Michael Sandel on Kant’s Morality (Like Plato?)

In response to my Steven B. Smith post, Facebook commenter Robinson K. recommended Michael Sandel of Harvard as another great lecturer in political philosophy. He’s got a whole course on “Justice” available for online viewing. Though there doesn’t appear to be a lecture on Plato in there, I noted that episode 7 was described by […]

Myles Burnyeant (and Bryan Magee) on Plato

Here’s another old Bryan Magee video where he interviews Myles Burnyeant: Watch on YouTube. Anyone who’s listened to our Plato episodes will find nothing new in this first clip, which is just about who Plato and Socrates were, how Socrates died, and what Plato’s dialogues look like. Around 5 minutes in, Burnyeant lays out the […]

Steven B. Smith Lectures on Plato’s “Republic”

After our Locke episode, I blogged re. this Steven B. Smith introduction to political philosophy course from Yale, but in the case of the Plato episode, I actually used these three lectures as part of my preparation and discussed them on the show: Watch the first Plato lecture on Youtube. Get the audio from iTunes.

Scruton on Philosophy vs. Neuroscience

The talk is somewhat misleadingly titled “Roger Scruton – Persons and their Brains”, but what he’s really concerned to do is point out the limits of neuroscience and justify a place for philosophy in the study of human behavior.  Not sure if that’s a straw man or not, but he has some critical things to […]

On Religion, the PowerPoint!

Given Schleiermacher’s dense prose, I found it a lot easier to prepare for the podcast by “translating” his first two speeches into a more modern voice. As a result, here’s On Religion, the PowerPoint! (Well, the first two speeches, anyway.) If you want to review Schleiermacher’s basic arguments without having to wade through 18th century German […]

Heidegger on Schleiermacher’s Second Address

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Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things, ordered the house. – Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking” (1951) Schleiermacher’s […]

“Prima Facie Weirdness?”

During the episode I made a comment about the seeming weirdness of Christianity that I feel it would be helpful for my thinking to try to elaborate. I’ve said in several posts here that I think that the new atheist movement is primarily political: it’s not about advancing new arguments to philosophers, but about shifting […]

Schleiermacher on Miracles and Revelation

We talked a bit on the episode towards the end about S’s take on immortality. His take on miracles and on revelation is similar. In short, miracles are all around us, and all creativity is inspiration. It takes a pious person to recognize our ordinary environment as full of magic and wonder. From his second […]

Comparing Kant with Schleiermacher on God and the Soul

Listen on YouTube On the Schleiermacher episode, we spent some time comparing On Religion to Kant’s religious arguments, particularly citing Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. Kant did not try to prove God’s existence or the soul’s immortality. Rather, he postulated those concepts as helpful ways to help realize the summum bonum, the highest good. “Postulate” is […]

Capturing Schleiermacher’s Romantic Mood

Watch in YouTube Can modern film depict Schleiermacher’s nature-obsessed 18th century Romantic mood? Probably not, but let’s go. I thought I better understood Husserlian phenomenology after reading Sartre’s Nausea, which even in translation has some gripping prose. The clip above, from Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu (1979) exudes both the German Romantic aesthetic, and a phenomenological approach of sorts. Bonus […]

Russell’s Atomistic Metaphysics

Some information about Russell’s atomism was discussed in in our Wittgenstein’s Tractatus podcast. For a bit more information, here’s his essay “The Ultimate Constituents of Matter,” pointed out to us (dismissively) by frequent blog discussion contributor Burl and mentioned on our recent episode. I leave it to you all to explore this essay as you […]

Russell’s Epistemology: “The Problems of Philosophy”

I wanted to follow up on a reference I made on the episode for folks who want to know more about Russell’s epistemology: His book The Problems of Philosophyis an easy-reader intro to his take on traditional epistemological problems. Some of it will be familiar if you’ve listened to our episodes (from p. 42). For […]

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 […]

Math Mutation Podcast on “New Math” and Russell

In the Russell episode, I brought up “new math,” whereby young people were taught set theory. The podcast I was referring to was Math Mutation Podcast #145: “Why Johnny Couldn’t Add.” Given how short the episodes are, it appears as if the author (Eric Seligman) has actually posted transcripts. Here’s the one on new math […]

