Here are the most recent comments on our blog posts, i.e. the active discussions at this time. Jump into a thread and say your peace! If you want to start a conversation yourself, join our Facebook Group and/or our subreddit, and go right ahead. Also, if you're a Partially Examined Life Citizen, you can initiate discussions at the Citizens' Forum; this is especially useful if you'd like to use that to initiate an ongoing reading/discussion group with other members, which can have its own dedicated forum. This is called a Not School group.
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- Jul 19, 7:35 pm - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)
Yes, I agree. His article: "The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy" would make an excellent accompaniment to this talk. http://thenewschoolhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Dewey_The_Influence_of_Darwin_on_Philosophy.pdf
- Jul 19, 5:40 pm - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)
good stuff, in some ways I think Dewey was the first post-Darwinian philosopher (at least in the US) and as such the first to really get rid of Geist-like theological hangovers. http://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/pmo/eng/Dennett-Darwin'sDangerousIdea.pdf
- Jul 18, 9:42 pm - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Citizen Edition)
This was a good episode, and confirmed what I learned about Darwin's natural selection theory so many years ago now. And maybe it's on me finally to go do the research myself, but I hope you guys will seriously consider doing the Social Darwinism follow-up to this at some point. I'm really curious to know how self-conscious Darwin was himself of the societal/philosophical impact his contra-Aristotelian teleology argument would have on his contemporaries. What religious convictions did he have, if any, and how did they inform (or manifestly did not inform) this work? Also, though he was serious about the scientific work he was doing, I wonder if the pressure to be the first mover on this theory encouraged or in any way prioritized pointing up how his theory stood in opposition to the then-conventional wisdom on the evolution/creation of species. That is to say, if he weren't writing here for a popular audience, and had been able instead to first indulge that much longer and more academic tome he originally wanted to draft, would the path-breaking argument he advanced have been greeted with as much opposition as it did back then.... and still does today? Speculation on my part,...
- Jul 18, 11:53 am - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)
This idea certain traits are "somehow conjoined to causally" to others (or, more weakly, "are correlated with" others) is question begging. It seems inconsistent with the contingency that lies at the heart of Darwinism and points instead to an a priori causal order that one could readily connect up with your idea (from a previous talk) that "natural law plus emergence equals natural kinds".
- Jul 18, 11:48 am - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)
I have only listened to the first half of this Darwin episode, but here are some things that I think you are missing -- things are are philosophically and rhetorically interesting about the first 4 chapters of ORIGIN: • Darwin repeated explore and expresses WHY these ideas are so difficult to "see" in nature. CHAPTER 1: WHY is it so difficult to see common ancestry, even when we produce the differences ourselves (remember that he felt that pigeon and dog breeders were trying to "perfect" their own breeds, but never intended to create new breeds — and denied that they could even do so)? CHAPTER 2: WHY is it so difficult to see that that there is no clear boundary between what we call "species" and what we call "variation." (You did this one a bit more, but think more about the hypothetical story of ornithologists seeing pigeon breeds in the wild, naming them clear different species or even genera) CHAPTER 3: WHY is is so difficult to see the struggle for survival? • Darwin repeatedly talks about the ideas that "nature does not make leaps." This is a direct way that thinking about what Wes calls the "soup" of...
- Jul 18, 9:11 am - Episode 168: Darwin's "Origin of Species" (Part One)
Yipppeeeee!!! So excited for this one!
- Jul 17, 2:58 pm - Phi Fic #11 The Body Artist by Don DeLillo
This episode popped into my head the other day while I was out cycling. In the distance there was a heavy shaded area where I could see a guy experiencing difficulty with his bike, seemed like he had a flat tire or mechanical issue with his bike so he was stationary. I felt compelled to help and assist the fellow cyclist in any way I could, even if it meant spending an extra spare tire tube I had. Once I got close enough it dawned upon me that my goodwill and charity would have been of little use to an inanimate road sign.
