Listen to Ep. 114 Aftershow


Sunday afternoon we recorded the aftershow for on our episode 114 covering Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation (sometimes called The World as Will and Idea). Host Danny Lobell (whom you can hear ad nauseam on his own podcast, Modern Day Philosophers with such guests as Gilbert Godfried, Marc Maron, Louis Black, Aisha Tyler, Wyatt Cenac, etc. etc.) … [Read more...]

What is Satire for?


When we recorded the Jaspers episode with Paul Provenza I had the good fortune to be in his home of Los Angeles. I was able to meet up with him and his assistant for the recording and along with my wife we met for a meal several days later. I had been re-reading his book ¡Satiristas! and he and I got into a spirited discussion of whether comics, specifically the satirist, have … [Read more...]

A Solution to the Washington Redskins’ Name Problem

The Coronation of Powhatan via Wikipedia

Overseas fans scroll to the end for context. Last Thursday the Washington football team lost 45-14 to the NY football Giants. The game was nationally televised and, as has so often happened in the last 20 or so years, the Redskins failed to rise to the occasion. After another embarrassing beatdown by a hated rival I, a long suffering fan, am ready yet again to renounce my … [Read more...]

Is Rawls’ Difference Principle Egalitarian?

[From PEL Citizen and friend of the podcast Roy Spence] The publication of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice in the early 1970s led welfare economists to derive various interpretations of the Rawls’ second principle of justice, generally known as the “difference principle.  By way of background, a primary objective of “welfare economics” is to provide a guide for … [Read more...]

Cooperative Society and Natural Rights

Courtesy of

When reading Rawls for the podcast, I took note of a seemingly innocuous distinction between Rawls and the traditional social contractarians that nonetheless struck me as odd given his appeal to social contract theory.  The traditional social contract theorists assume that rational individuals enter into social contracts to secure natural rights.  "Secure" here means 'protect … [Read more...]

Transcription – Nietzsche’s Gay Science Episode


Hey all! Just a quick note to let you know you know that we are making available a transcript from the Gay Science episode.  Special thanks to Jessica T. for her generous donation.  The file was Professionally transcribed by Read the transcript here. Note that while we are releasing this to the hoi polloi we have others available for PEL Citizens so join!  … [Read more...]

Call for Papers – Toward a Science of Consciousness

  It was 20 years ago today... The Center for Consciousness Studies (CCS) at the University of Arizona is holding its annual Toward a Science of Consciousness (TSC) conference in Tucson, Arizona on April 21 - 26, 2014.  Fans of the discipline and podcast will be aware that CCS was co-founded by previous guest David Chalmers.  This year PEL is proud to help promote … [Read more...]

Interviewing Eva Brann


So Eva was a terrific guest and a great sport on the podcast and while Dylan had talked her up to the rest of us, I didn't realize what a towering figure she is.  She has been teaching at St. John's for 57 !?!?! years, which is longer than most of us have been on this planet.  She's the author of 15 books, not including translations, on subjects as diverse as Time, Plato and … [Read more...]

Is Experimental Philosophy Bad Science? Wikipedia tells us that Experimental Philosophy (X-Phi) is: an emerging field of philosophical inquiry that makes use of empirical data—often gathered through surveys which probe the intuitions of ordinary people—in order to inform research on philosophical questions. This use of empirical data is widely seen as opposed to a philosophical … [Read more...]

Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Moral Sentiment


[DISCLAIMER:  Although I am using a conceptual distinction I got from the embedded Simon Baron-Cohen TEDx talk (where ever he got it from), I am not taking a position on his stance on Autism or Psychopathy.  I have no point of view about Autism and have reflected on empathy and psychopathy in this blog before, here and here.  I'm interested in the constituent parts of empathy … [Read more...]

Paul Fry on Lacan


One of the groovy things about our new "open" society is how venerated institutions of higher learning like Yale are being strong-armed into sharing their course content online with the unwashed masses (aka you and me).  This means you don't have to go to The Interwebs or TedX to get quasi scholarly ramblings about your favorite intellectuals or ideas:  you can get qualified … [Read more...]

