Everybody’s out “America-ing” this weekend, but we want to take a moment from your patriotic revelry to remind you of some of our PEL Not School seminars coming up in July.
We recently kicked off a survey to get feedback from you folks about what we are doing well and what you would like to see us improve. We also asked for some demographic and behavioral data to satisfy our corporate sponsor overlords. With typical PEL Citizen and Fan aplomb you responded in numbers to our […]
Want to keep up with the reading? Go check out the new page: www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/upcoming, which now and for the foreseeable future will list the readings for future episodes as soon as we’ve got them finalized.
It’s February! Time to check out the Citizens’ Forum and Not School proposals.
Happy New Year! Nathan Hanks brings us up to date on January’s Not School offerings for PEL Citizens. And if you’re not a Citizen yet, what better way to start the year than by making a commitment to your intellectual health?
Avis! The 2016 PEL wall calendar is for sale here. This is no mere concept, rather it is a physical object like your body on which you can inscribe words, images and – if you are creative – power relations. I myself used our galley proof as a canvas for a History of My Sexuality. It was just […]
Nathan Gilmour (Christian Humanist podcast) and Rob Dyer (God Complex Radio) joined Mark and Wes for a wide-ranging discussion on the reasonableness of religious belief, covering short articles by Alvin Plantinga, Antony Flew, Richard Swinburne, and others.
A 17-song album featuring the best tracks composed for the end of the podcast is now available as super cheap mp3s or as a gift-optimal CD. Newly mastered, shinier than you remember, better with repeated listens!
It’s December! Time for PEL Citizens to join or propose groups and discussions in the Citizens’ Forum. Guaranteed to make your holidays more enjoyable! Join an existing or proposed Not School group, or create one of your own.
Hey, our podcast episodes have now been downloaded over 11,000,000 times, which is crazy. Thank you on Thanksgiving! Here are some semi-speculative, vague announcements re: how things are going and what’s ahead.
We were rejoined by Matt Teichman to continue our Kripke thread, discussing primarily Putnam’s essay “The Meaning of Meaning” (1971) about water here vs. water on “Twin Earth” where that stuff that runs in rivers and streams has a different chemical composition. Putnam puts forth a positive theory of meaning that involves holding a stereotype of a term (e.g., that water is wet) but also where your meaning is determined by extension, i.e., what your term in the real world actually refers to, so that we and the Twin Earthers mean something different even though we seem to have the same psychological state when talking about water.
We discussed “Experience and Nature” (1925) about how philosophy tends to illicitly separate experience from nature, mind from the world, claiming that the world of appearance is somehow divorced from underlying reality. No, Dewey counters: what we start with is concrete, gross experience, which is not experience of “sense data” or any other theoretical entity, but which is experience of tables, people, feelings, values, etc.
Hey, folks. I don’t talk much about my involvement in local organizations here in Austin because our audience is global and everyone has issues, causes, and groups they support in their own communities. I want to make a personal appeal today, however, for your help with The African Leadership Bridge (ALB) on whose Advisory Board I sit.
We were rejoined by Elucidations’ Matt Teichman to talk about one of the most readable yet still very weird texts in the canon of analytic philosophy, Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity (1980), about what makes a name actually refer to some particular person (Kripke says it’s NOT because the name implies a description that you then have in your head that makes it refer), how this works for general terms (does “human” refer likewise because of some definition we have in mind?), and what implications this has for science. Really! There are some!
On 9/26, 6:30 Eastern, tune in to watch us discuss Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition, Parts 1 and 2, about what we need out of public and private realms to be fully human, free individuals and not pawns of society.
An interview with philosopher Dave Shoemaker about his new book, Responsibility from the Margins, that discusses how our conceptions of moral responsibility depend on, or are even constituted by, our emotional reactions to the actions, omissions, and attitudes of others.
We read Epictetus’s Manual aka the Enchiridion with guest Alex Fossella. Can people really control their emotions? Should they?
We were joined by econ grad student Seth Benzell to discuss “The Use of Knowledge in Society” by F.A. Hayek and On Ethics and Economics by Amartya Sen. What’s wrong with central economic planning? Need economics assume that we’re all predictably selfish?
Go listen to Seth Benzell’s introduction for a straight-up summary of the two essays and how they relate.
The winners of the drawing announced during our Eva Brann episode to win her book are Harry Todd, Mel Gonzaelez, Jason Wallace, Kurt Thomas, and Jeff Korentayer. Thanks to all of you for being PEL Citizens! All listeners can still pick up Eva’s book or anything else from Paul Dry Books for a nice discount.
We held two discussions (four weeks of releases!) on the Monster of the Middle Ages’s tussling with his own frailty and willfulness, memory and time, all written in the course of inventing the autobiography and hermeneutics to boot!
Eva Brann (from our Heraclitus episode) returns to talk with us about her 2014 book, Un-Willing: An Inquiry into the Rise of Will’s Power and an Attempt to Undo It, which gives an intellectual history of the notion of will and diagnoses a the current pernicious effect of the concept in our philosophy and culture.
We discussed Friedrich Nietzsche’s first book, “The Birth of Tragedy,” about how different psycho-social strategies for dealing with the harshness of existence feed into art. This will be released in three parts on Mondays starting on 7/6, with the Aftershow on 7/26.
Mark and Wes will discuss songwriting and the experience of music with Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher. Why not check out some of the links in this post so that you’ll have a better idea of what we’re talking about?
