Not School Update 8/21/15

Not School

Nathan Hanks tells you about the groups currently on offer for September and the recordings still happening this month that you may want to get involved with. And don’t forget the Aftershow on 9/6 at 3pm Eastern on Augustine!

Bonus Discussion: Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony”


The Philosophical Fiction Not School Group read the short story by Franz Kafka “In The Penal Colony” for our conversation in May. It’s about a traveler visiting a penal colony who meets the officer in charge of a justice system. (Saying anything more would spoil it; just read it!) I talked with Daniel Cole, Cezary, […]

Not School: Thomas Sheehan’s Historical Jesus Stanford Lectures


Featuring Mark Linsenmayer, Michael Burgess, Tara Leigh Bell, John Ludders, Chris Eyre, Benjamin Feddersen. Recorded April 26, 2015, 1 hr., 50 min.

Does Sheehan represent a legitimate academic consensus? What are the outlines of his story about the evolution of these stories by faith communities? Should this denial of the historical accuracy of the traditional story imply a loss of faith?

Phi-Fi Conversation on Woolf’s Novel “To The Lighthouse”


“In a moment he would ask her, ‘Are we going to the Lighthouse?’ And she would have to say, ‘No: not tomorrow, your father says not.’ Happily, Mildred came in to fetch them, and the bustle distracted them. But he kept looking back over his shoulder as Mildred carried him out, and she was certain that he was thinking, we are not going to the Lighthouse tomorrow; and she thought, he will remember that all his life.”

Philosophical Fiction Reading: Woolf’s To The Lighthouse


We are going to read To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf for our conversation this March in Philosophical Fiction. A few regulars and I chose a book from our List of Suggestions to read before our conversation where we’ll go over the plot, discuss the characters, recall apt passages, and try to get at what everything is all about anyway. To The Lighthouse will […]

Continue the Discussion and Have Fun Doing It!

Join Stephen West and Dylan Casey this Sunday at 1pm Eastern time via Google Hangout to discuss the Whitehead episode. You don’t have to read any Whitehead! Sign up to participate, or watch the Facebook group at the time for the hyperlink to watch it live.

Not School Study Groups In July

Not School

We’ve got a number of attractive reading groups going this month, a couple of which are entirely new.  It looks like almost every group will be starting fresh with a new text, so this should be a good month for members new and old who’ve never joined a group to try it out.  If you’re […]

A Wealth of Not School Offerings in June

Not School

Summer has arrived, and in case you can’t decide whether to take Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason or Franz Kafka’s The Trial to the beach with you, let me help: take them both and be prepared for Not School in June.  Thinking of taking summer classes?  Think better of it.  That’s expensive, and for a measly […]

Not School Discussion on Bertolt Brecht Posted

PEL Not School

The philosophy and theater group’s April reading was the essay “Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction” by Bertolt Brecht, which Phillip C., Carlos Franke and I recently discussed over Skype. As usual, we recorded the call, which you can listen to in the PEL Citizens section of the site as soon as you join up. In […]

Discussing Ulysses by James Joyce

"I tried reading that once"

Our Philosophical Fiction Group began reading Ulysses in December, continued through January, then February, and at the beginning of March only a few had made it through James Joyce’s epic. The novel is large, but what’s stunning- to me as a non-finisher- is the richness and depth of Joyce’s expanding story of the phenomena of a single […]

Not School Discussion of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead


Last weekend the Philosophy and Theater Group had our monthly discussion, and this time Phillip Cherny and myself talked about Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a tremendously clever, meta-fictional play which fills offstage moments of Hamlet with absurdist hi-jinks.  For the philosophically inclined, this play has fireworks from beginning to end, and Stoppard […]

Topic for #92 (and a Not School Group): Henri Bergson

Listen to Matt Teichman’s introduction to the reading. Henri Bergson is an early 20th century French philosopher that PEL listeners may recall from our philosophy of humor episode, and we’ll be tackling his philosophy proper via the entrance drug “An Introduction to Metaphysics,” a short essay from 1903 (freely available online) that is essentially pheonomenology […]

Not School Group Proposal: Zizek!

