With the new decade approaching, I am happy to brag about a milestone that I recently hit: as a reader for LibriVox, I have just broken 48 hours of recorded works! One could listen to philosophy works for another two full days, though this is not doctor-recommended (either by medical practitioners or by PhDs!). The recording that put me over this line was Russell’s 1920 The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism–which is just in time for its 2020 centenary!
While we are here: LibriVox is a non-profit organization that produces public domain audio books of works whose copyright has lapsed (generally, stuff published before 1923). You are strongly encouraged to pitch in by recording your favorite philosophical work yourself!
Indeed, much has been written about the urgent need for public philosophy (here, here, and here, for example). The need is sufficiently great that the American Philosophical Association even has a committee on public philosophy. I see volunteering for LibriVox as one very fun way of answering that need by making philosophy more accessible to members of the public. As the APA’s statement on public philosophy notes:
Public philosophy is done in a variety of traditional and non-traditional media. Public philosophy can be especially valuable when it reaches populations that tend not to have access to philosophy and philosophers.
Audio books certainly count as non-traditional media, and can reach populations that may not otherwise have easy access to these philosophical works. So if you don’t have an article handy to submit to the Public Philosophy Journal, give recording someone else’s words–aloud–a try! You might make a real difference in someone’s honest efforts to philosophize, and you may even get a heartwarming note like this one:
Thank you very much for undertaking this project. You’ve helped me enormously. I’m a graduate student in philosophy, a mother of the school-aged children and I have ADHD. Thanks to your efforts, I have been able to listen your various recordings of Russell’s works as I drive around or complete other tasks rather than to have to devote all my attention to reading. I cannot overstate the extent to which this has improved my lives and as a result, the lives of my children. Your enunciation is clear and your intonation in no way obfuscated Russell’s intended meaning. That is no small feat when it comes to any given piece of philosophy, let alone philosophy as prolix and technical as Russell’s. Thank you again, truly. —Mindscent