- Jul 17, 9:55 am - Episode 167: Hume on Intelligent Design (Part One)
I disagree. I found it helpful to have a quick overview of the text since I haven't read it, and unfortunately don't have time to do so right now due to my graduate studies. I've generally gotten the most out of PEL episodes when I've had the chance to read the text beforehand, but hearing a brief overview is a good substitute for when I'm unable to do so.
- Jul 17, 12:38 am - Political Defense Mechanisms
I am sorry, that just isn't good enough. You can't use an inflametory word like racism and then get all wishy washy about it. The banker may actually be to blame. If she denies the loan because the applicant is a racial minority she is a racist. If the decision was based on economics rather than race then well you now want to make vague aspersions against her employer or the owners of the business? If her employer or the shareholders made the decision based on race then they are racist and she has to decide if she can continue to work for them. If it was an economic decision then why are you calling it racism? What purpose does that serve? Because "discriminatory practices are inherent in such an institution?" Sure they are. They discriminate in favor of those who are more likely to be able to repay the loan and against those who are less likely. That's called underwriting. Not all loan applicants are equal You call that a non-egalitarian practice and imply that we should be outraged by it. Why should we be outraged by it? Why would we not realize that we are not outraged by...
- Jul 16, 7:42 pm - Political Defense Mechanisms
Hi Ken. Thanks for your comment. I'm not blaming the banker herself. Her responsibility is to her employer, who is responsible to shareholders. The point is that the discriminatory practices are inherent in such an institution. The reason we don't see sufficient outrage to such non-egalitarian practices is that each of us to greater or lesser degrees is comfortable with that sort of discrimination. We don't believe that we are comfortable with it, and that's what makes it implicit. So, I'm not asking the banker to admit to being comfortable with discrimination, and I'm not suggesting that she ought to ignore risks in granting loans. I'm saying that if we agree that (for instance) the practice of redlining flies in the face of the ideal of equal opportunity for all, then mortgage lending, as an institution, is flawed and ought to be reformed.
- Jul 16, 10:36 am - Episode 166: Spinoza on Politics and Religion (Citizen Edition)
That's great! I will be looking forward to your thoughts on Mir Hosseini's ideas and would definitely be interested in going for a real discussion along with the rest of the PEL world.
- Jul 16, 12:51 am - Political Defense Mechanisms
Dave, Are you willing to cosign on the loan? If you are willing and able to provide collateral for a loan that is at a higher risk of defaulting than others perhaps the economics would support the issuance of the loan., If you are not willing to put skin in the game then why would you expect a bank to? BTW, how long do you think the meeting is going to last if you insist that the banker first admit that they are racist (although perhaps unwittedly) as the basis of your attempt to convince them that they should issue the loan? How does that actually contribute to a solution? What is the purpose of arguments like this? You present conservatives as being so inflexible and committed to tradition that they are opposed to any change and then argue that they are thus responsible for the most egregious evils in the world. Do you expect a conservative to break down in tears renounce their evil ways and commit to working for the Bernie 2020 campaign? A real come to Bernie moment! Or, do you not actually expect them to be a part of the conversation? I really want to know....
- Jul 15, 7:15 pm - Political Defense Mechanisms
The conservative I'm addressing is the one who is resistant to the kinds of incremental changes you seem to be describing. This conservative demands that the progressive name, for instance, one right that women are denied. But the point is not that women are consistently denied constitutional rights, though this does happen. The point is that there are implicit attitudes that make structural misogynistic social practices invisible. Those social practices include the obvious (lower pay for women, less opportunity for advancement), and the not-so-obvious (so-called "mansplaining", as well as the egregious insult suggested to the straight male who has been called a "bitch" or otherwise characterized as effeminate). Most conservatives explicitly reject efforts to curb these latter practices (fearing that their "free speech" is threatened--though, ironically, their demand is the freedom to silence the oppressed), and they implicitly reject calls for reform of the former, Analogous examples could be readily be given with respect to social practices that discriminate against people of color. My experience has been that it is the progressive who is interested in reform (calls for revolution is more on the fringe), and that the conservative tends to resist such reform, charging the progressive with hyperbole, and...
