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To what extent has our podcast changed in reaction to current politics? Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan reflect back on our year, discuss how we select texts, and give some thumbnail sketches of potential topics.
Attention: Only the first 45 min of this discussion will be posted for the general public. If you like PEL at all, consider just becoming a PEL Citizen or supporting us via Patreon and get the whole thing now.
Want to hear future PEL episodes about Charlie Brown? Pink Floyd? Joan Didion? Neal Gaiman? Maybe more philosophy-adjacent texts following what we did with Darwin and The Wealth of Nations? Or quit with the pop culture already and get to Malebranche, Von Mises, and Mill!?
When we talk about something that isn't philosophy, what are we doing exactly? Trying to pull out the philosophical issues, or treating literature qua literature and film qua film? Do we care what the author says about the work? If he or she denies any philosophical intentions, are we doing wrong by reading it into the work anyway?
Wes talks about his forays into film analysis (check out this, this, this, and especially this), Seth kvetches about the poor job modern movies do in treating philosophical issues, Mark talks about reactions to our American Indian episode (read the blog post on this), and Dylan explains the St. John's way of treating any text intelligently.
The image for this ep is by Solomon Grundy.
there are a lot of BS (MLA?)ing about whatever podcasts out there but not many that try and do something like close readings of philo texts and maybe even encourage lay people to try and read along, have you folks tackled any of Donald Davidson’s work?
A show on hermeneutics would be welcome, death of the author, is there a text in this room, Wittgenstein vs Freud, etc.
Simon Critchley is still writing on tragedy and would be a good guest for talking Greek/Shakespeare, Anne Carson is a wonder on bringing them to life for modern audiences.
Evan Hadkins says
For Authorial Intent you could read Barthes Death of the Author.
I was thinking you should talk about The Room (the Tommy Wisseau film) for authorial intent vs public perception/value. Since The Disaster Artist I feel like it has a broader pop culture awareness.
Dale Smith says
I look forward to a conversation about interpreting literature. A few texts to consider: Wimsatt and Beardsley’s influential book on textualism, “The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry;” Stanley Fish’s reader-response hermeneutics, “Is There a Text in This Class?;” E.D. Hirsch’s defense of authorial intent, “Validity in Interpretation;” David Couzen Hoy’s survey, “The Critical Circle: Literature, History, and Philosophical Hermeneutics.” The list could go on, but these books and citations from their bibliographies could make for a great discussion. Thanks for all your work!
Robert Williams says
To Wes’s request for readings on intention and interpretation: it would be great to hear a discussion of G.E.M Anscombe’s book Intention together with a look at an exchange among Stanley Cavell (“Music Discomposed”), Joseph Margolis, and Monroe Beardsley. Cavell responds pointedly to Margolis’s and Beardsley’s criticisms of him in “A Matter of Meaning It,” one of the best treatments of aesthetics and intention I know of; all four of these essays are available in a volume called Art, Mind and Religion, eds. Capitan and Merrill, University of Puttsburgh Press, 1965. Cavell’s two essays are reprinted in his Must We Mean What We Say?
Peter Sattler says
Nice suggestion, Robert. Cavell is terrific,and he deserves a show, regardless of the topic. Cavell’s work also speaks, clearly, to the episode concerns about what a philosopher does when he or she reads a work philosophically, in light of philosophy, through the lens of philosophy, etc. Perhaps they could read a selection of literature-minded philosophers and their interpretive essays (e.g., Cavell, Nussbaum, Rorty, Pippin) and see how they work.
In a comment below, I suggest reading Michaels and Knapp’s “Against Theory.” Cavell’s “Division of Talent” essay, also in Critical Inquiry, contributes to that conversation and references the link to “Music Discomposed.”
Dale Smith says
I wanted to add that while an abundance of hermeneutics-of-literature is ready to be plucked from the shelves and made into a great podcast discussion, there exists an equally abundant body of works pertaining to hermeneutics-of-jurisprudence. Americans have been arguing over how to interpret the Constitution and the common law tradition since before the Constitution was ratified.
I very much second the ideas of readings of plays, and of discussing the philosophical aspects of works of art,
Punyesh Kumar says
If you’re looking for a well-respected center of contemporary conservative thought, a kind of modern William Buckley (though he’s more like a modern Hayek) then I’d really recommend the work of African-American economist and political theorist/philosopher Thomas Sowell. Most conservatives (I’m centrist) I know greatly admire all of his work, his book “A Conflict of Visions’ is seen by many as a modern classic and “Vision of the Anointed” and “Intellectuals and Society” is seen by many as a damning critique of liberal politics.
Punyesh Kumar says
There’s also Glenn Loury who’s a center-right economist and Professor of the Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University. He runs a political podcast called “The Glenn Show” with Linguist and political commentator John Mcwhorter.
Peter Sattler says
If you want some smart explorations of authorial intent (in fact, writers who argue that authorial intent is the ONLY determinant of meaning), you need to read Walter Benn Michaels or Stanley Fish. For W. B. Michaels, you could start with the essay that started this trend in his career: “Against Theory” (1982, with Steven Knapp,in Critical Inquiry).
But for a strong and more direct version of this in relation to the visual arts, perhaps start with with Michaels’ “Intention at the College Art Association (2010)” at NONSITE.ORG. This is a GREAT essay. You need this as part of the conversation.
For Stanley Fish, you could go with IS THERE A TEXT IN THIS CLASS, but I would start with more direct essays on intention and meaning that appear in law journals or even The NY Times. Try out Fish’s “There Is No Textualist Position” (San Diego Law Review, 2005), “Going Down the Anti-Formalist Road” (in DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY), or “Intention and the Canons of Legal Interpretation” (NYT, 2012).
Each of these texts argues that a text means what it’s author intends (“what the work of art means is equally and only to give an account of what it was intended to mean”), while at the same time arguing (1) that this irreducible fact about meaning cannot be turned into a methodology, (2) that this equation of I tent and meaning is the only way to be able to say that an interpretation is wrong, or that an artwork has failed, and (3) that there are other things — like a work’s political, personal, or emotional effects — that are not reducible to intent,but those things are to acts of interpretation.
But above all, I would suggest that to pursue this topic and these readings, you must avoid thinking that this problem and these essays are easily understood and dismissed. Fish and Michaels (like Rorty) are some of the most blithely misunderstood pragmatists out there.
I hope you give this a shot.
Peter Sattler says
EDIT: It would probably be better, if one wanted to read “Against Theory,” to do it along with the essays in WJT Mitchell’s edited volume of the same name: “Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism” (U of Chicago P, 1985).
Wes Alwan says
Thanks for the suggestions everyone!
Mises?! Awesome! Are you seriously gonna slog through Human Action? I haven’t finished listening to this podcast yet, I’m curious if his name will be brought up.
Thanks for giving libertarinism a shot, even though you aren’t its biggest fans.
I have not read this but as far as a philosophically conservative text, Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community is supposed to be excellent.