Clifford Geertz (1926–2006) was probably the best known American anthropologist of his generation, famous for his literary approach to ethnography, culture, and religious studies, and his development of the concept of “thick description.”
We’ll be discussing the famous Greek tragedy, and also performing a version of it with Lucy Lawless and Paul Provenza. What can such a work teach philosophy about ethics and the human condition?
We’ll talk about what Freud thinks dreams are for. Citizens can listen now, and the public episode will be released on two parts starting Monday.
We discussed portions of The World as Will and Representation, Book 3, about how music differs from other arts with guest Jonathan Segel of Camper van Beethoven fame.
Join Danny and Seth to talk on 5/3 at 5pm Eastern time about episode 114. Surely you have something to say!
We’ll read book 2 of The World as Will and Representation about how the only reality is a singular Will outside of space and time that manifests itself as the multitude of our experience.
There are two traditions within phenomenology: realist phenomenology and idealist phenomenology. The distinguishing feature is how they treat their ‘pre-bracketed’ and ‘post-bracketed’ states. In the realist case when we interpret (describe) the world we can bracket the truth of the claims epistemologically; in the idealist case we can metaphysically bracket claims.
A video of a classic Pre-Pythonic dialogue.
How can we best hermeneutically read these enigmatic little stories? We read all the Parables, plus commentaries by Ricouer, J. Dominic Crossan, and Paul Tillich.
We’ll read the 1973 essays “The Critique of Religion” and “The Language of Faith” with returning guest Law Ware.
We’ll discuss parts of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (1960) and three subsequent essays about the art of textual interpretation (or interpretation of a work of art, or someone you’re having a conversation with, or anything else).
In this review of Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing, Francis Fukuyama claims that “It should be clear that the Straussian project has no particular implications for contemporary American foreign policy . . . “
Bring out the marching band, episode one of the brand new British philosophy podcast, The Philosofa, is now available online at www.philosofa.org. If you like the Partially Examined Life then you will love this podcast. The Philosofa discusses the practical, real-world significance of abstract philosophical problems, balancing a fine-line between wit and wisdom […]
Human children are quite different from the progeny of closely related animals like chimps. They are much more inclined to cooperate and seem driven to understand what goes on in others’ minds way. What makes humans unique in this way? To address this problem, evolutionary psychologists have borrowed an idea from philosphers: collective intentionality.
Intellectual honesty (or integrity) is a special case of moral integrity, according to Thomas Metzinger. While this ideal is admirable, Metzinger narrowly defines intellectual honesty it in a way that is inadequate to current debates concerning religious epistemology.
We read a foundational work in process philosophy, chock full of idiosyncratic four-dimensional geometry! Aw, yeah!
Interested in helping us gather content for this blog? We’re looking for someone we can pay (a little) to do this.
We were joined by comedian Paul Provenza to talk about Jaspsers’s essay “On My Philosophy” about the existentially necessary philosophical leap beyond what science can justify. Hint: The alternative is not embracing religious dogma.
We interviewed Nick Bostrom on his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. How can philosophers stop robots from killing us all?
Reading A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful about how we can aesthetically appreciate vast, scary things.
One-man-band recording types needed to help record the longest Xmas song ever as a musical affront to all those persons and institutions that richly deserve it. Artists also needed to help with images for the video: contact Mark now if you want to get in on it!
Go buy the calendar. Now. Seriously. Just bypass reading this blog post and buy it for the safety of all concerned.
Discussing Pyrrhonism, as related 500 or so years after Pyrrho by Sextus Empiricus, with Jessica Berry.
We’ll be discussing Kant’s Critique of Judgment on what it is to find something beautiful. It’s pretty darned complicated.
There is a fundamental incoherence to the universal prescription of the freedom to choose: since any one choosing anything is impossible, the parameters of this freedom are who is choosing and what they can choose.
Nozick took on metaphysics in his lesser known later work Philosophical Explanations; was it his excuse to go where no Analytic philosopher had gone before?
Please tell us so we know whether we can afford to make them and how many to order.
We discussed Thoreau’s “Walden,” and then recorded a fresh conversation on Robert Nozick’s defense of libertarianism to replace the lost conversation from last May. We were rejoined for that by Slate’s Stephen Metcalf.
We’ll be discussing “The American Scholar,” “Self-Reliance,” and “Circles” about trusting yourself, being a whole person, and embracing growth. Can you dig it?
Discussing “Guide for the Perplexed” on God’s (lack of) characteristics and related matters, featuring guest participant Danny Lobell from the Modern Day Philosophers podcast.
Ep 97 and 98: Michael J. Sandel, Ep 99: What Have We Learned, Ep 100: Plato’s Symposium
We’ve tested out a web-cast solution for this Sunday’s 1-4pm central discussion of the Symposium (plus Philosophy Bro, plus Mark Lint music). Go to partiallyexaminedlife.com/PEL-Live at the time for the webcast link.
We interviewed Lynda Walsh about her book “Scientists as Prophets,” focusing on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s rhetoric about the boons and dangers of science.
Get details and reserve your spot to hang with us in person during the taping of PEL episode 100 next month at http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/pel-live/.
Kurt Gödel is best known as a mathematician, and some of the mechanics involved with the proof of his first incompleteness theorem had a direct influence on Alan Turing’s development of modern computing. But what does this have to do with philosophy?