Bertrand Russell’s Very Short Introduction to His Ontology

Watch in YouTube For those who can’t get enough Bertrand Russell, here’s an introduction to logical analysis from his History of Western Philosophy. In this concluding chapter, Russell explains his own philosophy, as inspired by Frege, so even critics of Russell-as-historian shouldn’t object. I was particularly taken with Russell’s ontology, via Einstein. Russell succinctly and […]

Georg Cantor and Ever Larger Infinities

Watch on youtube. A big name-drop during the middle of the Russell episode was the sad story of Georg Cantor and his insanity-inducing continuum hypothesis. Anyone unaware of Cantor and his contributions might want to look at this clip from the Dangerous Knowledge BBC documentary. I thought it provided a good visual explanation of higher […]

Debating Locke’s View of Slavery as War

Ta-nehisi Coates, a senior editor for The Atlantic, recently opened up a discussion on Locke’s Second Treatise, with respect to the discussion of slavery. A fairly intelligent debate thread followed in the comments section. Check it out if you found that section of PEL’s Locke episode interesting. Some of the better comments in the thread debated […]

Russell on Locke’s Political Philosophy

On our not-yet-released Russell episode, Wes dismisses Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy as pretty bad overall, but we also comment on that episode that Russell was a great admirer of Locke, so maybe he didn’t do as badly in that part of the book. In any case, some nice gentleman has posted a recording […]

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 […]

Robert C. Solomon on Husserl’s Phenomenology

I couldn’t find any Solomon lectures on Hegel, but here’s one introducing Edmund Husserl, which I think is apt now that we’ve covered Hegel’s “phenomenology,” so you can reflect on the difference: Listen on youtube. Maybe the only reference to Hegel here is the discussion of Husserl’s rejection of historicism, though I think it should […]

Robert C. Solomon on Husserl’s Phenomenology

I couldn’t find any Solomon lectures on Hegel, but here’s one introducing Edmund Husserl, which I think is apt now that we’ve covered Hegel’s “phenomenology,” so you can reflect on the difference: Listen on youtube. Maybe the only reference to Hegel here is the discussion of Husserl’s rejection of historicism, though I think it should […]

Greeks vs. Germans

And now for something completely different: SPOILER ALERT: The Germans are disputing it! Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-analytic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming that it was offside. But Confucius has answered […]

Rick Roderick on Hegel on History

Just to remind you, the recent Hegel episodes are not our first: we covered Hegel on history (the later, in some ways less radical Hegel) last year, shortly before I started posting videos related to our episodes. So here’s a video addressing that aspect of him. Watch on youtube. Rick Roderick, talking in 1990, stresses […]

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 […]

Žižek on Hegel on Identity

One public intellectual who has made much hay of Hegel’s continued relevance is Slavoj Žižek, who begins one of his jazz-session-like lectures on Hegel’s concept of identity here: Watch on youtube. It’s not clear to me whether Žižek is properly interpreting Hegel, mostly because I find both Žižek and early Hegel incomprehensible. Z’s been accused […]

The Pernicious Influence of Scientism

Alright, Mark has successfully baited me into a response on the issue of scientism. I should begin by saying that Mark has an interesting reading of Dennet that makes him out not to be a reductionist (as I and many others interpret him). I won’t address that here; I’m more interested in the general question […]

Lawrence Cahoone on Hegel’s Phenomenology

Here’s an audio-only lecture by Lawrence Cahoone: Listen on youtube. Cahoone here emphasizes very different themes than we talked about on the episode, specifically the theistic themes (he characterizes “Spirit” as “pantheistic” or “panentheistic,” both of which have been used to describe Spinoza; the former means everything is God, while the latter means everything is […]

Correction re. Episode 34’s Account of Russell on Denoting

At one point in Episode 34 (around 79:10), I made a mistake.  Oops. Might as well set it right on the blog! We were talking about Bertrand Russell’s classic 1905 article, ‘On Denoting.’  Russell is trying to do many different things in that article.  But for now, we only need to concern ourselves with one in […]

Notes on Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell,” Part 1

For our atheism episode (which has, incidentally been pushed back to be recorded in late May or possibly June… sorry, Russ!), I’m trying to read through the most popular of the “new atheist” books, and I’m sure we’ll only end up discussing some select portions of the books in any detail, so as I’m going […]