PEL Not School

For March I’m proposing a Not School reading group on Zizek. The group will read a 25-page transcript of a talk he gave at the International Journal of Zizek Studies 2012 conference. It is, I think, a very nice summary of some of his key philosophical positions and where his current theoretical interests lie. The […]

March Not School Group on the Semiotics of Mystery and Corruption

A fantastically accomplished writer and philosopher, Umberto Eco tends to write pieces that are layered and accessible. The common thread is epistemological in nature; he has written everything from treatises on the theory of semiotics to an exploration of the patterns of thought of a game show host. Unflinchingly- perhaps even harshly- realistic, Umberto’s works nonetheless retains […]

Not School Digest #4: Sartre, Heidegger, Zizek, Marx, and Theater

Not School

Excerpts from PEL podcaster & listener discussions on Sartre’s Nausea, Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” Slavoj Zizek’s Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Marx and Engels’s “Communist Manifesto,” Peter Schaffer’s play Equus, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form. Plus an interview with Hillary Sydlowski, leader of the Not School Introductory Readings in Philosophy Group.

Not School Discussion of McCarthy’s “The Sunset Limited”

At the beginning of this month, Carlos Franke, Phillip C., and myself spoke about Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited on a Skype call.  The call will be posted on the Free Stuff for Citizens page, which you can access as soon as youjoin up to become a PEL citizen.  PEL tackled McCarthy’s No Country For Old […]

January Not School Intro Group Reading

PEL Not School

The Intro Reading Group for January is getting started in Not School, and we’re looking for a couple or a few more takers. Hillary Szydlowski, the historical leader and organizer of the Intro group, is taking a much deserved break, and I’m excited to fill in as we’re reading Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit” – […]

Neitzsche does an Encore

It’s that time of the month again, and the Not School Introductory Readings in Philosophy group will be tackling Beyond Good and Evil for December. In Genealogy of Morals, we examined Nietzsche’s explanation of how the term “good” originated with the blonde beasts of the nobility and was stolen and twisted by the creative resentment […]

Nick Mount on Samuel Beckett and Existentialist Drama

As our Philosophy in Fiction Not School group has begun to dig into Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” this month, questions about how to interpret the play have started to crop up. Who or what is Godot, and why are these guys waiting for him? What do we make of the seemingly aimless and repetitive […]

November Not School Groups

Here are the Not School group activities for the month of November for PEL Citizens. Intro Readings in Philosophy: Finally!  We have a Nietzsche discussion in Not School.  They will be reading the On the Genealogy of Morals.  Join up and reduce to sour grapes all of your precious finger wagging. See Hillary Szydlowski’s plug […]

For November, an All-Time Great

Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the greatest philosophers of all time, and his work On the Genealogy of Morals (covered in this PEL episode) was arguably his masterpiece. Regardless of its ranking, it’s acclaimed by many as a work of sustained brilliance. The aphoristic style lends itself to piecemeal reading and discussion, and Nietzsche’s evocative […]

Not School Discussion of Zizek Now Available

I and four Citizens took a first crack at discussing The Year of Dreaming Dangerously yesterday (read more about our Not School group here). Since Freud and Jung, psychotherapy has been used to try to make sense of group behavior, and Lacan himself applied his insights to the political realm (among other places). Zizek follows […]

October Not School Group, Communicating with Habermas

PEL Not School

[An update from Hillary on Not School Goings On] We’ve been handling a lot of hard science the past few months and I’d like to move in a different direction for October with Jürgen Habermas’  The Theory of Communicative Action. As Habermas is a strong proponent of argumentation I hope it will encourage all involved […]

Not School Goings-on

As the school year for many is just beginning, it’s an appropriate time for an update regarding the Not School discussion groups for the month of September. The Philosophy of Technology group will be reading selections from a book called What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, which appears to be a somewhat optimistic reflection on […]

Not School Fiction Group Reading The Pale King this August

For August, the Not-School Fiction Group will read The Pale King, an ‘unfinished’ novel, by David Foster Wallace with a live conversation to follow on Sunday, August 25th 3pm CST. A small group of readers will meet online to discuss the novel’s themes, characters and ideas with passage-readings and spoiler-filled conversation intended for those who want to […]

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus for Not School

Hello Hello! It’s the beginning of the new month already. This is Hillary, continuing leader for the Not School Intro Philosophy Readings group. For those of you who have been following the Tao Te Ching discussion, hold on to your hats, because we’re drifting a one eighty and dropping into Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. For those of […]

Quick Citizen Site Video Tour

If you don’t know what this Citizen Site is, please read about it. Folks have been unsure what to expect if they sign up for membership, and sometimes new members aren’t quite sure what to do first. As I just got a Mac with easy screencapture capabilities, I’ve created this little tour to address one […]

Not School Fiction Talks about Blood Meridian

This June I met with Jordan Payne, Fiction-group regular, and Dylan Casey, of PEL-fame, to discuss Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. We discussed the Judge, the kid, the landscape, the language, the title and touched on the same author’s No Country for Old Men, The Road and The Crossing in just under two great hours. You […]

Why can’t life always be beautiful?

