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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- Oct 20, 1:21 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)
now you know. https://libcom.org/library/intellectuals-power-a-conversation-between-michel-foucault-and-gilles-deleuze
- Oct 20, 6:39 am - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)
I thought that rather than oppression and restriction, although Foucault was aware of it, his focus was more on how power worked through creativity, facility, subjectivity..how power was generative and not just oppressive in the explicit sense.
- Oct 19, 6:01 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)
Love the thumbnails, really beautiful graphic design. Your website is also masterfully built. I was just watch contrapoints redue the 'The Marxist Reader's as an example to Catgirl of how making Philosophy more approachable is actually the simplest way to spread it.
- Oct 18, 1:45 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
Congratulations on the 200th episode! It certainly did not disappoint. I've listened twice and decided to go and read each essay for myself. Foucault was the most difficult for me to really grasp and I would love to hear another episode about the difference between enlightenment and humanism. So much of what I understand about Foucault seems to be how he looks at things historically and generally comes away with the idea that we are unwise to believe that history was so much worse than what we see today with regard to many things (sexuality, mental illness, death penalty). I'm struggling to see his point in this essay and I really want to understand more. What became apparent to me (and from Kant no less! which I thought would be someone I would never really understand on my own in any way that might even be remotely meaningful) is that this journey I, like many other PEL listeners I am sure, am on is this idea of emancipation from authority. In many respects, I have made the podcast hosts my authority and do not trust my own ability to parse out my beliefs and test them out, good or bad,...
- Oct 18, 10:50 am - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)
"At the center of this political and theoretical project was the transformation of the concept of critique. The Frankfurt School completed an epistemic and ontological revolution that had started with Immanuel Kant. The task of the Kantian “critique of pure reason” was to limit reason’s theoretical pretentions in order to create room for a faith that would support freedom and morality. Kant argued that we can never establish with theoretical certainty that we have free will; nor could this claim be proven wrong. So it remains open to us to act with a practical faith that we are free: that we can be moved by reasons, assert our autonomy, and fulfill the demands of morality. Critique for Kant is in the service of autonomy: only a critical exercise of reason can save us from our self-inflicted tutelage to false beliefs in authority, religion, and tradition." https://bostonreview.net/philosophy-religion/seyla-benhabib-below-asphalt-lies-beach
- Oct 15, 9:22 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
Below, a coda to Ben's piece on philosophical conservatism. The whole thing is worth a listen, honestly, but - at roughly 30/35 minutes in - participants speak to problems of social contract theory, and virtue in possibly disabusing ourselves of its pretenses altogether (with a shout-out to Burke). I'm personally sympathetic to appeals to anthropological analysis (i.e. how studying primate behavior can inform our understanding of early humans' possible social organization), an angle that goes way under-explored - in my opinion - in currently available political philosophy podcasts (especially those that dabble in or veer into other human sciences). WITTGENSTEIN VS. RAWLS https://www.politicalphilosophypodcast.com/wittgenstein-vs-rawls
- Oct 15, 5:40 pm - NEM#84: Laura Davis Was "The Girl in the Back" (of the Student Teachers)
good timing just saw Lisa Jane Persky and Richard Hell reading and in a discussion moderated by the author of Blondie’s Parallel Lines, wondering if Laura has seen Adam Curtis' new doc where he criticizes Patti Smith and all for focusing more on self-expression than on the politics/economics of the times that were gutting NYC and leading to the rise of Trump and all?
- Oct 15, 4:05 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part Two)
various twists on the conditions of the possibility... Rabinow (who was a late interlocutor for Foucault along with Bert Dreyfus) has updated Foucault's focus on the present in his studies of the contemporary, see for example: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/on-the-logic-of-anthropological-inquiry-a-conversation-with-paul-rabinow/ "PAUL RABINOW: For a long time now I have been in search of a different manner of practicing the qualitative human sciences. In a sense this quest goes back to my education at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, where there was a curriculum and where we were encouraged to think beyond the disciplinary boundaries. I was drawn to anthropology as a discipline in which it might be possible to practice “fieldwork in philosophy,” that is to say to pose questions and address problems traditionally situated in philosophic venues but to explore them out of the academy through sustained inquiry in the world. With the prodigious exception of Michel Foucault, 20th-century philosophers have not conducted this form of empirically based, slow, and time-consuming inquiry. Even John Dewey, one of my guiding lights in providing a conceptualization of inquiry, basically did not carry out any such project. Thus, the challenge has been to be conceptually innovative, experimental in the dual sense of an...