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 […]

Clare Carlisle’s Spinoza Walk-Through (via The Guardian)

I just stumbled across an 8 part series on Spinoza (discussed by us here), completed today and begun here on 2/7/11, written by U. of Liverpool lecturer Clare Carlisle, who I see has written some books on Kierkegaard,which will give you some idea where she’s coming from. I’ve not read the whole series, but it […]

A.J. Ayer and Bryan Magee on Frege and Russell

Bryan Magee and A.J. Ayer, a famous philosopher in his own right, here give an overview of Frege’s project and Bertrand Russell’s reaction to it. Watch on Youtube. The whole first clip here is just an overview of Frege, with his sense and reference distinction coming in around minute 8. In part two, Ayer and […]

Motherfuckin’ Leibniz

For a philosophy site that’s at the same time bizarre, funny, and genuinely informative, see garygeck.com. His “Secret History” video series appears to be baiting crackpots and cranks everywhere only to give them a good dose of … the philosophy of mathematics (to begin with). To see what a (sometimes too loud) soundtrack and visuals can do for […]

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 […]

Montaigne, Mirror Neurons, and Men with Guns

Here’s an excerpt from a good series on Montaigne the Guardian UK ran last year, written by Sarah Bakewell, who just published a well received book on Montaigne: To take just one example of how we can derive wisdom from Montaigne: his Essays give us a wealth of anecdotes exploring ways of resolving violent confrontations. As a […]

Has the Internet Transformed Us? Yes and No.

This Piece by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker is very good and suitably conflicted concerning complaints about the social effects of technology: The odd thing is that this complaint, though deeply felt by our contemporary Better-Nevers, is identical to Baudelaire’s perception about modern Paris in 1855, or Walter Benjamin’s about Berlin in 1930, or […]

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 […]

U. of Winchester Lecture on Husserl’s Phenomology

Here’s another Husserl lecture to listen to, which sets Husserl in historical context as a contemporary of Freud prior to World War Two. The unnamed lecturer (I’ll be happy to update this post if someone can figure out who this is) talks a little about the relationship between Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Husserl’s phenomenology. […]

Tolkien (and Cory Olsen) on Fantasy as Transcendence

Listening to Dreyfus’s Heidegger lectures has gotten me looking around a bit among the “iTunes U” selections. It’s interesting to me that these are separated from podcasts generally when there is often little difference between the two types of selections, and that podcasts sanctioned by universities can still absolutely blow, particularly if they’re just unedited […]

The Quarrel Between the Thomists and the Straussians

Brian Leiter bizarrely endorses this idiotic review by Aristotle scholar Peter Simpson of Richard G. Stevens’ Political Philosophy: An Introduction. It’s clear that the logic behind this endorsement is that Simpson criticizes the book because it has been written by a Straussian, and Leiter despises Straussians. Unfortunately, the logic behind the review is that Simpson […]

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 […]

Bryan McGee and Hubert Dreyfus on Husserl and Heidegger

Daniel has already linked to this video in comments, but I wanted to make an actual post about it: Watch on youtube. The Husserl discussion here is pretty brief and not very revealing. Dreyfus, for one, is a Heidegger scholar and thinks that Husserl is only important insofar as he influenced Heidegger and showed (through […]

Robert Sokolowski audio on Husserl

In this clip (broken into five parts), Robert Sokolowski reads a paper in 2009 at a conference organized to celebrate Husserl’s 150th birthday: Listen on youtube. He describes Husserl’s place in the history of philosophy (there’s a lot of talk of ancient philosophy in here) and outlines his project, including more on the phenomenological reduction […]

Consciousness (Intentionality) as Transcendent

An important point on the Husserl episode that I was trying to get across was his notion that “intentionality” as he uses it doesn’t just mean that all conscious acts have a target, i.e. something you’re conscious of, but that this content is not itself something subjective. When we grasp something in consciousness, we’re not […]

Schopenhauer on Love

Here’s a nice little video, part of the “Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness” series, discussing Schopenhauer’s earnest but very unromantic theory of love, the point of which is to propagate the species (i.e. the will to life!). Watch on youtube. Did you know that tall people are attracted to short people so that their children […]