- Jul 14, 1:47 pm - Political Defense Mechanisms
Thanks Evan. I agree with you. Piecemeal economic reform is key; both "tragedy of the commons" scenarios and "free loading" need to be addressed through legislation, or some other kind of institutional reform. There seems to be some reciprocal relationship between discriminatory social practices and the implicit biases of individual members of society, and that relationship seems to have taken on a life independent of the explicit political judgments of those individuals. I think that better legislative practices demand an honest appraisal of both implicit bias and institutional discrimination.
- Jul 14, 6:41 am - Episode 166: Spinoza on Politics and Religion (Citizen Edition)
This is great; thank you, Mohammad! I've watched some interviews with / lectures by the late Abu Zayd on YouTube, and am a little bit familiar with (the also late) Mohammad Arkoun. I feel more conversant and comfortable with Soroush and Kadivar (and other Iranian Shi'a intellectuals), but am definitely trying to make room to explore the thought of the likes of Zayd/Arkoun. Not being a confessional Muslim, and given the cultural and linguistic barriers this subject matter presents to outsiders (it seems at least, in my limited experience), I find myself mostly having a one-way conversation with this group of intellectuals.. I would love to pick the hermeneutics and contemporary thought up, though - in more substance and with other PEL citizens - as the opportunity may present. So I will take a look at Ziba Mir Hosseini, therefore, and report back to you here with my impressions. Maybe if our interests intersect closely enough, we can build on this for a real discussion. I agree with you, incidentally, that Soroush is probably closer to Spinoza in intellectual character, though I would guess Kadivar's more conventional take with the faith has a greater probability of persuading 12'er faithfuls' hearts...
- Jul 13, 7:15 pm - Political Defense Mechanisms
I don't think the neo-con's have much in common with Burke. I think it is possible to have a 'progressive' politics based on conservative values. Eg safe-guard the family by reducing working hours. Financial institutions have effected this individual badly, so we need to reform this institution (we value institutions on the basis of their impact on individuals). The precautionary principle means moving the economy to being based on renewable energy.
- Jul 13, 5:34 pm - Political Defense Mechanisms
The lack of substantial examples makes this argument hang on implicit bias. A path to solution on that would require an adequate understanding of implicit bias, multiple tests and a consistency across those, which there is no evidence for. Reeducation via anti-bias training is nowhere near having this solution. I find that very detrimental, so the clinging toward conservatism in favor of tradition is a large question. "What will you do in order to enact change?" Right now, a discussion about what works and what does not has little room for psychology to become an arbiter. The idea that, because it was white men who founded this country there are exclusive values belonging to our tradition. is unrealistic and un-compelling. People have contented themselves with these values over other ones and part of that is not using the government as a club to adjudicate values over peoples. I see the conservative movement as being primarily interested in the least coercive adjudicator of value. In the United States we try and let price do that to the degree it can. Fighting racism, sexism, etc is noble and if you can point to a business that is practicing this we can shun...
- Jul 13, 10:20 am - Episode 166: Spinoza on Politics and Religion (Citizen Edition)
Hi Luke, Interestingly, I am a close follower of Mohsen Kadivar and have recently picked up Soroush. Both present very interesting and controversial idea within the Islamic world and unfortunately have often been met with disdain and persecution. Personally, I think Soroush is closer to being "a Spinoza" than Kadivar is since his writings cover a wider range of topics (as opposed to Kadivar's focus on jurisprudence, nonetheless a very important topic) including theology and politics. Thank you for posting that link to the dissertation, it is certainly something I look forward to reading. Also, you might be interested in reading Ziba Mir Hosseini (http://www.zibamirhosseini.com/) who has done some collaboration with Kadivar but is mainly focused on women's rights rather than a full theological and political reform project. From the Sunni side, I think that Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd has also presented very interesting ideas in what he refers to as "humanistic hermeneutics", which fits more with Spinoza's criticism of Biblical interpretation. Best regards, Mohammad
- Jul 12, 10:30 pm - Episode 146: Emmanuel Levinas on Overcoming Solitude (Part One)
duuuuudes, it's /hʌɪˈpɒstəsɪs/. the ´ means pos is the strong sylable! Seth was so right, and I love him -not for that.
