About the Podcasters


Mark Linsenmayer has lived in Madison, WI since 2000, has two kids, and works from home writing about transportation research. He’s got a band called New People, a big catalog of work with previous bands, and dabbles in fiction (read this). When in grad school for philosophy, he mostly studied continental philosophy and philosophy of mind, with interests in phenomenology and explanations of consciousness. He more recently taught an ethics course for several semesters at Lakeland College.


After growing up as an Air Force brat, Seth Paskin went to Reed College in Portland, OR for undergrad and UT @ Austin in 1992 for grad school. After taking a leave of absence from his dissertation, he never went back and has spent 12 years in various roles in the technology industry. Seth is strongly committed to the Austin community, recently retiring from the Board of Crime Prevention Institute, an area non-profit that serves ex-offenders. In grad school he focused on German philosophy, particularly Martin Heidegger, and spent some time looking at the intersection of Jewish and Western thought.


HeadshotWes Alwan (wesalwan@gmail.com) lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he works at home as a writer and researcher. Born in Savannah, GA, he spent part of his childhood in England and Ireland, and has also lived in Maryland, Texas, Manhattan, Maine, and Virginia. In grad school he focused on Ancient philosophy and then Kant and Nietzsche. For his undergraduate degree he attended a small liberal arts (“great books”) school in Annapolis Maryland, called St. John’s college, where he studied the history of science and mathematics, philosophy, and comparative literature.


Dylan Casey studied physics and political philosophy as an undergrad at Michigan State University and experimental high energy particle physics as a graduate student at the University of Rochester, working primarily on the Dzero experiment at Fermilab in Illinois. For the past ten years he’s been on the faculty at St. John’s College. He has abiding interests in pragmatism, field theory, and the notion of authority. He’s currently on leave, living in Middleton, WI, doing research in radiation therapy delivery. He’s also Mark’s brother-in-law. Dylan is the newest “regular” on the ‘cast, but appeared as a guest as far back as episode 13.


You may also read blog posts here by occasional guest Daniel Horne; he also helps with our Twitter feed and is entirely responsible for our YouTube presence. Daniel lives in San Francisco with his wife and cat and practices immigration law for a living. He provides pro bono legal aid through the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and AILA’s Military Assistance Program. A philosophy dilettante, his sole undergraduate exposure to the subject was reading too much Camus and Sartre. He turned to philosophy later in life after developing an interest in ontology, and is currently obsessed with Wittgenstein. He speaks Japanese poorly.

We include guest participants on many of our episodes, and can often rope those folks into contributing to this blog as well. To learn about any of these people, just do a search on this site to find the episode the person appeared on, which will typically link to his or her blog or other web page. If you would like to appear on the ‘cast and/or contribute to the blog, you can pitch yourself to us via e-mail.


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  159 Responses to “About the Podcasters”

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  1. Hey guys, I really enjoyed the episode on Nagarjuna.

    One question I didn’t feel was resolved by either Nagarjuna or your discussion of him is:

    If there is no self, what is there to reincarnate?

    • Awesome podcast guys. It’s nice to hear other people discuss Hegel without either “Russelling” him into the ground, taking him to be the “manipulative” intellectual freak of the 19th century, OR discussing his philosophy only in Hegelian terms, engaging in discussions which, if taken seriously, end with the two interlocutors realizing they are “identical-in-difference” to each other, as well as the turkey sandwiches they are eating. Doing programming homework while listening to your podcast is akin to religious experience.

      Keep it up!

      • Thanks, Charles! No, our instruction on Hegel in school was too good to permit that kind of thing; trying to talk about continental philosophy in understandable English is one of the most fun and I think needed parts of this enterprise.

    • A little late but I have an answer to the Nagarjuna question.
      There is a conventionally existent self. There is no ultimately existent self. So the self talked about as incarnating is conventional.

  2. Howdy, I’ve only just discovered your podcast and having listened to the first few episodes I’m sold. It seems like a podcast which makes philosophy entertaining and palatable to the layman but also interesting and entertaining to somebody with some pre-existing knowledge of the subject is long overdue, and you guys do a fantastic job of it. The episode on Descartes really helped me generate some thoughts on his ideas (as an undergraduate philosophy major who has never taken enough interest in the French rationalist tradition) and sparked an interest for me to investigate further (at least as far as Spinoza and Leibniz).
    Apologies if you’ve answered this question before (which I suspect you have many times, I’m just too lazy check through prior comments), but I was wondering if you’ll be doing anything on French thought deriving from the poststructuralist/postmodernist movement – Derrida, Foucault, Debord, Baudrillard etc?
    Keep up the good work (and forgive me for signing off with a clichéd platitude).

