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Episode 105: Kant: What Is Beauty?

On Critique of Judgment (1790), Part I, Book I. What is beauty? Disinterested pleasure!

From the blog

  1. Democracy and the Freedom of Choice



    There is a fundamental incoherence to the universal prescription of the freedom to choose: since any one choosing anything is impossible, the parameters of this freedom are who is choosing and what they can choose.

  2. Thoreauly Ponderous



    The smoke and noise of 19th century steam engines seem quaint now that we measure annual carbon emissions in billions of tons.

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Why Are We Here?

The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flippancy. You don’t have to know any philosophy, or even to have read the text we’re talking about to (mostly) follow and (hopefully) enjoy the discussion. 

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Core questions:

1)Is populism looked on with suspicion due to Elitism’s opinion of the populace and the legacy of Elite’s Hegemony over culture and media or, is it looked on with suspicion because it is reductionist, manipulative and gives people easy answers?

2) Is Chomsky a populist and is it a good or bad thing?

Sketching out some details about Populisms:

Populism is a political doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions (such as hopes and fears) of the general people, especially contrasting those interests with the interests of the elite.

Populist sentiment contributed to the American Revolutionary War, and continued to shape the young United States afterward.While for much of the twentieth century populism was considered[by whom?] to be a political phenomenon mostly in Latin America,[citation needed] since the 1980s populist movements and parties have enjoyed degrees of success in First World democracies such as Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries.

Political parties and politicians often use the terms populist and populism as pejoratives against their opponents. Such a view sees populism as merely empathising with the public, (usually through rhetoric or "unrealistic" proposals) in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum


Commodity farmer movements with radical economic agendas such as the US People’s Party of the late 19th century.

Subsistence peasant movements, such as the Eastern European Green Rising militias, which followed World War I.
Intellectuals who romanticize hard-working farmers and peasants and build radical agrarian movements like the Russian narodniki.


Populist democracy, including calls for more political participation through reforms such as the use of popular referenda.
Politicians’ populism marked by non-ideological appeals for "the people" to build a unified coalition.
Reactionary populism, such as the white backlash harvested by George Wallace, or the black backlash harvested by the Black Panther Party.
Populist dictatorship, such as that established by Getúlio Vargas in Brazil.


In addition to Canovan’s list that only lists right-wing political populist reactions, leftist movements such as the Cultural Revolution and Cambodia’s "Year Zero" campaign would also be examples of political populism.
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it is worth considering IMHO. See MoreSee Less

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Are we simply slaves to our genetic and environmental reality, or is our free will capable of transcending that to achieve an idealized form of ourselves? What is freedom "if" we are absolutely genetically and socially conditioned? See MoreSee Less

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Hey guys, I’m looking for some insight on the ethical side of Social Contract Theory. I’ve done some research on it and most of what its proponents argue for seems really reasonable. I’m trying to find the most ‘modern’ version of it, which I feel is a toss up between Rosseau and Locke. Does anyone have any suggestions, or big critiques of a modern social contract theory, wherein you consensually exchange some of your liberties for some securities? See MoreSee Less

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Theory of Mind and the "hard problem":

Here is the thought experiment:

Scientists have developed a helmet that the subject wears, then the subject picks a playing card out of a shuffled deck and looks at it. The scientists are able to determine what card the subject is looking at with, lets say a 50% accuracy (when under 2% is predicted by chance.) Note that in this setup, the scientists are able to independently verify what card the person was looking at. Would such a result convince you that science understood the correlations of brain states to mind states well enough to solve the "hard problem", or would you still not be convinced? If not, what would it take to convince you?
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