More Audio About Schopenhauer

If you’re liking having Schopenhauer-related audio to listen to so you needn’t actually read him, here’s a clip with some introduction or other to the World as Will and Representation, which describes his place in the history of philosophy and states some high level points about his philosophy, and quite a bit more about his […]

Schopenhauer’s Pessimism Read Aloud

There are a number of read-aloud Schopenhauer selections on the web that you should be aware of, which cover very directly the pessimism he is most famous for but which we didn’t cover in the episode. For instance: Listen on youtube (There’s nothing really to watch). Read the text. This is over half an hour […]

Schopenhauer on Euclid’s Geometry

One point on our Schopenhauer episode that we didn’t take much time to get into was his attitude towards geometric demonstration, which was of course the model for all philosophy for thinkers like Descartes. Here’s a short selection from section 39 of the Fourfold Root, which illustrates his idea that our knowledge of geometry is […]

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 […]

Schopenhauer’s Mom

Apparently Johanna Schopenhauer, Arthur’s mom, was an author, “the first German woman writer to publish books without making use of a pseudonym,” and “the most famous author in Germany” for a while in the 1820s. She wrote fiction, travelogues, and biography, and Arthur considered her work juvenile, and told her so. Her wikipedia page gives […]

Frederick Copleston and Bryan Magee on Schopenhauer

Here Bryan Magee gives some background on Schopie, which leads into an interview with philosophical historian (and Jesuit priest, known for debating Bertrand Russell on the radio re. the existence of God) Frederick Copleston: Watch on youtube. At the end of this first clip, Copleston points out that Kant thought of things in themselves as […]

To Go or Not to Go: The Philosophy Grad School Question

Via Leiter, here’s a typical sober (read: utterly pessimistic) guide to determining whether or not to go to grad school in philosophy. Despite the fact that I’ve read many of these pessimistic assessments, the answers to questions 8 and 9 — “Can I advance in the profession through talent and hard work?” and “Will I […]

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 […]

John Searle’s Course Audio Available Online

OpenCulture.com has posted links to three complete, free courses from the great philosophy of mind and language professor John Searle from UC-Berkeley. You may remember Searle from the Chinese Room argument as discussed in our philosophy of mind episode. These courses are on mind, language, and “philosophy of society,” which I will surely be checking […]

The Sickness Unto Death, the PowerPoint!

I mentioned on the Kierkegaard episode having prepared a PowerPoint on The Sickness Unto Death, so I submit to you, the morbidly curious, TSUD: The PowerPoint! (Warning, it’s over 700KB, and might take a while to download on slower connections.) I believe Seth made some minor corrections and improvements, but any errors in spelling, interpretation, […]

Jackson Pollock at Work

Jay mentioned on the episode being profoundly affected a short film from 1951 where Jackson Pollock shows how he works. Here’s a clip from it (Jay says it’s almost impossible to get one’s hands on a decent copy of the whole thing, but in the Ed Harris movie about Pollock they depict the making of […]

Boghossian vs. Goodman on Fact Constructivism

One book we’d mentioned on the episode as a counter to Goodman’s epistemology was Paul Boghossian’s Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Boghossian’s target is any theory of knowledge that says that facts are constructed, reflecting the contingent needs and interest of some society, and that consequently some different society with different needs could […]

Are You Experienced? Are You Ready to Rock?

My previous post about parody songs is of course a much too transparent and potentially exceptional case of the role of associations in music appreciation, since the joke in question is about style, meaning the art is “about” its style in an obvious way, whereas you might argue that art more typically works within a […]

Art That Jay Mentioned: Jenny Saville

Editor’s Note: Jay Bailey, excellent guest from our Nelson Goodman discussion, has been good enough to help us make sense of some of the art references. -ML Jenny Saville, Shift, 1996-1997, oil on canvas While the four of us brought up many examples of art (Nascar is exempt from that classification because I still don’t […]

Philosophy of Art and Stephen King’s “Duma Key”

Somewhere in between and overlapping with Nelson Goodman and Kierkegaard, I subjected myself to one of Stephen King’s recent books, Duma Key. Serendipitously, it’s about artistic creation, and while he of course throws in supernatural/horror elements, the way he does this actually plays off some of our preconceptions about art creation and viewing that I […]

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). […]

Nelson Goodman on Induction (Grue and Bleen!)

