Artwork for Why Theory

Why Theory

Todd McGowan & Ryan Engley
TV & Film

Why Theory brings continental philosophy and psychoanalytic theory together to examine cultural phenomena.


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Latest Episodes

Ryan and Todd begin their analysis of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason by working through the prefaces to the first and second edition of the work. They focus on the radicality of Kant's breakthrough and the role that the limit plays in his ph... more

14 days ago

Ryan and Todd consider the concept of symbolic castration as it develops in psychoanalysis and as it bears on both politics and culture. They relate symbolic castration to some of the key concepts in psychoanalytic theory, including fetishistic disav... more

a month ago

Ryan and Todd explore the working of the dialectical reversal, how weaknesses can turn into strengths, how successes can turn into failures. They look at this through a variety of everyday examples and a few choice filmic ones.

a month ago


4.8 out of 5 stars from 848 ratings
  • A little more description would be an improvement

    I really like the dynamic of these guys but if you haven’t read the text it’s really difficult to follow. They always dive right in to nitty gritty analysis without any particular structure, so if you haven’t read the text there’s no way of knowing what they’re talking about. Whatever tidbit they are referring to at any given moment is never revealed but repeatedly referred to - quite frustrating! Maybe it’s intentional?

    Apple Podcasts
    Netherlands2 months ago
  • Barbie & The Stand

    I just listened to your Barbie podcast & to your point about freedom from responsibility in fascism, I’d like to recommend doing an episode on Steven King’s The Stand. King deftly explored this topic in this book from way back in ‘78. I think it’d make a great pod. Thanks

    Apple Podcasts
    *Longtime Print Subscriber*
    United States4 months ago
  • Tripping Over their Politics

    I often benefit from the clarity Ryan and Todd will shed on different corners of theory. Yet, they frequently segue into what sounds to me like basic MSNBC politics, which tends to snap me out of the experience because the connections seem tenuous, and I get the sense that the politics precede the theory and shape where they are willing to go with critique.

    Apple Podcasts
    United States4 months ago
  • Thank you Ryan and Todd

    You guys have made reading philosophy so much less overwhelming for me and helped me see how fascinating theory can be. I really appreciate the recommendations, especially the filmic ones, so keep them coming. <3

    Apple Podcasts
    United States6 months ago
  • Expanding Horizons: A Deep Dive into Fichte, Hegel, and Marx

    As an avid seeker of knowledge, I recently stumbled upon the podcast "Why Theory" and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the incredible dialogue and discourse it offers. This intellectually stimulating show has undeniably broadened my horizons, specifically in regards to the philosophical trio of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. more

    Apple Podcasts
    digital wabi sabi
    Germany6 months ago

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Chart Rankings

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#170 United Kingdom/TV & Film
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#215 Italy/TV & Film
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#230 Australia/TV & Film
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#11 Colombia/TV & Film
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#21 Denmark/TV & Film
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#27 Saudi Arabia/TV & Film

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Why Theory launched 6 years ago and published 161 episodes to date. You can find more information about this podcast including rankings, audience demographics and engagement in our podcast database.

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