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 […]
First, a sad story: on 4/27, we recorded a discussion of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia with Slate’s Stephen Metcalf. It went fairly well (Stephen was impressed, and gave us a nice traffic bump by promoting us on his Culture Gabfest podcast), but within the next couple of days, the hard drive on which […]
In Nov 2012 we posted a retrospective mini-episode to celebrate 2 million PEL episodes downloaded according to libsyn (whom we haven’t hosted with since the beginning, so there are some additional ones from the first year or so in addition to whatever they tell us). We’ve now hit 5 million, and all you get is […]
Listen now to Tamler Sommers’s summary of the two Strawson articles. On 4/6, Mark, Wes, and Seth were joined by Tamler Sommers of the Very Bad Wizards podcast to discuss the following articles: 1. P.F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (1960) 2. Galen Strawson’s “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility” (1994) 3. Gary Watson’s “Responsibility and the […]
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 […]
We had a very pleasant recording with David Brin this last Tuesday, and he gave us permission in the course of that to post for our Citizenry an exclusive draft of a philosophical work he’s hashing out at present: “Sixteen Modern Questions About Humanity’s Relationship With its Creator in the Context of an Age of […]
Listen to Mark’s Precognition framing our discussion now. We talked on the evening of Tuesday 2/25 with David Brin, one of our most philosophical science fiction authors, whose most recent novel Existence (2012) certainly has a philosophical sounding name. But no, it’s not about ontology, about Being, or about existentialism, but about our continued existence […]
Listen to Wes’s introduction and summary to this text. On Tuesday 2/18/14 we recorded our episode on George Berkeley. Berkeley is the middle of the three “modern” (i.e. he lived in the early 1700s) empiricists that folks generally have to read in philosophy classes, the first being John Locke and the last being David Hume. […]
This month’s Intro Group reading will be On Liberty by the nineteenth century British philosopher John Stuart Mill. There couldn’t be a topic more relevant to our politics today. Consider the fact that in our national discussions communities that make life difficult for individuals (who don’t fit for one reason or another) are presumed to be oppressive and […]
Think back a few years. If you frequented The Partially Examined Life during that time, you’ll remember the heated debate inspired by Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape (TML). The arguments in posts and comment sections across the blogosphere eventually took on a particularly impressive rancor. The ambient controversy helped land Harris on The Daily Show […]
We need rules for living together, we cantankerous human beings: this is one premise governing John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, and one that governs social contract theory in general. As chaos is the point of departure for creation myths, so conflict has been for political theory. We need rules to establish peace and order […]
Listen now to Dylan’s introduction to the text. Science is just us accumulating more and more knowledge and getting a more and more accurate picture of the world, right? Not according to Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first published in 1962. Yes, there’s progress, in terms of better and better answers to a […]
It’s that time of year again, where people often order bunches of things from Amazon for some reason, and we have long encouraged you faithful listeners to do through us, so that we get a referral kickback. I’ll also remind you that this works not just for books we specifically link you to, but to […]
Listen now to Seth’s Precognition for this episode. On the evening of 11/10, we’re discussing John Rawls. What is justice? Rawls interpreted this question as asking what basic social rules and structures would result in a society that we’d consider fair. Justice is fairness, on a social level. Fairness, of course, is an intuitive notion, […]
Thanks to all that submitted questions for the Frithjof Bergmann Q&A. I was able to get to the majority of them, though not all. It’s possible we’ll do another one of these, but where and how it gets posted is undermined at this point. Go listen to it here. -Mark Linsenmayer
I’ve tentatively scheduled a recorded Q&A session with just myself and Frithjof for next Wednesday, 8/23. We’d like to get YOUR questions (and challenges, and responses) that arose out of our interview with him in in PEL ep. 83. You can write them as comments to this post, or e-mail me directly. Details will the […]
So far the reaction to our Frithjof Bergmann interview has been fantastic. Instead of simply giving our amateur commentary on Plato or Nietzsche or someone that you can find out about in plenty of other places, we’ve exposed something new and exciting. Whether or not you agree with Frithjof’s vision, it sure as hell deserves […]
On 10/13/13 we recorded a discussion on Nietzche’s
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 […]
[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 […]
Listen to Mark’s introduction to this topic via our Precognition mini-episode. On Saturday, 9/21, we’re scheduled to interview Frithjof Bergmann, Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan, about his book New Work, New Culture (published in German in 2004 and due for English-language release this year). I’ve written on this topic several times on this […]
Listen to “Bedlam.” This is another tune from my semi-abandoned album The Sinking and the Aftermath, by the nonexistent band Mark Lint and the Simulacra from 2000. (Several other tracks have appeared on episodes.) This one sat nearly done and farking awesome for 13 years until our Jung episode made me finish it by adding […]
Listen now to Dylan Casey introduce these essays. On 9/3/13 we’ll be discussing the first three essays in Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963). The book is a retrospective in part, presenting the ideas in the philosophy of science that had established his reputation back in the 1930s. The first essay, “On […]
In the Precognition for episode 81 on Carl Jung, Wes Alwan read off of some divinely inspired notes that we’ve now made available to PEL Citizens here, in the “Transcripts” category. Become a Citizen to download it! Listen to Wes’s Precognition of Episode 81.
Listen now to Wes’s introductory precognition of this Jung discussion. On 8/7/13, we recorded a discussion of Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, specifically essay he wrote that kicks off the book (which includes several authors), “Approaching the Unconscious.” This reading (written shortly before Jung’s death in 1961 and published afterwards) was recommended to us […]
The drawing is complete. The winners are: Caleb Keen Donald Parker Elizabeth Moore Ishmael Burdeau Mark Novalis Congrats to you five, and thanks to all Citizens!