On our Goodman episode, I start out by trying to give a short explanation of Goodman’s “New Riddle of Induction.” When we’re presented with evidence for a general claim, how do we tell which general claim the evidence is in support of? Goodman contrasts the predicate “green,” which we might think we can project to […]

Catherine Elgin on the Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity

One of the chapters that I referred to from Nelson Goodman’s final book, Reconceptions in Philosophy and Other Arts and Sciences,was “The Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity.” I’ve found that article online (I can’t swear it’s exactly the same as the version in Reconceptions, but it seems to have all the elements intact) here. It critiques […]

Goodman and Quine’s Nominalism

I referred on the podcast to Goodman’s 1947 article “Steps Toward a Constructive Nominalism.” You can look at it here. The philosophical content is in the first couple of chapters; in fact, I’ll just give you the first half of the first chapter here: We do not believe in abstract entities. No one supposes that […]

Two Books about Zero

Following up on yesterday’s post about nothingness, here are two books, one by a scientist and another by a mathematician, about the origination and subsequent history of the mathematical notion of zero: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea,by Charles Seife, and The Nothing that Is: A Natural History of Zero,by Robert Kaplan. I’ve not […]

Alan Watts on Nothingness

I got a call for some Alan Watts in our Buddhism discussion, so here’s one of many clips of his from youtube that touches on a theme discussed on the episode (i.e. nothingness and the interdependence of opposite, plus a quick statement without much explanation of Big Self) and which has some good background music […]

B.S. about Jesus and Buddhism

Could Jesus have been taken to India as a child and taught Buddhism? Hmmm? Hmmm? Here’s something that apparently showed on the BBC at some point: Watch on youtube. OK, some silly speculation here (and more amusingly told in Christoper Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal),but a few points of comparison […]

Nagarjuna on Ultimate Truth (Yet More Westerhoff)

I will end my Westerhoff/Nagarjuna coverage with one more selection from right at the end of Westerhoff’s book: According to the Madhyamaka view of truth, there can be no such thing as ultimate truth, a theory describing how things really are, independent of our interests and conceptual resources employed in describing it. All one is […]

Nagarjuna on the Thing-in-Itself (More Westerhoff)

Our Nagarjuna episode seemed to conclude that ultimate reality is beyond our ability to speak about it. The objects of our experience are a shared fiction, and the most we can do with language is to show that they’re fictional; even the terms we use to accomplish this (like emptiness) are themselves constructs, serving only […]

Westerhoff on Nagarjuna on Metaphysically Basic Entities

One of the topics we didn’t really get into on the podcast, and which in our Buddhism reading I actually found the most interesting, is the metaphysics of basic elements of the world. Nagarjuna argues that reality has no ultimate foundation, and in the episode we discussed that in terms of the possibility of Cartesian […]

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 […]

Glimpses of Zen: No Self vs. Big Self

As mentioned on the podcast, our original intention was to cover Zen, but that seemed difficult without covering some of the history. Nagarjuna was a big influence on Zen, particularly in the “Reasoning” reading where he urges disassociation from even Buddhist doctrine itself, i.e. the transcendence of all views. That’s the kind of mind-bending apparent […]

Elucidations Podcast: Brian Leiter on Religious Tolerance

OK, if the atheism debates are so squalid, then what’s the moderate, “philosophically respectable” approach to some of the issues that come up in them? A recent episode of the University of Chicago philosophy podcast Elucidations featured philosophy uber-blogger Brian Leiter (who taught my philosophy and the law class at U. Texas). Leiter addresses the […]

Dig that Funky Lotus Sutra!

I referred on the podcast to the over-the-top theatrics of the Lotus Sutra, and also that Nagarjuna’s “verses” were just that: verses meant to be memorized and sung. Well, here on youtube we have a recording of the Lotus Sutra (I have no idea how much of it; surely not the whole thing) memorized and […]

The Tedium Debates: Dawkins vs. the Pope

How philosophically uninteresting are the atheist debates? Yes, it’s nice that something akin to philosophy is actively debated in the media, that ongoing disputes about religious matters will hopefully keep the spirit of the times moving forward by providing active intellectual and/or spiritual alternatives to people beyond whatever religion they may have been brought up […]

Nagarjuna speaks!