The Not School Discussion of Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism

Last week Being spoke through me in the saying of Martin Heidegger's Letter on Humanism as part of a PEL Not School study group.  Joining me were Marilynn, Daniel, Rian and Alyson. We worked through Heidegger's idea that Humanism as a concept was inextricably tied to the history of western metaphysics that sees man as a animal rationale, language as techne and understands … [Read more...]

Engaging with Buber

In looking for web resources on Buber to blog about, I've come across an interesting phenomenon:  there are very few and they are mostly introductory.  Every time we do a podcast, I cast the Google net to see if there are interesting, useful or funny things out there on the net I can share with our audience about the subject of the episode.  When I did this for I and Thou, the … [Read more...]

Socrates’ Attack on Rhetoric in the “Gorgias”

Aristotle's rhetorical triangle from

  I have never shared the vitriol in Plato's dialogues for rhetoric.  I understand why he goes after people for holding what he considers to be untenable positions, particularly if they are teachers or otherwise influencers of others.  But only insofar as they hold beliefs which don't accord with his own or if they appear to have a methodology or agenda that is … [Read more...]

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 and nausea made worse only when accompanied … [Read more...]

Civics via Schoolhouse Rock

During our recording on the Federalist Papers, we mentioned at some point Schoolhouse Rock, a PBS television series that ran regularly when I was a child. For anyone who doesn't know, it was a cartoon with skits and songs about grammar, science, civics, American History and some other topics.  In addition to state and federal civics classes in junior high and high school (do … [Read more...]

Red State, Blue State, One State, Two States

Lief Parsons graphic from NYT Steven Pinker article

Steven Pinker of Harvard recently posted an article on The Stone at the New York Times called "Why Are States So Red and Blue?" His summary of his thesis: The North and coasts are extensions of Europe and continued the government-driven civilizing process that had been gathering momentum since the Middle Ages. The South and West preserved the culture of honor that emerged in … [Read more...]

15 Minutes of Fame

Liz Hurley on

Andy Warhol famously said that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."  This is commonly interpreted to mean that the hierarchical structure that identified worthy subjects of art - 'celebrities' - from those not worthy - 'civilians' (thanks Liz!) was breaking down.  In other words the structure that delineated who was famous from who was not would break … [Read more...]

The Value of Writing (Non-Fiction)

Peg Tyre

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Peg Tyre documents the remarkable turnaround in student performance at an underperforming high school when the curriculum was altered to put a focus on analytic writing.  Analytic writing, it turns out, is a marker of critical thinking:  if you can craft clear and coherent written sentences, paragraphs and essays it generally means you have … [Read more...]

Seth’s Interview with Dan Mullin

Worst jobs - Philosopher

Dan Mullin is a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher who runs a blog called The Unemployed Philosopher's Blog.  His mission statement is to challenge the view that a philosophical education isn't of much value for employment.  As he says:  My name is Daniel Mullin and I’m a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher. The other part of the time, I’m unemployed … [Read more...]

Rick Roderick on Nietzsche on Truth and Lie

As usual, Rick Roderick proves to be a great go-to guy on Nietzsche.  In this series of videos (one lecture put together by Daniel Horne), he takes on the accusation that Nietzsche is taking a relativist stance towards truth, or as it can be labeled, a 'perspectivist' stance.  Roderick does an (as usual excellent) exposition of Nietzsche's. It starts with ideas about one's … [Read more...]

The Future of Education

How Online Learning Is Shaping The Future Of Education Right Now at

So the perception is that the college/university system is dying, or at least anachronistic and a new model of learning is needed.  Every other TEDx talk is by an entrepreneur who thinks education is a barrier to creative thinking and a waste of productive years.  Economic analyses show the ROI of attending college isn't worth it for many graduates.  The government funded … [Read more...]

Psychopathy and Empathy

Last year I posted on psychopathy and moral sentiment. This week Cosmos magazine reports that researchers from the Netherlands have determined that psychopaths can 'turn on' empathy on demand.  In short, a study was structured that measured psychopath's empathy for others (not explained how) and then the subjects were told that the study was designed to measure empathy.  After … [Read more...]

