this episode we are joined by the celebrated psychologist Dacher Keltner where we explore where meaning comes from, and how the emotion of awe can help us find it. Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at UCLA Berkley, where he teaches and researches in the area of positive psychology, and researches the emotion of awe. Dacher is a wonderful communicator and offers much that is fascinating, helpful and uplifting for anyone who craves a greater sense o...
This is a special summary episode with reflection points from 2023 to take forward into the year ahead. The episode pulls together one key idea from each conversation, accompanied by some thoughts on why I found it particularly helpful and interesting. In this episode you will hear extracts from Oliver Burkeman, Anna Lembke, Lisa Miller, Tim Ingold, Will Storr, Helena Norberg Hodge, Sir Terry Waite, and Madeleine Bunting. Each of these people has a perspective which is worth attending to - on...
Ever found yourself pondering what truly constitutes a sense of 'home'? Join me as I, alongside award-winning author and journalist, Madeline Bunting, explore the multifaceted concept of home and the profound emotions associated with it. From reminiscing about our childhood homes, to discussing how our upbringing shaped our perceptions about home, we explore the essence of home, and the different meanings it takes.
Sir Terry Waite spent almost five years in solitary confinement as a hostage in Beirut. After being released he founded Emmaus UK for the homeless and Hostage International, both of which he is president of. He has recently been knighted as recognition for his work. In this conversation we explore the damage done by the erosion of trust, how to rebuild it, and how suffering can be turned to creative ends. There are few people today who manage to combine the humility and courage th...
Why does life seem to be getting harder and faster day by day? How can we shift the paradigm towards a more sustainable and harmonious existence? Join us as we tackle these questions with Helena Norberg-Hodge, an influential thinker, writer, award-winning filmmaker, and founder of the non-profit Local Futures. Helena shares her insights on the broken economic system and its devastating impact on our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Drawing from her experience living with the L...
How do you keep score in the game of life? Journalist and author Will Storr explores the evolutionary roots of our need to play games for status and connection, and why it is valuable to become consciously aware of the games we are playing, and what the different games are that we play across the lifespan.
Tim Ingold is a professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is one of the most influential anthropologists in the field today. This conversation explores the way we have come to think about the passage of human generations, and why there is a need to think differently in order to live sustainably.
Dr Lisa Miller is a professor of psychology at Columbia University in New York. Her books The Spiritual Child and The Awakened Brain focus on the psychology of spirituality, and why it is so important to pay attention to our innate spirituality. Dr Miller's work is fascinating, profound, and practical at illuminating an aspect of being that is rarely given scientific attention but is crucial to human flourishing.
Anna Lembke is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, and a world leading expert on addiction. Her influential book Dopamine Nation describes the ways our culture is primed to make us into addicts. Dr Lembke's work is compelling, and provides a raft of practical advice for navigating a culture where so much of life has become 'drugified' to make us into addicts.
The writer and journalist Oliver Burkeman has spent the last few decades studying and writing about different self-help and productivity strategies. One of the conclusions Oliver has come to, is that there is liberation in realising our limitations. In this first episode of the series, Oliver explores the question of how we can more fully embrace our finitude.