  3. You guys were are a bunch of rich kids.

    • What to infer from Robert’s (at least not anonymous) statement? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? How is it a judgment on PEL? What’s the point of making this comment?

      I can only perform the inference, Robert will have to speak for himself on the latter three. I assume he means that we were spoiled, having the luxury to go to grad school and spend time on a frivolous pursuit like philosophy, as rich kids are wont to do. In reality, rich kids usually go to better schools and study things like business and finance, so they can continue to be rich. Perhaps what Robert meant to say was that we were are [sic] like Berkeley trust fund kids, which implies the means and the spoiled without the compulsion to grow the family legacy via industry.

      Would that it were true, dear Robert! Would that my family connections enabled me to go to an Ivy League school and that I didn’t have to teach and work while I was there, or apply for grants and fellowships, or actually begin a career starting from the bottom when I left. As it is, the kinds of people you meet in the military are – not surprisingly – more military folks. And they generally are not connected to the upper class, old-boy, spoil their kids culture to which I think you are referring.

      There is no trust fund for me, I’m not a legacy at a top 10 university, there are no residence halls or science buildings named after my family. My grandfather, the first of my family born in the US, was a teacher in the NY public school system for 30 years. My dad was in the military. I chose to study philosophy at the schools I to which I applied and to which I was accepted. Now I work as a professional in technology.

      So I dispute your assertion without having a fucking clue what you were trying to say with it or why you felt motivated to post. And now I feel somewhat angry with myself that I took the time to respond instead of letting Mark just delete it like he wanted to. Next time contribute something useful or interesting or save us the trouble instead.

      • what Seth said. and, Robert, philosophy is not a luxury available only to those who can afford to sit around and think. indeed, not only is sitting around free, so too is thinking. you can do both, over brew even (macro in your case, micro in mine).

  4. Hey guys,

    Thanks for doing this. It’s nice to listen to people discuss philosophy whom don’t sound like they played tennis with William Buckley.

    For a possible topic -one I’d love to hear discussed- I suggest an examination of David Foster Wallace’s Amherst thesis, which criticized, and possibly disproved, fatalism. DFW, throughout all his writing, Infinite Jest, Consider the Lobster…, presents a wide breadth of possible topics, and a great way to culminate many of your past podcasts and show their contemporary uses.

    Thanks guys, keep it up.

  5. Hi Charles Myro here,

    In answer to Dai up top on Nagarjuna,
    let me take a stab at what Nagarjuna meant.
    Reality is basically two things: the manifest and the unmanifest. The unmanifest gives rise to the manifest. Without the unmanifest there is no manifest. The manifest is not apart from the unmanifest but of the same substance as the wave is with the sea, but when the manifest goes the unimanifest remains. The unmanifest may be described within manifestation as unchanging being and love like a vast space. Beyond the manifest it has no qualities since it is unmanifest and qualities are of the manifest. It is the source of all the world manifest. The unmanifest is not a personality–rather it gives birth to all personality and all individuality and all entity.
    This includes the sense or notion of “I”. The “I” is not independent from the unmanifest source source and does not exist independently of its source. There is no independent entity corresponding to “I”. All, including the “I” is the manifestation of the source only and nothing separate from it.
    Thus the sense or notion of a separate self is only a manifestation of the source and is a kind of fiction, since in actuality there is only the unmanifest, being– if you will, which produces all the world. There is nothing of the world that has independence from the unmanifest or is self existing. There is no existence at all except the unmanifest and it alone is self existing.
    And the manifest is entirely separate and untouched by the unimanifest.
    The “I” is not self existing either;
    the “I” is also a kind of fiction, for there is no separate “I”. When a thought of self arises saying, “I am this” or “I want this” or “I did this” or “I fear this” or “I will avoid this”, there is no separate entity there corresponding to the “I”. All separation is fiction. –all is only the operation of the manifest. Death then, is not the death of a separate individual entity but death is a manifestation of the unmanifest only. No independent separate entity has died because there is no such entity.
    If there is survival of something of a personality or memory after death then this again is just the manifestation of the unmanifest and nothing else–there is no independent entity.
    ANd this is why reincarnation does not imply a
    self –as an independent entity separate from the being, the unmanifest—anymore than the person who died implies a separate entity.
    It is as though the unmanifest represents itself as persons, creates the fiction of a separate person in a separate world to engage in a drama.
    As waves upon the sea.
    The Rishis of India say the highest realization is to realize that there is no separate self–only the unmanifest. To realize that one is unknowable yet one is, is to realize that one has always been free of all things and yet one is all things at the same time, and this is moksha– liberation.
    Nisargadatta, a Kalicut sage said that when he looked within he realised he was this unknown, and when he looked outward he realized he was everything and between these two poles he lived his life.
    At once completely absent and completely present. Yes, it is paradoxical. Part of the manifest dream of separation is to see this unknown being as a nothing, for it is the end of all knowing, all subject object relation. But the sage recognizes this as home, as the unchanging truth, complete, needing nothing (unlike the manifest world, which is based upon ever new desire and aim).
    You could say that each of us is a dream of separation being dreamt by the unmanifest. Strip away all the dream and the unchanging being remains.
    There is my stab at it, according to my understanding. Hope it helped.