- Jul 11, 5:30 pm - Episode 167: Hume on Intelligent Design (Part Two)
Hume +Spinoza=neither theist nor nontheist, but action with intuition (as defined by Spinoza), reason (scepticism, as used by Hume) living in accord with the true nature of nature (the intelligence of the given design, insisting rather than existing), of wisdom, love and justice, beyond Good and Evil, choosing the good.
- Jul 11, 12:58 pm - Philosophy and Film: Logan on Life
I think there's a fundamental difference in what 'meaning' means to Elina and Logan. For Elina, meaning is this elusive but desirable thing, something she'd be willing to die to achieve. For Logan, it's quite the opposite. Meaning is this thing which comes to find him and to yank him out of his state of blissful innocence and which always comes accompanied with violence, something which he's willing to die to escape. The character I'd compare Logan to isn't Elina, but Enkidu, the wild man from _The Epic of Gilgamesh_. When we first see Enkidu, he's just this man-beast out in the wilderness living with the animals in the state of nature, completely innocent, only caring about meeting his basic biological needs. A temple prostitute comes to rip him from the state of nature in order to enlist him to help fight the tyrant king oppressing the people of the city, that is she inducts him into morality, into ideology, into meaning. It ends up killing Enkidu in the end. Logan, just like Enkidu, is very animal-like (he is the wolverine, after all) and he usually has to be tricked or dragged into the fight. He usually just wants to...
- Jul 10, 1:36 am - REISSUE-Ep. 24: Spinoza on God and Metaphysics
Excellent comments here, and this was the best of all PEL Spinoza podcasts because the focus was on his metaphysics which distinguishes Spinoza as a true pioneer of the philosophy of immanence as Seth stated. Unfortunately as the later podcasts have progressed, there has been a regression into the socio-cultural history of the religious and traditional trappings which are in direct opposition to his metaphysics. Once Spinoza established that there is only one substance, the transcendental God fell from the sky and the nature of the universe rose to an immanent divinity. Of course God (substance) is all one and is the necessary condition for existence. Then what are things, if not actual extensions of God as well as virtual, conceptual thoughts (essence)? Extension and thought are two distinct essences that have absolutely nothing in common. The modes or expressions of extension are physical bodies; the modes of thought are ideas. Any idea is an integral part of an infinite series of ideas and is determined by the nature of thought and its laws, along with its relations to other ideas. There is, in other words, no causal interaction between bodies and ideas, between the physical and the mental. There...
- Jul 10, 12:53 am - Episode 25: Spinoza on Human Nature (Citizens Only)
Deleuze categorizes Spinoza’s modes of knowledge (Practical Spinoza, p. 82 ff) as: I) Signs, an inadequate knowledge of things by linking together inadequate ideas and affects-passions resulting from them. Images from imagination II) Common notions, reason, which are general ideas that do not apply to the existing modes or to singular essences. III) Intuition (Spinoza's term)--a (univocal) form common to the substance whose essence it constitutes and to the essences of mode that it contains as singular essences. This is a practical categorization to identify how knowledge works and to indicate that true knowledge, essence (what Spinoza calls intuition) is grounded in God. God in turn informs common notions, or reason, (not subject to signs, or images produced by the imagination) and also grounded in God. The most inadequate kind of knowledge is based on signs, recollections, images generated by the imagination (representation) which give rise to equally faulty affects-passions.
- Jul 09, 9:41 am - Episode 158: Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Part One)
Wow, I love how much you guys disagreed in this one! Was there a series of remedial emails after?
- Jul 08, 12:32 pm - Phi Fic #14 "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov
I think the key is, as Daniel touches on--that Asimov was seeking to satisfy the paradox which, within the structure of the story, will ultimately occur. No consciousness doesn't have to continue for life--but, biological constructs will perish--they must. Yet, consciousness will last--theoretically--because it isn't--theoretically--a biological construct.