Philosophy & Other Big Ideas

The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast

Mark Linsenmayer

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The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a short text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flip...Show More

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Episode 209: Guest Francis Fukuyama on Identity Politics (Part One)

1:02:31 | Feb 11th

Talking to the author about Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (2018). What motivates people? Frank points to thymos, the demand for recognition, as at the root of both the "end of history" (i.e., democracy as demand for ...Show More

Episode 208: Epicurus on Seeking Pleasure (Part Two)

57:50 | Feb 4th

More on the ethics-related fragments of Epicurus and accounts by Martha Nussbaum and Tim O'Keefe. What would a purely therapeutic philosophy consist of? Does philosophy as pursuit of pleasure mean that you eschew political action or other substantial...Show More

Episode 208: Epicurus on Seeking Pleasure (Part One)

50:17 | Jan 28th

On the extant fragments of Epicurus (341–270 BCE) dealing with ethics, including his "Letter to Menoceus," “The Principal Doctrines,” and “The Vatican Collection of Epicurean Sayings.” Plus Tim O’Keefe’s Epicureanism (2010) and Martha Nussabum’s The ...Show More

NEM#90: Sam Phillips Brings Intuition Out of Dreams

1:01:09 | Jan 25th

Sam has released sixteen albums of catchy, textured pop music since 1983. We discuss "I Want to Be You" and "Tears in the Ground" from World on Sticks (2018), "How to Dream" from Fan Dance (2001), and conclude by listening to "When I’m Alone" from Pu...Show More

Episode 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part Two)

1:25:31 | Jan 21st

Continuing on Johann Gottfried von Herder's “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), then moving to “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have...Show More

Episode 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part One)

55:47 | Jan 14th

On Johann Gottfried von Herder's “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divin...Show More

PREVIEW-Ep 206 Lucretius's Epicurean Physics (Part Three)

14:25 | Jan 13th

Mark and Wes go into more textual detail re. Lucretius’s take on atomism and the metaphysical and epistemological problems it entails. Start with Part one. This is a preview; become a PEL Citizen or $5 Patreon supporter to get the full, 50 minute con...Show More

Episode 206: Lucretius's Epicurean Physics (Part Two)

1:14:00 | Jan 7th

More on Lucretius’s poem about Epicurean science: On the Nature of Things from the first century BCE. We talk more about how macroscopic phenomena are supposed to come out of the interaction of atoms, including mind and its processes of knowledge and...Show More

Episode 206: Lucretius's Epicurean Physics (Part One)

58:18 | Dec 31st, 2018

On Lucretius’s poem about Epicurean science: On the Nature of Things a.k.a. De Rerum Natura from the 1st century BC. How does the world work? Lucretius presents a system that is surprisingly modern, and raises philosophical issues that are still on p...Show More

PREVIEW-Ep 205 Durkheim et al on Suicide (Part Three)

19:41 | Dec 31st, 2018

Mark and Wes discuss Durkheim's Suicide (1897), getting into more of the details of his account and exploring comparative modes of explanation: Are there really "sociological facts" distinct from mere generalizations about psychological facts? Get th...Show More

Episode 205: Suicide with Dr. Drew (Durkheim et al) (Part Two)

54:47 | Dec 22nd, 2018

More on philosophical and psychological interpretations of and judgments about suicide with guest Drew Pinsky. Is suicide an epidemic or a choice? Could it be both? Socrates didn't fear death and inspired Stoics and others to see suicide in some circ...Show More

Episode 205: Suicide with Dr. Drew (Durkheim et al) (Part One)

47:41 | Dec 17th, 2018

We are rejoined by Drew Pinsky to discuss philosophical and psychological readings by Seneca, Arthur Schopenhauer, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Albert Camus, plus two 2017 survey papers on predictors of suicide. Is suicide ever morally permissible?...Show More

Episode 204: The Bhagavad Gita's Hindu Theology (Part Two)

1:01:25 | Dec 10th, 2018

More on this classic text by (perhaps) Vyasa, with guest Shaan Amin. Should we acquire good karma or behave "beyond good and evil"? How can everything be Krishna while Krishna is also the an element of virtue we're supposed to pursue? How does this c...Show More

Episode 204: The Bhagavad Gita's Hindu Theology (Part One)

59:15 | Dec 3rd, 2018

On the classic Hindu text (ca. the 3rd century B.C.E.), part of the Indian Epic poem Mahabharata, attributed to Vyasa, using Keya Maitra's 2018 translation/commentary. What is it to live wisely? What grounds duty? Listen as the supreme God Krishna co...Show More

Episode 203: Kristeva vs. Lovecraft on Horror and Abjection (Part Two)

1:10:26 | Nov 26th, 2018

Concluding on Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror (1980) and focusing on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928). Does Lovecraft's presentation of nameless terror capture (or improve upon) what Kristeva means by "abjection"? End song: "The Other"...Show More

Episode 203: Kristeva vs. Lovecraft on Horror and Abjection (Part One)

54:41 | Nov 19th, 2018

More on Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror (1980) plus H.P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928). What is the object of fear? Mark, Seth, and Dylan get clearer on Kristeva's view of the establishment and loss of the integrity of the self, what the...Show More

PREVIEW-Ep 202 Follow-Up: Close Reading of Kristeva's "Approaching Abjection"

17:02 | Nov 18th, 2018

Mark takes a very close look at pages 1–4 of the first chapter of On Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980) as a supplement to episode 202. Get the full, 55-minute experience as a PEL Citizen, or get it by supporting us on Patreon for a mere ...Show More

NEM#86: Seth Swirsky Provides Instant Pleasure

1:10:31 | Nov 18th, 2018

Seth Swirsky was a highly successful staff songwriter for over 20 years and has put out three solo albums and three albums as The Red Button since 2004. He's a huge Beatles fan and has released a Beatles documentary Beatles Stories and has multiple b...Show More

Episode 202: Julia Kristeva on Disgust, Fear and the Self (Part Two)

1:19:09 | Nov 12th, 2018

Continuing on Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, ch. 1 and 2. We try to get clearer on Kristeva's talk of "object," the relationship between language and abjection, how Kristeva is advancing on Freud, how to be a mom that allows a kid to separa...Show More

Episode 202: Julia Kristeva on Disgust, Fear and the Self (Part One)

50:16 | Nov 5th, 2018

On Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980), ch. 1 and 2. What is horror? Kristeva writes about "abjection," where we violently reject things like corpses, bodily wastes and other fluids, and the Lovecraftian unnameable that lurks at the edge o...Show More

PREVIEW-Ep 201 Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations" (Part Three)

13:35 | Nov 5th, 2018

Mark and Seth get further into the specifics of Marcus's metaphysics and how this is supposed to relate to behavior. Can his directives really come solely "from reason" as he claims? How does this interact with the behaviors that we pursue "by nature...Show More

Episode 201: Marcus Aurelius's Stoicism with Ryan Holiday (Part Two)

1:00:14 | Oct 29th, 2018

More on The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 180 CE) plus Ryan's The Daily Stoic (2016). We talk Stoicism as "pre-mourning," love of fate, the divine plan, political ethics, ethical models, and overwriting your brain with the Stoic operating syste...Show More

Episode 201: Marcus Aurelius's Stoicism with Ryan Holiday (Part One)

59:44 | Oct 22nd, 2018

On The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 180 C.E.) plus Ryan's The Daily Stoic (2016). What does Stoicism look like in practice, in both ancient and modern contexts? You might think that eschewing the shallow, out-of-our-control trappings of fame a...Show More

Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)

1:08:04 | Oct 15th, 2018

Continuing on "What Is Enlightenment" by Immanuel Kant (1784), "On Enlightening the Mind" by Moses Mendelssohn (1784), and "What Is Enlightenment" by Michael Foucault (1984). We finish up Kant (the courage to know!) and lay out the Mendelssohn (culti...Show More

Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part One)

47:04 | Oct 8th, 2018

On "What Is Enlightenment" by Immanuel Kant (1784), "On Enlightening the Mind" by Moses Mendelssohn (1784), and "What Is Enlightenment" by Michael Foucault (1984). At the end of the historical period known as The Enlightenment, a Berlin newspaper ask...Show More

Bonus: (sub)Text#4: Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" (Part One)

35:39 | Oct 8th, 2018

Wes Alwan is joined by Tracy Morgan and Louis Scuderi to discuss Freud's classic 1917 essay. Note: Part two will NOT be appearing on this feed. Become a PEL Citizen to get the full discussion. Visit partiallyexaminedlife.com/support to learn how. Lis...Show More

Episode 199: Elizabeth Anderson on Equality (Part Three: Discussion)

1:06:03 | Oct 1st, 2018

Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan continue to discuss “What Is the Point of Equality?” (1999) and how it lays foundations for Private Government (2017). What is democratic equality, and can a Rawlsian/liberal/neutral-with-regard-to-defining-the-good state c...Show More

Episode 199: Guest Elizabeth Anderson on Private Government (Part Two)

1:03:05 | Sep 24th, 2018

Continuing on Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (2017) and “What Is the Point of Equality?” (1999). Should the amount of respect that a worker gets be proportional to his or her market value? Our guest tells us more about how all citiz...Show More

Episode 199: Guest Elizabeth Anderson on Private Government (Part One)

55:28 | Sep 17th, 2018

The U. of Michigan prof joins us to discuss Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) (2017) and “What Is the Point of Equality?” (1999). What is a government? Liz argues that this includes companies, and that ...Show More

Episode 198: Plato's Forms in the "Parmenides" (Part Two)

1:14:38 | Sep 10th, 2018

We get down to the specific questions considered this perplexing Platonic dialogue: Are there forms for all adjectives? Does the form of a property itself have that property? How do Forms connect with particulars? How can we mortals have any connecti...Show More

Episode 198: Plato's Forms in the "Parmenides" (Part One)

46:42 | Sep 3rd, 2018

On the most peculiar Platonic dialogue, from ca. 350 BCE. Are properties real things in the world, or just in the mind? Plato is known for claiming that these "Forms" are real, though otherworldly. Here, though, using Parmenides as a character talkin...Show More

Bonus: (sub)Text #3: Spielberg's "AI: Artificial Intelligence": What Is It to Be Human? (Part One)

34:12 | Sep 2nd, 2018

Wes discusses the film by Steven Spielberg with philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson. What is there to fear in artificial intelligence? How does this shed light on what it means to be fully human? Note: Part two will NOT be appearing on this feed....Show More

Episode 197: Parmenides on What There Is (Part Two)

53:15 | Aug 27th, 2018

Continuing with guest Peter Adamson with "On Nature" (475 BCE). We finally get to fragment 8, which describes why Being must be singular and eternal, given that the notion of Non-Being is nonsense. But how could we as individuals be asking these ques...Show More

Episode 197: Parmenides on What There Is (Part One)

1:00:40 | Aug 20th, 2018

On the fragments referred to as "On Nature" from ca. 475 BCE, featuring guest Peter Adamson from the History of Philosophy without Any Gaps podcast. Parmenides gives "the Way of Truth," which is that there is only Being, and talking of Non-Being is n...Show More

Bonus: (sub)Text #2: Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five": Is There Such a Thing as a War Story? (Part One)

41:11 | Aug 20th, 2018

Episode 2 of Wes's new podcasting endeavor, featuring Mary from the Phi Fic podcast, who's also the managing editor of the PEL blog. Note: Part two will NOT be appearing on this feed. Become a PEL Citizen to get the full discussion. Visit partiallyex...Show More

Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part Two)

1:07:45 | Aug 13th, 2018

Continuing with Simon on his book On Truth (2018). We move to part two of the book, where we get down to the procedures used to obtain truth in art, ethics, and science. Yes, truth is objective, but it's not best described as correspondence, and in f...Show More

Episode 196: Guest Simon Blackburn on Truth (Part One)

52:37 | Aug 6th, 2018

The Cambridge/etc. prof joins Mark, Wes, and Dylan to discuss his book On Truth (2018). What is truth? Simon's view synthesizes deflationism and pragmatism to avoid relativism by fixing on the domain-specific procedures we actually engage in to estab...Show More

NEM#79: Prateek Kuhad's Bi-Lingual Love Songs

1:15:41 | Aug 5th, 2018

Prateek was named artist of the year for 2016 by MTV India and has been releasing tasteful, lyrics-focused songs about relationships in English and Hindi since 2011. We focus on his 2015 album Tokens and Charms: "Go," "Oh Love," and "Flames," plus th...Show More

Episode 195: Truth-The Austin/Strawson Debate (Part Two)

1:01:52 | Jul 30th, 2018

Continuing on "Truth" by J.L. Austin and "Truth" by P.F. Strawson both from 1950. We proceed to the Strawson article, which critiques the notion of a "fact" as explaining why a sentence might be true. A "fact" is not a thing in the world! So what do ...Show More

Episode 195: Truth-The Austin/Strawson Debate (Part One)

1:01:27 | Jul 23rd, 2018

On two articles in the "ordinary language" tradition of philosophy called "Truth" from 1950 by J.L. Austin and P.F. Strawson. Is truth a property of particular speech acts, or of the propositions expressed through speech acts? Does truth mean corresp...Show More

Bonus Discussion: Wes Interprets Shakespeare's "Tempest" (Part One)

33:32 | Jul 21st, 2018

Wes Alwan and Bill Youmans discuss the 1611 play about revenge, forgiveness, and authorship. Or maybe it's about exploitation, or how we react to changes in status, or perhaps how a liberal education can give you magical powers! Note: Part two will N...Show More

Episode 194: Alfred Tarski on Truth (Part Two)

1:12:03 | Jul 16th, 2018

Continuing on Tarski's “The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics" (1944), Hartry Field's “Tarski's Theory of Truth” (1972), and Donald Davidson's “The Folly of Trying to Define Truth” (1977). What was Tarski really doing? Wha...Show More

Episode 194: Alfred Tarski on Truth (Part One)

54:47 | Jul 9th, 2018

On Tarski's “The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics" (1944), Hartry Field's “Tarski's Theory of Truth” (1972), and Donald Davidson's “The Folly of Trying to Define Truth” (1977). What is truth? Tarski gives a technical, met...Show More

PREVIEWS-Eps 192-193 Allan Bloom & Liberal Education Follow-Ups

16:37 | Jul 7th, 2018

Hear highlights from two supporter-only discussions: Allan Bloom on Nietzsche/Freud/etc. and Leo Strauss vs. Richard Rorty on liberal education and democracy.

Episode 193: The Theory and Practice of Liberal Education (Part Two)

52:23 | Jul 2nd, 2018

Continuing with Pano Kanelos on articles on liberal education by Jacob Klein, Sidney Hook, and Martha Nussbaum. What's the practical application of a liberal education? Is it really liberating or indoctrinating? We continue discussion of the Great Bo...Show More

Episode 193: The Theory and Practice of Liberal Education (Part One)

50:34 | Jun 25th, 2018

Pano Kanelos, the president of St. John's College, Annapolis joins us to discuss Jacob Klein's “The Idea of a Liberal Education” (1960) and “On Liberal Education” (1965), plus Sidney Hook’s “A Critical Appraisal of the St. John’s College Curriculum” ...Show More

Episode 192: "The Closing of the American Mind": Allan Bloom on Education (Part Two)

1:10:36 | Jun 18th, 2018

Continuing on Allan Bloom's 1987 book critiquing the current fragmented structure of the university that promotes technical and professional education over the ability to think philosophically. Does Bloom's vision require aristocracy, or can a Great ...Show More

Episode 192: "The Closing of the American Mind": Allan Bloom on Education (Part One)

53:28 | Jun 11th, 2018

On Allan Bloom's 1987 best-selleing polemic. What is the role of the university in our democracy? Bloom thinks that today's students are conformist, relativistic, and nihilistic, and that great books and thinking for thinking's sake are the cure. Don...Show More

Episode 191: Conceptual Schemes: Donald Davidson & Rudolf Carnap (Part Two)

1:09:32 | Jun 4th, 2018

Finishing Davidson's "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme" (1974) and moving on to Carnap's "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology" (1950). Carnap claims that we talk about mathematical objects or subatomic particles or whatever, we're not really (...Show More

Episode 191: Conceptual Schemes: Donald Davidson & Rudolf Carnap (Part One)

56:11 | May 28th, 2018

On Davidson's "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme" (1974) and Carnap's "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology" (1950). What does it mean to say that we grasp the world through a conceptual scheme? Are schemes different between cultures or even indi...Show More

PREVIEWS-Ep 189: Authorial Intent (Part Three) Plus Identity Politics

16:53 | May 26th, 2018

Listen here to a few highlights from two recent discussions between Mark and Wes: We chase down some issues from ep. 189, relating authorial intent to philosophy of language more generally, then we have some preliminary discussion about the possibili...Show More

NEM#73: David J Colors His Poetry

1:06:57 | May 21st, 2018

David J. Haskins gained fame with Bauhaus in the late 70s/early 80s, gained more fame with Love and Rockets, and has since 1983 released around ten albums plus several EPs and other collaborations. We discuss "The Auteur (Redux / Reprise)" a 2018 sin...Show More

Episode 190: Film Analysis: "mother!"

1:28:31 | May 21st, 2018

On Darren Aronofsky's philosophical 2017 film about humanity's relationship to nature. We discuss the philosophical content of the film (Gnosticism, anyone?) and explore the relation between meaning and the sensuous aspects of an artwork. Can a work ...Show More

Episode 189: Authorial Intent (Barthes, Foucault, Beardsley, et al) (Part Two)

1:19:27 | May 14th, 2018

Continuing on "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes (1967) and "What Is an Author?" by Michel Foucault (1969), and finally getting to “Against Theory” by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels (1982). What could it mean to say that a text, once ...Show More

Episode 189: Authorial Intent (Barthes, Foucault, Beardsley, et al) (Part One)

57:12 | May 7th, 2018

On four essays about how to interpret artworks: “The Intentional Fallacy” by W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley (1946), "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes (1967), "What is an Author?" by Michel Foucault (1969), and “Against Theory” by Steven...Show More

Episode 188: Discussing "Lysistrata" and Politics with Lucy and Emily (Part Two)

59:34 | Apr 30th, 2018

Concluding our discussion of Aristophanes's play with Lucy Lawless and Emily Perkins. We focus on trying to connect its lessons to the here and now: Is Lysistrata's victory properly described as the ascension of some kind of "feminine spirit" over wa...Show More

Episode 188: Discussing "Lysistrata" and Politics with Lucy and Emily (Part One)

53:14 | Apr 23rd, 2018

We are rejoined by actresses Lucy Lawless and Emily Perkins to discuss Aristophanes's bawdy play. Listen to us perform it first. Supplementary readings included Jeffery Henderson's introduction to his 1988 translation of the play; "Sexual Humor and H...Show More

"Lysistrata" w/ Lucy Lawless, Emily Perkins, Erica Spyres, Bill Youmans & Aaron Gleason

1:22:32 | Apr 16th, 2018

The PEL Players return to perform a "cold read" of Aristophanes's play about using a sex strike to end war, first performed in 411 BCE. Jeffrey Henderson's translation makes this very accessible, and it's still really damn funny. Your hosts are joine...Show More

PREVIEW-Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part Three)

13:38 | Apr 14th, 2018

Three substantial chunks of a follow-up conversation to our free speech episode. Mark and Wes discuss Jordan Peterson on speech, organizations' promoting certain speech (as opposed to restricting), insults vs. arguments, offense vs. harm, "incoherenc...Show More

Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part Two)

1:04:09 | Apr 9th, 2018

Continuing our free form discussion, trying to make sense of Stanley Fish's “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too” (1994) and other potential rationales for prohibiting hate speech. How might the same sentence or idea be u...Show More

NEM#70: Amy Annelle's Natural Environments

1:02:17 | Apr 9th, 2018

Amy has recorded nine albums of emotionally stark but often artistically decorated original folk music, punctuated by cover tunes like the opening music here, Townes Van Zandt's "Buckskin Stallion Blues," which appeared in the film Three Billboards O...Show More

Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part One)

58:33 | Mar 29th, 2018

A free-form discussion drawing on Stanley Fish's “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too” (1994), Joel Feinberg’s “Limits to the Free Expression of Opinion” (1975), and other sources. What are the legitimate limits on free s...Show More

NEM#69: Craig Wedren Catch-Up: "Safe Home/Fadeland"

36:51 | Mar 28th, 2018

On NEM#15, Craig introduced us to his songwriting style: How a hardcore aesthetic informs even his most syntho creations, and how whimsicality and beauty can coexist harmoniously. Craig has since then released the Adult Desire album, and returns to t...Show More

Episode 186: J.L. Austin on Doing Things with Words (Part Two)

1:12:05 | Mar 26th, 2018

Continuing on How to Do Things with Words (lectures from 1955), covering lectures 5-9. Austin tries and fails to come up with a way to grammatically distinguish performatives from other utterances, and so turns to his more complicated system of aspec...Show More

Episode 186: J.L. Austin on Doing Things with Words (Part One)

49:47 | Mar 19th, 2018

On How to Do Things with Words (lectures from 1955). What's the relationship between language and the world? Austin says it's not all about descriptive true-or-false statements, but also includes "performatives" like "I promise…" and "I do" (spoken i...Show More

Episode 185: Ethics in Homer's "Odyssey" Feat. Translator Emily Wilson (Part Two)

1:13:29 | Mar 12th, 2018

Continuing with Emily Wilson on her translation of the Greek epic poem. We discuss the "oikos" or estate, built on violence, and its connection to "xenia," or hospitality, which serves to forge military alliances. Also: status distinctions and the ro...Show More

Episode 185: Ethics in Homer's "Odyssey" Feat. Translator Emily Wilson (Part One)

50:11 | Mar 5th, 2018

On the classic Greek epic poem, written ca. 750 BC and translated by our guest Emily Wilson in 2018. Does this story of "heroes" have anything to teach us about ethics? Wilson wrote an 80-page introduction to her new translation laying out the issues...Show More

Episode 184: Pascal on the Human Condition (Part Two)

1:09:51 | Feb 25th, 2018

Continuing on Pascal's Pensées. More on our human desire and how God is supposed to address that, plus Pascal's views on political philosophy, the relation between faith, reason, and custom... and finally the wager! Why not just be a skeptic? Is Pasc...Show More

Episode 184: Pascal on Human Nature (Part One)

52:29 | Feb 19th, 2018

On Blaise Pascal's Pensées (1670). Is it rational to have religious faith? You're likely familiar with "Pascal's Wager," but our wretchedness is such that we can't simply choose to believe and won't be argued into it. Pascal thinks Christianity is th...Show More