  6. Hey guys,

    I was directed to your podcast earlier this spring and have really enjoyed and benefited from listening to your material. I’m starting grad school in philosophy this fall (ironically, I guess I’m a guy who at one point considered doing something other than philosophy for a living and then thought better of that. Although, somewhere in my currently anticipated 5 years of grad school I may change my mind once again).

    I did my undergrad work at a school where analytic philosophy was the dominant focus so much of your commentary on continental philosophers in particular has provided a lot of useful insight (the Heidegger podcast being a great example).

    So thanks. I look forward to continuing to listen.

  7. Thank you Mark and congrats on going to grad school!

  8. Hey guys

    Just wanted to say I love your podcast. Like you, I studied philosophy with an eye to entering academia. by the time I got through my undergraduate work, (with a few side tracks), I decided that academia was the last place I wanted to be, especially doing philosophy. I am now a gardener and homemaker.

    I have especially enjoyed your podcasts on Chaung Tzu (who I adore) and Freud. Looking forward to listening to the one on Schopenhauer.


  9. You guys come across like you were a bunch of smart kids. I know not to mess with you guys or else either deletion or a smack down of Will Hunting competence is what’s in store. I’m a fan. Rich kids? Perhaps it is just a little typical indicator/reminder of the fact that America is still very much what’s been called, for lack of a better term, anti-intellectual? And why can’t poor kids have casual in depth and informed conversations about ideas and abstract systems of thought? “You must be some ‘elitist’ spoiled left-coaster”. Sad comment

  10. You guys are awesome!! I just listened to your podcast on Heidegger. I read him about four years ago. I didn’t get to go to college – I’ve been struggling to understand all this philosophy stuff for 30 years on my own. Being and Time was really tough. I checked it out four times from the library. Each time I had it for weeks and oh! what the fines cost me. I don’t know why I was so compelled to read him but the fourth time was the charm. It took forever. I had to sit with a dictionary and sometimes could only get through one paragraph in a day because of all the notes you have to read to just understand all his meaning on words like “dasein”. But, it changed my whole world view. For as long as I can remember, I’ve woken up each day wondering “what is this?!? this “thisness”? this experience?” Heidegger helped me understand something about this question at a very fundamental level. It changed so much for me and was worth all the work. I’ve so often wished I could talk to others about what I learned. I wished for a teacher to help me make connections and get the most out of it. That’s you guys!! And, you’re giving it away for free!! I love listening. Thanks.

    • Sharon–
      If it’s any consolation, that was my experience with Heidegger as well (although I bought the book so didn’t incur the library fines). One of the things that I hope comes across through what we do is that if you approach a text with a generous heart and open mind, you will find that walking the path with the thinker is much more rewarding and enlightening than seeking to criticize or extracts ‘ideas’.

      What I find by taking this approach is that some thinkers really reward such attentiveness and some don’t. It becomes clear very quickly which are which. Heidegger, Hegel, Kant, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Wittgenstein to name a few are in the former camp.