“Worst Attack on Jewish Life Since the Holocaust”

Conference of European Rabbis President Pinchas Goldschmidt

These are the words of the Conference of European Rabbis as reported by Spiegel Online in this article.  Exceptionally inflammatory words, particularly coming as they do in response to a German court ruling.  The Rabbi who issued the statement for the Conference, Pinchas Goldschmidt, is the Chief Rabbi of Moscow.  A Rabbi from Munich took a less strident tone: Rabbi Yisroel … [Read more...]

Graphing the History of Philosophy

Gephi graph on Philosophers from

This is a crazy cool interactive visualization of the relative influence and importance of philosophers.  This guy simonraper (that's his handle anyway) did a data pull from Wikipedia determining what philosophers are identified as having influenced other philosophers and used a graphing platform to visually map it. If you are interested in his methodology, go read the … [Read more...]

In Memoriam: Alan Saunders

Alan Saunders of Radio National on Australian Broadcast Corporation

 It was with great sadness this weekend that I heard via Facebook and on the Australian Broadcast Corporation website of the untimely passing of Alan Saunders.  Saunders was the host of the ABC Radio National program The Philosopher's Zone, a weekly broadcast covering a broad range of topics, both in philosophy and outside of philosophy in a philosophical manner. I first … [Read more...]

The Good as Simple Idea

At some point during the episode, Dylan and Wes were arguing about Moore and referred to the good as a 'term'.  I corrected them that Moore actually calls it a 'concept' as if something hung on that distinction.  I guess it is incumbent upon me to explain. First off, Moore never uses the word "concept" in the chapter - my bad.  He uses "idea" and "notion".  But my point is … [Read more...]

Humor Case Study 2: Henny Youngman

So Mark took on the comedy stylings of Louis CK in the first case study, someone who establishes a core insight and then plays it out through both content and performance.  I'd like to take a look at two other (multi-generational!) comedians who rely on establishing a premise quickly using audience assumptions and then make a joke by twisting either the meaning of words or … [Read more...]

Alain de Botton Wants to Make Ethical Porn

In a press release (cited here in the New Statesman) from his School of Life, Alain de Botton claims he's going to take on our cultural obsession with unethical porn and create some that accords with our moral sensibilities and the good life. This is, of course, hilarious and there have been some requisitely wicked reactions like here (HuffPo has nothing on the Guardian's … [Read more...]

Can the Ethical be Primary?

Emmauel Levinas from Wikipedia

I was listening again to Mark's interview on Douglas Lain's Diet Soap podcast and was struck by an interesting question posed by Doug.  He was talking about how ontology seemed to be the starting point for philosophy (Thales) and asked whether ontology was required for ethics and if Mark knew of any philosophical points of view where the ontological contradicted the ethical.  … [Read more...]

Our Texas Profs Revisited

Galen of Pergamon from

We have on occasion had reason to call attention to our former professors and colleagues from UT.  Yesterday I was hit with a blast from the past when I heard R.J. "Jim" Hankinson interviewed on The History of Philosophy podcast.  He was, of course, talking about Galen.  I'm pretty sure he's the world expert on Galen (he was already 15 years ago I think) and he sounds every bit … [Read more...]

The Karaoke Dilemma: A White Guy Wants to Sing His Favorite Hip-Hop Songs

Busta Rhymes

So I'm the kind of guy that pays attention to the words of songs and a large part of my enjoyment of music is knowing lyrics and singing.  So much so that I am practically always on call for Karaoke, particularly when it's Karaoke Apocalypse (greatest thing since the Redskins won the Super Bowl - for the record I own I Want You to Want Me).  I can remember all the words to … [Read more...]

Žižek on Foucault, Descartes and Madness

OK, so this isn't the easiest thing to read (after seeing numerous Žižek videos, it looks to me that he writes like he talks like he thinks, which is pretty fluid, making connections between things and not necessarily driving through focused theses...) but a little time spent on it yields some interesting points.  For some context, Katie noted in the episode that Discipline … [Read more...]

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 through The Teaching Company.  (Home also to Mark's crush Robert Solomon)  … [Read more...]

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. of Corrections talks about how military technology is being employed in … [Read more...]

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 institutions of punishment and an extension of the … [Read more...]

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 the Heidegger/Foucault connection in the comments on the … [Read more...]

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 and getting lost, both literally and … [Read more...]