Episode 183: Mill on Liberty (Part Two)

1:06:57 | Feb 12th, 2018

Continuing on John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. We discuss "partial truths," whether "truth will out," whether we can discard some "experiments in living" as established failures, how Mill compares to Nietzsche, education, "barbarians," and more. Listen...Show More

Episode 183: Mill on Liberty (Part One)

1:00:39 | Feb 4th, 2018

Discussing John Stewart Mill's On Liberty (1859). If we disapprove of certain behaviors, when is it okay to prohibit them legally? What about just shaming people? Mill's "harm principle" says that we should permit anything (legally and socially) unle...Show More

TEASER-Episode 182: Reflections on PEL 2017 (Part Two)

03:37 | Feb 4th, 2018

The PEL guys get personal and political and tell you in brief about things like Planet of the Apes, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Vine Deloria Jr. in the second half of our year-in-review discussion. Here you get a taste. You can only hear the me...Show More

Episode 182: Reflections on PEL 2017 (Part One)

53:02 | Jan 29th, 2018

To what extent has our podcast changed in reaction to current politics? Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan reflect back on our year, discuss how we select texts, and give some thumbnail sketches of potential topics. Also, does authorial intent matter, and ho...Show More

Episode 181: Hannah Arendt on the Banality of Evil (Part Two)

1:22:19 | Jan 22nd, 2018

Continuing on Eichmann in Jerusalem, on how ordinary people can do--or acquiesce to--horrific things. How do people rationalize this? What can we apply from this to ourselves? Also, how was genocide a new type of crime, and what's the best rationale ...Show More

Episode 181: Hannah Arendt on the Banality of Evil (Part One)

47:53 | Jan 15th, 2018

On Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). Are we still morally culpable if our entire society is corrupt? Arendt definitely thinks so, but has a number of criticisms of the handling of the 1961 trial of Nazi war criminal Adol...Show More

Episode 180: More James's Psychology: Self and Will (Part Two)

1:16:51 | Jan 8th, 2018

Concluding on William James's Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892). We briefly cover emotions and spend the bulk of our time on will. James’s introspective method allows us to distinguish reflex or coerced actions from voluntary, free-seeming ones, ...Show More

Episode 180: More James's Psychology: Self and Will (Part One)

1:01:38 | Jan 1st, 2018

On Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), chapters on "The Self," "Will," and "Emotions." Continuing from ep. 179, we talk about the "Me" (the part of me that I know) vs. the "I" (the part of me that knows), including personal identity. James thinks ...Show More

Episode 179: William James's Psychology (Part Two)

1:01:01 | Dec 25th, 2017

Continuing on Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), completing "The Stream of Thought" and covering the chapter on "Habit." James thinks that psychologists focus too much on those parts of consciousness that get picked out by substantive words. He d...Show More

Episode 179: William James's Introspective Psychology (Part One)

55:59 | Dec 18th, 2017

On The Principles of Psychology (1890) chapters 1 & 7, and Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), the chapters on "The Stream of Thought," "Habit," and some of "The Self." Can we talk about the mind in a way that is both scientific and also does just...Show More

NEM#61: Richard X. Heyman Is Incognito (Yet a Cornerstone)

1:17:01 | Dec 11th, 2017

Richard garnered early fame as drummer for -60s New Jersey garage band The Doughboys and has put out 11 albums, largely as a one-man band, since 1988. We discuss the title tracks from Incognito (2017) and Cornerstone (1998) and “Agnostic’s Prayer” fr...Show More

Episode 178: Nietzsche as Social Critic: Twilight of the Idols (Part Two)

1:09:47 | Dec 10th, 2017

Continuing on Nietzsche's 1888 book. Is there any ground from which we could judge life as a whole to be good or bad? Is N. more about saying "yes" to life or saying "no" to all the numerous things that piss him off? We also talk Becoming, whether pr...Show More

Episode 178: Nietzsche as Social Critic: "Twilight of the Idols" (Part One)

55:45 | Dec 4th, 2017

On Friedrich Nieztsche's 1888 book summarizing his thought and critiquing the founding myths of his society. He defends "spiritualized" instinct and frenzied creativity, but also Napoleon and war. We try to figure out what kind of social critic he'd ...Show More

Episode 177: Guest Russ Roberts on Adam Smith and Emergent Order (Part Two)

1:16:42 | Nov 27th, 2017

Continuing with the Econtalk host on the moral aspects of economics, focused by Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments. Should we sacrifice ourselves to the machine of the economy? How does Smith's idea of virtue and talk o...Show More

Episode 177: Guest Russ Roberts on Adam Smith and Libertarian Economics (Part One)

55:19 | Nov 20th, 2017

The host of Econtalk provides his take on our ep. 174 on The Wealth of Nations, and explores with us the idea of emergent economic order. Is the economy more like a machine or a garden or what? Don't wait for part two! Get the full, ad-free, unbroken...Show More

Episode 176: Situationism in Psych: Milgram & Stanford Prison Experiments (Part Two)

1:00:38 | Nov 13th, 2017

Continuing with Dave Pizarro on articles by Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, and John Doris about situationism, which entails that people's level of morality will vary by situation, as opposed to virtue ethics, which posits that how people will act ...Show More

Episode 176: Situationism in Psych: Milgram & Stanford Prison Experiments (Very Bad Wizards Crossover) (Part One)

50:25 | Nov 6th, 2017

On Stanley Milgram's "Behavioral Study of Obedience" (1963), Philip Zimbardo’s "Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison" (1973), and John Doris’s "Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics" (1998). Do difficult situations make good people act badly...Show More

TEASER-Episode 175: Blade Runner (Part Two)

02:31 | Nov 6th, 2017

Do you want the WHOLE discussion on the new Blade Runner 2049, the original 1982 film, and the idea packed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1967) by Philip K. Dick? If you do, show your love to the podcast by signing up to be a supporter at the ...Show More

Episode 175: Blade Runner: Androids and Humanity (Part One)

48:06 | Oct 30th, 2017

On Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1967) and the films Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Blade Runner (1982). What makes us human? Dick's story about androids emphasized their lack of empathy, while the movie adaptations portrayed t...Show More

NEM#57: Richard Amp's Exploratory Atmospheres

1:10:28 | Oct 22nd, 2017

Richard F. Walker has released 20+ albums, usually with his London space-rock band Amp. We discuss "Just Get It (Why Don’t You)" and "Les Ombres Sur la Lune" from Q Factors (A Mixtape) (2017) and "Tomorrow" from Stenorette (1988), and listen to "Levi...Show More

Episode 174: Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" (Part Two)

1:07:37 | Oct 22nd, 2017

Continuing on the foundational text of economics. We talk "invisible hand," "greed is good," tariffs, unproductive labor, city vs. country, and the education racket. Listen to part 1 first or get the ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End s...Show More

Episode 174: Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" (Part One)

57:54 | Oct 16th, 2017

On the foundational, 1776 text of modern economics. How does the division of labor and our instinct to exchange lead to the growth of wealth? Is the economy sufficiently machine-like to enable us to manipulate its output, or at least to tell us how n...Show More

Episode 173: Relating to American Indian Philosophy (Part Two)

1:02:19 | Oct 9th, 2017

We go further into "Philosophy of Native Science" by Gregory Cajete and "What Coyote and Thales Can Teach Us: An Outline of American Indian Epistemology" by Brian Yazzie Burkhart, plus process philosophy, propositional vs. procedural knowledge, and w...Show More

Episode 173: Relating to American Indian Philosophy (Part One)

52:49 | Oct 2nd, 2017

What is wisdom? We discuss articles by Brian Burkhart, Gregory Cajete, and Anne Waters, plus Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt (1932) and some traditional stories. With guest Jim Marunich; we read his master's thesis, "Process Metaphysics in the Far ...Show More

Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Part Two)

59:15 | Sep 25th, 2017

Continuing with Drew Pinsky on “Attachment and Reflective Function: Their Role in Self-organization” by Peter Fonagy and two articles by Allan Schore. Fonagy claims we gain the ability to emotionally self-regulate as a result of achieving secure atta...Show More

Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Part One)

45:01 | Sep 18th, 2017

Radio legend Dr. Drew Pinsky talks with us about “Attachment and Reflective Function: Their Role in Self-Organization” by Peter Fonagy and two articles by Allan Schore. The focus is "theory of mind"; how do we develop the ability to impute thoughts a...Show More

Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)

1:11:32 | Sep 11th, 2017

Continuing on Why Buddhism Is True. We discuss the "no self" doctrine as articulated in Buddha's Second Discourse and the modularity-of-mind theory that Bob claims supports it. What are the ethical implications, and do we really need meditation to ac...Show More

Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part One)

55:07 | Sep 4th, 2017

Bob joins the PEL four to discuss his new book Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. Bob applies his expertise in evolutionary psychology to corroborate Buddhism's claims that we are deluded: about our desi...Show More

Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"

1:11:12 | Aug 28th, 2017

Mark and Seth ask Doug Lain (Zero Squared), Brett O'Shea (Revolutionary Left Radio), and C. Derick Varn (Symptomatic Redness) what they think of Debord and PEL's treatment of the book on Ep #170. End song: "Open Your Eyes (Wake Up)" from Tyler Hislop...Show More

Episode 170: Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle" (Part Two)

1:13:07 | Aug 21st, 2017

More on the 1967 Situtationist book. Do we buy Debord's critique? Is any merely partial critique (i.e. no revolution) just more spectacle? Is technology inherently dehumanizing? Don't these passivity/anti-technology arguments even apply to books? Cou...Show More

Episode 170: Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle" (Part One)

55:25 | Aug 14th, 2017

What is culture? In modern capitalism, Debord’s 1967 book describes it as all about the economy. It’s not just our jobs that keep us trapped, but our life outside of working hours is also demanded by “the system” via our activity as consumers, and th...Show More

TEASER-Episode 169: Analyzing Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (Part Two)

01:56 | Aug 12th, 2017

Some audio tidbits to hint at the analytic glories in the second half of our discussion, getting deeper into the psychoanalytic/existential interpretations of the film. Get the discussion at patreon.com/partiallyexaminedlife or with a PEL Citizenship...Show More

PEL Special: Combat & Classics on Rousseau's "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences"

53:11 | Aug 7th, 2017

A new podcast for the PEL Podcast Network! Meet Jeff, Lise, and Brian, who are joined by Wes and Dylan to discuss Rousseau's claim that the arts and sciences lead to "moral corruption." Get more C&C on the PEL site or at combatandclassics.org. Become...Show More

Episode 169: Analyzing Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (Part One)

48:29 | Jul 31st, 2017

On the 1958 film and articles including Laura Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1975) and Robin Wood's "Vertigo" (1965). What's the nature of love/lust? Are we really just loving an image we've built while remaining fundamentally isola...Show More

Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part Two)

1:06:46 | Jul 24th, 2017

More on Darwin's famous book. Why does it matter for philosophy, beyond providing an alternative to intelligent design? Is it really anti-religious? How can well tell if it's really a scientific theory? Talking about a species evolving trait X to ena...Show More

Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)

49:10 | Jul 17th, 2017

On Charles Darwin's 1859 book, ch. 1-4, 6, and 14. What are the philosophical ramifications of Darwin's theory of evolution? We go through Darwin's arguments, compare his views to other theories of evolution like Lamarck's, and talk about how an evol...Show More

