PEL’s Notes

Mar 182014
 
Why Don't We Like Idealism?

The word “idealism,” when understood as the metaphysical position “everything is ideas” rather than some kind of optimism or high goal-setting, carries a lot of baggage with it that I hope we dispelled in the episode. To repeat: it’s not solipsism, i.e. the notion that I (or my mind) is the only thing that’s real, Read more…

Jan 282014
 
Judgment without Morality

Both Sartre and Anscombe say that they’re teasing out the logical consequences of atheism for ethics, and of course we saw this back in Nietzsche too. If you ask “are these figures moral realists or moral irrealists?”, I think they’re going to say you’re missing the point. No, a sentence like “X is right” no Read more…

Jan 202014
 
Truth Without the Capital "T"

“Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world.  . . . The supreme task is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only Read more…

Jan 172014
 
Foucault’s Precursor: Kuhn?

Dig into the PEL archives and you will find a link to a paper by Hubert Dreyfus on Foucault and Heidegger in which he writes that in Foucault’s early work “the subject is reduced to a function of discourse.” Dreyfus is illustrating an important link between these two towering figures – the role of language, which Heidegger Read more…

Jan 162014
 
Kuhn (Sort Of) Engages Traditional Epistemology

As commented in the episode, Kuhn doesn’t explicitly relate his insights about the history of science to more familiar philosophical accounts of epistemology until his 1969 postscript. I thought I’d give some of the text he uses there so folks can read it for themselves. This is from page 192-193; you can see the context Read more…

Dec 172013
 
Cooperative Society and Natural Rights

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…

Nov 262013
 
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 Rev.com. Read the transcript here. Note that while we are releasing this to the hoi polloi we have Read more…

Nov 192013
 
Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kant

[Editor's Note: Thanks to new blogger David Crohn for this glimpse into one aspect of Nietzsche's relationship with his idol.] In ep. 84 PEL touches briefly on Nietzsche’s criticism of Schopenhauer—or rather, the ways Schopenhauer’s readers have, according to Nietzsche, accepted the weakest aspects of his philosophy first (aphorism 99). Nietzsche was a great admirer Read more…

Nov 132013
 
Jessica Berry Responds: Nietzsche's "Warlike Man"

A while back we received a question via email from Joe R.: “In times of peace, the warlike man attacks himself.” Can you explain the context of this reference and where it comes from, please? A quick web search reveals that this is an often quoted aphorism, especially in the context of martial arts, where Read more…

Sep 172013
 
Bergman and the Native Canadians

There was a comment (Thanks, Libby!) on my topic announcement post reacting to the short-hand way that I conveyed Bergmann’s experience with a native Canadian tribe that I thought would be best responded to simply by providing in full Bergmann’s anecdote about this from the book. So this is an account of one experience he Read more…

Aug 112013
 

One of the resources raised in our Not School Bergmann discussion was Bertrand Russell’s 1932 article “In Praise of Idleness,” which you can read here. Here’s his snarky definition of work: Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling Read more…

Jun 292013
 
Santayana on the Sublime: It's Not About Aesthetically Appreciating Evil

At the end of the Santayana episode, I brought up his condemnation of any theory that would call the non-beautiful an object of aesthetic appreciation. This topic is worthy of a whole episode, and I’ve been looking into readings for such an eventual discussion, but let me lay out a bit of it now and Read more…

May 232013
 
Philosophy Doesn't Make Propositions?

There’s a claim I laid out from Deleuze in the episode that I wanted to bring up for explicit discussion. I think it’s provocative and deserves some thought but is almost certainly wrong. It’s about the picture of science as producing concepts and not propositions. I gave the example of Descartes’s Cogito, and laid out Read more…

Apr 182013
 
Lacan's "Four Discourses"

We briefly referred on the episode to the fact that, as for Marx, for Lacan, all ostensibly theoretical talk is really tainted in some way. Whereas for Marx, we’re really just repeating, or perhaps reacting to in some more complicated way, the ideology of those in power. Lacan, following Freud, looks for a psychological explanation, Read more…

Apr 172013
 
Lacan's Ontology

[Editor's Note: Wayne here is currently leading one of our Not School groups on Deleuze. Being well-versed in this area and having made some helpful comments on this blog, we asked him to clarify what he took to be Lacan's ontology. Thanks, Wayne!] Jacques-Alain Miller once asked asked Lacan, “What is your ontology?” Lacan replied Read more…

Apr 082013
 
Fink on the Split Subject (Lacan vs. Sartre)

I ended our episode bemoaning that I feel like I still don’t understand this talk of “subject” as opposed to “self.” A few of you have made some good comments on this, but I’m still not satisfied. Let me pull a few things out of the Fink book: 1. In chapter 2 about “The Nature Read more…

Mar 132013
 
Carl von Clausewitz's Non-Existent "War in the Abstract" vs. Donald Black's "Pure Terrorism"

As is usual, I think, when we do a topic-oriented podcast as opposed to one that really focuses on a text (see also the ones on humor and fame), our episode on terrorism didn’t really do justice to all the readings we as a group all read. In particular, I feel like I need to Read more…

Jan 192013
 
Socrates' Attack on Rhetoric in the "Gorgias"

  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 Read more…

Dec 082012
 
Carnap vs. Whitehead on Demonstration vs. Description

A feature of Carnap’s system discussed in the episode was his his attempt to objectivize our talk of objects by removing any demonstrative or ostensive elements. Though the “elementary experiences” as I examine them are of course mine, and not analyzable in themselves according to Carnap’s account, the only way they become useful to science Read more…

Nov 202012
 
New Thing for Sale (and Free for Members): A Reading of Russell's "On Denoting"

I’ve released a new recording: me reading Bertrand Russell’s essay, “On Denoting”. It’s available free to members, or (since it’s public domain), anyone can purchase it here, for a suggested price of $2.99, but you can choose during checkout to pay as little as 99 cents or as much as you want if you’re feeling Read more…