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 resolve to do anything in 2012 and what that would be. Think about what a … [Read more...]

Corey Anton on the Phenomenology of the Senses

There's a guy on youtube named Corey Anton, who is a Professor of Communication Studies at Grand Valley State University.  He's posted a ton of videos on a broad range of subjects, many philosophical.  He's one of those that comes up when you search on the usual suspect terms and I've had occasion to watch him from time to time.  I find the videos hit or miss based on my mood … [Read more...]

The True Spirit of Christmas – in Song


It's Christmas - Jesus Christ's birthday or, if you so choose, appropriated Yule, Saturnalia or the birthday of Mithra.  Whatever you may believe, most of you will be celebrating something with someone while bloggers around the world bemoan either the audacity of Christianity or forgetfulness thereof via commercialism.  I'm not a Jew for Jesus (just a Jew), but I'm a big fan of … [Read more...]

Sartre’s Legacy

Our Sartre episode focused on one single, apparently not widely discussed text:The Transcendence of the Ego: An Existentialist Theory of Consciousness. I say not very widely discussed because you would expect Sartre and consciousness to have a ton of videos on youtube and lots of scholarly papers when Googled. Instead, most of the things that come up when you search are related … [Read more...]

Some additional thoughts on Sartre

When we were recording the episode, we were all aware that we got hung up on unreflected consciousness and how consciousness of consciousness was not reflected consciousness or self-consciousness.  As a result, I thought we gave short shrift to the latter half of the essay.  If that sounds convoluted, listen to the episode.  There's nothing wrong with the way the conversation … [Read more...]

I’m declaring a moratorium on Nazi examples in moral philosophy

Anti Nazi spraylogo

OK, I was listening to the latest episode of Philosophy Bites, where Nigel "Daddy Warbucks" Warburton is interviewing Sean Kelly about Homer and Philosophy.  I have documented elsewhere my love and admiration of Warburton and the podcast, so this is not in any way to be construed as a criticism.  But a couple of things pushed my buttons. At the beginning, David Edmunds says … [Read more...]

Buddhism Naturalized?

Owen Flanagan

Given our recent exploration of moral theory, the excitement around our announcement of a Euthyphro episode and my own current interest in Buddhist thought, I guess it was inevitable that I would stumble across and then buy this book.  Or perhaps it was that Mark mentioned it in an email which I had overlooked.  In any case, the author, Owen Flanagan (pictured to the right), is … [Read more...]

Poetry Fights Back

Allen Tate

If you've listened to our Danto episode, our Republic episode or read any Plato yourself you know that the Big P didn't have a high regard for poetry.  If you've listened to anything we've done over the last year, you know Mark doesn't have a high regard for my blog posting efforts.  I do start posts, but often times find the zeitgeist has passed before I'm done (I think and … [Read more...]

This is a call to all my PEL peeps (ATX representing)

Greetings from Austin Texas!

Dear PEL adherents-- I'd like to put together a philosophy discussion group here in Austin.  Thinking monthly, maybe related to our episode content, maybe not, but definitely face-to-face.  Casual, social with some fun as well as philosophy involved. Question:  anyone out there either in the area and interested or know someone who is?  It would only take about 5 of us to … [Read more...]

L’Shanah Tovah – Jewish Proofs for the Existence of God (or Lack Thereof)

Maimonides image on Wikipedia

I think during the Mackie episode I mentioned that proving the existence of God through Reason seemed to me to be a decidely Western and Christian undertaking.  I speculated that it wasn't an issue for Eastern religions (those that have a concept of God or gods) and declared that it wasn't one for Judaism. It  occurs to me that I should stop speaking on behalf of the … [Read more...]

Adolescent criminality and juvenile brains

Russian Youth Prison Scenes

I couldn't bring myself to weigh in on the analytic vs. continental issue because I lived it while in school and believe that it is ultimately a destructive distinction fueled by political desires.  And in a weird way, I'm living through something analogous at work right now.  So instead I thought I'd continue my journey through issues of criminal justice because it interests … [Read more...]

Riding the Zeitgeist – Moral sentiment and pyschopathy

I never said I wasn

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Ethics at Duke, was recently interview on The Philosopher's Zone about the moral judgment of psychopaths.  One of the key questions at issue is whether psychopaths understand what is morally wrong, why it is so and just don't care, or whether they don't know what is morally wrong.  This ties in with some of our recent posts about moral … [Read more...]