Episode 167: Hume on Intelligent Design (Part Two)

1:06:26 | Jul 10th, 2017

Continuing on David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), with guest Stephen West. We get further into what’s wrong with the design argument and why Hume thinks that it’s merely a verbal dispute whether we want to say that God designed...Show More

Episode 167: Hume on Intelligent Design (Philosophize This! Crossover) (Part One)

47:59 | Jul 3rd, 2017

On David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). How would a scientifically minded person argue for the existence of God? In Hume’s dialogue, a character named Cleanthes argues from this point of view for God’s existence based on the com...Show More

Episode 166: Spinoza on Politics and Religion (Part Two)

1:35:48 | Jun 26th, 2017

Concluding on the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670) and Tractatus Politicus (1677). What's the relationship between ethics, reason, and revelation? What could "faith" possibly mean to a hard-core rationalist like Spinoza? Is it possible to buy in...Show More

Episode 166: Spinoza on Politics and Religion (Part One)

54:25 | Jun 19th, 2017

On Benedict de Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670), ch. 12-20 and the Tractatus Politicus (1677). What’s the relationship between ethics and political power? Given that religious factions tend to create strife, what’s the optimal role of ...Show More

Episode 165: Spinoza on Biblical Criticism (Part Two)

1:08:04 | Jun 12th, 2017

Continuing on the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670), ch. 1–11. We go more into natural laws vs. ordinances; does it make sense to say that God makes rules for people? Also, how does Spinoza deal with alleged miracles given that natural laws are a...Show More

Episode 165: Spinoza on Biblical Criticism (Part One)

1:06:59 | Jun 5th, 2017

On Benedict de Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670), ch. 1–11. For Spinoza, the Bible was a political issue, and he was interested in a way to read it that didn't lead to people fighting wars and persecuting each other. Spinoza argues that...Show More

REISSUE-Ep. 24: Spinoza on God and Metaphysics

1:49:15 | May 29th, 2017

Discussing Spinoza's Ethics (1677), books 1 and 2. God is everything, therefore the world is God as apprehended through some particular attributes, namely insofar as one of his aspects is infinite space (extension, i.e. matter) and insofar as one of ...Show More

Nakedly Examined Music: Steve Hackett, Nik Kershaw, Ken Stringfellow, Robbie Fulks

1:14:46 | May 26th, 2017

PEL Network crossover magic, featuring clips (a full song plus explanation) from four recent episodes of Mark's other podcast. Hear the full episodes and many more at nakedlyexaminedmusic.com. Steve was the guitarist for Genesis in the 70s, Nik wrote...Show More

Episode 164: Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” on Perfection (Part Two)

1:24:28 | May 22nd, 2017

More on the novel with guest Corey Mohler, considering Dostoyevsky qua existentialist in terms of his analysis of the crisis of meaning and his consequent views on religion. Listen to part 1 first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Get a ...Show More

Episode 164: Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” on Perfection (Part One)

59:49 | May 15th, 2017

On Fyodor Dostoyevsky's philosophical novel from 1869. Could a morally perfect person survive in the modern world? Is all this "modernity," which so efficiently computes our desires and provides mechanisms to fulfill them, actually suited to achieve ...Show More

Episode 163: Guest Stewart Umphrey on Natural Kinds (Part Two)

1:13:15 | May 8th, 2017

Continuing our interview about Natural Kinds and Genesis: The Classification of Material Entities. Buy Stewart's book at www.rowman.com and use the code LEX30AUTH17 to get 30% off.

Episode 163: Guest Stewart Umphrey on Natural Kinds (Part One)

56:50 | May 1st, 2017

On Natural Kinds and Genesis: The Classification of Material Entities (2016). Are general terms like "water" or "dog" just things that we made up to order the world? Aristotle thought that some universals constitute natural kinds, with a nature that ...Show More

PEL Special: Phi Fic on James Baldwin’s Fiction

1:43:55 | Apr 24th, 2017

On the short stories "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" (1960) and "Sonny’s Blues" (1957). To supplement our episode on Baldwin's essays, we're doing a crossover on to the PEL feed here from the Phi Fic podcast, which you should definitely check o...Show More

Episode 162: James Baldwin on Race in America (Part Two)

58:10 | Apr 17th, 2017

Continuing on I Am Not Your Negro, "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), and The Fire Next Time (1963). We (and Law Ware) discuss Baldwin's critique of the American dream, how to oppose the inhumanity of others without becoming inhuman yourself, and Baldwi...Show More

Episode 162: James Baldwin on Race in America (Part One)

47:53 | Apr 10th, 2017

On the film I Am Not Your Negro and the essays "Notes of a Native Son" (1955) and The Fire Next Time (1963). Baldwin is a go-to figure at this point in discussions of race; his essays, stories, and speeches provide a key touchstone in discussing how ...Show More

Episode 161: White Privilege (Peggy McIntosh, Charles Mills, et al) (Part Two)

1:21:25 | Apr 3rd, 2017

Continuing with guest Law Ware on the philosophical underpinnings of the rhetoric of white privilege, with readings as listed in part 1. Get the Citizen version to hear this without commercials. Please support PEL! For $20 off luggage, visit away.com...Show More

Episode 161: White Privilege (Peggy McIntosh, Charles Mills, et al) (Part One)

55:59 | Mar 27th, 2017

Is the rhetoric of "White Privilege" just the modern way of acknowledging historical and systemic truths of racism, or does it point to a novel way for acknowledging injustice, or does it on the contrary obscure these insights by involving confused c...Show More

Episode 160: Orwell on Totalitarianism and Language (Part Two)

1:15:51 | Mar 20th, 2017

Continuing with 1984. How does the book relate to today's politics, or to the politics of his time? Does Orwell present something that we should actually be afraid our society will turn into? Are people really motivated by power for power's sake as O...Show More

Episode 160: Orwell on Totalitarianism and Language (Part One)

55:49 | Mar 13th, 2017

On the novel 1984 (1949) and the essays “Politics and the English Language” (1946) and “Notes on Nationalism” (1945). What's the relation between language and totalitarianism? In 1984, Orwell presents us with a society where the ruling powers have ma...Show More

Episode 159: Confucius on Virtuous Conduct (Part Two)

1:21:16 | Mar 6th, 2017

Continuing on the Analects, now without our guest. We cover every single one of the 500 aphorisms, of course, in great depth, getting at the unambiguous meaning of each and completely reorienting our philosophical viewpoint in consequence. OK, so the...Show More

Episode 159: Confucius on Virtuous Conduct (Part One)

54:54 | Feb 27th, 2017

On the Analects, compiled after Confucius's (aka Master Kong's) death in 479 BCE. How should we act? What's the relation between ethics and politics? Can a bunch of aphorisms written in the distant past for an unapologetically hierarchical culture em...Show More

Episode 158: Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Part Two)

1:12:09 | Feb 20th, 2017

Continuing on the Consolation (524 CE). We discuss chiefly books 3 and 4, which present the classical one-dimensional model of the good: We all tend toward the good (or what we think to be good, and if we're wrong about what that is, then we can be j...Show More

Episode 158: Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Part One)

57:39 | Feb 13th, 2017

On the Consolation, written as Boethius awaited execution in 524 CE. Do bad things really happen to good people? Boethius, surprisingly, says no, for Stoic (anything that can be taken away can't be of central importance; you can't lose your virtue in...Show More

Episode 157: Richard Rorty on Politics for the Left (Part Two)

1:07:08 | Feb 6th, 2017

Continuing on Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in 20th Century America (1998). We talk more about Rorty's description of the conflict between the "reformist left" and the "cultural left." Do political-comedy shows serve a a positive political p...Show More

Episode 157: Richard Rorty on Politics for the Left (Part One)

57:29 | Jan 30th, 2017

On Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in 20th Century America (1998). What makes for efficacious progressive politics? Rorty has been cited much recently as predicting the rise of Trump. In this book, he gives us a history of the political left, ...Show More

Episode 156: Philosophy and Politics Free-Form Discussion (Part Two)

1:04:19 | Jan 23rd, 2017

Continuing our liberal bubble-bursting exercise, the core foursome address more directly the question of how philosophy is supposed to shape one's political views and actions. Is there a non-partisan way of describing "the public good" that we can us...Show More

Episode 156: Philosophy and Politics Free-Form Discussion (Part One)

57:23 | Jan 16th, 2017

How does studying philosophy help you to make sense of the political landscape? Wes, Mark, Dylan, and Seth play pundit and express their angst over this new era. We reflect on political rhetoric, elitism, and much more. There is no text for this epis...Show More

Episode 155: Richard Rorty Against Epistemology (Part Two)

1:04:49 | Jan 9th, 2017

Continuing on Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Ch. 3–4. Is Rorty right that post-Kantian philosophers were engaging in "revisionist history" in saying that the ancients too were concerned with the relation between the senses and reason? We discus...Show More

Episode 155: Richard Rorty Against Epistemology (Part One)

54:59 | Jan 2nd, 2017

On Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Part II: "Mirroring" (Ch. 3–4). Is a "theory of knowledge" possible? Rorty says that while of course psychology has interesting things to say, any specifically philosophical effort is doomed. Why? Becaus...Show More

Episode 154: Wilfrid Sellars on the Myth of the Given (Part Two)

55:00 | Dec 26th, 2016

Continuing on "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (1956). We consider a couple of Sellars's "thought experiments." In one, a guy who works in a tie shop thinks he understands "green," but when electric lights are added, what used to be green now ...Show More

Episode 154: Wilfrid Sellars on the Myth of the Given (Part One)

53:18 | Dec 19th, 2016

On "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (1956). Is knowledge based on a "foundation," as Descartes, Locke, et al. thought? Sellars says no. Sixteenth-century empiricists thought that we have some indubitable perceptions: Even though I may not be a...Show More

Episode 153: Richard Rorty: There Is No Mind-Body Problem (Part Two)

1:10:47 | Dec 12th, 2016

Continuing on Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Part I. Rorty relates the immateriality of mind to the ontology of universals: The gap between individual dogs and the concept "dogness" is really the only ontological gap we have, and conceiving the...Show More

Episode 153: Richard Rorty: There Is No Mind-Body Problem (Part One)

52:17 | Dec 5th, 2016

On Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Part I: "Our Glassy Essence" (mostly Ch. 1). "The mind" seems to be an unavoidable part of our basic conceptual vocabulary, but Rorty thinks not, and he wants to use the history of philosophy as a kind o...Show More

Episode 152: Alexis de Tocqueville on Democracy in America (PEL Live!)