This weekend we’ll have a drawing among the currently registered PEL Citizens and choose five people to win Eva Brann’s book The Logos of Heraclitus.
Listen right now to Seth giving a 10-min summary of Heidegger’s essay via a new “Precognition” mini-sode. Back in episode 32 (over two years ago!) we covered the project of Martin Heidegger’s most famous work, Being and Time, composed early in his career. (Incidentally, I see a new and exciting looking translation of this on […]
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 […]
On Saturday 6/22 the regular foursome sat down with Eva Brann, Dylan’s colleague at St. John’s in Anapolis, to talk with her about her book The Logos of Heraclitus. Heraclitus (who was active around 500 BCE) is the “Pre-Socratic” philosopher with probably the most influence today and together with Parmenides (it’s not clear which of […]
Listen to the episode. Bowing to repeated listener requests for an Ayn Rand episode, on the eve of 6/9/13 the regular PEL foursome started our discussion, got tired after a couple of hours, and recorded some more on 6/13. We plan to edit the result heavily enough to reduce the amount of frustrated kvetching (“Is […]
On 5/16 the regular foursome recorded a discussion of The Sense of Beauty (1896) by George Santayana. What is “the beautiful?” Do we have a “sense” by which we grasp it comparable to what Hume describes as the moral sense? Listen to the episode. Where most pre-Humean philosophers considered beauty an objective quality in objects […]
As mentioned at the end of one of the recent episodes, Genevieve Arnold, who’s been good enough to do art for us both in last year’s PEL site redesign (like this and this) and for all of our recent episodes, is available if you’d like to hire her to do some art. For instance, she […]
As folks probably know, we’re an Amazon affiliate, which means that one easy, free-to-you way to support PEL is, whenever you’re buying anything off of Amazon, to start on an Amazon page linked to through this site, like the one in the sidebar. This routes around 6% of the cost of whatever you put in […]
On Sunday, 4/21/13, we recorded our discussion on chapters 1-3 of What Is Philosophy? (1991). Go listen to the episode. Gilles Deleuze was a recent French philosopher (he died in 1995) who has probably been requested as much or more than any other figure by our listeners. His style is highly idiosyncratic: difficult somewhat in […]
Listen to the episode. What can philosophy get out of literary criticism? We’ve had some past episodes (like this and this) where we discussed some philosophical issues brought up by a piece of fiction, but that’s different then the act of doing philosophy through literary criticism, which is supposed to reveal something about our relationship […]
Listen to the episode. What is that thing I call “I?” While most of your grade-A philosophers of the past hundred years or so agree that it’s not a Cartesian Cogito, i.e. an immortal soul characterized by continuous consciousness, the alternatives are many and varied. With Hegel, we got the idea that the self is […]
Listen to the episode. We’ve had requests in the past for a general discussion of what philosophy is, without focusing on any particular text, and I’ve always swatted these aside, as I was afraid that the conversation would be too unmoored, too bullshitty. Well, last Sunday, 3/3/13, we recorded just such an episode, by accident […]
Apparently Jonathan R. White, international terrorism expert and author of many books on the subject, is a big fan of P.E.L., and he contacted us a while back and agreed to come on the show and talk about some articles on philosophical issues involving terrorism with us. We recorded this on the evening of 2/19/13. […]
I’ll be giving a public lecture entitled “Surprises and Sweet Spots” on Friday night, February 8th, at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland if you’re pining for something to do and are in the neighborhood. The lecture starts at 8pm and is followed by an extended “conversation period” for those that want to hang around. […]
On Feb. 1 we up again with previous guest and PEL blogger (and Twitter/YouTube master) Daniel Horne to discuss Martin Buber. Listen to the episode. Buber is known as a religious existentialist, much like Kierkegaard, which means he’s concerned with our fundamental relation to reality, and thinks that our individual attitude has some impact on […]
I received such a response to my post on needing helpers for Not School that I thought I should go ahead and express this need as well: I’ve long envisioned this blog as fulfilling two purposes beyond being just a communications platform for announcements about the podcast: First, for every episode, I’d like to have […]
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 […]
At the beginning of the Gorgias episode, we read a few listener emails. I ended up cutting out a section of that where we responded to this email, which I wanted to answer specifically, and then address a related thread that’s been going on our Facebook group. This is abridged from “Layne,” with the subject […]
On 1/13 we recorded a discussion of an early work of Karl Marx, from about 20 years before the publication of his famous Das Capital, The German Ideology. Listen to the episode. We read just part 1 of the work, which was written in 1845-6 but not published until 1932 (with some portions of it […]
Don’t miss our full-cast recording of Plato’s dialogue, featuring Mark, Dylan, Seth, and listener volunteers Evan and Eileen. Get it here, or be in tears!