Neurobiology and Criminal Justice

At about 30 minutes into the most recent episode with Pat Churchland, the discussion touched on how the neurochemistry of people who are well socialized differs from those who aren't.   More specifically, there was a point made about how people who are well socialized and have the Humean (as we will soon discover, actually Smithian) moral sentiment have different brains than … [Read more...]

Scruton on Philosophy vs. Neuroscience

The talk is somewhat misleadingly titled "Roger Scruton - Persons and their Brains", but what he's really concerned to do is point out the limits of neuroscience and justify a place for philosophy in the study of human behavior.  Not sure if that's a straw man or not, but he has some critical things to say of our podcast guest Patricia Churchland.    Take a … [Read more...]

Does PEL Support Entrepreneurship vs. Academia?

The University Has No Clothes

A New York Magazine article about the value of higher education, "The University Has No Clothes" is making the rounds on FB and Twitter.  It's a decent length article that explores the issue in some depth but the thesis boils down to this:  a college or university education is a huge investment for a young person and their family.  It creates an enormous debt hole  before they … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday David Hume!

David Hume

This month lots of people are celebrating David Hume's 300th birthday, including our friends at The Philosopher's Zone and Philosophy Bites.  Both have dedicated a series of podcasts to this most important thinker in our tradition and if you aren't a Humeophile or don't know that much about him, I'd definitely recommend checking out their special episodes.  Did you know that … [Read more...]

Wine and Philosophy

I'm reading A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage.  It's  a view of the role that 6 beverages - beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola - have played in world history.  I'm currently in the 'spirits' section, but I thought it worthwhile to comment on the role of wine (per Standage) in the development of the Greek culture and hence the Greek philosophy to which … [Read more...]

Peter Singer on Hegel & Marx

In this series of videos of Bryan Magee interviewing a young Peter Singer, Singer provides an explication of Hegel's overall philosophical enterprise.  We've linked to Magee's show in other places (like here, here and here) and in this interview we get to see Peter Singer actually doing traditional philosopher-type stuff.  He has an outstanding 'stach and nice square … [Read more...]

Frege’s Notion of the True

When we did the Frege episode, we read "The Thought", which was a new text to me and I found it quite interesting.  Even though we were supposed to be talking about other things, we got caught up on Frege's notion of 'The True'.  Specifically, we were asking ourselves what kind of ontological status 'The True' or 'Truth' had for Frege and why he didn't seem to care. To walk … [Read more...]

Yet More on Logic: Quantification

Against both my better judgment and the hue and cry of many, I will continue my semi-informed-by-past-years-of-studying "exposition" of predicate logic which I started here.  If I accomplish nothing else, I will give Burl something to complain about for the next week or so. In the previous installment, we talked about how syllogistic statements about "all x's" assert the … [Read more...]

Some more on logic

So Matt Teichman was kind enough to post a primer on basic logic, showing with syllogisms how informal logical inference was turned into formal notation by Frege and thus predicate calculus was born.  There is a wealth of stuff to learn about the predicate calculus and many serious logicians (as well as frustrated mathematicians) have developed and extended systems in a number … [Read more...]

Borders Raid

Bankruptcy Road Sign from Foreclosure Data Online

So the Borders bookstore chain filed for bankruptcy (it's a US-based brick & mortar retailer that apparently had small forays into the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) and recently I went in to stock my shelves with what I was sure would be a bonanza of discounted philosophy books.  I am here to tell you of my disappointment. To begin with, the store was half … [Read more...]

Montaigne on Self-Esteem

Montaigne's Essays are a deeply personal investigation into ourselves and our lives that isn't typically treated by philosophy books.  Here, in another great BBC series, Alain de Botton (a notable philosopher in his own right), talks about Montaigne's notion of self-esteem and how philosophy can be a guide to happiness. It kicks off around 1 minute in... De Botton focuses … [Read more...]

