Phenomenology is Wrong


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.

Not trying to hide anything


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 . . . “

‘The Philosofa’ – brand new philosophy podcast from the UK

philosophy image 3

Bring out the marching band, episode one of the brand new British philosophy podcast, The Philosofa, is now available online at 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.

Metzinger on Spirituality and Intellectual Integrity


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.

Topic for #95: Godel on Math

godel collected iii

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?

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 […]


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 […]

Topic for #93: Free Will and Moral Responsibility (Strawson Father vs. Son)

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 […]

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 […]

Exclusive David Brin Text for Citizens and Topic for #91: Transhumanism Plus More on Brin’s “Existence” (Without Brin)


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 […]

Topic for #90: Science Fiction and Philosophy with Guest David Brin


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 […]

Topic for #89: Bishop George Berkeley’s Empiricist Idealism

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. […]

The Priority of Justice-as-Fairness


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 […]

Topic for #86: Thomas Kuhn on Scientific Progress

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 […]

Buy from Amazon Canada Through PEL!

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 […]

Topic for #85: John Rawls’s Theory of Justice

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, […]

Q&A with Frithjof Now Posted

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

Submit Your Questions for the Frithjof Bergmann Q&A

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 […]

Help Us Hype Frithjof


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 […]

Call for Papers – Toward a Science of Consciousness

  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 […]

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 […]

Topic for #83: Frithjof Bergmann on the Job System

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 […]

Partially Naked Self-Examination Music Blog: “Bedlam”

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 […]

Topic for #82: Karl Popper on Scientific Method

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 […]

Topic for #81: Carl Jung on the Psyche and Dreams

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 […]

Book Winners

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!

Topic for #80: Heidegger on our Existential Situation

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 […]

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 […]

Topic for #78: Ayn Rand on Living Rationally

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 […]

Topic for #77: Santayana on the Appreciation of Beauty

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 […]

Go Hire Genevieve, Resident PEL Artist

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 […]

We’re Now an Amazon UK Affiliate Too

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 […]

Topic for #76: Deleuze/Guattari on What Philosophy Is

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 […]

Topic for #74: Lacan on the Self/Subject

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 […]

Topic for #73: Why Philosophy?

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 […]

Topic for #72: Terrorism!

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. […]

Giving a Lecture


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. […]

Topic for #71: Martin Buber’s “I and Thou”

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 […]

Also Looking for Wanna-Be Philosophy Journalists

An archetypal journalist

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 […]

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 […]

Is PEL Intro-Friendly?


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 […]

Topic for #70: Karl Marx’s “German Ideology”

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 […]

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 […]

Robert Pirsig and Montana State University

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 […]

Listen to Quine’s “On What There Is”

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 […]

Topic for #67: Carnap on Logic and Science

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 […]

Citizen Commons Now Includes Live Text Chatting


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 […]

Listen to Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”

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 […]

Topic for #66: Quine on Language, Logic, and Science

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 […]

Fun Things Coming Up with PEL

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 […]

Topic for #65: Federalist Papers

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 […]

Topic for #64: Celebrity, with guest Lucy Lawless

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 […]

Your Feedback Sought Re. Future Seminars

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 […]

Topic for #62: Voltaire’s Novel “Candide”

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, […]

Looking for Guest Bloggers

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 […]

Topic for #61: Nietzsche on Truth

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 […]

Behold our Web Redesign

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 […]

Topic for #60: Aristotle’s Politics

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 […]

Topic for #58/#59: Is vs. Ought (G.E. Moore, C.L. Stevenson, Alasdair MacIntyre)

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 […]

Topic for #57: Henri Bergson on Humor

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 […]

Three Years, One Million F*%#ing Downloads

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 R. Douglas, RIP

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 […]

Topic for #55/#56: Wittgenstein on Language

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 […]

PEL Mentions in the Onion and Elsewhere

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 […]

Owen Flanagan Interview on Buddhism Revived

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 […]

Got Sound Editing Experience and Time on Your Hands?

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 […]

Topic for #52: Philosophy and Race (DuBois, MLK, Cornel West)

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? […]

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

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. […]

In Memoriam: Michael Dummett

Michael Dummett on Wikipedia

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 […]

Now Taking Questions for Owen Flanagan on Buddhism and Science

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, […]

Topic for #53/#54: Buddhism and Science with Guest Owen Flanagan

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 […]

Topic for #49: Foucault on Power and Punishment

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 […]

Topic for #48: Merleau-Ponty on the Role of Perception in Knowledge

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 […]

Topic for #47: Sartre on the Self

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. Part […]

Topic for #46: Plato’s Euthyphro

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? […]

Introducing Our Topics-by-Category Page

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, […]

This is a call to all my PEL peeps (ATX representing)

Greetings from Austin Texas!

