It began as an idea in the fall of 2016. With encouragement from my wife, and many hours of planning with my great friend and producer, I launched my first podcast on September 15, 2017. This period could justifiably be called a period of chaos.
But we are at once a product of our times and our aims.
eRochefoucauld is a humble attempt to speak order into that chaos. To honor the ideas and stories to which we are forever indebted. To stumble forward and undoubtedly fail, fail again, and fail better.
Hosted by Evan Thomsen, this ‘podcast with a hammer’ is built upon the classics and is dedicated to the highest aim of the individual and society.
This is unabashedly taken from Nietzsche. It is said that Nietzsche would ‘philosophize with a hammer.’ Or, to use his own words in “Twilight of the Idols” (1895):
“…There are more idols than realities in the world: that is my “evil eye” upon this world; that is also my “evil ear.” Finally to pose questions with a hammer, and sometimes to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound that can only come from bloated entrails.”
To hammer an idea is not an attempt to break it, but to test its mettle. Idols (or false Gods, pure ideology, etc.) ring hollow and without substance; while Truth sings nothing but a dull clank as our limited faculties of reason and perception find no hollowness.
Similarly, this discipline (philosophizing with a hammer), is just that – a discipline. One that requires practice and training like a muscle or any skill. Of what durability is your identity if left unquestioned? Of what utility is your morality if left untested? The unexamined life, as it were, is not very much worth living.
eRochefoucauld (ee Rohsh-foo-koh) took its name from the 17th century French philosopher ‘François de la Rochefoucauld.’
The philosophical style of la Rochefoucauld was a product of his times. While inspired by his intellectual forebears, la Rochefoucauld was unconvinced in their utility in the modern world. Living in a rapidly changing society, la Rochefoucauld wanted to communicate essential truths by forming his style, method, and delivery to the environment.
People were moving so quickly and never had anytime, so his words had to be quick.
Everyone was constantly distracted by the new, so he had to earn their attention.
We were, then and now, arrogant in modernity and development, so any critique had to carry with it a softness, or invitation, in order to be received.
eRochefoucauld is a revival of this spirit. Both in response to the times, and the necessity of creative performance. Whereas instead of maxims, we have tweets. Instead of cosmopolitan salons, we have podcasts and YouTube videos.
First, I love people and ideas, which means I believe that philosophy is meant to answer both ‘how shall I think,’ and, ‘what shall I do.’ A philosophy that can’t be lived is like food that can’t be eaten and a kitchen isn’t a storehouse for food, anymore than philosophy is a museum of ideas.
Second, we both learn and understand from the past, and plan and hope for the future. After all, we live forward, and understand backward; and we must both live, and understand. These are equally true, and equally important. On every topic, every debate, and in every moment, there is a part of you or society that says “this is where we have been and this is how things are.” While another part says “this is where can go and how things could be.”
I want to uplift both of these perspectives, because that’s a great conversation. After all, history precedes every moment. And I want to treat that history like a tool box of many ideas and to make these ideas available in today’s context. The purpose of philosophy, after all, is not to impose one idea, but to make available many ideas. And to do that, the best tool we seem to have and hope for, is: Free thinking, free speaking, and free learning.
Finally, I think we can enter a new renaissance or enlightenment. Sure, with every generation there is a new story about how the world is coming to an end. And sure enough, there are always new problems and injustices to take arms against. While I am far from old or wise, I’ve lived long enough to say with confidence that we will never be in short supply of those pointing out everything wrong with the world.
Most importantly, I don’t want to build my life on a foundation of every problem I see in the world or in others. Do you? Because there is only so much we can learn, read, or explore in our lifetime.
My goal, then, is to find the best in so many philosophies, religions, cultures, histories, and people. As it stands, we’ve come a long way from the swamp to the stars to the Internet. And through that great dialogue and clash of ideas the arc of history is bending more and more towards justice.
We know this, because we are lifting people out of poverty and eradicating disease faster than any time in history. And while the cost of accreditation has skyrocketed, the cost of education is almost free. So, with the tools of the 21st century we can rebuild the old agora. Or at least, I think this is something worth doing, and a burden worth bearing. The way I plan to start is by telling the story of humanity and the history of ideas: the good, the great, and the meaningful.
Evan Thomsen, creator & host
Evan has been a track athlete, kettlebell trainer, shoe salesman, infantryman, paratrooper, singer, a cappella choir director, public speaker and MC, research assistant, fundraiser, humanitarian, entrepreneur, business consultant, photographer, YouTuber, and podcaster.
Born and raised in Iowa, Evan has lived in North Carolina, Washington DC, Thailand, and Albania. He has traveled or worked in 29 countries on four continents.
He has Bachelor’s and Graduate degrees in the field of international security, international affairs, and conflict analysis, and is currently completing his MBA.
For the past decade, Evan has been almost singularly focused on the pursuit of two goals: to understand the highest ethical potential of the individual and society, and then how to get there.
Evan and his incredible wife, Jessica, are currently living in Sarandë, Albania.
Jessica Thomsen, co-creator of fit philosophy
Born and raised in South Carolina. Jessica has lived… everywhere Evan has 🙂
She is pursuing feminine ideals in a world where feminine auto-corrects to feminism – both literally, and figuratively. Jessica believes that attraction in all forms guides us – so let’s aim it to something better.
Jessica is, in her own words, “extremely married,” and is living with Evan in Sarandë, Albania.
Zach Murray, co-creator & producer
Zach was born and raised in a small town outside of Omaha, Nebraska. His family was part of a very small and fundamentalist Christian church. Upon graduating high school, he attended a ministry school affiliated with the church, but soon broke away after concluding that many of their beliefs were fringe and extreme.
Zach joined the Army to gain some perspective and serve his country.
In this new type of service, he served as a machine gunner and driver in the 82nd Airborne while in Iraq, and eventually became a team leader. Later, he became an intelligence NCO and prepared his company for a deployment to Afghanistan. After an honorable discharge, Zach earned a Bachelor’s in software engineering and game development.
Currently, and for the past three years, he has traveled all around the United States with his wife, living for a few months at a time in new places and gaining perspectives on how different people live.