      • Seth,
        I really appreciated reading your comment “if you approach a text with a generous heart and open mind, you will find walking the path with the thinker is much more rewarding and enlightening than seeking to criticize or extract ‘ideas’”.

        Thank you for that. If only I had heard that as a young undergrad wanting to understand philosophy. I’m glad you are back. I wish you guys many, many, more years of sharing your insightful and entertaining dialogue.

  11. Hi Guys,

    I’d just like to thank you for the nice podcasts. I enjoy them very much and also learned quite a lot. I wish you all the best and hope you will be able to continue for long!

    If I can put a request I’d liek to here more about odern philosophy (say post war until now). I am a physicist interested in philosophy and while it’s easy to get lot’s of info from Aristotle to Wittgenstein, I don’t really have a overview of contemporary stuff… (Kripke maybe?) I know you covered a few guys and I just want to encourage you to do more!

    My other wish is a bit harder. I very enjoyed the first episode, when you talked bit about leaving academia… I just a got my PhD and even found a really great post-doc, but yet… I have very serious doubts, how long I can carry on… I love science and have no illusions about “real” jobs… but leaving is a very serious possibility… I very much appreciated you talking about this a bit and seeing clever guys going on outside academia gives me hope, I guess… I realize this is not really in the mold of the podcast, but if you guys feel like talking more about this period of your life, I am sure I wouldn’t be the only one interested to hear about it.

    Thanks in any case for the podcast and good luck in the future!

  12. Thanks for the kind words Bob and we’re glad you are enjoying PEL. We do have a long list of ‘to-dos’ including post-war philosophers, although we will probably be focusing on so-called Continental thinkers in the near term (as there has been a lot of demand from our listenership.

    Rather than have us talk more about our experience, why don’t you share your doubts and point of view on our FB page and see what others have to say.


    Thanks again,

  13. Any chance that you will do a podcast on Alfred North Whitehead and process philosophy?

  14. I just think you guys are so amazing. I’ve just started listening to your podcast which I plan to do completely and in consecutive order. I’ve developed a passion for philosophy recently (yes it was my favorite class in college) as I’ve turned away from lawyer work and been writing a novel. But the search for meaning haunts me then I found your podcast! And was thrilled to listen to super intelligent guys who made this  search fun and…well, hopeful. Recently finished your 1st two podcasts and I can’t tell you how enjoyable it was to listen to everyone’s struggle to lead an “examined” life particularly the great clash between the contemplative life and the “real world”.  Oh how I  long for that peaceful life of contemplation–well, peaceful is a matter of perspective I guess…thanks so much guys!  (though this probably not the last you’ve heard from me…haha)


  15. Thank you! From a prodigal philosopher considering returning to the fold…

  16. Thanks, Laura and Jonnie! Great to hear from you. I’m definitely interested in the impressions of those just jumping in now who choose to go back and hear our progression through 45 discussions: how ya’ll like the directions things have taken, whether the old stuff is sticking with you as we take it for granted in discussing the later stuff (or the degree to which we ourselves lose track of what we already talked about as the years pass and new people jump into the mix).

    Best, Mark

  17. Hey Mark, i found the podcast a few months back and have been cherry-picking episodes that attract me, which are generally those that look at the more Analytical topics, rather than going through sequentially. Having exhausted these, I’m now checking out the old-timey and Continental stuff. I’m a fan – like the way you guys are going with it. Best, Jonnie

  18. So I have a question: you mentioned in one of your first podcasts doing a discussion on technology and how it’s destroying our lives (joke though only partly)–anyway, I think this would be a fascinating talk–I think there are very important issues here regarding privacy and whether the Internet and its tangled arms of influence is hurting or helping our consumption and retention of knowledge (I have 12 partially read books on my iPad–concentration issue? Hmm)….though this veers a bit from the philosophy realm I am concerned about technology today vs twenty years ago, the internet’s effect on our brains biologically and thus our minds.
    Hope everybodys good!

    • That would be a fun topic; I think we’re just not sure what exactly to read in that area for an episode. Heidegger has an essay about technology that maybe we’ll look at at some point.