1:29:24 | Nov 21st, 2016

Democracy is in peril! So said Tocqueville in 1835 and 1840 when Democracy is America was published, and so would he likely say now. Democracy is always just one demagogue away from stripping us of our liberties, though certain structural and cultura...Show More

Episode 151: Edmund Burke’s Conservatism (Part Two)

1:07:16 | Nov 14th, 2016

Continuing on Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), where Burke advocates for the existence of the nobility as a stabilizing element in society: These folks are driven by honor, groomed from youth to lead, and estates themselves provide con...Show More

Episode 151: Edmund Burke’s Conservatism (Part One)

55:18 | Nov 7th, 2016

On Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Writing after the revolution but before the terror, Burke was alarmed at intellectual fads in England that paid homage to the principles driving what happened in France: the right of people to choose...Show More

PEL Special: Bill Bruford on Nakedly Examined Music #25

1:18:04 | Nov 6th, 2016

NEM now features jazz, hip-hop, classical, folk, and more. Check out all the episodes at nakedlyexaminedmusic.com, where you can subscribe and follow on Facebook. Bill played with all of your top three '70s prog bands, as the original drummer for Yes...Show More

Episode 150: Peter Singer on Famine, Affluence, and Morality (Part Two: Discussion)

1:23:10 | Oct 31st, 2016

Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan discuss our interview with Peter Singer. Does Singer's asserting such a heavy moral burden on us successfully condemn us to changing our priorities and/or feeling perpetually guilty, or is there something wrong with the arg...Show More

Episode 150: Guest Peter Singer on Famine, Affluence, and Morality (Part One)

53:42 | Oct 24th, 2016

Mark and Wes interview perhaps the most influential living philosopher! Our focus is the newly reissued/repackaged 1971 essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality," which argues that just as we would regard it as unethical to fail to save a drowning chil...Show More

Episode 149: Plato’s “Crito”: A Performance and Discussion

1:24:17 | Oct 17th, 2016

Broadway bigwigs Walter Bobbie and Bill Youmans perform Plato's dialogue in which Socrates awaits his execution after being convicted by an Athenian jury of corrupting the youth and dissing the gods. Given that the verdict was clearly unjust, should ...Show More

Episode 148: Aristotle on Friendship and Happiness (Part Two)

1:12:12 | Oct 10th, 2016

Concluding on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, books 8–10. First, more on friendship: Should you share your sorrow with your friends, or is that just you being a burden? What makes it difficult to make new, real friends as an adult in modern society?...Show More

Episode 148: Aristotle on Friendship and Happiness (Part One)

54:42 | Oct 3rd, 2016

On the final books 8–10 of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. What does friendship have to do with ethics? Aristotle thinks that friends are necessary for the good life (i.e., eudaimonia or happiness, which is the goal of ethics), and that the only tru...Show More

Episode 147: Aristotle on Wisdom and Incontinence (Part Two)

1:16:17 | Sep 26th, 2016

Continuing on the Nichomachean Ethics (ca. 350 BCE), books 6–7. We're still talking about the various intellectual virtues for the first half here, including the ever-popular nous, translated sometimes as "rational intuition" (which you might call we...Show More

Episode 147: Aristotle on Wisdom and Incontinence (Part One)

52:23 | Sep 19th, 2016

On the Nichomachean Ethics (ca. 350 BCE), books 6–7. Is intelligence just one thing? Aristotle picks out a number of distinct faculties, some of which are relevant to ethics, and he uses these to explain Plato's puzzle of how someone can clearly see ...Show More

Episode 146: Emmanuel Levinas on Overcoming Solitude (Part Two)

1:29:24 | Sep 12th, 2016

Concluding Levinas's Time and the Other (1948), in which we talk about the present being freedom, before there's even a will! This sort of helps to justify the counterintuitive existentialist insistence that we are responsible for the current state o...Show More

Episode 146: Emmanuel Levinas on Overcoming Solitude (Part One)

1:01:51 | Sep 5th, 2016

More Levinas, working this time through Time and the Other (1948). What is it for a person to exist? What individuates one person from another, making us into selves instead of just part of the causal net of events? Why would someone possibly think t...Show More

Episode 145: Emmanuel Levinas: Why Be Ethical? (Part Two)

1:07:29 | Aug 29th, 2016

Continuing on "Ethics as First Philosophy" (1984) and other essays. We try to complete Levinas's story on how revealing the flawed, aggressive character of our culture and personal attitudes can lead us to recognition of the ethical demand of the Oth...Show More

Episode 145: Emmanuel Levinas: Why Be Ethical? (Part One)

1:02:47 | Aug 22nd, 2016

On "Ethics as First Philosophy" (1984). More existentialist ethics, with a Jewish twist this time! Seth rejoins Mark and Wes to discuss this difficult essay, with a bit of "Time and the Other" (1948) and "There Is: Existence Without Existents" (1946)...Show More

Episode 144: Martha Nussbaum on Anger (Part Three: Discussion)

58:16 | Aug 15th, 2016

Post-interview discussion of more aspects of Martha Nussbaum's Anger and Forgiveness. Is Nussbaum right in saying that payback should not play any part in our justice apparatus? We try to lay out what changes in policy she's pushing for and discuss h...Show More

Episode 144: Guest Martha Nussbaum on Anger (Part Two)

50:15 | Aug 8th, 2016

More interview on Anger and Forgiveness, now covering social justice, the legitimate role (if any) of anger and forgiveness in enacting justice and bringing about social change, and more on when Stoicism is legitimate and when it runs contra to ineli...Show More

Episode 144: Guest Martha Nussbaum on Anger (Part One)

49:53 | Aug 1st, 2016

On Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (2016). What role should we allow anger to play in our public life? Should systems of punishment be strictly impartial, or should they be retributive, i.e., expressive of public anger? Nussbau...Show More

Phi Fic #3 Frankenstein (PEL Crossover Special)

1:56:16 | Jul 25th, 2016

PEL welcomes a new podcast to our fledgling network: Phi Fic, which grew out of our Not School Philosophical Fiction group, featuring Nathan Hanks (who you'll likely recognize from our Not School anouncments, Mary Claire (who helps edit the PEL blog)...Show More

Episode 143: Plato’s “Sophist” on Lies, Categorization, and Non-Being (Part Two)

1:00:19 | Jul 18th, 2016

Continuing to discuss the views of Plato's Eleatic Stranger on sophistry, with a right turn into hardcore metaphysics with an exploration of falsity and its metaphysical correlate, non-being. The "Eleatic" in "Eleatic Stranger" is supposed to connote...Show More

Episode 143: Plato’s “Sophist” on Lies, Categorization, and Non-Being (Part One)

52:26 | Jul 11th, 2016

On the later Platonic dialogue (ca. 360 BC). What is a sophist? Historically, these were foreign teachers in Ancient Greece who taught young people the tools of philosophy and rhetoric, among other things, and espeically they claimed to teach virtue....Show More

Episode 142: Plato’s “Phaedrus” on Love and Speechmaking (Part Two)

1:19:58 | Jul 4th, 2016

Continuing on Plato's dialogue (from around 370 BC), diving into Socrates's myth-laden speech on the nature of love: The soul is like a charioteer with a good horse and a bad horse, and the bad horse is the crazy, love-struck, lust-filled one, and pu...Show More

Episode 142: Plato’s “Phaedrus” on Love and Speechmaking (Part One)

1:01:01 | Jun 27th, 2016

Socrates hangs out in the country flirting with his buddy Phaedrus. And what is this "Platonic" love you've all heard about? Well, you use the enticement of desire not to rush toward fulfillment, but to get all excited about talking philosophy. Phaed...Show More

Episode 141: De Beauvoir’s Existentialism: Moral and Political Dilemmas (Part Two)

1:05:55 | Jun 20th, 2016

Simone de Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947). We continue discussing Part III of the book, turning explicitly to political dilemmas: Embracing our freedom means willing the freedom of others, but what if the other person is (according to Beauv...Show More

Episode 141: De Beauvoir’s Existentialism: Moral and Political Dilemmas (Part One)

53:42 | Jun 13th, 2016

More on Simone de Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947), this time on part III. In ep. 140, we described de B's picture of our "ambiguous" existential situation and how proper recognition of our freedom means willing the freedom of others, but wh...Show More

Episode 140: De Beauvoir on the Ambiguous Human Condition (Part Two)

1:17:07 | Jun 6th, 2016

Continuing on Simone de Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947), parts I and II. We discuss all the various ways to fail to wholly will your own freedom, i.e., will it all the way to where you will the freedom of others. The first step is admitting...Show More

Episode 140: De Beauvoir on the Ambiguous Human Condition (Part One)

1:02:48 | May 30th, 2016

On Simone De Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947), parts I and II. We return to existentialism! Instead of describing our predicament as "absurd," de Beauvoir prefers "ambiguous": We are a biological organism in the world, yet we're also free co...Show More

PEL News and Previews: Plato’s “Crito” and the Hegel’s Logic Aftershow

39:12 | May 27th, 2016

Brian Wilson's Not School Intro Readings in Philosophy Group discussed Plato on why you should obey the state and other musings from a condemned Socrates; you can be part of the group's next discussion on Sun. 6/4 5pm EDT. Just become a PEL Citizen, ...Show More

Nakedly Examined Music #15 w/ Craig Wedren (PEL Crossover Special)

1:38:18 | May 26th, 2016

Hey, PEL Listeners, go subscribe to Nakedly Examined Music at nakedlyexaminedmusic.com or on iTunes! Craig is into Buddhism and surrealism, and led Shudder to Think from 1986 to 1998, and has since had a solo career and done soundtrack work, often fo...Show More

Episode 139: bell hooks on Racism/Sexism (Part Two)

1:11:20 | May 16th, 2016

Continuing on Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) and Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992, Intro, Ch. 3, 11), with guest Myisha Cherry. We talk about black feminist "essentialism" (i.e., a single narrative of oppression) and how t...Show More

Episode 139: bell hooks on Racism/Sexism (Part One)

51:08 | May 9th, 2016

On Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) and Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992, Intro, Ch. 3, 11). How do these pernicious forces interact? bell hooks (aka Gloria Watkins) describes black women as having been excluded both from ma...Show More

Episode 138: John Searle on Perception (Part Two: Discussion)

52:31 | May 2nd, 2016

Mark, Wes, and Dylan discuss the interview with John in part one on Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception (2015) and try to sketch out the view and its potential problems in a little more detail. The two main issues are first, Searle clai...Show More

Episode 138: John Searle Interview on Perception (Part One)

1:08:08 | Apr 25th, 2016

We interview John about Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception (2015). What is perception? Searle says that it's not a matter of seeing a representation, which is then somehow related to things in the real world. We see the actual objects,...Show More

Episode 137: Bourdieu on the Tastes of Social Classes (Part Two)

1:14:52 | Apr 18th, 2016

Continuing on Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979) with guest rock star Tim Quirk (from Too Much Joy). We continue talking about Bourdieu's conclusions regarding his survey of musical tastes: People use the...Show More

Episode 137: Bourdieu on the Tastes of Social Classes (Part One)

57:03 | Apr 11th, 2016

On Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979), introduction, chapter 1 through p. 63, conclusion, and postscript. How do our tastes in music, art, and everything else reflect our social position? This philosophic...Show More

Episode 136: Adorno on the Culture Industry (Part Two)

1:18:37 | Apr 4th, 2016

Continuing on Theodor Adorno's "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" (1944). We cover topics within art and entertainment like the role of style: You think you're being so original with your personal style, but Adorno sees you has h...Show More

Episode 136: Adorno on the Culture Industry (Part One)

59:30 | Mar 28th, 2016

On Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" from Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), plus Adorno's essay "Culture Industry Reconsidered" (1963). How does the entertainment industry affect us? Adorno a...Show More

Episode 135: Hegel on the Logic of Basic Metaphysical Concepts (Part Two)

1:08:57 | Mar 21st, 2016

The last of our four releases on G.W.F. Hegel's The Encyclopaedia Logic (1817). Here we finish sections 78–99 (still with guest Amogh Sahu), giving Hegel's account of how Being supposedly leads, when you analyze the concept itself, to Nothingness, an...Show More