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 […]
Listen to the episode. Back in ancient Athens, the big-name intellectuals were not the philosophers and proto-scientists we remember today, but the sophists, who taught people how to argue and make speeches in front of courts of law and groups of people. Plato (speaking as usual through his teacher Socrates) thought this to be a […]
I’ll let the cat out of the bag now that our planned reading for ep. 69 will be Plato’s dialogue “Gorgias.” I have in mind to record a full-cast audio version of this (there are 5 speaking parts) and am looking for some folks (men or women; I don’t care that they’re all dudes in […]
On 12/4 we spoke with David Chalmers about his new book, Constructing the World. Listen to the episode. The book explores a series of related positions that attempt to generalize and improve upon Carnap’s project of logical construction in the Aufbau, the subject of our episode 67 (which will be posted soon). Carnap’s project was […]
Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), will be celebrated at Montana State University in Bozeman on the weekend of December 7th and 8th. On December 15th, during their commencement ceremonies, he will receive an honorary Doctorate from MSU. These events offer some sweet redemption for Pirsig both personally […]
Joining Mark’s reading of Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empricism” on our member site, I’ve added the other essay we read for Episode 66, “On What There Is” to the lot. Due to copyright issues, I can’t just put this on our public site, nor can I sell it as a one-off item, so the member […]
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. A key point of transition between our Frege episode and our very-soon-to-be-released Quine episode is Russell’s theory of definite descriptions. In “On Denoting” from 1905, which you can […]
On 11/15/12 we recorded a discussion of Rudolph Carnap’s The Logical Structure of the World (1928), often referred to as “the Aufbau,” because it sounds cool, and the German title is Der Logische Aufbau der Welt. Listen to the episode. To get a good sense of Carnap’s project, we read pages 1-136, plus the subsequent […]
We’ve put some of your PEL Citizen money into adding text chatting capabilities to the member site. You can schedule Not School gatherings for real-time interaction, initiate new chat rooms (public or invitation-only) on the fly, and see which other members are on for you to ask urgent questions about what the hell Deleuze is […]
As of yesterday, we hit two million downloads; the screenshot above shows our stats as of this morning. (For those of you keeping track, we hit 1 million last May.) In honor of this, we’ve got some special recycled audio for you all. Get it here.
I’ve posted a new item on our member site, namely me reading the entirety of “Two Dogmas of Empiricism, which we’ll discuss on episode 66. Dylan is planning on recording the other essay we’ll discuss, “On What There Is,” prior to the release of the episode. Due to copyright issues, I can’t just put this […]
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000) was a prototypical American analytic philosopher. Following Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein, he was concerned with how logic provides a foundation for mathematics, which in turn grounds physics and the other sciences. We’ll be reading two of his most famous essays, both of which can be found in the collection, From […]
I’m sure you’re sick to death between my post here, my Facebook posts, and my very long commercial on our most recent episode of hearing about Not School. Too bad. It’s here, it’s working, and you should know about it. If you have time to be reading this blog post, you probably have time to […]
You should now see the words “PEL Citizen Commons” on the PEL site in the menu bar below the header. Clicking this will allow you to set up a recurring $5/month donation to PEL which will give you access to a whole new portion of this site. There’s a discount if you sign up for […]
First, the Lucy Lawless episode is nearly done percolating. Most of you are going to really like it; a small percentage will be annoyed at our not having read a more substantial book or having more substantial things to say about it. Such is the price of fame. Second, we’ve gotten an affirmative to being […]
The Federalist Papers (originally published as just The Federalist) are a collection of essays published in newspapers in 1787-1788 arguing for the ratification of the American Constitution. Each was published under the pseudonym “Publius” though most were written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. (There are a few written by John Jay.) They were collected […]
It has occurred! On the evening of 9/10/12, we talked with actress Lucy Lawless about fame. Listen to the episode. She’s been a great supporter of the Partially Examined Life, and if she is to be believed (and her piercing stare will make you believe it), our little discussion group product inspired her to go […]
OK, folks, here are the photos my wife took during our Voltaire recording. The above is, from left to right, Seth, Dylan, Mark and Wes.
While we’ve scheduled our first online seminar on Nietzsche, we’ve since recorded two other episodes (on Voltaire, which will go up soon, and on No Country for Old Men, which will be a couple of weeks still), and we’re already thinking ahead to what we might offer in that respect. So, speak up. I get […]
“Hey, slow down there.” “What did he say?” “He did NOT say that!” “I sure wish I could just cut what he just said and put it into my term paper.” “I wish I could read that thing he said over and over again until all the pain in my soul would go away.” “Today […]
I’ve been told that a common fan reaction to PEL is to join in. Typing on our blog or Facebook group isn’t the same. Maybe you don’t feel confident enough to be a guest (or you do and we haven’t let you on). We are pleased to announce a new offering: PEL Discussion Sections. You […]
Following the path of reading novels (which we don’t necessarily intend to make a habit of) begun with #62, we have now recorded our discussion of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. We had as a guest one of Dylan’s teachers from undergrad, Eric Petrie, Professor at James Madison College at Michigan State […]
A Brief Guide to Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lie in the Extra- Moral Sense For our episode on Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lie in the Extra-Moral Sense, I’ve created a guide that you’ll find here. Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction: Introduction Nietzsche’s question in On Truth and Lie in the Extra-Moral Sense is how a drive […]
On Friday, Aug. 3rd we recorded a discussion of the satirical novel Candide, written in 1751 by Voltaire, whose real name was François-Marie d’Arouet. While the book is widely known for its take on the problem of evil, we’re not in this discussion giving a sophisticated treatment of the historical arguments by Leibniz and others, […]