      • Well, this may be an interesting start:
        This is from the article: “Claiming that certain styles of communicating and knowing are not serious and not worthy of extended attention is nothing new. It’s akin to those claims that graffiti isn’t art and rap isn’t music. The study of knowledge (aka epistemology) is filled with revealing works by people like Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard or Patricia Hill Collins who show how ways of knowing get disqualified or subjugated as less true, deep or important.

        And this is where it gets more interesting than Chomsky seems to realize.”
        Though Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, is not a philosopher, the effect of the internet on our brains and ultimately on the nature of knowledge is critical, I think at this time in history….
        more to come…

        • Laura (#30) At this point i think ive read/listened to every word Chomsky ever spoke/wrote (not really , but you get the idea), and i must say, he’s getting crotchity in his old age. Ive noticed he’s dismissive and rude to people all the time now
          , and these people are usually his supporters/admirers! This twitter thing, i think, is him scoffing at his inability to understand the culture of the young. I dont know, my two cents i guess

  19. thank you

  20. Like chess…philosophy instantly turns hard and difficult to master.

  21. Not sure where to post this: but…

    “…you talk to God, you’re religious. God talks to you, you’re psychotic.” –G. House

    I just thought of this because I was reading about Freud’s atheism in The Question of God (which I believe was caused by the abandonment of his first nanny) and I thought House and Freud would have been thrilled with one another.

    I am not sure where to post to just talk.

  22. Well I’m not on Facebook, mostly because I have always had a problem with how they’ve handled user privacy issues–I’m a bit of a privacy nut and am fascinated to see how this rapidly changing techno-global world addresses individual privacy–really, what else do we have if not our personal privacy…..seems like everything else is compromised….anyway, if anywhere’s fine then I’ll say whatever here….thanks………………

  23. Hey guys,
    I just wanted to say that I really enjoy the podcast. I randomly discovered the podcast browsing through itunes looking for something interesting to listen to for my commute to work. Imagine my surprise when one night, driving home from class at St. John’s College (I’m a graduate student there), when I heard Wes say that he had attended there for undergrad studies! Anyway, I just wanted to drop a line and say that I enjoy listening (even if I don’t always agree – I’m a conservative and a Christian of sorts). Keep up the good work!

  24. Thanks Shaun – glad you’re enjoying it!

  25. After reading a few recent reviews, I’m nodding in appreciation of the well written comments and compliments preceding me. The PEL team is a dream team, as far as I’m concerned, and after listening to about seven of your casts, I add my admiration and thanks to the rest. Great job, guys, and may I add, I enjoy your whimsy! (Isn’t that de rigeur around here?)

  26. Noting the quote by Danto at the masthead. I hope this does not mean he was experiencing aesthetic pleasure at any time short of the New Jerusalem.

  27. Been listening to your podcast for few months now but just started navigating your webpage. Its uncanny how much you guys (and occassional gals) have filled a gap in my intellectual pursuits, i was made my way through the Entitled Opinions catalog and was feeling totally lost and empty! Your discussions are simply perfect for me, you explain things very well that I was struggling with before (especially with Heidegger and Kierkegaard) and you validated some of my frustrations (especially with Nietzche). And i thought I was just a lone nerd watching youtube clips of Hubert Dreyfuss and EGS and Zizek lectures on youtube, but there are others like me!!! Also, your website is an invaluable resource. Keep up the good work, Now, this isn’t necessarily a request, but I would say the most seemingly nonsensical, difficult to follow book i’ve ever had the misfortune to try and read was A Thousand Plateaus. This book was, on the one hand, given to me by friend who called it the “best philosophy book he’s ever read,” (he’s getting his PhD in philosophy), and on the other hand, it is held in high regard by the intellectual anarchist community, a group I feel a certain affinity with. You guys mention Deluze a lot, i’ve noticed….any chance you could make it intelligble? There is a lot of Manual DeLanda on youtube and he makes Deluze sound like the simplest thing in the world (i suffer from a tendancy to ramble, sorry).

  28. Seth,
    Unfortunately I don’t recall the episode, but I know you mentioned something about the ten commandments being the last instructions/interaction with his people, I’m not challenging you by any stretch, but am very interested in a SOURCE for that comment. If you have time to for a very brief email just giving me the book and I can do the ground work.