Episode 135: Hegel on the Logic of Basic Metaphysical Concepts (Part One)

1:00:31 | Mar 14th, 2016

A whole second discussion on G.F.W. Hegel's The Encyclopaedia Logic (1817), hitting sections 78–99 on the dialectic and how it's supposed to generate basic metaphysical categories like Being, Becoming, Quality, and Quantity. We also talk about Unders...Show More

Episode 134: Hegel on Thought & World (or “Logic”) (Part Two)

1:10:45 | Mar 7th, 2016

More on G.F.W. Hegel's The Science of Logic (1812–1816), §1–§129 plus The Encyclopaedia Logic (1817) §1–§25. We continue trying to make sense of Hegel's method and purpose: How does he think that we can deduce something like Kant's categories (e.g., ...Show More

Episode 134: Hegel on Thought & World (or “Logic”) (Part One)

55:30 | Feb 29th, 2016

On G.F.W. Hegel's The Science of Logic (1812–1816), §1–§129 (i.e., the two prefaces and the introduction), plus The Encyclopaedia Logic (1817) §1–§25, which is supposed to dumb it down more so we can understand what's going on. "Logic" for Hegel isn'...Show More

Ep. 130/131 Aftershow (Preview) on Aristotle feat. Rebecca Goldner

15:23 | Feb 21st, 2016

Host Danny Lobell joins Wes to welcome St. John's Annapolis tutor Rebecca Goldner to help folks understand Aristotle's De Anima as laid out in our episodes 130 and 131. Also featuring PEL Citizens Michael Burgess, Nick Halme, Erik Weissengruber, Chas...Show More

PEL Special: Nakedly Examined Music #1 with David Lowery

1:16:24 | Feb 18th, 2016

Our first spin-off podcast has launched successfully! PEL host Mark Linsenmayer talks to songwriters about why and how they do what they do: Call it applied philosophy, the specifics that go into making this most popular of our arts. And who better t...Show More

Episode 133: Erich Fromm on Love as an Art (Part Two)

1:08:31 | Feb 15th, 2016

Continuing on Fromm's The Art of Loving (1956). In this second half of our discussion, we talk about love as requiring knowledge: as "knowing the secret" of humanity or at least being interested. This is related to sadism. Is there a difference betwe...Show More

Episode 133: Erich Fromm on Love as an Art (Part One)

53:15 | Feb 8th, 2016

On Fromm's The Art of Loving (1956). A Valentine's Day special topic! What is love, really? This psychoanalyst of the Frankfurt school thinks that real love is not something one "falls" into, but is an art, an activity, and doing it well requires a d...Show More

Episode 132: Living Stoically with Seneca and Massimo (Part Two)

1:09:37 | Feb 1st, 2016

Continuing with Massimo Pigliucci on selected "moral epistles" by Seneca: 4. On the Terrors of Death, 12. On Old Age, 49. On the Shortness of Life, 59. On Pleasure and Joy, 62. On Good Company, 92. On the Happy Life, 96. On Facing Hardship, and 116. ...Show More

Episode 132: Living Stoically with Seneca and Massimo (Part One)

1:03:23 | Jan 25th, 2016

On selected "moral epistles" (from around 65 CE) by Lucius Annaeus Seneca: 4. On the Terrors of Death, 12. On Old Age, 49. On the Shortness of Life, 59. On Pleasure and Joy, 62. On Good Company, 92. On the Happy Life, 96. On Facing Hardship, and 116....Show More

Episode 131: Aristotle’s “De Anima”: What Is the Mind? (Part Two)

1:02:13 | Jan 18th, 2016

Concluding our discussion of On the Soul, book 3. Now that we're done with perception, we get into imagination and then to "nous" proper: the contemplative intellect that understands by grasping the "forms" of things. This is our gateway to talking a...Show More

Episode 131: Aristotle’s “De Anima”: What Is the Mind? (Part One)

51:21 | Jan 11th, 2016

Our second discussion of De Anima or On the Soul (350 BCE), this time on book 3. What is the intellect? In ep. 130, we talked about Aristotle's idea of the soul as the form of the body and about two of its functions or parts: the nutritive and the se...Show More

Episode 130: Aristotle’s “De Anima”: What Is Life? (Part Two)

54:09 | Jan 4th, 2016

Continuing on De Anima, books 1 and 2. We talk about the nutritive part of the soul, which is the only kind plants have, and the perceptive part, which animals have too, which for Aristotle means they have (or many of them have) imagination too. We g...Show More

Episode 130: Aristotle’s “De Anima”: What Is Life? (Part One)

1:11:00 | Dec 28th, 2015

On De Anima or On the Soul (350 BCE), books 1 and 2. We lead off with listener mail; Aristotle starts 18 minutes in. What can this ancient text tell us about biological life? Much of the interest and difficulty here is the very different conceptual s...Show More

Holiday Special 2015: Mark Lint’s “Songs from the Partially Examined Life” with Many Guest Greetings

2:06:46 | Dec 24th, 2015

PEL gets nostalgic, playing songs and bringing back guests from yesteryear. Both beloved former guests and some new behind-the-scenes friends of PEL chatted with Mark about what they're up to, and each of them took on a song to try to make sense of. ...Show More

Episode 129: Is Faith Rational? (Part Two)

1:10:08 | Dec 21st, 2015

Continuing on faith and reason with Nathan Gilmour and Rob Dyer. In this half we focus on the critique of evidentialism in Basil Mitchell's “Faith and Criticism” (1994), Peter van Inwagen's "Clifford's Principle" (1994, from his "Quam Dilecta"), and ...Show More

Episode 129: Is Faith Rational? (Part One)

1:11:12 | Dec 14th, 2015

Nathan Gilmour (Christian Humanist podcast) and Rob Dyer (God Complex Radio) join Mark and Wes for to discuss the reasonableness of religious belief reading: * Antony Flew, "The Presumption of Atheism" (1976) * Norwood Russell Hanson, “The Agnostic’...Show More

Episode 128: Hilary Putnam on Linguistic Meaning (Part Two)

1:15:11 | Dec 7th, 2015

Continuing on "The Meaning of Meaning" (1975). We finish giving Putnam's positive theory for "meaning" something, which involves not only referring to something (whose properties, per Kripke, you may well not know) but being familiar with a stereotyp...Show More

Episode 128: Hilary Putnam on Linguistic Meaning (Part One)

57:38 | Nov 30th, 2015

On "The Meaning of Meaning" (1975). So if per Kripke (we're following the thread from #126), meaning is NOT a matter of having a description in your head, then what is it? Hilary Putnam reformulates Kripke's insight in terms of Twin Earths: If Earth-...Show More

Episode 127: John Dewey on Experience and the World (Part Two)

1:21:25 | Nov 23rd, 2015

Continuing on Experience and Nature (1925), through ch. 4. We focus here on how philosophy supposedly gets warped by fear and desire in human nature, how we pretend that abstractions we've created are metaphysically real and basic. So how do the obje...Show More

Episode 127: John Dewey on Experience and the World (Part One)

1:04:58 | Nov 16th, 2015

On Experience and Nature (1925), through ch. 4. What's the relationship between our experience and the world that science investigates? Dewey thinks that these are one and the same, and philosophies that call some part of it (like atoms or Platonic f...Show More

Episode 126: Saul Kripke on Possibilities, Language & Science (Part Two)

1:16:26 | Nov 9th, 2015

On Naming and Necessity (1980). What's the relationship between language and the world? Does a term like "tiger" as we use it refer to that animal because we have a certain mental image or definition of that animal in our heads? Saul Kripke says no: ...Show More

Episode 126: Saul Kripke on Possibilities, Language & Science (Part One)

1:08:09 | Nov 2nd, 2015

On Naming and Necessity (1980). What's the relationship between language and the world? Specifically, what makes a name or a class term (like "tiger") pick out the person or things that it does? Saul Kripke wanted to correct the dominant view of his ...Show More

Not School Digest: Asimov, Camus, Jaspers, Brecht, Peirce, Historical Jesus

1:27:29 | Oct 26th, 2015

Discussion clips covering topic we haven't had time to cover on the podcast proper. Brief yourself on these topics via the enclosed 10–15 minute bursts, or become a PEL Citizen to listen to these bonus discussions in their full length. Mark is joined...Show More

Episode 125: Hannah Arendt on the Political & Private (Part Two)

1:12:31 | Oct 19th, 2015

Continuing on The Human Condition (1958), focusing on the rise of "the social," how that erodes the private sphere (unless you post it on Facebook, it's not real!), yet leads to feelings of loneliness and meaninglessness. The audience at this live Pi...Show More

Episode 125: Hannah Arendt on the Political & Private (Part One)

56:35 | Oct 12th, 2015

On The Human Condition (1958), Prologue and Sections 1 and 2. How has our distinction between the private and public evolved over time? Arendt uses this history, and chiefly the differences between our time and ancient Athens, to launch a critique of...Show More

Q&A with the Partially Examined Life, Pittsburgh 9-25-15

51:46 | Oct 5th, 2015

What is it like to do philosophy in public? As prelude to our ep. 125 appearance at the Pittsburgh Continental Philosophy Network Conference on theory and public space, Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan sat down for questions by moderator Erica Freeman, con...Show More

Episode 124: The Stoic Life with Epictetus (Part Two)

1:15:55 | Sep 28th, 2015

More on the Manual of Epictetus, aka The Enchiridion, from around 135 CE. In this part we discuss more about Epictetus's directives, including making your will "conformable to nature," different levels of Stoic expertise, the connection between contr...Show More

Episode 124: The Stoic Life with Epictetus (Part One)

58:31 | Sep 21st, 2015

On the Manual of Epictetus, aka The Enchiridion, from around 135 CE. What's a wise strategy for life? What is freedom? Stoicism says that the secret is mastering yourself. If you let yourself be perturbed by things that happen to you, then you're a s...Show More

Episode 123: Economics with Hayek and Sen (Part Two)

1:20:11 | Sep 14th, 2015

Continuing our discussion of Amartya Sen's On Ethics and Economics (1987) with some comparisons to F.A. Hayek and his essay "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (1945), with guest Seth Benzell. We attempt to penetrate Sen's problems with the assumptions...Show More

Episode 123: Economics with Hayek and Sen (Part One)

51:36 | Sep 7th, 2015

On F.A. Hayek's "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (1945) and Amartya Sen's On Ethics and Economics (1987). Is economics a pseudoscience? Certainly, trying to model a phenomenon mathematically and so predict, for example, the consequences of proposed ...Show More

Ep 121/122 Aftershow on Augustine feat. James Wetzel

1:37:10 | Sep 7th, 2015

Haven't had enough Augustine? Host Danny Lobell and Wes Alwan reflected on our recent discussions on Augustine's Confessions, with an actual Augustine scholar, James Wetzel of Villanova University, author of such books as Augustine and the Limits of ...Show More

Episode 122: Augustine on Mind and Metaphysics (Part Two)

1:06:41 | Aug 31st, 2015

Our final installment on The Confessions (400 CE), books 10–13. We continue talking about memory and how it relates to Plato's "recollection," grapple with his take on will (do we pursue something we take to be the good per Plato or do we intentional...Show More

Episode 122: Augustine on Mind and Metaphysics (Part One)

1:18:25 | Aug 24th, 2015

Yet more on The Confessions (400 CE), this time on books 10–13. What is memory and how does it relate to time and being? Augustine thinks that memory is a storehouse, but it contains not just the sensations we put in it, but also (à la Plato's theory...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 123: Economics (F.A. Hayek and Amartya Sen)

12:26 | Aug 19th, 2015

Guest Seth Benzell outlines Hayek's "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (1945) and Sen's On Ethics and Economics (1987). Listen to this before jumping into the full discussion. Read more about the topic and get the texts.

