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.
Note that the first time you post (or if you post from a different IP than your usual, I think; this shouldn't be an issue of you're a Citizen logged into your account), it goes into moderation, i.e. we have to approve it, so you won't see your comment immediately, but we're pretty quick about approving things. It should go without saying that if you get very nasty and belligerent, we reserve the right to remove any post and ban you (though that's only happened maybe twice in three years of doing this). Think "with this comment I am elevating the level of the discussion" and you'll be OK.
- Sep 25, 7:14 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Citizen Edition)
the no-self argument is regularly misunderstood though, even by practitioners, because it's cloaked in obscure scholastics polemics and unpacking them rests heavily on good translation with appropriate contextualization. the classical teaching, starting with the Pali and then escalating through Nagarjuna and the prajnaparamita literature that exemplifies the later variants is that there is "no self of the type you think there is" and the qualifier is important. firstly, the argument is specifically against the notional godhead of Indian history that is a constituent part of all people according to early brahmins and the traditions that later became Hinduism. in the schema of the time, religious practice caused illusion to fall away and you became aware of your own nature as the deity. since the deity was monist, you became joined in union with all other things that shared that deity nature. the Buddhist position, in contrast, was that when illusion collapsed the idea of a personal self (godhead or otherwise) was one of the illusions that collapsed - essentially, that there was nothing there when you got there. secondly, the argument is specifically and deliberately soteriological, in that by virtue of it being against any findable thing that a self...
- Sep 24, 11:20 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
There is pleasure And there is bliss. Forgo the first to posses the second. Dhammapada The Sayings of the Buddha 21:1
- Sep 24, 9:57 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Citizen Edition)
this was genuinely a much better discussion than the previous with Owen. nothing against Owen but that just went nowhere. this one homed on the impartialist position and Robert Wright is much to thank for that. great discussion. thanks
- Sep 24, 8:45 am - Episode 93: Freedom and Responsibility (Strawson vs. Strawson)
Wes, I know this is an old post but I'm listening through all of the episodes in order from the beginning so I'm way behind. Did the more detailed account of your view on free will ever get posted? I'm having trouble finding it but what you said in the podcast was very interesting and I would love to hear more. Thanks for the great podcast!
- Sep 23, 11:19 am - Episode 2: Descartes's Meditations: What Can We Know?
I wish you guys would have taken psilocybe cubensis to highlight what Decarte could not which is not a language excercise for the concept of dreaming while awake but an actual experience. There is so much more you could be adding to this conversation.
- Sep 23, 11:19 am - Episode 9: Utilitarian Ethics: What Should We Do?
Seth's answer to Singer is genius.
- Sep 21, 4:22 pm - Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Part One)
Wow,,, PEL and old episodes of Loveline are the two most enjoyable things I have been listening to for the past two years (I'm in medical school in Romania). This is like an All-Star thinkpiece, Thank you,
- Sep 21, 2:11 pm - Science, Religion, and Secularism Part IV: Ian Barbour—The Dialogue Model
The question regarding the intelligibility of nature has two parts: 1) why would our brains develop in a way where our ideas would correspond with objective reality, and 2) in what sense can objective categories exist at all? The latter question is more fundamental. In order for us to have minds capable of understanding objective reality, there must be an objective reality to understand. Objective reality only makes sense if God exists as the ultimate meaning maker making the categories objective. Without there being some ultimate meaning maker (some ultimate perceiver creating a “God’s eye view,”) there are no grounds on which to say these categories have objective existence. They are then simply the categories of an observer with a particular perspective. They are only a “view from somewhere.” Without God, there are no grounds on which to say any perspective is objective in the sense viewing a reality which exists independent of the mind of the observer. The anti-realism or non-essentialism of Postmodernism is based on this idea. Without God there is no ultimate meaning, in any sense. As Hannah Arendt wrote in her essay The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man, “man can only get lost...
- Sep 21, 10:49 am - Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Part One)
Following this you guys might also want to think about doing some of Brandom on inferentialism, normativity and intentionality. ps http://www.psy.herts.ac.uk/pub/sjcowley/docs/cradle.pdf The Cradle of Language: making sense of bodily connections.
