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.
- Oct 22, 3:15 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
This is hysterical. I remember reading, long ago, the review which was "One of you doesn't belong in this podcast. All three of you know who I mean. I would love to be able to listen to the other two, but that guy just says the stupidest stuff. He's a liability to the show.", and thinking - wow, which one is it? From an outsider perspective I really think none of these can be taken seriously because they haven't invested the time into the podcast as a whole. I mean, what exactly are people expecting? You are some guys who thought about doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. It's not as though you started off as professional podcasters with perfect equipment yet here you are ten years later with such an extensive overview of philosophy such that someone like me, who knows zero, now has a vague but ever increasing clarity regarding philosophy that I have gotten almost solely from listening to this podcast. And the editing - it's top notch IMO! Still - the fuzzy sounding first episodes remain some of my favorites. As far as interacting with the audience, I have a different...
- Oct 21, 8:40 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
I do think that there is a central tension in the PEL project that this circles around but doesn't really address which is that the guys (and occasional guest) are wrestling with the texts and the audience tends to focus instead on what is said in the podcast and not on the texts, I for one would hate to have them stray away from the texts as this is one of the few podcasts that really tries something like a close reading but I'm sure there are more numbers in going social. http://www.focusing.org/apm_papers/solomon3.html Reflections on Heidegger's Discussion on "Idle Talk" by Robert Solomon "To preface, I would like to point out the danger of understanding the following concepts too quickly. That kind of understanding, according to Heidegger, is a mere semblance, and not the real grasp that comes from struggling with something in order to make it one's own."
- Oct 21, 6:43 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
Yeah, (sub)text is killing it. More please!
- Oct 21, 5:51 pm - Rick Roderick on Foucault
As someone who grew up in the 50s and 60s like Rick I feel he's a true peer and due to a very rough childhood like Rick I wasn't educated past high school and then poorly but I found salvation in books the same way he did. So finding Rick Roderick's lectures on youtube has been one of the more lucky breaks in my life. He opened up some important philosophical ideas in a way I could easily grok. I've basically educated myself on youtube and can say with a little authority that Rick was the most brilliant teacher I've ever come across and I've come across dozens. Words cannot express how much I miss him even though I never met him. I only wish that he had been able to do a youtube lecture on Schopenhauer. I just have to wonder what he might have to say about my favorite philosopher. I think I could have sat at his feet happily for many years and so gained the education that I sorely lacked. Plus I don't think I could have ever found a better friend. The last 10 years of his life are shrouded in mystery unfortunately and I'll...
- Oct 21, 4:20 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
Considering this, and Avi's comment below, I definitely overlooked the Citizen-to-Citizen access piece, which serves as a decent proxy for direct interaction with PEL's hosts, each otherwise obligated by their own commitments. I think I will probably have to engage this aspect of the site a little more earnestly, therefore, before delivering additional critique. 'Not School' management is not within my personal bandwidth right now, but I would definitely consider as much if I am successful in taking up this corner of PEL more regularly.
- Oct 21, 4:06 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
We currently have no one at all managing Not School, so this is something we’d be wiling to pay someone (a bit) to do if it’s something you’re interested in. Feel free to email me (any of you) if this is something you’d be potentially interested in.
- Oct 21, 3:02 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
Seeking out constructive critique is admirable. However, Mark, I wonder if this exercise veers into digital self-harm... (phrase stolen from Contrapoints) Here is a critique that I think as a little more constructive. In line with what Luke said, I think citizen-to-citizen and citizen-to-PEL-podcaster engagement could both be improved. Citizens want to engage in discussions like those they hear on the podcast, but the study-group system doesn't seem (at least, these days) to be succeeding as a fertile ground for such discussions. For instance, looking at the most recent forum-posts for those groups ranked as "most recently active" (not sure how that metric is calculated), most groups' forum topics have not had activity in years (though perhaps they're organizing elsewhere, or privately). I've tried to make a couple myself, but I found it hard to keep people engaged (my fault, probably, for trying to tackle Kant's Critique of Pure Reason online). Here is an idea that I think would encourage both Citizen-to-Citizen and Citizen-to-PEL-Host dialogue: a twitch stream episode, or something like it. That is, the PEL podcasters could be on voice-chat, maybe on camera, talking to each other about some new topic or some past episode. Meanwhile, citizens (or...
- Oct 21, 2:27 pm - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
I've tried many different podcasts over the years and this isn't just the best podcast I've heard, but it's the most interesting thing I've found on the internet, period. I'm about to begin my third complete listen through of every episode from the beginning. Keep up the great work! Also, keep (sub)Text going because that's been blowing my mind too. Thanks guys!
- Oct 21, 11:01 am - To Celebrate Recording 200 Episodes, Mark Partially Examines 10 Bad Reviews
It's a pretty diverse audience you have to try to please. And, although the maintenance costs for this website cannot be trivial (hence, the blended subscription-based and ad-based sponsorship), I've always taken PEL to be sort of a private-club project with a public-facing character. I admire the 'collective learning' conceit of the hosts, and observing their views and approaches to content naturally change over time. My only modest gripe, or wish really, is that there possibly be a little more interaction with PEL's regular audience, especially those that have forked over the (admittedly, modest) price to be part of the PEL Citizenry. Well, then, how many Citizens do you have? - I don't know - and of course there are only four of you. Notwithstanding the fact that the precise number of us who consistently have something to say is fairly modest, maybe if you started engaging every Citizen Edition comment, this ceases to be a fun hobby and instead becomes a full-time (and unremunerated) job. I could honestly side both ways on that score. Suffice to say though, that - in the absence of greater substantive to-and-fro - I've personally been pushed to looked elsewhere (on iTunes) to fill...
- 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.