Barbara Bolt on Art & Heidegger

I had not heard of Barbara Bolt until I stumbled upon this video lecture she gave at the University of Melbourne about Heidegger from an artist's perspective.  [see my previous post about Australia being the most philosophical nation on earth - I stand by it.]  She's both a practicing artist and publishing academic and I get the sense this was a lecture to a philosophy class as … [Read more...]

Heidegger and Feuerbach

Ludwig Feuerbach commemorative stamp

There are lots of directions one can go in investigating influences on Heidegger or uncovering ideas he appropriated and reworked in Being and Time.  Hegel, Kant, Descartes, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, etc.  One of the more interesting might be Ludwig Feuerbach, a post-Hegelian and pre-Marxist who is most well known for a critique of Christianity (and later religion in general) in … [Read more...]

Graphs about Philosophers

So here are at least two things you can find on Google when searching for images of Gottlob Frege: Images of Elodie Frege Blogspot sites by philophers that post crazy fun graphs Lite fare for the weekend... --seth … [Read more...]

Grappling with Heidegger’s Biography

More than most other philosophers, Heidegger's life is almost as much a subject of scrutiny as his writings.  Part of this comes with the territory of being a founding figure in Existentialism, but 99% has to do with his conduct during and immediately after the National Socialist era in Germany, particularly regarding his membership in the Nazi party, treatment of Husserl, … [Read more...]

Dreyfus on Heidegger

Hubert Dreyfus, Professor UC Berkeley

The preeminent Heidegger scholar in the US (and perhaps in the English language), is Hubert Dreyfus at the University of Berkeley.  Daniel did a post for the Husserl podcast linking to a series of videos of him being interviewed by Bryan McGee here.  In that series he actually talks more about Heidegger, so it's worth revisiting for the Heidegger episode as well. Dreyfus has … [Read more...]

Heidegger on TV

During the podcast, I mentioned some video of Heidegger from television back in the 70s.  I think I uncharitably characterized him as being a bit out of touch with a broader audience and arrogant.  You be the judge: (This is an excerpt from a longer piece which is (I think) in full available on YouTube, but broken into two parts, only the first of which is translated.  … [Read more...]

My Wish for the New Year

I hope that this celebration of the rotation of the calendar finds all PEL listeners/readers in good cheer, looking with unbridled optimism and hope at a vast array of positive opportunities in front of them.  As it is customary to reflect upon the past and project into the future on this occasion, I propose to do just that and ask you to indulge me. When Mark first … [Read more...]

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 the central philosophical assumptions of Economics or which represent economic philosophical … [Read more...]

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 likely to come across. For some reason during the Goodman … [Read more...]

Wherefore art thou Socrates?

The Death of Socrates, 1787, by Jacques Louis David

The Guardian UK published this promotion of Bettany Hughes' The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life.It's a biography of Socrates claiming to put him in his proper context and, if the article mirrors the book, trying to make him relevant for today. One of the points in the piece is that when Athens was a flourishing democracy, economically strong … [Read more...]

Schizophrenia, Philosophy & Freud

While we're following up on the Freud podcast, I caught this interesting show from ABC National Radio in Australia on schizophrenia and philosophical investigation.  The show is called All in the Mind, hosted by Natasha Mitchell.  In this episode, she interviews Dr Paul Fearne, who suffers from schizophrenia but managed to acknowledge it, get help and get it under control with … [Read more...]

Art and Artists Enrich Life

Dennis Hollingsworth

Every since we did the episode on Danto I've been oddly making contact with actual artists, both directly and indirectly.  I consider this to be good thing, not just because the ones I've met or corresponded with seem to be excellent people, but also because - from a visual art perspective - I feel my life has been impoverished.  Aside from visiting a lot of churches and … [Read more...]

Philosophy & Kids Redux

I'm not saying we are trendsetters.  I'm not saying the Philosophy Talk guys at Stanford are copycats.  I'm just saying that coincidentally, a mere month after I posted about whether children should be exposed to philosophy, they blogged about the same subject. Hey, they're from Stanford.  Older, wiser, more well-read, respected, smarter, better funded, more articulate - … [Read more...]

Atheism in Theory and Praxis

Christopher Hitchens, renowned and reviled Atheist, has cancer.  Needless to say, folks on both sides want to know how he's going to deal with it.  Enter Vanity Fair. Unanswerable Prayers What’s an atheist to think when thousands of believers (including prominent rabbis and priests) are praying for his survival and salvation—while others believe his cancer was divinely … [Read more...]