- Sep 21, 9:49 am - Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"
TMHS 240: Happiness Vs. Pleasure And The Hacking Of The American Mind – With Dr. Robert Lustig http://theshawnstevensonmodel.com/robert-lustig/
- Sep 21, 9:35 am - Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Part One)
no doubt we can think of others in such reflective/abstracted ways and this by means of this new artificial experience-of/relation-to may forge new connections/habits, John Dewey pointed out (reminiscent of Heidegger on broken tools) that when our non-conscious habits fail us we might frame the situation in terms of a problem to be resolved via experimentation, but this is not to say that we generally/normally use anything like ToM to interact with people (see Bert Dreyfus' site for his paper on moral expertise), you folks might want to talk with Sean Gallagher about his new book Enactivist Interventions: Rethinking the Mind. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390942/
- Sep 20, 9:13 am - Episode 172: Mind, Self, and Affect with Guest Dr. Drew (Citizen Edition)
Really enjoyed this episode. A lot of grist, both for self and societal analysis. I wonder, though, if the uptick in "associative disorders" that is mentioned, somewhat in passing, isn't more a matter of perception than of actual increase. Seems to me that history is replete with characters whom today we would label as maladjusted. Certainly the erosion of extended families, the demise of village life, the romantic glorification of the individual over the group... all have contributed perhaps to a decline in nurturing. None of that is new.
- Sep 19, 4:13 pm - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
TMHS 240: Happiness Vs. Pleasure And The Hacking Of The American Mind – With Dr. Robert Lustig http://theshawnstevensonmodel.com/robert-lustig/
- Sep 18, 5:44 pm - Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"
It sure is. For me it means doing what I can as part of larger organisations and campaigns - bearing in mind that the means to a joyful society shouldn't burn us out. Buying from co-op's where we can and such is something.
- Sep 18, 12:09 pm - Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"
I just downloaded, "Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis" after looking him up, per your recommendation. It's a struggle to know how to spend my efforts. I don't want to give in to a sense of helplessness. Nor do I want to burn out. It's a hard balance to strike.
- Sep 17, 4:37 pm - Episode 47: Sartre on Consciousness and the Self (Citizens Only)
Wow nice work. Would like to explore more of non-positional as non-local theorem and non-duality. I think you can experience this consciousness but we do not have the means of translating. I wish you would balance a statement that the object is from nothing to objects from everything which is the infinite regress.
- Sep 16, 1:41 pm - Science, Religion, and Secularism, Part III: Ian Barbour—The Independence Model
Thanks, I love this topic and really appreciate your discussing it. I wonder if something like the existentialist position can be expanded to say that the subjective and objective deal with different types of facts. We can only really know God and Gods interaction in our lives and the world through a relationship with involves an "I - You" second person type relationship, (the face to face relationship Roger Scruton talks about in his Gifford Lecture); whereas science studies the type of facts which come out of a third person "I - it" type relationship. The scientific method can only apply to the latter, and has overstepped its bounds when applied to the former. Also, the scientific method is limited to ideas that can be reduced to observation statements (empirical data). So, when people like the "new atheists" talk about evolution being without design or purpose, they have left the domain of science and have entered into naturalistic philosophy, since these are not empirically testable concepts. I think this is Plantinga's point in his book "Where the Conflict Really Lies." There is obviously overlap around things like historical claims, but at bottom science and religion seem to be dealing with...
- Sep 15, 6:56 pm - Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"
For those interested in economics Steve Keen is attempting to come up with a decent theory. He has lots of stuff on youtube. It is based on Minsky, who didn't presume equilibrium (as the usual model does. His critique of the conventional model is Debunking Economics.) Declaration of interest: he's an Australian and so am I (though he works overseas now).
- Sep 15, 12:24 pm - Episode 170 Second Opinions: Leftists on "Society of the Spectacle"
I am so glad that Seth is still here.. Rorty infuriated me when I heard him speak. He didn't just touch a nerve. It was root canal. I did, eventually, realize that it was I who had been wrong and not Richard Rorty. I was concerned for a bit there that we might not hear from Seth. Mark rocks for doing Spinoza because Seth could never resist that. I read "The Society of the Spectacle" years ago and it now maps well onto my views of the memetic part of ourselves, which is something like what others call, "the socially constructed self." But I feel that something needed to be said about this discussion, in particular.. My biggest complaint about the economic theories of the libertarian/republicans is that they are merchantilists and not capitalists. The reason we went off of the gold standard was the problem of deflation. In a merchantilist' zero sum game, my gains are someone else's losses and vice-versa. It is ironic that the Marxists made the same accounting error in this conversation. When republicans speak of "throwing money at the problem" they speak as if a dollar spent is a dollar lost forever. Your guests said...