This cheeseball video (which I refer to in the podcast as the source of my pronunciations of “Nagarjuna” and “Madhyamika”) reveals that Nagarjuna had a midwestern accent and some goofy iMovie effects at his disposal. He likes using the same font as Avatar, too. And is that a ney flute I hear? Hell, yeah! My […]

Sam Harris on the Daily Show

Wes has posted about this previously, but I wanted to give this more thought after seeing Sam Harris (introduced at the top of the show not as a philosopher but as a “professional atheist”) on the Daily Show a couple of days back. You can see the interview here. As is typical for a short […]

Schizophrenia, Philosophy & Freud

While we’re following up on the Freud podcast, I caught this interesting show from ABC National Radio in Australia on schizophrenia and philosophical investigation.  The show is called All in the Mind, hosted by Natasha Mitchell.  In this episode, she interviews Dr Paul Fearne, who suffers from schizophrenia but managed to acknowledge it, get help […]

Freud on Religion: A Quiz

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Given that the subject of our Freud episode was Civilization and its Discontents, we were pretty quick regarding Freud’s specific points on religion, which are pretty interesting in themselves, in that his view is for practical purposes very much in line with the modern scientism of someone like Dawkins but acknowledges elements of Kantian agnosticism. […]

Freud vs. C.S. Lewis: A Roundtable on Religion and Morality

Here we see guys in goofy Lewis and Freud costumes putting forward simplistic alternative views on the origin of moral sentiments to set up a round-table discussion: http://youtu.be/ymjuxVPBZYc The discussion interestingly displays no evidence of these folks having read Freud’s discussion of morality in Civilization and its Discontents, specifically his claim that experience in fact […]

Slavoj Zizek on Applying Psychotherapy to Culture

Here is a somewhat startling video of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek talking briefly about trying to apply the insights of psychotherapy (which deals with individuals) to cultures: Watch on youtube. His remarks about being able to relate an “anonymous social field” reflect Heidegger’s conception of “Das Man,” i.e. our tendency to conform to social norms, […]

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 […]

“Dexter” as Immoral Fantasy

In the realm of superhero comics (and movies), there’s been (since Watchmen at least) a realization that what superheros allegedly do, i.e. beat people up, requires a certain psychosis, and comics like The Punisher make that explicit. With the “Dexter” books by Jeff Lindsay and the TV show based on them, this is approached from […]

Spinoza Roundtable

Haven’t had enough Spinoza? Watch a panel of Spinoza scholars weigh in via a two-hour Philoctetes Center roundtable. The video is configured so that I can’t embed it here; check it out on youtube here: http://youtu.be/v29FVZ0rry8 The discussion is rambling and badly needs editing. The panelists all monologuize (worse than we do on the podcast) […]

Manufacturing Myths: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion

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Much has been remarked about Tolkien’s Catholicism and how this plays out in Lord of the Rings. Much less known, or more precisely much less tolerated are his earlier efforts to create the myths of Middle Earth, later packed by his son into The Silmarillion. These stories are for the most part told at a […]

No, It’s Not Just Semantics

It shouldn’t need saying that there’s a difference between linguistic and conceptual definitions, or that every system of knowledge rests on unproven axioms or assumptions — mathematics, logic, and science as much as philosophy. That’s why philosophical “meta discussions” about these fields — and knowledge in general — become genuinely interesting and problematic (rather than merely a matter of linguistic confusion or semantics), even while we know that that these problems don’t bear on their practical application.

Hawking Keeps Hacking: “Philosophy is Dead”

Apparently Stephen Hawking not only thinks that spontaneous creation from nothingness is somehow a scientific concept: he also claims that “philosophy is dead” (and as I point out, this is hardly surprising given the core anti-intellectualism lurking behind his amateur philosophizing).

A New Atheist on the “Ground Zero Mosque”

Sam Harris makes it clear that his atheism is in fact motivated less by reason and more by spleen: Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. He compares it to building a shrine […]