Thank your Mentors

This is a quick post written out of a sense of loss and regret. A high-school friend of mine just informed me that our Senior year English teacher passed away. Reflecting on her memory we both felt somewhat ashamed that we hadn't kept in touch, or at least made the attempt to let her know, as we went on in years, of the influence she had on our lives. Everyone has people … [Read more...]

The Thinkers from Down Under

Alan Saunders

It's time to address over-representation of the English in my podcast reviews. Today I pay homage to the Australians, who come in at 10% of our listener/reader base, second only behind the US.  By comparison, the UK is at 6%.  Based on this one slim fact, I am prepared to claim that Australia is the most Philosophical country on earth. Exhibit … [Read more...]

Should children be exposed to Philosophy?

I recently posted a review of Julian Baggini's Philosophy Monthly.  In his latest episode he covers a reenactment of the famous Monty Python's Philosophers' Football Match, for which there is a dedicated website, complete with video of the original.  It is, of course, FANTASTIC that someone has gone to the trouble of recreating the event ("...and Marx, claiming he was … [Read more...]

Julian Baggini’s Philosophy Monthly – the PEL review

Julian Baggini

So Mark stole my thunder with his post about AC Grayling, as I was preparing my thoughts about Julian Baggini's regular podcast, Baggini's Philosophy Monthly.  Nonetheless, even though Mark hates and wants to upstage me, I will proceed with my ramblings. I found and started listening to Baggini's podcast towards the end of last year and was able to reel off a series of … [Read more...]

In Praise of Nigel Warburton

A few months back in response to a blog post where I lauded our podcast over/against other philosophy podcasts, Jon recommended Philosophy Bites, Little Atoms, and Philosophy: The Classics, among others.  Two of these have in common that Nigel Warburton is involved, which is a very good thing. Warburton is a Philosopher and scholar of the history of Philosophy at The Open … [Read more...]

What’s at stake in the Heidegger/Nazism debate?

So I have been established, or established myself, as the Heidegger 'guy' on this blog/podcast.  Why?  I read a bunch of his stuff in grad school, studied with one of his students (at the time a professor) in Germany, and wrote my Master's thesis on "Ereignis".  Wes just sent me a link to this review at The Time Higher Education of a new book by Emmanuel Faye on Heidegger … [Read more...]

The Sound of One’s Voice

An unanticipated benefit of doing this podcast is getting the opportunity to analyze my speech when I do the editing (we rotate that responsibility).  Even though I find it painful at times, I use the word 'benefit' because it's truly interesting and educational to hear the sound of one's voice. I have known for some time that my voice is at the pitch of 'background noise' … [Read more...]

Why we record such good podcasts

I have spent some time listening to other philosophy podcasts, particularly the ones on iTunes that are listed as "Listeners also subscribed to".   Some are good, some absolutely unlistenable and a few in between (I've put some links at the end of this post).  I won't say which I feel fall into which categories, but I do invite our listeners to chime in with their own reviews … [Read more...]

Unreasonable & Unrealistic: A New Year’s Resolution

I am considered by family, friends and business acquaintances to be calm, level-headed, rational, analytic, thoughtful, etc.  It was part of what made me successful in my many roles in corporate life.  And something that has perhaps prevented me from honoring my feelings and emotions in my personal life.  While I don't think I fetishize reason and rationality, I seem to be … [Read more...]

Philosophy & Comedy – Steve Martin’s “Born Standing Up”

I just finished reading Steve Martin's autobiography Born Standing Up - a comic's life, an honest and direct memoir about his youth and early life experiences which shaped the development of his unique comedic style.   The book covers the time from his childhood through to his 30's when he walked away from stage performing to do movies and other media.  I am old enough to … [Read more...]

Film ‘Review': District 9

First, let me say that this will not be as long as Mark's epic stream of consciousness review of 'Stupidity'.  Second, let me say that this was a very odd movie that took me by surprise, but I think posed some interesting philosophical questions and so is appropriate for this forum. A quick recap that will get you through the first 10 minutes of the movie without giving … [Read more...]