Ned Block Reviews Damasio’s Latest

Ned Block — whose views on consciousness and the mind-body problem are, like those of David Chalmers, close to my own (and far from those of Daniel C. Dennett) — is not impressed with Antonio Damasio’s new book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.Damasio makes the same sorts of desperate moves typical of those […]

Kierkegaard, Docudramatized

Kierkegaard’s stern Christian vision originated with a strict, almost traumatic, upbringing. His defense of individualism and radical subjectivity would not likely have developed without it. But it’s hard for the modern reader to get past Kierkegaard’s freakish, introverted persona. A more sympathetic view of K. might be found in the 1984 BBC television series Sea of […]

Tripe, Part Six

Start at the beginning. We are now up to the sixth and sixth and a half sittings. Today’s excerpt puts the connection between tripe (the non-humor forming the bulk of this book) and self-consciousness in terms of our attitudes towards free will: The form and shape of the supposedly humorous is predictable, though the content […]

Topic for #31: Husserl’s Phenomenology

So this whole “is the external world really there?” question is pretty tiresome: it’s the bane of intro philosophy students and the thing that turns off many of these students from ever taking another philosophy class, yet it’s still pretty much the central concern of epistemology for much of its history. Edmund Husserl asks if […]

Tripe, Part Five

Start at the beginning. In In chapter five, the central conceit of the book emerges: For the sole purpose of linking up some topics that have breezed by so as to create the illusion of unity in this manuscript, the lack of appropriate standards of judgment for this book (due to the fact that the […]

Louis CK on the story of Abraham

If you wanted some more detail on the story of Abraham as discussed by Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling, here’s a version by comedian Louis CK (yes, with swearing): Watch on youtube. This presentation shows the challenge Kierkegaard or any other Judeo-Christian apologist faces in defending a belief system that would make this story a […]

Modern Science Searches for the Self

Below is a clip from David Malone’s recent documentary, Soul Searching, originally broadcast on the UK’s Channel 4. It reviews some of the latest developments in brain science to discover that the self might just be an illusion, a byproduct of the brain’s left hemisphere trying to construct a narrative of reality. It makes for compelling […]

Tripe, Part Four

By the “fourth sitting” of Tripe, the references to previous bits come quickly and constantly enough that it’s really not advisable to start at this point, but instead, like an ordinary book reader, start at the beginning. New topics covered in this section include goat suet, the supposedly fictional holiday of San Juan de la […]

Tripe, Part Three

Start at the beginning. In the “third sitting” of Tripe, Mr. Wolf seems to provide us with a self-deprecating back-handed apologetic of the sort that makes me tired but dresses this up as a rejection of quality standards a la the Taoist. In other words, our esteemed author apologizes for his bad writing with the […]

Tripe, Part Two

Dear kind and patient readers, The burden of stewardship is great, and though it is with hesitation that I here link to the “Second Sitting” of Cliffson Wolf’s masterwork Tripe, given that interested parties could have easily clicked through from the first chapter to this document, it is incumbent upon me through the terms of […]

Tripe, Part One

In the spirit of Kierkegaard, I will now reveal that I am the beneficiary of one of the great thinkers of our time, Cliffson Wolf, who entrusted me upon his death to publish and publicize his great work of philosophical, autobiographical, anarchist, dadaist, anti-neo-Hegelianism: Tripe. Marvel if you will upon this mind-bending work of unadulterated […]

Tripe, Part One

In the spirit of Kierkegaard, I will now reveal that I am the beneficiary of one of the great thinkers of our time, Cliffson Wolf, who entrusted me upon his death to publish and publicize his great work of philosophical, autobiographical, anarchist, dadaist, anti-neo-Hegelianism: Tripe. Marvel if you will upon this mind-bending work of unadulterated […]

Kierkegaard and Cinema

You don’t have to be a self-absorbed mope to like Kierkegaard, but it can’t hurt.  Below is a stereotypically morose clip from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), which echoes themes presented in The Sickness Unto Death: Watch on youtube. The protagonist, Antonius Block, is a medieval knight suffering from what Kierkegaard might classify as conscious despair of […]

What is Despair, Anyway?