  29. Love the podcast! I am a PHIL major a Texas A&M (hopefully no hard feelings) and I have found this podcast an indispensable resource for many of my essays. I do not know how I would have gotten through Hegel without you guys.

    Also, just to put my mind at rest, theres not some looming threat of you guys not continuing PEL…. right?

    Definitely go on an NPR -esque begathon before any drastic decisions!

    En route to zazzle to buy a shirt.


  30. Have you guys talked at all about Alvin Plantinga at all on the podcast? I know he is really prominent Christian philosopher. He’s written a book on Epistemology and the ontological argument, and was the head of the philosophy department at Notre Dame for a few years.

    Also, awesome show. This is my philosophy fix since I decided not to do my undergrad in it.

    On a personal note. One of you guys mentioned you had went to St. John’s for your undergrad. I was looking at Grad schools as a stepping stone for my doctorate in English, would you recommend it? I really like the idea of the Great Books program.

    • Glad you enjoy the podcast, Dan. Thanks for listening.

      Wes attended SJC as an undergrad (late 80s I think). I’ve been a tutor there since 2001, though I’ve taken a leave through 2013.

      The grad program is great. Many students use it as a “stepping stone” (maybe better, a fruitful sidetrack) before pursuing a more traditional graduate degree. Among the big differences is that the typical advanced degree is a kind of professional degree in the subject of study; it’s not meant to be done “for the sake of it.” The SJC graduate program is _not_ professional, though it is challenging, interesting, and worthwhile. You should check out the website: http://www.stjohnscollege.edu/GI/program.shtml It has a good summary of the program, its aims, and its structure. If you’re within driving distance of Annapolis or Santa Fe, you should really make a visit and visit a class. The best way you’ll know it’s for you is if you need to tape your mouth shut to keep from speaking out during the conversation.

      Good luck!


  31. Hi there fellas, I’m from Warwick England , I’m a 37 year undergrad at the University of Warwick studying Sociology, wrote a research paper on “Indirect Self – Abnegation by way of Higher Education and its negative affect on critical theory and the Sociological Imagination” needless to say I got a shit mark. But when I listened to your Decartes podcast, the penny dropped. I am now gonna spend the rest of my days in bed avoiding work. Keep up the good work as I now need the company…

  32. Thanks Craig! — I’d like to know what about the Descartes podcast made the penny drop.

  33. Hi there Wes, I feel more lucid today and I must apologise for my grammar (Descartes and 37 years of age) The point at which the penny dropped was during ‘Episode 2: Descartes’s Meditations: What Can We Know?’ was 13 minutes into the podcast when Seth talked of the disabuse of prejudices that Descartes experienced through the experience of travelling and mixing with different cultures, and that Descartes, when he had reached maturity had filled his life with all this experience could finally sit back and do Philosophy.

    It actually made me start writing:

    Knowing it all without knowing a single thing.
    Is it all or nothing?

    Politics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, you name it I’ve not done it and yet I still know more than my contemporaries. I know more than my predecessors can ever know and what’s more is that I’m an expert in my field, a field that does not exist because it cares not to.
    So is this philosophy? No it is not, am I theorising or expressing profound ideologies? No. So what exactly am I doing? The answer is simple…nothing, I am…

    Ask me a question and I will give you an answer not the answer, ask me…(I have decided to lay this writing to rest)

    On a lighter note Wes, I suffer from chronic DPD, know to some as the ‘philosophers disease’, I am, again, being screened for Schizophrenia which I have always refuted as having. I have not the energy for polemic discourse with self proclaimed Experts. I love your podcasts and find they bring me back to reality, so I appreciate what you guys are doing.

  34. Love your conversations! I’m a psychotherapist with a background in existential phenomenological psych. Studying Emmanuel Levinas was the highlight of my graduate program. Any fans among you? Would love to hear you discuss thoughts and reactions to his ethical call to the “face of the other”, a refreshing departure from the darkness of nietzsche and the dryness of some of the older dudes. Keep up the good work!!

    • if you take the theological aspects of Levinas away than his ideas about the compelling ethical nature of the other tend to lose their force, but a related work by Lingis on the “Imperative” might provide us with a philosophical text to work with on such matters.
      what is the “darkness” of Nietzsche?