Do you have philosophically interesting links to share? Do you listen to our episodes and feel like you have things you’re familiar with that could be usefully related to what we talked about? Do you have some experience writing philosophically, whether in grad school or upper-level undergrad courses; or alternately do you have some other […]
Listen to the episode. We discussed Nietzsche’s conception of truth as presented in his essay “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense,” written in 1873 but unpublished until after his death with guest Jessica Berry of Georgia State University, who published Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition just last year. This Nietzsche essay has […]
As you may have noticed, we’ve got a nifty new web redesign here that we’ve just deployed. Behold our new features: -New art from Genevieve Arnold (thanks!), a fan/volunteer who took Ken Gerber’s original PEL guy icon and 3-man-caricature to create our new header, a cool philosophy vending machine picture, and a recolored caricature with […]
Aristotle’s Politics (from around 350 B.C.E.) is presented as a follow-up to his Nichomachean Ethics (which we discussed in a previous episode). Actually, we’re not sure in what order these were composed, and the Politics is internally repetitious enough that it is probably itself mashed together from different original sources; those that are into that […]
These two episodes cover some related approaches in 20th century ethics: First, we read Chapter 1 of G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica(1903), which argues against utilitarianism and other ethical philosophies by exposing the “naturalistic fallacy,” which equates “good” with some natural property like pleasure or people’s actual desires. This error, says Moore, also extends to equating […]
As we podcasters think about how to proceed, we welcome as always your feedback. Here are three live questions for us at the moment. 1. Does having guest participants help more than it distracts? There are many smart people out there, and we’ve tried to rope many of them to come be on the show […]
Here’s the episode. What is humor? Henri Bergson’s Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (1900) states that humor is a social tool by which we mildly scold each other for being insufficiently adaptive and flexible. On this account, the paradigm of humor is the absent-minded person, but any form of idiocy or […]
This is a screenshot from this morning’s back-end stats, indicating that we have at last passed the 1 million download mark for this server (which we phased over to a few months in, but our traffic prior to that point was very low anyway, and we don’t have accurate counts on that). That’s right, you […]
Erik was the very first PEL guest participant, acting as our more-knowledgeable-than-we-about-Eastern-philosophy go-to guy, and was actually one of those I’d spoken to before launching the podcast altogether as a potential host, but I thought that having to adjust to his British time zone would complicate things too much. Here he is on our Taoism […]
Over two episodes, we discussed Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations,Part I, sections 1-133 and 191-360. Here’s a version from the web. The full crew was present along with Philosophy Bro for episode 55, and that group minus Seth (who went to Portugal) was there for #56. The Investigations was published posthumously in 1953; book one was […]
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to do the reading for our recent discussion with Owen Flanagan about his book The Bodhisattva’s Brain (and our soon-to-be posted follow up conversation without Owen), you can download my summary of the main points of the book here. — Wes Alwan
I’ve updated my topic description post to give an outline of what we actually talked about, both in the actual interview (episode #53) and in the further discussion we had on the topic without him a few days later (episode #54). -Mark Linsenmayer
Yes, we have a Google alert on ourselves. Go write about us and we will try to give you a linkback or even go read/listen to you, etc. (When Colin Marshall did this, I hooked him up with a gig writing for openculture, where one of his posts just got picked up by The New […]
We spent our winter holidays reading about Buddhism in preparation for a January interview with Owen Flanagan, which he then had to reschedule. It’s back on, scheduled to happen a mere two days from now. If you have questions or comments to throw out to inspire our discussion, post them here, where I’ve also updated […]
We’re trying to speed up the process by which episodes get delivered to you, so I’m looking into the prospect of using eager fan-types who have some experience recording or editing on their computers who might be up for volunteering some time and energy to this podcasting thing we do. If you’re interested, email me […]
We PELers spent black history month actually reading black history, and on 2/28/12 spoke with Law Ware of Oklahoma State University about philosophy and race. Is there a philosophically viable concept of race at all? What are the potential sources of past and current oppression, and what general strategies seem promising to deal with them? […]
Enjoy. Watch on YouTube. -Mark Linsenmayer
I’ve updated my original post soliciting questions for this episode to more fully explain the issues that were fleshed out in the discussion, which will be posted some time before the end of February when we’re done editing it. -Mark Linsenmayer
I’ve been chatting on and off with Scott at Philosophy Forums to try to synchronize one of our episodes with the Book of the Month over there, and despite my basically having given up on doing this as too hard to coordinate, I see that the book for February is Discipline and Punish, which we […]
We’ve posted our episode (here) on a historical progression in thought that is still responsible for a lot of the hard-to-read parts of continental (mostly French) philosophy today. First, we read Part I and Part II, Chapter IV of Ferdiand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics(read it online here), published posthumously in 1916 (it’s basically […]
With the Foucault episode, we entered into a strange new world of sponsorship. Now I hate commercials more than just about anyone on this earth, and see philosophy as, in part, a haven from irritating commercialism. So, in getting into this area, I’m going to do my best to keep the irritation to a minimum. […]
[Note: This article has been updated post-discussion; I didn’t want to create a new post when we’ve had all this great discussion on this one that I want people to continue. The episode itself should be up w/in the next day or two.] Mark, Seth, Dylan, and guest David Buchanan have recorded a conversation on […]
Last week, on December 27th, Michael Dummett passed away. Dummett was an important and influential British philosophy of the 20th century, probably most famous for his interpretations of Frege. Indeed it was his early work which helped to revitalize an interest in Frege’s work in the second half of the 20th century. (The PEL episode […]
