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Discussing three essays by Arthur Danto from The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1986): the title essay, “The Appreciation and Interpretation of Works of Art,” and “The End of Art.” I understand you may not have heard of Danto, and you may think modern art is goofy, but you’ll definitely enjoy this discussion and the reading anyway. Note that Danto listened to this episode and liked it.
End song: “This Night Before the End” by Mark Lint and the Simulacra.
On David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748). Hume thinks that all we can know are our own impressions, but that no experience shows us one event causing another event. So, causality must just be regular patterns of conjoined events.
End song: “Twitch” by The MayTricks, from Happy Songs Will Bring You Down (1994).
Discussing Plato’s Theatetus and Meno. In the Theaetetus, Plato considers and rejects a series of mostly very lame conceptions of knowledge and replaces them at the end with… NOTHING. In the Meno, knowledge is “remembrance” (maybe).”
End song: “Obvious Boy,” by Mark Lint and the Fake from So Whaddaya Think? (2000).
On Pragmatism (1907) by William James and “The Fixation of Belief” (1877) and “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (1878) by Charles Sanders Peirce. Is truth a primitive relation between our representations and things objectively in the world, or is it an analyzable process by which propositions “prove their worth” by being useful in some way, like by fitting well with other portions of our experience or being delicious?
End Song: “Friend” by Mark Lint and the Fake Johnson Trio (1998)
Discussing articles by Alan Turing, Gilbert Ryle, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and Dan Dennett. What is this mind stuff, and how can it “be” the brain? Can computers think? What is it like to be a bat? With guest Marco Wise.
End Song: “No Mind” by Mark Lint and the Fake Johnson Trio (1998)
On William James’s “The Will to Believe,” and continuing our discussion on James’s conception of truth as described in his books Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth. Does pragmatism give ground for religious belief, like if it feels good for me to believe in God, can that justify belief? Is belief in science or rationality itself a form of faith?
End song: “Who Cares What You Believe?” by Madison Lint (2001).
Discussing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse in Inequality (1754) and book 1 of The Social Contract (1762). What’s the relationship between culture and nature? Rousseau engages in some wild speculation about the development of humanity from the savage to the modern, miserable wretch.
End song: “Love Is the Problem” by New People from The Easy Thing (2009).
Discussing Spinoza’s Ethics (1677), books 1 and 2. God is everything, therefore the world is God as apprehended through some particular attributes, namely insofar as one of his aspects is infinite space (extension, i.e. matter) and insofar as one of his aspects is mind (our minds being chunks or “modes” of the big God mind).
End song: “Spiritual Insect,” by Mark Lint and the Fake from So Whaddaya Think? (2000).
Discussing Books II through V of the Ethics. What is the relation between mind and body? How do we know things? What are the emotions? Is there an ethical ideal for us to shoot for? What is our relationship to God?
End song: “When I Think of You” from The MayTricks’ Happy Songs Will Bring You Down (1994).
Discussing Civilization and its Discontents (1930). How can we live happily in society when happiness as a matter of fulfillment of pent-up desires?
End song: “The Easy Thing” by New People from The Easy Thing (2009).
Primarily discussing “Reasoning: The Sixty Stanzas” and “Emptiness: The Seventy Stanzas,” by the 2nd century Indian Buddhist Nagarjuna. Is the world of our experience ultimately real? If not, does it have something metaphysically basic underlying it? For Nagarjuna, the answers are “no” and “no… well… not that we can talk about.” With guest Erik Douglas.
End song: “Nothing in this World” by by Mark Lint.
Discussing Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking (1978). With guest painter Jay Bailey.
On Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking (1978). With guest painter Jay Bailey. What’s the relationship between art and science? Does understanding works of art constitute “knowledge,” and if so, how does this relate to other kinds of knowledge?
End song: “Staple Gun” by Mark Lint and Stevie P (1999).
Discussing Soren Kierkegaard’s “The Sickness Unto Death” (1849). What is the self? or K. we are a tension between opposites: necessity and possibility, the finite and the infinite, soul and body. With guest Daniel Horne.
End song: “John T. Flibber” by The MayTricks, from Happy Songs Will Bring You Down (1994)
Discussing Arthur Schopenhauer’s On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, published in 1847 (as an expansion of his doctoral thesis from 1813). What kinds of explanations are legitimate? S. thought that causal and logical explanations are often confused, resulting in philosophical errors. In laying out the four types of explanation — the four versions of the principle of sufficient reason — he clearly elaborates his modernized Kantian epistemology.
End song: “The Answer,” by New People from Impossible Things (2011)
Patricia Churchland on her new book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality. We also discussed David Hume’s ethics as foundational to her work, reading his Treatise on Human Nature (1739), Book III, Part I and his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), Section V, Parts I and II.
Discussing The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized (2011) with Owen Flanagan. What philosophical insights can we modern folks with our science and naturalism (i.e. inclination against super-natural explanations) glean from Buddhisim? Flanagan says plenty: We can profitably put Buddhist ethics in dialogue with familiar types of virtue ethics. However, we need to be skeptical of any claims to scientific support the superior happiness of Buddhists.