  35. I think I know what you mean about “theological aspects”. Being raised catholic that’s what I like about his writing. There’s a bigness there, like vaulted cathedral ceilings. My own personal pref I guess. Also no hide and seek with his ethical stance, pretty clear about it as he eloquently describes important aspects of relationship with each other ( important to me as a therapist). I have a love hate rel with nietzsche. Maybe “heavy or cynacle” better than “dark”. Sometimes I just want to be nice to someone without worrying about my uncon. motivations of power. I don’t know lingis. I’ll check it out.

  36. Hey guys. I just wanted to say I absolutely love this podcast. I actually go to that “some school in Atlanta” where Jessica Berry teaches. She hosted a lecture with us in the art department a few weeks ago, and that Danto podcast was very helpful.

  37. Hey guys, I have to say that after listening to my professor rant for hours, I indeed perfer your podcast on philosophy. I really enjoy it!!

  38. Hi guys,
    I recently stumbled upon your podcasts and find them thoroughly entertaining, witty, funny and educational. I don’t find good conversation when I go on dates, so you fill that gap. :-) There was a comment on the Sartre podcast that you don’t get compliments or donations by women…here’s one (more).

  39. Super podcast guys – thanks for putting it together. I’d encourage you to try one episode where you deliberately avoid complex language and try to address the core ideas using terms a 5th grader would understand.

    Either the concepts discussed would bear fruit or we’d have a 20 minute conversation on our hands. Such is the nature of most philosophical writings. The lack of clarity reveals a shortfall of meaning, more often than not.

    Hardly outweighs all the positives of the discussions though. Keep it up!



  40. Hey Guys,

    Thanks for doing this podcast. I’m in undergrad philosophy in melbourne, australia.
    It’s awesome to have an alternative to the traditional iTunes U/Lecture podcasts. The episodes you guys to do on the continental guys, namely Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre and Co. have been really helpful, i owe you guys for a few HD’s i got for essays on Heideggarian Being and it’s relation to Zen authenticity, and one on bad faith in Sartre.
    Your discussions really clarify the main themes of these difficult thinkers, and also help to introduce some criticisms to help with true philosophical engagement.

    Keep up the good work

    P.S. i’m sure everyone has ideas for shows, but i’ve been looking into the intersection of Hegel and Zen, there’s an interesting guy called Nishida Kitaro who may warrant some looking into. I’ve only done some limited reading, but he has some interesting ideas on religion as a part of self and other general ontological awesomeness. anyway, there’s my two cents.

    • Thanks Dale! We appreciate the kind words and feedback. I’m really gratified that you are enjoying the podcast and getting something out of it.

      We have a long list of potential topics and always take recommendations. I feel like Kitaro has been mentioned before and we’ll certianly consider it. Our schedule for much of the rest of the year seems to be booked already…;)

  41. Thank you guys for this brilliant contribution to American intellectual life–I’m serious! Which reminds me, the light tone (or the joy with which you guys indulge those mood-lightening moments in the podcasts) is absolutely vital, I think, to preventing the subject matter’s weight from becoming too much to bear. More “serious” students of philosophy need never fear a shortage in the number of tomes with which to indulge the yearning for an remorseless and thoroughly unrelenting seriousness–hey, that’s what the canon (existentialists excepted) is all about, right?! But if human existence itself is the nexus of the tragic and the farcical (as my professors used to say about my philosophy essays), then any discussion of human existence reflecting one at the expense of the other cannot begin to have understood human existence in the first place (and I’m ALL FOR human existence!). In any case, thank you guys for all your work and the generosity of your collective spirit making it possible for the rest of us to benefit from your years of taking the subject, well, seriously.

  42. To my mind, Seth’s appearance does not match his voice. Maybe I’m going synesthetic, but he sounds like he should be blonde. How does a blonde man sound? Like Seth. Mark looks most like his voice of the group.

  43. Hi, I know you guys don’t normally do literature of this nature, but I would love it if you guys read something by Tolstoy and discussed some of the philosophy that seems to in inlaid in his novels. Because his most famous books are novels and therefore don’t outright say his theories and beliefs, perhaps this may be not something that you guys want to do. I’m just putting it out there.
    Apparently there’s also a whole movement based off of Tolstoy which Gandhi and others took part in? It’s interesting to read about.

    • what sort of specifically philosophical themes do you find in Tolstoy?

