For this month’s discussion, Daniel had us read Erewhon by Samuel Butler. We had a discussion that we all enjoyed much more than reading the book.
Jason fattens out his eclectic guitar pieces by writing string and horn parts, and The Jason Seed Stringtet includes members of the Chicago Symphony sawing away furiously. Hear more at jasonseedmusic.com.
We’ll discuss “Ishtar,” a Bulgarian/Latin-inflected piece from In the Gallery (2013), “Any Night Now” a more traditional chamber jazz number from 2015, and “Mammoth” from the Jason Seed Exlier Ensemble’s album 3 (2008). We’ll wrap up by listening to “Pinch” from the Stringtet’s The Escapist (2010). Intro music: “Invocation” from In the Gallery.
Democracy is in peril! So said Tocqueville in 1835 and 1840 when Democracy is America was published, and it’s still true now. Democracy is always just one demagogue away from stripping us of our liberties, though certain structural and cultural features can make that more or less likely. He liked our volunteerism and innovation, but not so much our tendencies toward materialism and isolation and our lack of philosophical curiosity.
Recorded live at Brown University 10/27/16 with audience Q&A. Watch the video!
Visit the St. John’s College Graduate Institute: partiallyexaminedlife.com/sjcgi.
More on Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), where Burke advocates for the nobility as a stabilizing element in society: These folks are driven by honor, groomed from youth to lead, and estates themselves provide continuity and give people something to protect. But could anyone really defend this system who wasn’t himself benefitting from it at the expense of others? Reform, not revolution!
Visit Gulf Breeze Recovery at www.gulfbreezerecovery.com.
Jill was part of a 3-woman vocal band in the ’80s called The Life is Grand Band, and then in 1995 released Songs About Sex & Depression, and only in 2015 unveiled her long-awaited study of the dark psychology of fairy tales, A Handmade Life.
We focus on this most recent project, discussing “Letters from Murdertown” and “Eyes of Fire,” and playing at the end “Walking on Glass.” Our third discussion song goes back to the previous album with “Everything Makes Me Cry.” Opening music is The Life Is Grand Band’s “Harry’s Song” from Feel Like Makin’ Art (1989).
On Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). What relevance do the concerns of a monarchy-defending aristocrat have for us today? Surprisingly, a lot! The full foursome discuss possible conflicts between freedom, rights, and well-being. What is political freedom without public wisdom? The tyranny of the mob!
Bill was the original drummer for Yes, a default member of King Crimson, and briefly played with Genesis and the late ’70s supergroup U.K., but most of his output has been with his own jazz-inflected Earthworks and Bruford, as rock proved too confining for his rhythmic and tonal creativity.
We discuss King Crimson’s “One more Red Nightmare” from Red (1974), “Thistledown” from If Summer Had Its Ghosts by Bill Bruford, Eddie Gomez and Ralph Towner (1992), and “The 16 Kingdoms of the 5 Barbarians” from Every Step a Dance, Every Word a Song by Bill Bruford/Michiel Borstlap (2004). We also hear “Hell’s Bells” and the title track of One of a Kind by Bruford (1979), plus “Five Per Cent for Nothing” from Fragile (1972) by Yes.
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” —H.P. Lovecraft
The popular Netflix show is rife with philosophical questions. “Can Aristotle teach Bojack a thing or two about self-love?” is one of them.
Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan discuss our interview with Peter Singer. Does Singer’s asserting such a heavy moral burden on us successfully condemn us to changing our priorities and/or feeling perpetually guilty, or is there something wrong with the argument? Even if we admit the moral demand is legitimate, can we soften Singer’s position by seeking to balance the obligation to help the poor with numerous other obligations, even though the latter don’t rise to the level of life and death?
End song: “Ann the Word” by Beauty Pill (2015), explored in Nakedly Examined Music’s ep. 19: nakedlyexaminedmusic.com.
Peter’s violin was a key part of Steeleye Span’s updating of traditional folk songs from 1971–2013. His original songs were among the group’s most heartfelt. We talk about being creative with traditional music, authenticity, and finally getting the hang of songwriting late in his career.
We discuss “We Shall Wear Midnight” from Steeleye Span’s Wintersmith (2013 with Terry Pratchett), “Bows of London” from Gigspanner’s Layers of Ages (2015), and “From a Lullaby Kiss” (2014 solo). End song: “Who Told the Butcher” from Bedlam Born (2000 Steeleye); intro: “The Butterfly” from Lipreading the Poet (2008 Gigspanner).
Although we spend most of our lives in a state of consciousness, as soon as we subject it to more careful scrutiny we realize that we know very little about it—how does it actually happen? And how does conscious experience fit into our scientific picture of the world?
What do we owe the poor? Mark and Wes interview perhaps the world’s most influential living philosopher. We discuss his ongoing work rooted in his 1971 essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” about the warped priorities of our consumerist society: We spend money on luxuries while innocent children overseas die from inexpensively preventable causes. For more about Peter, see www.petersinger.info.
This orchestral tubist and pop songwriter has composed fun new additions to the solo tuba repertoire and classically influenced piano-vocal songs.
We discuss “Mendota” and “Love for My Own” and listen to “Disco Tubas” from Dare to Entertain (2015), and also discuss some of his “Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra.” More at patdoty.com.
Almost fifty years ago there was an influential woman who called pregnancy “barbaric,” described childhood as “hell,” and said giving birth was “like shitting a pumpkin.” Shulamith Firestone was a radical activist and remarkably prescient thinker who helped define feminism as we know it. Yet today she remains largely—and unfairly—unknown.
Broadway stars Walter Bobbie and Bill Youmans perform Plato’s dialogue in which Socrates awaits his execution. Should Socrates defy the verdict and try to escape the city? Socrates says no; that would be ungrateful to the city whose benefits he’s enjoyed. Bill joins the full PEL foursome for a lively discussion.
Seth will speak at the Inaugural Houston Community College Philosophy and Humanities Conference Fri. Nov. 4, 5:30pm in Houston, on “Reason, Memory, Habit and Discourse in the Age of On-Demand Content.” Admission is free, and you should attend. Meet and greet Seth afterwards at the conference reception.
The abundance of moral concepts at play in the parable of the Vineyard Workers makes it a favorite among moral philosophers.
Dialog of hot-button topics with a family member doesn’t have to be unpleasant, or unfruitful.
What good are philosophy books? Can they make us any the wiser? A look at a humorous essay by Robert Wilson Lynd that demonstrates the difficulty of acquiring wisdom from books alone.