On Friedrich Nietzsche’s “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” (1873). WIth guest Jessica Berry.
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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.
Discussing Lynda Walsh’s book “Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy” (2013) with the author, focusing on Robert J. Oppenheimer. What is the role of the science adviser? Should scientists just “stick to the facts,” or can only someone with technical knowledge make decisions about what to actually do?
On Karl Jaspers’s “On My Philosophy” (1941), featuring comedian/actor/director/author Paul Provenza
Stephen West returns: Citizens should log in and listen to the Aftershow on Whitehead featuring Dylan Casey and David Buchanan. Everyone can listen to the first chunk of the discussion now.
The Camper Van Beethoven violinist/composer/multi-instrumentalist joins us to discuss The World as Will and Representation, book 3 selections.
End song: “(Ever and) Always” by Jonathan Segel from All Attractions (2012).
On Sigmund Freud’s On Dreams (1902), a bit of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), and the lecture, “Revision of the Theory of Dreams” (1933).
Are dreams just a bunch of random crap? Freud says, no, they’re actually the first and best way to figure out the structure of the mind, which (surprise) involves the unconscious and how repressed, anti-social desires get (sort of) revealed to us, albeit smashed together through chains of association with what seems like random crap. How can Freud support such a view? Is it science? What are its implications for our capacity to philosophize?
End song: “Sleep” by Mark Lint.
An unrehearsed, fun read-through of the Greek Tragedy from 441 BCE, plus some discussion with the cast of Greek drama, our selected translation, and other stuff. Enjoy!
What can philosophy wrench from the ancient Greek tragedy (BCE 451)? A party, for one! Mark, Wes, and Dylan are rejoined by drama guy John Castro, who played Haimon in our performance.
End song: “Woe Is Me,” live 2002 on WORT by Madison Lint.
Philosophically considering the ancient Greek tragedy, which we also performed with Lucy Lawless and Paul Provenza.
Mark and Wes are joined by Victor Krummenacher and Jonathan Segel to discuss songwriting and authenticity in the age of Internet consumerism. Extended for Citizens consumption.
End song: “The Bastards Never Show Themselves” by the Monks of Doom
Victor Krummenacher and Jonathan Segel join Mark and Wes to discuss songwriting and authenticity in the age of Internet consumerism.
On Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872), which was his first book. Nietzsche thought that you could tell how vital or decadent a civilization was by its art, and said that ancient Greek tragedy was so great because it was a perfect synthesis of something highly formal/orderly/beautiful with the intuitive/unconscious/chaotic. But then Socrates ruined everything, and it remains ruined! Can we recapture the magic? Probably not. With guest John Castro.
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End song: “Some Act” by Mark Lint and the Fake from “So Whaddaya Think?” (2000)
On Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Nietzsche thought that you could tell how vital or decadent a civilization was by its art, and said that ancient Greek tragedy was so great because it was a perfect synthesis of something highly formal/orderly/beautiful with the intuitive/unconscious/chaotic. But then Socrates ruined everything!
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Pt 3 of 3 on Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy on the evils according to Nietzsche of “Socratism,” i.e. scientific optimism: Everything useful, beautiful, and good must be reasonable, fodder for scientific investigation. Why would Greek tragedy show us that this Enlightenment ideal is somehow misguided?
Attend Watch the Aftershow featuring Dr. Greg Sadler and Seth Paskin.
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A highlight from our musician-packed breakdown of our songwriting episode. Featuring a third (ex-) member of Camper Van Beethoven, plus Chase Fiorenza, Mike Wilson, Maxx Bartko, Danny Lobell, Mark Linsenmayer, and (not heard on this preview) Adrian Cho and Fischerspooner’s Warren Fischer. We discuss authenticity, the state of the music biz, humor in music, and more.
We discuss Un-Willing: An Inquiry into the Rise of Will’s Power and an Attempt to Undo It (2014) with the author, covering Socrates, Augustine, Aquinas, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, compatibilism, the neurologists’ critque of free will, and more.
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Continuing our dicussion of Un-Willing with the author. We explore and critique Eva’s picture of the less-willfull life and try to figure out how her historically driven account relates to modern debates about free will. Listen to part one first.
On The Confessions (400 CE), books 1–9. The question is not “What is virtue?” because knowing what virtue is isn’t enough. The problem, for Aurelius Augustinus, aka St. Augustine of Hippo, is doing what you know to be right.
Plus your weekly Not School update with Nathan Hanks.
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Yet more on The Confessions, now on books 10–13.
What is memory and how does it relate to time and being? Augustine thinks that memory is a storehouse, but it contains not just the sensations we put in it, but also (à la Plato’s theory of recollection) all legitimate knowledge. It’s our route to God, to real Being. Mark, Wes, and Dylan also discuss time, language, knowledge, the existence of evil, and more.
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Concluding on The Confessions (400 CE), books 10–13. More on memory and how it relates to Plato’s “recollection,” Augustine’s take on will (Do we pursue something we take to be the good per Plato or do we intentionally pursue evil?), what it meeans to live as hooked up with God, and the kinds of answers Augustine gives to tricky questions like the origin of the universe and the nature of time.
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