Not School Proposals for January

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Merleau-Ponty! Buber! Lacan! Physics! Aesthetics! The Residents! Derrida! Deleuze! Searle! Pynchon! DeLillo! The holidays have definitely made it more difficult for me at least to be on top of my Not School activities, but nonetheless the new month is immanent, and I thought I should convey to those not currently monitoring the Citizens’ Forum what […]

Scrutability: The PPT


  If you don’t know what the acronym “PPT” means, consider yourself lucky that you have avoided a work or social context where doing presentations is required.  If you are like me, the power of those three letters to inspire dread is almost unparalleled.  The phrase ‘Can you put together some slides…’ evokes panic, fear […]

A Discussion of PW Anderson’s “More is Different”


Earlier this month I had the pleasure of discussing P.W. Anderson’s famous 1972 article More is Different as part of  a PEL Not School study group on emergence with Not Schoolers Bill Burgess, Casey Fitzpatrick, Ernie Prabhakar, and Evan Gould. Anderson argues that the sciences don’t form a reductive whole — that chemistry isn’t applied physics and psychology […]

One Subject, Many Subjects? (Gorging on Not School)

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Just wanted to kick out a question to you folks: do you most enjoy academic research when you’re focusing on just one thing, or pursuing multiple lines at once? I at some points in grad school thought that I would much more enjoy it if I only had to take one class at a time. […]

Is Quine “Literature” Because He Reads All Smooth and Silky?

After our posts about philosophical literature it seemed appropriate to refer to this post from the NY Times on philosophy itself as literature by Jim Holt. An excerpt: Now let me narrow my query: Does anybody read analytic philosophy for pleasure? Is this kind of philosophy literature? Here you might say, “Certainly not!” Or you […]

A Discussion of Thomas Nagel’s Mind & Cosmos

Today I had the pleasure of discussing Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False as part of a PEL Not School study group on the book. Joining me were Not Schoolers Neil Earnshaw and Jon Turner. We discussed our dissatisfaction with with Nagel’s argument that evolutionary naturalism fails to […]

Carnap vs. Whitehead on Demonstration vs. Description

A feature of Carnap’s system discussed in the episode was his his attempt to objectivize our talk of objects by removing any demonstrative or ostensive elements. Though the “elementary experiences” as I examine them are of course mine, and not analyzable in themselves according to Carnap’s account, the only way they become useful to science […]

Not School Group Report: Paul Auster’s Novella, “City of Glass”

Editor’s Note: PEL listener Paul Harris has written up this report on a great Not School discussion available for member download. Whether or not you want to join, it’s still a fricking great book, recommended for anyone with an interest in modern and/or philosophical literature. Last Sunday, the Not School group ‘Worlds of Wordcraft’ – […]

On Values and the Razor: How Clarifying is Ockham’s Shave?

[Editor’s Note: Here’s a submission from Derick, guest from our Saussure episode.] “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” -Duns Scotus “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” -William of Ockham Here’s a philosophical thesis that should be obvious but apparently isn’t: Ockham’s Razor is not an ontological rule nor even a necessary rule of logic. […]

Not School Fiction Group: 1, Paul Auster’s “City of Glass”


On Auster’s 1985 novella. The book presents itself as a work of detective fiction. However, it soon becomes clear that it is far from conventional in its structure. The work has been cited as an example of ‘postmodern detective fiction’ where the mystery contained within the narrative is itself surrounded by the mystery of the novella’s construction.

Not-School Group on Emergence

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There’s lots of cool things going on in the PEL Not School discussion groups. To entice those of you that are interested in emergence to come check things out, I’ve proposed reading and discussing a short, interesting essay by the physicist P. W. Anderson called “More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Nature of […]