[A blog post from friend of PEL Phillip C.  It’s a bit longer than our normal posts and is heavy with the name drops but I’m going to let it go because it’s on art, is related to a discussion group and I make the editing decisions around here – Seth] “What strikes me is […]

Come Join My Heraclitus Not School Group

For Episode #79 (to be recorded in late June and released in July), we’ll be reading Eva Brann’s The Logos of Heraclitus and interviewing her about it. She was a colleague of Dylan’s at St. John’s, and her book exhibits that love of etymology that has come up recently on PEL whenever Heidegger is mentioned, […]

Intro Philosophy Readings: Beyond 101

PEL Not School

[Editor’s Note: Hillary S. has been good enough to lead the Not School “Introductory Readings in Philosophy Group” earlier this year and then again this month, and will be doing so again for June, so we asked her to write a little something about it. Maybe you might want to join up?] Introduction classes, done […]

Not School Groups for May

We’ve come again to a new month, which means it’s time to figure out what you want to read next, and the best way to read is with company, so go join Not School (read about it!) to have some people to read with. There are a few proposals on the table, for instance one […]

A Derrida Not School Discussion

Does anything lie beyond a text? Can we understand being outside of writing? Last month, Paul Harris and I met up via Google+ to discuss the third essay in Derrida’s Writing and Difference entitled “Edmund Jabés and the Question of the Book.” One of the shorter essays in this book, it provides a great example […]

The Not School Discussion of The Body Artist by Don DeLillo

PEL’s Not School Fiction Group read Don DeLillo’s novel The Body Artist, and Paul Harris and I recorded our discussion of the unique relationship between Lauren and Mr. Tuttle, the ghostly being that arrives after her husband’s suicide. You can get it on the Citizen Free Stuff page. [Spoiler]’Mr. Tuttle’, as Lauren decides to call […]

Quickie Not School Update: April Groups

April is on us, and if you’re not in Not School, you’re missing out on the big Spring Thing. Read here if you don’t know what this is. We seem to have established several stable groups, many of which are starting new books, so there’s plenty of opportunity for new people to jump on board. […]

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 […]

Not School Update: March Groups


We’re now into March, with the shortest month behind us and in general a lot of continuing momentum in our online discussion groups. However, there are still some golden opportunities for new people to join up right now to add some philosophy reading to their lives: 1. The Intro Readings in Philosophy group has started […]

Rick Roderick and The Self Under Siege

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 […]

Looking for a TA or two for Not School


We’ve got a lot of good Not School groupsgoing that dig into pretty thorny texts, but I notice that for January, our purposefully introductory “What Is Philosophy?” group didn’t continue. In December, the group read Descartes’s Meditations, and in November, Plato’s “Apology,” Russell’s Problems of Philosophy and Locke’s “Of Enthusiasm.” All of these are readings […]

Not School’s Fiction Group Reads Cosmicomics

[Editor’s Note: OK, here’s the last writeup on the current batch of Not School group discussions. In this case, you actually get to hear (and see!) the full discussion without being a member, but of course, we’re still trying to seduce you to join up so that you can join into these fun discussions, so […]

Not School Proposals for January

Credit to

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 […]

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)

Credit to

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. […]

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 […]

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’ – […]

Not-School Group on Emergence

Not School

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 […]

Logicomix on Not School

As mentioned on the Quine episode, I’m proposing a Not School reading group on Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Christos H. Papadimitriou, Apostolos Doxiadis, and some fine illustrators, which is about Russell and Wittgenstein, with some cameos by Frege, Gödel, and other names dropped during our analytic episodes. It’s a graphic novel, running […]

Film Review: Examined Life

As my first Not School group, I led some folks in discussing two Netflix philosophy documentaries, i.e. things that have been on my instant queue forever, and which I feel culturally, given my position here, I should watch, but always seemed too boring. Examined Life (2008) (Netflix link) was the best of the two that […]