- Oct 15, 2:33 pm - Jessica Berry Responds: Nietzsche's "Warlike Man"
I think that your take may be overly focused on the word "war". If we consider replacing it with the connotations of struggle, a broader interpretation is opened. War, conflict and struggle are all affirmative actions, generally initiated towards accomplishing an objective. A military invasion is one example, the struggle for civil rights or justice is another. It is easy to interpret the "warlike person" as being violent or dangerous, largely because of the loaded connotation of the term war. Humans were for a time non-verbal animals, humans held other humans as property, humans and have still do live in groups where the accident of birth affects outcomes. Never has any progress been made without the agitation or provocation of "warlike" people. So, the "warlike" person, who is oriented towards conflict, may not be oriented towards conflict for the sake of conflict, but rather oriented from a perspective that things can be better and more fair, and it is that person's responsibility (not because of their uniqueness, but a sense that it is every person’s responsibility) to devote their efforts towards those ends. To consider the inverse. Who looks at the world today and determines that there is nothing that...
- Oct 15, 8:03 am - NEM#84: Laura Davis Was "The Girl in the Back" (of the Student Teachers)
This is really great! I can't wait to read your book, Laura. Such an honest and soulful discussion. Thanks for sharing.
- Oct 13, 9:13 pm - Back to the Father: The Incest-Driven Plot of “Back to the Future”
I think this is the best analysis from a psychological standpoint, that I have ever read; a very elegant construction. I do wonder myself, how conscious where the writers at that time about this psychological plot? Don't want to interpret too much here but Zemeckis once said: "At the age of 44 I won an Academy Award, but I paid for it with my lifetime of 20s. This decade of my life from film school to 30 was nothing but work, nothing but absolute, driven work. I had no money and no life." Thanks for that read!
- Oct 11, 6:12 am - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
I'm afraid I don't have a Washpo subscription!
- Oct 11, 6:11 am - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
Thanks Wes! I've actually been thinking of submitting a piece to PEL for a while, but have never managed to narrow down a particular angle or question/s I'd want to address... I'll let you know if I have some inspiration!
- Oct 10, 7:50 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
A timely nod to Ben's point #2 above, on the distributed (or aggregated) wisdom of communities of knowers: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-presidency-is-one-giant-act-of-trolling/2018/10/10/d6aa4632-cbe6-11e8-920f-dd52e1ae4570_story.html?utm_term=.88df228b847a
- Oct 09, 9:03 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
I second all of Ben's thoughts, and would respectfully add the following: We can safely assume - given that this is an exclusively English-language podcast, hosted by four Americans - both PEL's programmers and audience are most comfortable and most conversant in the Western tradition. Despite as much, there remains out there this lingering taste, this temptation, this noble dilettantism, to occasionally experiment with - let's just call it - 'Philosophy Everywhere, and Everything, Else.' If that's a fair characterization, let's also purport that the kind of conservatism Ben points to above is possibly the status quo the rest of the world around, or at least where the Age of Reason (i.e. the formal, historical Western Enlightenment) project was either imported or imposed through colonialism, domestic cultural elites' anxiety, or revolutionary borrowing. Meaning, in the part of settled Earth where the handsome portion of us humans live, the adoption of these hyper-rational conceits was typically a rush job at best, an insecure aping of Western intellectual culture at worst. Now then - if that assertion is sustainable (and I am wiling to come back and illustrate several discrete and specific examples, as necessary), we might well argue this understanding of...
- Oct 09, 2:55 pm - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
Thanks Ben -- this is excellent and very helpful! Let me know if you'd like to write something for us.