In episode 53, the full four-man PEL crew spoke with Duke University’s Owen Flanagan, mostly about his book The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized, which has a number of aims: -To argue that supernatural beliefs can be removed (or “tamed”) from Buddhism and still leave an elaborate enterprise relevant to modern life. -To put Buddhist conceptions […]
We are currently scheduled to talk with Owen Flanagan about his book The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized. I’ll put up the formal “topic announcement” when I have a better idea what the discussion will focus on (i.e. after we actually interview him). For now, anyone who is already familiar with the book, or his work, […]
We don’t live in a totalitarian state, we’re not slaves, and most of us are not so desperately poor that our power of choice has been effectively snuffed out, so we’re free, right? Michel Foucault says no. In his book, Discipline and Punish, he tells a story reminiscent in style of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals […]
Given that the next episodes are about phenomenology and not about religion any more, I wanted to give a few parting thoughts to the topic of religion for the moment and refer new listeners to some old episodes they may not have been aware of. I’ve created a Podcast Topics page that includes a Philosophy […]
Hey, I know we’re entering the shopping season and all, and I wanted you to keep in mind: If you’re gift-shopping via Amazon, whatever you happen to be buying, please get there via one of the Amazon links on our site, like this one here. This will donate a percentage of your purchase to us […]
Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s magnum opus–his equivalent to Being & Nothinginess or Being & Time–is The Phenomenology of Perception. It is reputed (by Seth, at least) to complete Heidegger’s project by paying proper attention to our embodiedness: we have bodies, with specific perceptual limitations and are not only culturally but physically situated in ways that (as Heidegger […]
Our Sartre episode will still take a couple of weeks probably to edit and post, but you needn’t wait for that brain-crushing Sartre experience. To supplement the episode, I’ve recorded a new kind of podcast file: half an hour of guided reading through the opening pages of Being and Nothingness. This also marks the first […]
Jean-Paul Sartre is best known for his 1960’s existentialism and Marxist activism, but before he was a big celebrity, he was a phenomenologist who spent a lot of time grappling with Heidegger (his book Being and Nothingnessis an homage in part to Heidegger’s Being and Time, but more importantly (to this topic) with Edmund Husserl. […]
Does morality depend on religion? In Plato’s early and fun (and short!) dialogue Euthyphro, Socrates questions Euthyphro (who’s on his way to go and file murder charges against his own father) about the meaning of “piety.” Is an action (like turning in your dad) pious because it’s the kind of thing that the gods love? […]
We’ve completed a new Podcast Topics page that lays out our progress and prospects in the various philosophic streams: how are we doing on ethics? (great!), in metaphysics (spotty), in philosophy of science (uh… what?), etc. If you’re newish to PEL and/or haven’t had the stomach to go back and listen to every episode chronologically, […]
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 […]
Here’s the recorded episode. In Ep. 41, we discussed David Hume’s ethics both providing a challenge for any naturalist (meaning one compatible with a modern scientific world-view) ethics–you can’t deduce “ought” from “is”–and as providing an approach to moral psychology. In this discussion, we grappled with selections from Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1740) and […]
We have long promised to more systematically cover these guys who generate so much fun sniping on our blog here, and as of last Sunday, the full as-of-now-regular podcaster lineup (myself, Seth, Wes, and Dylan; we will still have some guests on, though) recorded a discussion of: -The first two chapters of Sam Harris’s The […]
On many episodes we’ve mentioned in passing, or given some author’s criticism of, the classic arguments for the existence of God: -The ontological argument, whereby some quality of the idea of God itself is supposed to necessitate that such a being exists. The most famous versions are by Descartes and St. Anselm. -The cosmological argument, […]
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) […]
In preparation for the feminism discussion, I decided to reconfigure my iPod so as to listen only to female artists from the moment we finished recording the previous episode (so, for about three weeks in total). Irritatingly, I both forgot to announce this shtick on that previous episode, and then entirely forgot to bring it […]
This episode will feature Azzurra Crispino, whom you might recall from our Kant on epistemology episode. We’re reading two works that were significant for the development of her interest in feminist philosophy: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland(1915) is a utopian novel about a society of all women. Gilman thought that when classic philosophers describe human nature […]
Faraone, a commenter on our Facebook page, says: The Churchland episode was disappointing. You had a controversial academic who has made some bold and dubious claims during her career, and you spent your time tossing softballs to-and-fro. If you could not think-up challenging questions on your own, you could have read the many reviews of […]
With special Guest Pat Churchland herself! What does the physiology of the brain have to do with ethics? We were contacted by Pat Churchland’s publisher and invited to speak with her about her new book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality. She was good enough to chat with us (Mark and Dylan) for a […]
With special Guest Pat Churchland herself! What does the physiology of the brain have to do with ethics? We were contacted by Pat Churchland’s publisher and invited to speak with her about her new book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality. She was good enough to chat with us (Mark and Dylan) for a […]
Hey, there, blog readers, I know you’re there; I’ve seen the site stats. Yet many of you likely don’t look at the reader comments on our posts or consider adding one (unless we say something really dumb). You might be surprised that the blog has evolved to be a right spiffy forum, with a dozen […]
What is justice? What is the ideal type of government? These are the two questions we’ll be focusing on in our discussion of the most famous book of philosophy ever. Look, we realize that if you’ve ever taken a philosophy class, you’ve likely already been introduced to this work, and there are many many other […]
We hope to be dipping back to more Ancient Greeks (e.g. the Pre-Socratics, more Plato, more Aristotle, the Stoics and Skeptics) in some future episodes, at least one of which will come very soon. If you have done graduate work in this area and are the type of guy that memorizes the various Greek words […]
On the Locke episode, I invited folks listening to us outside of the U.S. to chime in on the relevance of Locke to their national ideologies (or mythologies). I’ll extend that here to invite general shout-outs from any of you folks out of the country in response to this post. What’s the philosophical climate like […]
