Foucault on Freedom and Domination

We opened the discussion in the Foucault podcast with the question, “are we really free?”  I’d just like to take a minute to clarify this question and to raise some problems for Foucault. First of all, there’s certainly a sense in which Foucault never denied that we’re free.  He even says that “freedom is the ontological condition […]

What to Do About Behaving Badly


This is an obvious cross-reference for this group—indeed, many of you likely already read it. Peter Singer and Agata Sagan have an column in NYTimes’ “The Stone” today called “Are We Ready for a Morality Pill?” They present the conundrum of the how to factor in our growing understanding of the effect of brain chemistry not […]

Foucault Was No Relativist

[Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to have some more blog input here from Getty, the guest from our Hume/Smith episode, who wrote his undergrad thesis on Foucault and was in line to be a guest on this one himself. You can blame me for the image, which I found here.] Was Foucault a relativist about truth? […]

Thomas Sheehan (on Entitled Opinions) on Phenomenology

Harrison and Sheehan

If you’re still confused about what phenomenology is, what Husserl was about, and how he relates to Heidegger, this October 2011 episode of the Entitled Opinions podcast may help clear things up. Interviewer Robert Harrison starts the discussion expressing the excitement of applied, humanistic phenomenology, i.e. as it was used by existentialists like Sartre. Sheehan […]

Cooking Philosophically

It is my firm understanding that while The Partially Examined Life tilts decisively toward philosophy generally understood — contemplations of being and nature and self and ethics and thought and morality and consciousness —  the disposition we have of engaging texts for ourselves and talking about them thoughtfully and seriously (if occasionally irreverently) extrapolates well […]

Rick Roderick on Foucault

Rick Roderick

Long time listeners and readers know that I’m a fan of Rick Roderick.  For those who don’t know, he was from Texas, got his degree in philosophy from UT and taught at various places including Duke.  He was a down home type who became famous to philosophiles through a couple of lecture series he published […]

History of the Prison

Check out this video.  It is a brief history of prisons, but also focuses on the use of technology in and the architecture of prisons.  It makes the indirect but clear point that surveiller goes hand in hand with technology.  There’s a nice spot right at the beginning where the Commissioner of the NYC Dept. […]

Foucault on Discipline and Punish


Here’s a video of Foucault talking about Discipline & Punish.(Well, an audio track with images)  He explains his motivation for writing the book and the central question he sees posed by the development of the penal system in France.  In short, there was a rapid growth of prisons in France.  The prisons still functioned as […]

Steven Fuller on Liberal Humanism vs. neo-Darwinism

I’m interested in this debate as a strictly philosophical observer, not as a theologian, humanist, scientist, or neo-Darwinist. And I entertain the possibility that the outcome of this dilemma may be that we have to abandon an unjustifiable confidence in the human intellect for neo-Darwinism. The secular philosopher-sociologist Steven Fuller performs here the role of […]

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

With the Foucault episode, we entered into a strange new world of sponsorship. Now I hate commercials more than just about anyone on this earth, and see philosophy as, in part, a haven from irritating commercialism. So, in getting into this area, I’m going to do my best to keep the irritation to a minimum. […]

Foucault and Heidegger

Knowledge is Power

So there was a longish (8 minutes) bit that I cut from the episode where I asked Katie whether Foucault’s notions of Power and Knowledge correlated in some way with Heidegger’s notions of Being and Truth.  I was incoherent and Katie understandably treated the question as the nonsense that it was.  She has since addressed […]

Diet Soap (C. Dereck Varn and Doug Lain) on Epistemology

I’ve been talking to Dereck (aka Skepoet) about coming on as a guest with us (on Saussure), and I noticed this new episode of Diet Soap features he and Doug Lain in a wide-ranging conversation on skepticism and its relation to phenomenology. One interesting point to add to the PEL deliberations on the growth of […]

Foucault and Deleuze on Drugs

I just want to clarify something I said during the course of the Foucault episode: that Foucault and Deleuze did a lot of drugs together. This could be false. This is one of those rumors you pick up gradually when you take a few classes in contemporary continental philosophy.  You hear a lot of anecdotes of […]

Anesthesia and Consciousness

Neuroscientists are using anesthesia to study consciousness in a way that seems related to higher order theories of consciousness. The conclusion so far: “consciousness emerges from the integration of information across large networks in the brain”: Over the past few years, other EEG studies have supported the idea that anesthesia doesn’t simply shut the brain down […]

We Know: Camus did not die in a motorcycle accident

If you ever decide to start a podcast under the impression that your early efforts will be protected by a cone of anonymity, do yourself a favor and pretend that you already have an audience in the hundreds of thousands. And operating on that premise, diligently scrub your episodes for any trivial factual errors that […]

Poetry v Philosophy, Round 2


Still listening to Essential American Poets put out by The Poetry Foundation.  I just listened to the latest episode on Charles Simic.  He ends the episode by reciting his “The Friends of Heraclitus”.  It is about the loss of beloved friend and companion with whom the referenced subject has had many philosophical discourses, walking around […]

In Memoriam: Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett on Wikipedia

Last week, on December 27th, Michael Dummett passed away. Dummett was an important and influential British philosophy of the 20th century, probably most famous for his interpretations of Frege. Indeed it was his early work which helped to revitalize an interest in Frege’s work in the second half of the 20th century. (The PEL episode […]

PEL Gets Reviewed by Podthoughts (Colin Marshall)

One of the better-written reviews of our podcast can be found here. I quote: At least three hosts at a time trying to interpret, in their own natural and thus imprecise language, a philosophical text itself composed in its own natural and thus imprecise language, opens up infinite opportunity for purely semantic argument. The show’s […]

Open Culture Goodness

If you don’t subscribe to this blog, this roundup should convince you to do so: The Best of OpenCulture, 2011. Heaps of online lectures, video, and other stuff, with the occasional post from me if I actually make time to submit one. (Neil Gaiman apparently retweeted the post I wrote on him.) -Mark Linsenmayer

On New Year’s Resolutions

A couple of years ago, I made a public New Year’s resolution to be more unreasonable and unrealistic.  While I am not sure whether I truly ‘achieved’ either of those, it certainly took more than one year (2010) to really start pushing into that way of being.  Which led me to consider why I should […]