- Sep 15, 1:40 am - Science, Religion, and Secularism, Part III: Ian Barbour—The Independence Model
Thanks Daniel. I think you're right that in the Abrahamic faiths the magisteria must overlap to some extent. I'm not sure that independence is quite right for MLK's position: harmony seems to fit better for me. "Independence" has too much feeling of rivalry for me. But that might just be me.
- Sep 14, 12:08 pm - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
Yes, the Bodhicaryavatara would make a good reading for a podcast. Even better would be to read in in conjunction with Paul Williams's book Altruism and Reality, or perhaps just the final chapter thereof, which is entitled "How Santideva Destroyed the Bodhisattva Path." That would combine an important text from the tradition with a high-level contemporary discussion thereof. Here's an article that discusses and responds to Williams's argument: https://folk.uio.no/jonw/Bodhipath2001a.pdf
- Sep 14, 3:18 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
This is my first post as a full PLE member. I am writing from Madrid (Spain). While I enjoyed Wright's podcast a lot, and I like very much the work he does, I think he presents the non-self argument in a bit weak form. In fact, the traditional Buddhist argument looks weak also to me. They break a person into parts, or aggregates and the argument go saying that as no of the individual parts is the self (as intuitively understood) then the self-does not exist, it is an illusion. But, you can have things that take shape, precisely as a sum or addition of parts, and then exhibits behaviors that were not present in the individual components. I am talking of course about the idea of emergent properties, But I am trying to go a bit beyond. The self could be something that emerges as a result of the interaction of the parts and that it could be as real as the parts themselves.
- Sep 13, 3:43 pm - The Incoherence of Michael Sandel's Critique of Liberalism
I'm not a philosopher (or only an amateur one) but I wanted to say I found Part V of this absolutely riveting reading, without regard for the wider polemic of the essay. I'm not sure I have ever seen such an elegant and forceful presentation of the beliefs that I, as a liberal, have so often vainly tried to put into words with regard to the flaws of collectivist ideologies, the non-existence of the community-Geist, etc. Congratulations. I will now try to read anything else of Wes Alwan's I can get my hands on.
- Sep 13, 10:25 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
for more information on the history of insight and mindfulness meditation, here's an interview with a scholar who wrote a book on Ledi Sayadaw, the 19th/20th century burmese monk who developed and popularized the practice. http://newbooksnetwork.com/erik-braun-the-birth-of-insight-meditation-modern-buddhism-and-the-burmese-monk-ledi-sayadaw-university-of-chicago-press-2013/ here's also "a primer on buddhist meditation". a very different analysis than the one offered by wright. http://bit.ly/2x1eR4Z lopez also has a number of lectures on this history of science + buddhism dialogue and it's very confused arguments. it would be interesting to put this information in dialogue with wright's analysis. https://youtu.be/FF6rzOSM0Iw https://youtu.be/dj88vK5RxsI if this podcast is to do another episode on buddhism, shantideva's bodhicaryavatara would be a better choice as it's both a historically important text from indian antiquity and it's used by practitioners today. it's short, accessible, and maintains an engaging style. the translator Kate Crosby would be a great guest.
- Sep 13, 12:33 am - Episode 171: Buddhism vs. Evolution with Guest Robert Wright (Part Two)
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I think Buddhism has moved past the point of exoticism in the West and can be taken much more seriously, especially aspects of mindfulness that have been used by therapists for quite some time now. I thought that Mark and Dylan brought up interesting points about what qualifies for meditation? Does it have to be sitting with oneself in stillness? Can it be listening to music, painting, working on bicycle? I think contemplation needs to be part of the practice. There are plenty of activities where we can become unselfconscious, but we usually don't learn anything from them, while contributing to the feeling of needing to escape from reality rather than embrace it. I think a middle ground between East and West practice could be still meditation with the addition of contemplative writing, especially when it comes to sussing out what our anxieties and troubles may be at the time. Typically if I spend some time trying to makes sense of something troubling me by writing it out on the page, and fleshing out the details; the act of writing helps me make sense of my situation, and those worries no longer seem to have...