Episode 121: Augustine on Being Good (Part Two)

1:15:44 | Aug 17th, 2015

More on The Confessions, books 1–9. He tells us to love the world, but only insofar as you're really loving the creator, so don't get too carried away. What are the logical and not-so-logical-but-certainly-predictable implications of this kind of vie...Show More

Episode 121: Augustine on Being Good (Part One)

57:04 | Aug 10th, 2015

On The Confessions (400 CE), books 1–9. The question is not "What is virtue?" because knowing what virtue is isn't enough. The problem, for Aurelius Augustinus, aka St. Augustine of Hippo, is doing what you know to be right. However, we shouldn't exp...Show More

Ep. 119 Aftershow (Preview) on Nietzsche feat. Greg Sadler

17:07 | Aug 7th, 2015

Further hashing over of topics raised in our three-part episode on Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, your hosts Seth Paskin and Danny Lobell welcome Internet philosophy instructor extraordinaire Dr. Gregory B. Sadler, as well as David Buchanan, Erik Weis...Show More

Episode 120: A History of “Will” with Guest Eva Brann (Part Two)

52:31 | Aug 3rd, 2015

Continuing our dicussion of Un-Willing (2014) with the author. In this segment, we explore and critique Eva's picture of the less-willfull life and try to figure out how her historically driven account relates to modern debates about free will. Liste...Show More

Episode 120: A History of “Will” with Guest Eva Brann (Part One)

55:10 | Jul 27th, 2015

We discuss Un-Willing: An Inquiry into the Rise of Will'’s Power and an Attempt to Undo It (2014) with the author, covering Socrates, Augustine, Aquinas, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Sartre, compatibilism, the neurologists' critque of free will, and more. W...Show More

Ep. 118 Aftershow (Preview) on Songwriting feat. ex-Camper Chris Molla

18:27 | Jul 24th, 2015

To continue the conversation started in our songwriting episode, we scored our third Camper van Beethoven member, founding guitarist/writer Chris Molla (now a children's performer and music teacher), rapper/electronicker Maxx Bartko, singer/songwrite...Show More

Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art (Part Three)

51:01 | Jul 20th, 2015

The third and final portion of our discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy (1872). In this part we discuss the evils according to Nietzsche of "Socratism," which in the modern age is equivalent to scientific optimism: Everything usef...Show More

Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art (Part Two)

53:00 | Jul 13th, 2015

The second installment of three for our discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy (1872). In this part we discuss how tragedy, folk music, and other arts might embody the Dionysian (an unconscious, chaotic force) vs. the Apollonian (a ...Show More

Episode 119: Nietzsche on Tragedy and the Psychology of Art (Part One)

55:48 | Jul 6th, 2015

On Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy (1872), which was his first book. What's the connection between art and society? Nietzsche thought that you could tell how vital or decadent a civilization was by its art, and said that ancient Greek trag...Show More

Ep. 117 Aftershow (Preview) on Antigone with Danny Lobell

17:57 | Jul 5th, 2015

Comedian Danny Lobell of the Modern Day Philosophers podcast and our own Wes Alwan were joined for a discussion of Antigone by PEL citizens Daniel Cole, David Buchanan, Erik Weissengruber, Frank Marcopolos, and Terra Leigh Bell. We talked a little ab...Show More

Episode 118: The Musical Life with Guests from Camper van Beethoven

1:39:26 | Jun 29th, 2015

Why write songs? What is it to have "integrity" as a musician? To be "authentic?" Is there anything wrong with playing pure pop songs, or aping styles created by those now dead? Our guests Victor Krummenacher and Jonathan Segel (of the famed indie ba...Show More

Episode 117: Discussing Sophocles’s “Antigone” (Part Two)

59:27 | Jun 22nd, 2015

Continuing our discussion of the ancient Greek tragedy, from 441 BCE. Listen to Part One first. Sign up for the Aftershow with Danny Lobell and Wes Alwan, which will take place on 6/28 at 3pm Eastern. If you enjoy this podcast, please become a PEL Ci...Show More

Episode 117: Discussing Sophocles’s “Antigone” (Part One)

48:18 | Jun 15th, 2015

About that ancient Greek tragedy (441 BCE)... What can we learn from it? Are its literary tropes and ethical conflicts so far removed from us that the best we can do is marvel at it? Heck, no! Classic literature is great fodder for philosophical disc...Show More

“Antigone” Read by PEL with Lucy Lawless and Paul Provenza

1:24:46 | Jun 8th, 2015

An unrehearsed, dramatic read-through of the text we'll be discussing on ep. 117, a Greek tragedy written around 441 BCE, telling the myth of the cursed line of Oedipus, mother-f*#king king of Thebes. Featuring Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan, plus specia...Show More

Episode 116: Freud on Dreams (Part Two)

1:27:29 | Jun 1st, 2015

Continuing our discussion of Sigmund Freud's On Dreams (1902) and related works. Listen to Part One first. Afterwards, listen to or watch the Aftershow. Please become a PEL Citizen or make a donation, or buy some merch. End song: "Sleep" by Mark Lint...Show More

Episode 116: Freud on Dreams (Part One)

1:04:33 | May 25th, 2015

On Sigmund Freud's On Dreams (1902), a bit of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), and the lecture, “Revision of the Theory of Dreams” (1933). Are dreams just a bunch of random crap? Freud says, no, they're actually the first and best way to figure o...Show More

Episode 115: Schopenhauer on Music with Guest Jonathan Segel

2:15:21 | May 11th, 2015

On Arthur Schopenhauer's The World As Will and Representation (1818), vol. 1, book 3, sections 34, 38-39, 40, 45, and focusing on 51 and 52, plus chapters 34 and 39 from vol. 3 (1844). This continues our previous discussion of book 2 and the beginnin...Show More

Episode 114: Schopenhauer: “The World Is Will”

2:10:32 | Apr 27th, 2015

On Arthur Schopenhauer's The World As Will and Representation (1818), book 2. Sure, we know from our senses and science what the world looks like to creatures like us, but if you buy Kant's view that this "world as appearance" is a construct of our m...Show More

Episode 113: Jesus’s Parables

2:24:27 | Apr 6th, 2015

Drawing on John Dominic Crossan's The Power of Parable, mainly ch. 3 (2012), Paul Ricoeur's "Listening to the Parables of Jesus" (1974), and Paul Tillich's The New Being, ch. 1: "To Whom Much Is Forgiven..." (1955). Are these weird stories riddles, w...Show More

Episode 112: Ricoeur on Interpreting Religion

2:09:01 | Mar 16th, 2015

On Paul Ricoeur's "The Critique of Religion" and "The Language of Faith" (1973). Last episode taught us about hermeneutics, but how can this best be applied to the text for which hermeneutics was originally developed, i.e. the Bible? For Ricoeur, it'...Show More

Episode 111: Gadamer’s Hermeneutics: How to Interpret

2:21:29 | Mar 2nd, 2015

On Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method (1960, ch. 4), "Aesthetics and Hermeneutics" (1964), "The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem" (1966), and "Hermeneutics as Practical Philosophy" (1972). Hemeneutics is all about interpretation, primaril...Show More

Close Reading (Preview) of Heidegger on Truth

16:48 | Feb 23rd, 2015

Mark Linsenmayer and Seth Paskin read and interpret Martin Heidegger's essay "On the Essence of Truth" (1943), first half. This is a 17-minute preview of a two-hour, 38-minute bonus recording, which you can purchase at partiallyexaminedlife.com/store...Show More

Ep. 110 Aftershow (Preview) with Stephen West

19:11 | Feb 22nd, 2015

Stephen West of the Philosophize This! podcast returns to host the Aftershow for PEL episode #110 on Alfred North Whitehead. In this preview you'll hear Stephen, Dylan Casey (who has a lot to say about process philosophy and science), and David Bucha...Show More

Close Reading (Preview) of Kant on the Sublime

13:49 | Feb 16th, 2015

Mark Linsenmayer and Wes Alwan read and interpret Kant's Critique of Judgment, sections 23-25. This is a 13-minute preview of a 72-minute bonus recording, which you can purchase at partiallyexaminedlife.com/store or get for free here with PEL Citizen...Show More

Episode 110: Alfred North Whitehead: What Is Nature?

2:17:32 | Feb 2nd, 2015

On The Concept of Nature (1920). Whitehead thinks that old-timey metaphysics wrongly insists that what's fundamental in the world to be studied by science is things (substance) moving around in space and time. We don't actually experience any such th...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 110: Whitehead

13:22 | Feb 1st, 2015

Mark Linsenmayer outlines Alfred North Whitehead's book The Concept of Nature (1920) on the relation between experience and science, and how to think about space, time, and objects. After listening to this, get the full discussion. Read more about th...Show More

Ep. 109 Aftershow (Preview) with Stephen West

20:05 | Jan 31st, 2015

Stephen West of the Philosophize This! podcast hosts a new PEL offering: An Aftershow to a PEL episode, in this case #109 on Karl Jaspers. Hear questions and comments from super-smart PEL listeners, Stephen, and Mark Linsenmayer. What does Jaspers m...Show More

Episode 109: Jaspers’s Existentialism with Guest Paul Provenza

2:01:44 | Jan 19th, 2015

On Karl Jaspers's "On My Philosophy" (1941), featuring comedian/actor/director/author Paul Provenza. What's the relationship between science and philosophy? What about religion? Jaspers thinks that science gives you facts, but for an overarching wor...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 109: Karl Jaspers

10:42 | Jan 18th, 2015

Mark Linsenmayer introduces Jaspers's essay, "On My Philosophy" (1941) on Existenz and the difference between philosophy, science, and religion. After you listen to this, get the full PEL discussion. Read more about the topic and get the text. PEL Ci...Show More

Episode 108: Dangers of A.I. with Guest Nick Bostrom

1:42:56 | Jan 6th, 2015

On Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014) with author Nick Bostrom, a philosophy professor at Oxford. Just grant the hypothetical that machine intelligence advances will eventually produce a machine capable of further improving itself, ...Show More

Episode 107: Edmund Burke on the Sublime

2:15:45 | Dec 20th, 2014

On A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756), parts I, II, and his later intro essay, "On Taste." Are people's tastes basically the same? Burke says yes: they're rooted in our common reactions to pain an...Show More

Not Ep. 107: The 12 Interminable Days of Xmas: A Musical Extravaganza

1:28:22 | Dec 20th, 2014

Mark Lint and the PEL Orchestra present the longest, slowest, biggest, fattest, most surreal Christmas carol ever. First Mark explains for a minute what this is (you can read it here), then off we go on a long, strange trip, with different verses of ...Show More

Episode 106: Pyrrhonian Skepticism According to Sextus Empiricus

1:56:03 | Dec 4th, 2014

On Outlines of Pyrrhonism , Book 1, from around 200 CE. Are our beliefs warranted? Skeptics following in the footsteps of Pyrrho (who lived just after Aristotle, around 300 BCE, but didn't leave us any writings, so Sextus, centuries later, has to fil...Show More

Episode 105: Kant: What Is Beauty?

