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Excerpts of discussions about Frithjof Bergmann's New Work, New Culture, Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and Martin Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism."
Given rising economic productivity, we should all be working less, but we're not, and the job system is not healthy for our souls. U. of Michigan prof (scholar of Hegel, Nietzsche, et al) Frithjof Bergmann has been actually doing things for decades to try to bring about the transition to a post-job world. Mark led a group in discussing this text, which will be covered in a future PEL episode.
Did you like our episode on Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men? Well, Blood Meridian is more notoriously philosophical than that, with an existentialist landscape of despair and a Nietzsche-spouting brute called The Judge. Dylan Casey participated in this discussion with our continuing Philosophical Fiction group.
Our Philosophy of Mind group covered a work by a philosopher and a cognitive scientist discussing how philosophy in coming up with its concepts has generally overlooked the obvious yet profound truth that we are embodied beings. To quote the book summary at Amazon:
The Cartesian person, with a mind wholly separate from the body, does not exist. The Kantian person, capable of moral action according to the dictates of a universal reason, does not exist. The phenomenological person, capable of knowing his or her mind entirely through introspection alone, does not exist. The utilitarian person, the Chomskian person, the poststructuralist person, the computational person, and the person defined by analytic philosophy all do not exist. Then what does? Lakoff and Johnson show that a philosophy responsible to the science of mind offers radically new and detailed understandings of what a person is.
Finally, Seth Paskin led a discussion back in March on Heidegger in preparation for episode 80, so you can hear some cool additional perspectives on that puzzling text.
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Loved the excerpted conversation on work, and really looking forward to when you guys do a full episode! Such an under-philosophized topic! The characterization of the Brave New World (dystopian because mindlessly hedonic) version of the post-work future as one in which people lie around playing Halo all day, reminded me of the computer scientist and game designer Jane McGonigal. Among other things, she argues that gaming can serve as a model for fulfilling work in the way that good games combine satisfaction-promoting factors like consistent feedback, escalating difficulty, certain kinds of cooperation and competition, and so on. Whether or not you totally buy her pitch for gaming, it involves a pretty interesting and serious attempt to drill down into the features of work processes that make them more or less pleasurable, invigorating, nourishing, etc. Here‘s a guardian review of her book Reality is Broken.
I really enjoyed the quoted parts of the Blood Meridan discussion which I have always taken to be a critique of Nietzsche, although I think that Brave New World was interesting in that originally Huxley thought of it as a utopia and only gradually shifted it into a dystopic novel over time.