      • I get the sense that Tolstoy took a lot from Rousseau. The main conflicts in his stories seem to be between the authentic individual, on the one hand, and a society that ruptures that authenticity (by making him want others to see him as he sees himself), on the other. So the philosophical themes seem present, even if the biggest ones aren’t original.

  44. Hi Guys,

    I just discovered your podcast last week and already 10 episodes into it (long commute). I have a very strong interest in philosophy, but no formal training in it. I have been trying to educate myself on the basics for a while now, using sources like Wikipedia and free lecture type of materials, however I never really felt like I was getting a good grasp on the subject matter. After listening to your podcasts I feel like I finally found the best medium to make philosophy truly accessible to someone like me.

    Specifically, your podcast provides the greatest value for me by:
    1) bringing together all the random pieces of knowledge I had about each philosopher and their ideas into a cohesive narrative
    2) helping me understand certain concepts that have always eluded me because no one to this day has explained them using common examples
    3) bringing some much needed humanity into a subject that could be dry and technical at times
    4) allowing me to finally generate my own fully fleshed out ideas and reactions to each philosopher and their ideas

    Really, the point of my comment is to tell you guys that you are doing a tremendous job and bringing a ton of value for people like me out there. So a huge thank you and hope you keep doing this for years to come.

  45. Hey there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely
    digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure
    they will be benefited from this site.

  46. I recently stumbled upon your podcast through BeyondPod. I have been listening to your episodes like it is my job. I have even been wearing Bluetooth ear-buds that are easily hidden so I can listen at my desk at work. Considering your candidness and confidence I think it will be okay to tell you that as a young female I made up a little fantasy of dashing, rugged 40-ish men who fight bears on the regular and discuss philosophy to keep their minds engaged. Mini-bios of your real life are almost as fantastic ;)

  47. Thank you for keeping this podcast going. Listening to it hits home better than a home cooked meal! Been on a Plato/Socrates binge and absolutely love the tight arguments presented in your discussion of Plato’s Euthyphro. Particularly interested in Seth’s observation about Judaism.

    Seth and Dylan. Talk more please!! I love listening to you two!!

  48. I assume that you three must have gleaned some insights into human nature from your in-depth studies of the great philosophers, and so even though yours is not a Dear Abbey-type column, I would appreciate your advice on conducting intellectual and political discussions with a smug know-it-all with a superior attitude, who is completely disdainful of the opinions of those who do not share his views. Thanks.

    • Good philosophical discussion requires a common starting point; I would want to avoid interactions with such a person unless you already share his general position, in which case with persistence, you might be able to get him to open his mind a bit.

      Otherwise, the best you can do is recommend things for him to read and sit back and see if any of them break through.

      People like this can be source of entertainment to listen to even if you don’t want to actually engage them, but are more frequently tiresome.

      (Actually, I initially read your question as an underhanded way of pointing out that we are all smug know-it-alls who would thus know well how to talk to such people because we exemplify it on every podcast.)

    • I suggest one of two strategies (or both in some sequence).

      1. Compassion. Assume that whoever this is has some insecurity that drives them to behave that way. If they have a compulsive need to be right and to let you know they are right, don’t engage them on it – instead feel compassion for the fact that they carry that burden around and gratitude that you don’t.
      Usually someone begging for attention in that way is looking for validation. Either by hearing someone say they are right or engaging in conflict with them. Either way if you don’t play the game, they’ll go elsewhere or drop the game.

      2. Give ‘em rope. If anyone talks long enough, they’ll say something wrong, contradictory or just plain stupid (take it from us, we know). Don’t argue with this person, keep asking them questions and requesting deeper and deeper clarification. Eventually they’ll run into their own ignorance or make a mistake, which should put the lie to the know-it-all facade. If you do this sincerely, they will eventually stop annoying you as you won’t be providing the mirror for which they are looking.

  49. Love the podcasts guys, i’m a complete neophyte to Philosophy and this site is striking a lot of chords for me. I find the threeway conversation so much better than one person delivering, all the doubting, checking, disagreeing and so on just makes you feel part of the conversation, and you can really tell that Plato chap was onto something with his multiple voiced dialogues. Just wondering, since Wes spent some time in Ireland if he can confirm that us Irish are immune to psychoanalysis?

  50. Thanks everyone for a great podcast.

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