A complaint I often hear from people averse to the subject of philosophy is that, as interesting as it can often be, it’s really sort of irrelevant to our daily lives. In such conversations Rick Roderick is always the guy who comes to my mind. It’s a criticism he himself made of certain philosophers from time to time, but not one likely to find much ground against his own style.
Roderick (1949-2002) was a professor of philosophy who taught at Baylor, University of Texas and Duke University, which he refered to as “one of the most de-eroticized places you could ever find yourself”. While he authored many papers and reviews as well as a book on philosopher Jurgen Habermas, he’s best known for the three courses he created for The Teaching Company (now The Great Courses) in the early 1990s. These short courses (Philosophy and Human Values, Nietszche and the Postmodern Condition, and The Self Under Siege) are vibrant demonstrations of just how engaged with life philosophy can be. While at times divisive, Professor Roderick is unflinchingly concerned with questions about the modern (and yes, the postmodern) self in the context through which they arise. His lecturing style is relaxed but passionate and deeply Socratic. Introducing his lecture on “The Masters of Suspicion” Roderick argues that a “deflationary” account of the self is deeply dissatisfying, and states as his goal to “see if a conversation rooted in philosophy can help us find our way about”.
Beginning in February our PEL Not School Rick Roderick group will tackle Roderick’s “The Self Under Siege”. This 8 lecture course, the entirety of which is on Youtube, focuses on the self through the lens of twentieth century continental philosophy. Through this course we’ll be discussing many philosophers already featured in past PEL episodes Foucault, Heidegger, Sartre as well as several others. This is a great place for those new to philosophy or the The Partially Examined Life to get more involved.