- Oct 09, 5:52 am - Episode 200: Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Citizen Edition)
Hi guys, another great episode as always! Just a couple of comments: 1. I think a followup looking at the Foucault-Habermas debate on Kant, modernity, and the Enlightenment would be fantastic. 2. As I've commented before, I think the conservative philosophical perspective is not really given its due here. Mark sort of dismisses it as an irrational attachment to illiberal practices. Wes gives a valiant, but brief, possible defence of tradition as a source of knowledge, but I think a lot more could be said. I'd just like to make three related points: 1) Philosophic conservatism isn't necessarily illiberal. In fact, it would be better understood as a divergence within liberalism beginning with Burke's critique of Enlightenment rationalism. It's the divergence between the belief that liberalism can be deduced by individually articulated rationalism from first principles, and can sustain itself as a social and political force on that basis.. and the conservative view that this is fundamentally wrong, an abstract fantasy with no empirical grounding in human beings and their experience. To quote from Kirk: "Liberty, Burke knew, had risen in consequence of an elaborate and delicate process, and its perpetuation depended upon retraining those habits of thought and action...
- Oct 08, 9:53 am - (sub)Text #4: Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" (Citizens Only)
Great episode; would love a sub-sub branch with psychology texts. I have not read widely in psychology (basically only Freud and Jung), but by chance also some Melanie Klein. I double-checked and noticed Klein's "Mourning and its Relation to Manic-Depressive States" (1940) cites "Mourning and Melancholia" in the first sentence. An episode on Jung's synchronicity though, maybe not a great idea for a mostly PEL audience.
- Oct 07, 1:36 pm - Dreyfus on Heidegger
- Oct 05, 4:54 pm - (sub)Text #3: Spielberg's "AI: Artificial Intelligence": What Is It to Be Human? (Citizens Only)
I think this (Adam's post) is a very good point. Almost all of the films/tv shows that touch on the topic of AI do seem to "cheat" in this way. These characters are played by human actors, given human voices, and theyre placed into situations where they exhibit human traits. Obviously, this is partially intentional as that's what this subject is all about, but I do sometimes think films/tv shows go too far. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep does a good job of portraying the replicants as possessing some human-like traits, but also displaying certain traits that would seem "un-human" to most people
- Oct 05, 10:53 am - (sub)Text #3: Spielberg's "AI: Artificial Intelligence": What Is It to Be Human? (Citizens Only)
I do prefer members of my own species to other species. I eat other species, and I would not eat my own. Some species I murder ruthlessly if I see them in my home, and I don't feel at all bad about it. I also prefer human beings to machines. Machines are tools for people to use. The natural is better than the artificial because the meaning of the artificial derives from the natural. Neither one of these strikes me as a "naturalistic fallacy" or "speciesism." Those are jargon words designed to circumvent hard questions. Of course any of us would feel pity for a machine designed to look like a cute kid, and designed to "feel" pain, but this response does not negate that the machine in questioned was designed by us, to mimic us, so that we would respond with this very pity. What if David looked like an insect, or an iPhone, or a zombie? If (when) a driverless car accidentally kills a human pedestrian, am I supposed to feel sorry for the car too?
- Oct 02, 1:36 pm - Dreyfus on Heidegger
Hi Avi I added a link to the post - here it is direct: https://partiallyexaminedlife.com/wp-content/uploads/Notes-on-Dreyfus-Heidegger-Lectures.pdf Seth
- Oct 01, 9:35 pm - Episode 199: Elizabeth Anderson on Equality (Part Three: Discussion)
There is also this: that noone (not even the so-called ‘more talented’) makes it on their own. Even the beach bum had bought into someone’s labor/concept. The beach bum bought a shirt, lotion, sandals, hotdog etc.; believed in the product or idea and invested their capital, risk, belief into it. The idea that one’s wealth is entirely from their own hard work is a fallacy. I, and many many others, had to buy ( practically and mentally) into you* (*general ‘you’) your idea, your product, your marketing scheme - in order for you to succeed. The quality of a product is equally dependent on others. It is a collective effort and therefore an argument for a more collective distribution that provides a certain bottom line for everyone.
- Oct 01, 6:19 pm - Dreyfus on Heidegger
Seth! I would love the notes! -Avi
- Sep 29, 3:59 pm - Episode 199: Guest Elizabeth Anderson on Private Government (Part One)
Actually listening Mrs. Anderson I think Mrs. Brown maybe a little to cynical with respect to her attitude of the commons being able to create a policy model for government to implement. However pushing it through our corrupt system would literally take a grassroots movement that has to be on the same page regarding the policy model and rolling back Institutional power.