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 […]

Topic for #45: Moral Sense Theory: Hume and Smith

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 […]

Topic for #44: “New Atheism”

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 […]

Topic for #43: Arguments for the Existence of God

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, […]

Neurobiology and Criminal Justice

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) […]

The Feminist Music Challenge

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 […]

Topic for #42: Feminists on Human Nature and Moral Psychology

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 […]

“Softballs” on the Churchland Episode

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 […]

New and Improved Comment Tracking

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 […]

Topic for #40: Plato’s Republic

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 […]

P.E.L’s International Reach

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 […]

Topic for #39: Schleiermacher’s Liberal Piety

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 […]

Topic for #38: Russell on Math and Logic

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 […]

Topic for #37: John Locke on Legitimate Powers

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 […]

Topic for #35: Hegel on Self-Consciousness

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 […]

Listening to P.E.L. Chronologically?

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 […]

Topic for #34: Frege on Language, Truth, and Logic

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 […]

The New Album is Now Available

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. […]

Personal Philosophies Wrap-Up (for the Moment)

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 […]

Topic for #33: Montaigne on Philosophy and the Good Life

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 […]

Welcome, Plus a Call for Specialists

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 […]

Topic for #32: Heidegger: What is “Being?”

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 […]

Special Offer: Your Own Personal Philosophy for $20

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 […]

Topic for #31: Husserl’s Phenomenology

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 […]

Philosophy in/of Economics – Call for Ideas

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 […]

Topic for #30: Schopenhauer’s Twist on Kant’s Epistemology

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). […]

Periodic Request for iTunes Store Ratings

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 […]

Topic for #29: Kierkegaard’s “The Sickness Unto Death”

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 […]

Secondary Sources for Nagarjuna

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 […]

Topic for #27: Nagarjuna the Indian Buddhist

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 […]

Our new blog feed (that you should subscribe to)

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 […]

Favorite Philosophy Blogs?

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 […]

One-Star Ratings, Revisited (Solicitation for iTunes ratings)

I recently blogged about the glory of goobers posting one-star reviews of things. Well, we got our own first one-star iTunes rating, though, alas, with no accompanying review. Now, I had thought that this was actually a good thing, that we were finally getting big enough that hostile people were actually getting tuned into us, […]

Danto Listened to Us!

On Episode 16, we discussed some work by Arthur Danto and joked that he would certainly never listen to us. Well, I sent him a link to the episode via Facebook, and he not only listened that day to it, but put the link on his page, complimented us there to his many friends, and […]

Searches that Send Traffic to this Site

A surprising number of people google “partially examined life.” And then we get quite a bit of traffic from searches like “philosophy podcast” and “wittgenstein podcast.” But we also get hits from “grandpa bought a rubber.” Here are few more of my favorites: District 9 and Nietzsche Chuang Tzu Pronunciation Half examined life Partially good […]

The Sound of One’s Voice

An unanticipated benefit of doing this podcast is getting the opportunity to analyze my speech when I do the editing (we rotate that responsibility).  Even though I find it painful at times, I use the word ‘benefit’ because it’s truly interesting and educational to hear the sound of one’s voice. I have known for some time that my […]

PEL is now on Twitter (+ other ways to share)

If you’d like to have links to our postings sent to you via Twitter, you can now do that; follow us at If you re-Tweet our episode posts to the millions of Twitter followers you undoubtably have, then you’ll have our eternal gratitude. While I’m on the subject of spreading the word, why don’t […]

Podcast Equipment Nerdfest

After some problems with atrocious audio quality, I went a little overboard on a new mic/accessories: Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Condenser USB Microphone Samson SP01 Shockmount Spider Mount for Condenser Mics On Stage Tripod Microphone Stand (7701B) OMNITRONICS EPF-15A Cad Mic Pop Filter

PEL Merch

The Partially Examined Life now offers a fine selection of overpriced T-shirts and a mug. Who will be cooler than you when you are sporting one or all of these on your person? Who? Tell me, please, as I’m honestly curious as to your no doubt mistaken apprehension on this topic. You having failed to […]

PEL written up in Madison’s Isthmus magazine

The big weekly entertainment magazine in Madison, WI included a writeup of the podcast in this article: We’re mentioned at the end of the first section, then have a couple of paragraphs under “Talk Talk” near the end, plus the “Gallery” includes the excellent caricature that Ken Gerber did for us. (Incidentally, you should […]

A new place for discussion:

In addition to our Facebook page, we now have dedicated forum/discussion space on Participating there requires registering for an account, but it’s a simple and quick procedure that doesn’t cost anything or require to enter any more personal information than your e-mail. Also, Seth has posted an article there on Judaism, if you’re […]

Updated FAQ/bio pages

If you’re new to the podcast/blog or just wanted to know a bit more about who we are and why we’re doing this, check out the expanded “about the podcast” and the new “about the podcasters” pages. (Wes took a while to get his biography text to me, so I had exerpts from Hitler’s biography […]