Friedrich Schleiermacher, a contemporary of Hegel, bought into Kant’s views on ethics and the division between scientific and religious realms, but didn’t like Kant’s ultimate view of religion, i.e. that its only support is an indirect (and really pretty flimsy) appeal to what we have to as a practical matter believe for ethics to really […]
What is a number? Is it some Platonic entity floating outside of space and time that we somehow come into communion with? We’ll be following up our foray into analytical philosophy with Frege with some Bertrand Russell: specifically his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919), which is the much shortened, non-technical version of his famous Principia […]
What gives a government the right to rule over its citizens? John Locke in his Second Treatise of Government (1689) says that government requires the real (though often implicit) consent of the people, which means it has to be in the people’s interest. Unlike Hobbes, Locke thinks that the state of nature (i.e. the alternative […]
We will at last be breaking open the most notoriously obscure, fantabulous work of philosophy ever: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.This is the early Hegel: anti-metaphysical and historicist, as opposed to the later Hegel previously discussed in our philosophy of history episode and ripped on by Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer. It’s a frickin’ acid trip, this book […]
Listener Nathan J. writes: “I recently started listening to your podcast and came up with the idea of listening to them in the chronological order of when the source material was written. My theory being that doing this will be a way for me to see how philosophical thought has evolved over the years. Anyway […]
What is it about sentences that expresses truth or falsity? Gottlob Frege is considered one of the fathers of analytic philosophy, but it’s hard for someone with a general interest in philosophy to see much of his work as overtly philosophical. He did a lot of the work inventing modern symbolic logic, with an eye […]
My band, New People, has now finally completed our second album. You can hear tracks and purchase it (if you’d like) here. You can also find details there about our CD Release Party tonight (Wednesday), for those of you in the Madison, WI area. Note the nifty art by Ken Gerber, who did the P.E.L. […]
As promised, here are the noted Personal Philosophies of (i.e. for) Seth and Wes respectively. During the period of this fund-raiser thingy, we got maybe a half-dozen nice donations, including those you’ve seen written about in this series plus another couple. I’ve not totaled up the cash intake, but given our modest expenses, it will […]
What does philosophizing really get us? We can’t attain much in the way of certain knowledge. Knowing really doesn’t, contra Plato, make us virtuous. In fact, getting too sucked into parsing long and complex texts can cause us to lose perspective, i.e. miss the point of our interest in philosophy in the first place. 16th […]
I’ve sent out a few mass e-mails to graduate philosophy departments of late, and wanted to send out a special welcome to any new folks checking out the site. What you have undoubtedly come for is the podcast itself; you can see just the podcast episodes via this filter, but really should start with episode […]
When philosophers do ontology (coming up with a list of types of things that “exist,” what are they actually doing? Martin Heidegger thinks this is a real problem: What is existence? What is “being?” It is, he thinks, the core problem behind all of philosophy, the underlying thought nagging us that needs to be settled […]
Are you confused? Directionless? Tired of trying to figure it all out? Does the thought of slogging through the history of philosophy trying to figure out what does and doesn’t make sense to you depress and/or intimidate you? Well, now there’s an answer. For a mere $20 donation to the Partially Examined Life podcast and […]
So this whole “is the external world really there?” question is pretty tiresome: it’s the bane of intro philosophy students and the thing that turns off many of these students from ever taking another philosophy class, yet it’s still pretty much the central concern of epistemology for much of its history. Edmund Husserl asks if […]
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 […]
Schopenhauer is widely known for being influenced by Buddhism’s claim that life is suffering and for in turn influencing Nietzsche, but his major influence is Kant. On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, was originally written (in 1813) as S’s dissertation but was later expanded and clarified for proper publication (in 1847). […]
The feedburner statistics are notoriously up-and-down on a daily basis, but we did for the first time see our subscribership go briefly above 1000 after posting the new episode, so we’ll count that as a milestone. Moreover, all of our past episodes up to #27 have now been downloaded over 2000 times, with #28 hitting […]
We’ll be digging into the reputed “father of existentialism,” who takes his Christianity very personally and thinks the rest of you are a bunch of sheep, thank you very much. In the ole’ Sygdommen til Døden, Mr. K. writes as “Anti-Climacus,” a pseudonym which he brought out when feeling frisky, much like Richard Bachman. Did […]
For our Nagarjuna episode, in addition to the works by Nagarjuna that we provided links to, we discussed two additional works that you may want to look into: First, Jan Westerhoff’s Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka covers the philosophical concepts of the core Nagarjuana texts, not only clarifying N’s view within the tradition (i.e. clarifying what position he’s […]
Nelson Goodman was a recent (died in 1998) American philosopher who was active in the art community (owned a gallery for a while, was a notable patron). Though he was initially known for his neo-pragmatist (he co-wrote a book with Quine) works in epistemology, later in life he turned towards the philosophy of art, which […]
Does anything really exist? Sure, we have experiences, which seem confirmed by other experiences, and other people seem to corroborate some of these experiences, so we naively consider the world of our experience as objectively there, but is that all there is to it? Well, if you go into philosophy with the idea that life […]
People who only check our our podcast via iTunes and bookmark this page can ignore this message (unless you’d like to have blog content delivered to you instead…). If you previously subscribed to the Partially Examined Life via e-mail, or use a feed reader, or have this feed streaming to your site: The blog feed […]
As I’ve been checking out various philosophy podcasts, it struck me that I’ve neglected looking into online philosophy blogs. There’s good reason for this, of course: if I’m at a computer (or iPhone or whatever) reading philosophy, I’m probably doing research for one of our episodes. If podcasting weren’t such a new medium, and you […]