[Editor’s note: If you’ve listened to the Kierkegaard episode, then you’ve heard plenty of felicitous exposition and argumentation by Mr. Daniel Horne, whom we’ve consequently invited to post some follow-up thoughts and resources over the next weeks: Yes, we know Kierkegaard thought of despair as sin, but is despair “a” sin? Is it “sin” writ large? […]

World Philosophy Day

Apparently today (or yesterday, or Nov 21-23, depending on which thing you read) is World Philosophy Day, according to the United Nations, and you didn’t even get me a present! (That’s OK, I didn’t get you anything. Here’s a smidgen of history about this most holy of days Here’s an article about the big event, […]

Jackson Pollock at Work

Jay mentioned on the episode being profoundly affected a short film from 1951 where Jackson Pollock shows how he works. Here’s a clip from it (Jay says it’s almost impossible to get one’s hands on a decent copy of the whole thing, but in the Ed Harris movie about Pollock they depict the making of […]

Philosophy in/of Economics – Call for Ideas

OK folks. As we build out our schedule for the next year, I’ve promised that we are going to do something on Economics. I’m in the process of doing the research now and would like to solicit input from the community.  What we need is a digestible text (or several) that lay out some of […]

Boghossian vs. Goodman on Fact Constructivism

One book we’d mentioned on the episode as a counter to Goodman’s epistemology was Paul Boghossian’s Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Boghossian’s target is any theory of knowledge that says that facts are constructed, reflecting the contingent needs and interest of some society, and that consequently some different society with different needs could […]

Are You Experienced? Are You Ready to Rock?

My previous post about parody songs is of course a much too transparent and potentially exceptional case of the role of associations in music appreciation, since the joke in question is about style, meaning the art is “about” its style in an obvious way, whereas you might argue that art more typically works within a […]

Irony in Music II: Jonathan Coulton

Following up on my post on Weezer and the follow-up discussion of irony, I submit for your consideration Jonathan Coulton: Despite this being a cover (well, lyrically), it’s pretty typical of what I’ve heard of him: he sings pretty folk songs much like the many many individuals regularly highlighted by Performing Songwriter magazine, but with […]

Art That Jay Mentioned: Jenny Saville

Editor’s Note: Jay Bailey, excellent guest from our Nelson Goodman discussion, has been good enough to help us make sense of some of the art references. -ML Jenny Saville, Shift, 1996-1997, oil on canvas While the four of us brought up many examples of art (Nascar is exempt from that classification because I still don’t […]

Philosophy of Art and Stephen King’s “Duma Key”

Somewhere in between and overlapping with Nelson Goodman and Kierkegaard, I subjected myself to one of Stephen King’s recent books, Duma Key. Serendipitously, it’s about artistic creation, and while he of course throws in supernatural/horror elements, the way he does this actually plays off some of our preconceptions about art creation and viewing that I […]

Topic for #30: Schopenhauer’s Twist on Kant’s Epistemology

Schopenhauer is widely known for being influenced by Buddhism’s claim that life is suffering and for in turn influencing Nietzsche, but his major influence is Kant. On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, was originally written (in 1813) as S’s dissertation but was later expanded and clarified for proper publication (in 1847). […]

Yukio Mishima and St. Sebastian

Yukio Mishima

When I was in college, I came across the work of Japanese Author Yukio Mishima.  He was a brilliant, if conflicted, soul who ultimately committed ritual suicide.  There’s no point in me trying to encapsulate him in this post – check him out on the web.   Certainly one of the more interesting characters you are […]

Nelson Goodman on Induction (Grue and Bleen!)

On our Goodman episode, I start out by trying to give a short explanation of Goodman’s “New Riddle of Induction.” When we’re presented with evidence for a general claim, how do we tell which general claim the evidence is in support of? Goodman contrasts the predicate “green,” which we might think we can project to […]

Catherine Elgin on the Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity

One of the chapters that I referred to from Nelson Goodman’s final book, Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences,was “The Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity.” I’ve found that article online (I can’t swear it’s exactly the same as the version in Reconceptions, but it seems to have all the elements intact) here. It critiques […]

Periodic Request for iTunes Store Ratings

The feedburner statistics are notoriously up-and-down on a daily basis, but we did for the first time see our subscribership go briefly above 1000 after posting the new episode, so we’ll count that as a milestone. Moreover, all of our past episodes up to #27 have now been downloaded over 2000 times, with #28 hitting […]

If I Were a Rightie

Recent political events have driven me to either reject the citizens of my country as a bunch of morons or find it within me to empathize with them in some way, so in the spirit of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms which he used to explore other viewpoints and with a tip of the hat to Schopenhauer the […]

Goodman and Quine’s Nominalism

I referred on the podcast to Goodman’s 1947 article “Steps Toward a Constructive Nominalism.” You can look at it here. The philosophical content is in the first couple of chapters; in fact, I’ll just give you the first half of the first chapter here: We do not believe in abstract entities. No one supposes that […]