2:00:16 | Nov 15th, 2014

On Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment (1790), Pt. 1, Book 1. Kant thinks that finding something beautiful is different than merely liking it. It's a certain kind of liking, not dependent on your idiosyncratic tastes (like your preference for one co...Show More

Episode 104: Robert Nozick’s Libertarianism

2:02:45 | Oct 27th, 2014

On Anarchy, State & Utopia (1974), ch. 1-3 and 7. What moral limits should we put on government power? Nozick thinks that the only legitimate functions of government are protection and enforcement of contracts. Contra Rawls, Nozick's "entitlement" ve...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 104: Robert Nozick

11:51 | Oct 26th, 2014

Seth Paskin introduces Anarchy, State, and Utopia about libertarianism and the limits of legitimate government power. Watch for the full discussion to be released in a couple of weeks. Read more about the topic and get the book.

Episode 103: Thoreau on Living Deliberately

1:49:03 | Oct 14th, 2014

On Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854). What is the appropriate life for a truly thoughtful person? Thoreau warns against getting ensnared by social bullshit like jobs and charity, and instead living simply, in direct contact with nature, relying as ...Show More

Episode 102: Emerson on Wisdom and Individuality

2:06:45 | Sep 20th, 2014

On Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The American Scholar" lecture (1837) and his essays "Self-Reliance" and "Circles" (1841). How should we live? Emerson thinks that conformity, which includes most of what passes for ethics, jobs, and scholarship, makes us les...Show More

Episode 101: Maimonides on God

1:41:36 | Sep 1st, 2014

On Guide for the Perplexed (1168). What is God? Central to Judaism, at least, is the idea that He's a unity: "God is One." Maimonides thinks that this means you can't attribute properties to God at all. Why? Because (according to M's Aristotelian met...Show More

Episode 100: Plato’s Symposium Live Celebration!

2:28:59 | Aug 15th, 2014

Mark, Seth, Wes, Dylan, and Philosophy Bro walk a live audience through Plato's dialogue about love, sex, self-improvement, and ancient Greek pederasty. You can also choose to watch this on video. Is love just a feeling, or does it make the world go ...Show More

Episode 99: Looking Back on 100 Discussions and 5+ Years

1:49:44 | Aug 11th, 2014

What have we learned? How has our take on the PEL project changed? What are our future plans? On the eve before our big live-in-front-of-an-audience ep. 100, we four sat down in Dylan's living room together (with recurrent guest Daniel Horne to provi...Show More

Episode 98: Guest Michael Sandel Against Market Society

1:28:11 | Jul 26th, 2014

On his book What Money Can't Buy: the Moral Limits of Markets (2012), and also bringing Sandel into the discussion begun without him in our last episode about his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Free economic transactions are suppos...Show More

Episode 97: Michael Sandel on Social Justice and the Self

1:45:06 | Jul 19th, 2014

On his book Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982), mostly ch. 1 & 4. Classical liberalism from Locke to Rawls focuses on rights as primary: a good government is one that protects people from violations of their rights, and that's what social ju...Show More

Episode 96: Oppenheimer and the Rhetoric of Science Advisers

2:05:31 | Jul 1st, 2014

Discussing Lynda Walsh's book Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy (2013) with the author, focusing on Robert J. Oppenheimer. We also read a speech from 1950 he gave called "The Encouragement of Science." What is the role of the science adv...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 96: Oppenheimer’s Rhetoric

12:17 | Jun 29th, 2014

Guest Lynda Walsh describes her book Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy, focusing on J. Robert Oppenheimer's conflicted position after WWII as science advisor and anti-nuke spokesman. Read more about the topic and get the readings.

Episode 95: Gödel on Math

1:50:09 | Jun 16th, 2014

On Kurt Gödel's essays, “Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathematics and their Implications” (1951) and “The Modern Development of the Foundations of Mathematics in Light of Philosophy” (1961). Gödel is famous for some "incompleteness theor...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 95: Gödel

09:06 | Jun 15th, 2014

Guest Adi Habbu lays out Kurt Gödel's famous incompleteness theorems and describes some highlights from "Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathematics and their Implications" (1951) and "The Modern Development of the Foundations of Mathematic...Show More

Episode 94: Schopenhauer on Reading, Writing, and Thinking

1:39:33 | May 23rd, 2014

On Arthur Schopenhauer's essays, "On Authorship and Style," "On Thinking for Oneself," and "On Genius" (all published 1851). Is the best way to do philosophy (or any art) to self-consciously build on the work of others to advance the genre? Schopenha...Show More

Episode 93: Freedom and Responsibility (Strawson vs. Strawson)

1:36:29 | May 3rd, 2014

On P.F. Strawson's "Freedom and Resentment" (1960), Galen Strawson's "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility" (1994), and Gary Watson's "Responsibility and the Limits of Evil: Variations on a Strawsonian Theme" (1987). Do we ordinarily act with th...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 93: Free Will (via Strawsons)

14:29 | Apr 29th, 2014

Guest Tamler Sommers (from the Very Bad Wizards podcast) summarizes Galen Strawson's "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility" (1994) and his father P.F. Strawson's "Freedom and Resentment" (1960). Read more about the topic and get the articles. Li...Show More

Episode 92: Henri Bergson on How to Do Metaphysics

1:38:30 | Apr 12th, 2014

On "An Introduction to Metaphysics" (1903) How does metaphysics differ from science? While Kant had dismissed metaphysics as groundless speculation about things beyond human knowledge, Bergson sees it as a matter of grasping things "from the inside."...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 92: Henri Bergson

15:58 | Mar 30th, 2014

Guest Matt Teichman (from the Elucidations podcast) introduces Bergson's essay "An Introduction to Metaphysics." Read more about the topic at partiallyexaminedlife.com.

Episode 91: Transhumanism (Plus More on Brin)

1:32:31 | Mar 29th, 2014

Continuing discussion of David Brin's novel Existence (without him) and adding Nick Bostrom's essay "Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up" (2006). Are our present human capabilities sufficient for meeting the challenges our civilization will f...Show More

Episode 90: Sci-Fi and Philosophy with Guest David Brin

1:35:22 | Mar 26th, 2014

Discussing David Brin's novel Existence (2012) with the author. What's the point of thinking? Brin sees the future as a pressing threat, and Existence speculates that the reason we don't see evidence of life on other planets is that no species surviv...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 90: Sci-Fi and Philosophy with David Brin

07:42 | Mar 25th, 2014

Mark Linsenmayer introduces our discussion with David Brin of his book Existence. Listen to the episode. Read more about the topic and get the book.

Episode 89: Berkeley: Only Ideas Exist!

1:33:52 | Mar 12th, 2014

On Bishop George Berkeley's Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1713). While only a goon would deny the real existence of things like tables and chairs, does "real" existence have to mean existence as matter, i.e. as something that could exi...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 89: Berkeley’s Idealism

30:34 | Mar 11th, 2014

Wes Alwan introduces George Berkeley's Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous. Listen to the full PEL episode.

Not School Digest #4: Sartre, Heidegger, Zizek, Marx, and Theater

1:09:26 | Mar 1st, 2014

Excerpts from PEL podcaster & listener discussions on Sartre's Nausea, Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology," Slavoj Zizek's Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Marx and Engels's "Communist Manifesto," Peter Schaffer's play Equus, and Cormac McC...Show More

Episode 88: G.E.M. Anscombe: Should We Use Moral Language?

1:47:04 | Feb 18th, 2014

On Elizabeth Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy" (1958), Intention sections 22-27 (1957), and "War and Murder" (1961). Anscombe thinks that our moral language was developed in a theistic context, and without a law-giver, the idea of a moral law or o...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 88: G.E.M. Anscombe

10:02 | Jan 18th, 2014

Guest Philosophy Bro introduces Elizabeth Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy," and Intention sections 22-27. Listen to the full PEL episode.

Sartre’s “No Exit” Read with Lucy Lawless & Jaime Murray

1:27:11 | Jan 2nd, 2014

In support of our ep. #87 discussing Sartre, the PEL Players present our 2nd annual dramatic reading of a work of philosophical theater. Mark Linsenmayer and Wes Alwan are joined by real actresses Lucy Lawless (Xena, Battlestar Galactica, Parks & Rec...Show More

Episode 87: Sartre on Freedom and Self-Deception

1:56:05 | Jan 1st, 2014

On Jean-Paul Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" (1946), "Bad Faith" (pt. 1, ch. 2 of Being & Nothingness, 1943), and his play No Exit (1944). What is human nature? Sartre says that there isn't one, but there is a universal human condition, which...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 87: Sartre

08:53 | Dec 30th, 2013

Mark Linsenmayer lays out some themes from Jean-Paul Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism" and the "Bad Faith" chapter (Part 1, Ch. 2) of Being & Nothingness. Listen to the full episode. A transcript is available on our Citizen site's Free Stuff pa...Show More

Episode 86: Thomas Kuhn on Scientific Progress

1:28:03 | Dec 24th, 2013

On The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published mostly in 1962. Does scientific knowledge simply accumulate as we learn more and more, coming closer and closer to a full and truthful picture of the world? Kuhn says no! Instead, each scientific ...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 86: Thomas Kuhn

05:48 | Dec 23rd, 2013

Dylan Casey lays out Thomas Kuhn's thesis in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Read more about the topic and get the book. Listen to the episode. A transcript is available on our Citizen site's Free Stuff page.

Episode 85: Rawls on Social Justice

1:46:42 | Dec 7th, 2013

On John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971), most of ch. 1-4. What makes for a just society? Rawls gives us a thought experiment: Imagine you don't know whether you're rich or poor or any of the other specifics of your situation (he calls this going b...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 85: John Rawls

10:47 | Dec 6th, 2013

Seth Paskin summarizes the John Rawls's A Theory of Justice. Listen to the full PEL episode. Read more about the topic at partiallyexaminedlife.com. A transcript is available on our Citizen site's Free Stuff page.

Episode 84: Nietzsche’s “Gay Science”

2:09:50 | Nov 11th, 2013

On Friedrich Nietzsche's The Gay Science (1882, with book 5 added 1887). What is wisdom? Nietzsche gives us an updated take on the Socratic project of challenging your most deeply held beliefs. Challenge not just your belief in God ("God is dead!") b...Show More

Episode 83 Follow-Up: Q&A with Frithjof Bergmann

57:34 | Nov 1st, 2013

In light of our ep. 83, many listeners had questions on Frithjof's social/political/economic proposals for creating a post-job, pro-meaningful-work world. Mark Linsenmayer here pitches a number of these questions (culled from our blog and Facebook gr...Show More

Episode 83: New Work with Guest Frithjof Bergmann

1:30:35 | Oct 11th, 2013

Talking with Frithjof Bergmann, Prof. Emeritus from U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor about his book New Work, New Culture (2004, English release coming soon). Frithjof is a world-renowned ex-Hegel/Nietzsche scholar who has worked since the early 80s on proj...Show More

Precognition of Ep. 83: New Work

13:14 | Oct 10th, 2013

An introduction to and summary of Frithjof Bergmann's New Work, New Culture, read by Mark Linsenmayer. The full episode on this topic can be found here. Read more about the topic at partiallyexaminedlife.com. A transcript is available on our Citizen ...Show More