Mark Linsenmayer outlines Alfred North Whitehead’s book The Concept of Nature (1920)
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Mark Linsenmayer introduces Karl Jaspers’s existentialist tract, “On My Philosophy.” (1941)
Seth Paskin introduces Anarchy, State, and Utopia about libertarianism and the limits of legitimate government power.
Guest Lynda Walsh describes her book Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy, focusing on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s conflicted position after WWII as science advisor and anti-nuke spokesman.
Guest Adi Habbu lays out Kurt Gödel’s famous incompleteness theorems and describes some highlights from “Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathematics and their Implications” (1951) and “The Modern Development of the Foundations of Mathematics in Light of Philosophy” (1961).
Guest Tamler Sommers (from the Very Bad Wizards podcast) summarizes Galen Strawson’s “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility” (1994) and his father P.F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (1960).
Guest Matt Teichman introduces Bergson’s essay “An Introduction to Metaphysics.”
Introductory salvo by Mark Linsenmayer before our interview with author David Brin.
Wes Alwan introduces George Berkeley’s Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous.
Guest Philosophy Bro introduces Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy,” and Intention sections 22-27.
Mark Linsenmayer lays out some themes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism” and the “Bad Faith” chapter (Part 1, Ch. 2) of Being & Nothingness.
Dylan Casey lays out Thomas Kuhn’s thesis in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Seth Paskin summarizes the John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice.
An introduction to and summary of Frithjof Bergmann’s New Work, New Culture, read by Mark Linsenmayer.
A summary of the first three essays in Karl Popper’s collection Conjectures and Refutations, read by Dylan Casey.
An introduction to Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, read by Wes Alwan.
A short summary of Heidegger’s “Essay on Humanism,” read by Seth Paskin.
Al works for Logically, a company that fights misinformation. He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to try to discuss the appeal of conspiracy theories, whether their fandom is like other fandoms, the relation between pernicious and fun theories, and theories that end up true.
We touch on echo chambers, the role of irony and humor in spreading these theories, how both opponents and proponents claim to be skeptics, Dan Brown Novels, Tom Hanks, the Mel Gibson film Conspiracy Theory, and documentaries like Behind the Curve and The Family.
Three short episodes (on Sartre, Nietzsche, and Machiavelli) by Mark Linsenmayer of a new potential podcast for the PEL network. We’d like your feedback, and even more importantly, the feedback of your friends for whom the long-form PEL discussions are or would be just TOO MUCH.
Watch a video introduction to David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion where he considers the argument from design. Does experience ground the inference from the orderliness of nature to a divine creator?
The first “official” episode of the new Phi Fic podcast! (What used to be the Not School Philosophical Fiction group, now gone public.) We talk about the short story In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka. The crew: Nathan Hanks, Cezary Baraniecki, Daniel St. Pierre, Laura Davis, and Mary Claire.
Hear more Phi Fic discussions at PhiFicPodcast.com.
On F.A. Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945) and Amartya Sen’s On Ethics and Economics (1987). Is economics a pseudoscience? Are its assumptions by necessity too over-simplifying? Hayek objects to the idea of planning an economy, because the planners aren’t in a position to know enough. With guest Seth Benzell, who starts us off with a “precognition” of the material.
End song: “People Who Throw Away Love” by Mark Lint.
We were joined by econ grad student Seth Benzell to discuss “The Use of Knowledge in Society” by F.A. Hayek and On Ethics and Economics by Amartya Sen. What’s wrong with central economic planning? Need economics assume that we’re all predictably selfish?
Go listen to Seth Benzell’s introduction for a straight-up summary of the two essays and how they relate.
We’ll talk about what Freud thinks dreams are for. Citizens can listen now, and the public episode will be released on two parts starting Monday.
On The Concept of Nature (1920). Nature, i.e. the object of our experience, is events, not things, ya dig?
We read a foundational work in process philosophy, chock full of idiosyncratic four-dimensional geometry! Aw, yeah!
On Karl Jaspers’s “On My Philosophy” (1941), featuring comedian/actor/director/author Paul Provenza
We were joined by comedian Paul Provenza to talk about Jaspsers’s essay “On My Philosophy” about the existentially necessary philosophical leap beyond what science can justify. Hint: The alternative is not embracing religious dogma.
In trying to solve the problem of too much meaningless work, it’s irrational to reject any potential technological solutions based on Thoreau’s biases.
We discussed Thoreau’s “Walden,” and then recorded a fresh conversation on Robert Nozick’s defense of libertarianism to replace the lost conversation from last May. We were rejoined for that by Slate’s Stephen Metcalf.
Discussing Lynda Walsh’s book “Scientists as Prophets: A Rhetorical Genealogy” (2013) with the author, focusing on Robert J. Oppenheimer.
We interviewed Lynda Walsh about her book “Scientists as Prophets,” focusing on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s rhetoric about the boons and dangers of science.
On Bergson’s “An Introduction to Metaphysics” (1903). With guest Matt Teichman.
Transcribed introductions to Heidegger, Jung, Popper, Bergmann, Rawls, Kuhn, and Sartre written by the PEL crew.
A few listeners have pointed us at Melvyn Bragg’s recent podcast on Berkeley (listen to it here). It starts off with the oft-cited anecdote about Samuel Johnson claiming to have refuted Berkeley by kicking a stone: obviously, such a stone that I can kick is not an “idea in my head.” As should have been clear from our episode (and Continue Reading …
On Bishop George Berkeley’s Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1713).
Listen to Matt Teichman’s introduction to the reading. Listen to the episode. Henri Bergson is an early 20th century French philosopher that PEL listeners may recall from our philosophy of humor episode, and we’ll be tackling his philosophy proper via the entrance drug “An Introduction to Metaphysics,” a short essay from 1903 (freely available online) that is essentially pheonomenology without Continue Reading …
Listen to Mark’s Precognition framing our discussion now. We talked on the evening of Tuesday 2/25 with David Brin, one of our most philosophical science fiction authors, whose most recent novel Existence (2012) certainly has a philosophical sounding name. But no, it’s not about ontology, about Being, or about existentialism, but about our continued existence as a species on the Continue Reading …
Listen to Wes’s introduction and summary to this text. On Tuesday 2/18/14 we recorded our episode on George Berkeley. Berkeley is the middle of the three “modern” (i.e. he lived in the early 1700s) empiricists that folks generally have to read in philosophy classes, the first being John Locke and the last being David Hume. We tried to cover the Continue Reading …
On Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” (1958), Intention sections 22-27 (1957), and “War and Murder” (1961). With guest Philosophy Bro.
On Wed. 1/24 we spoke with Philosophy Bro about Elizabeth (aka G.E.M.) Anscombe. Go listen now to Bro’s introduction to Anscombe. Anscombe was a student of Wittgenstein’s and is most famous for translating his Philosophical Investigations, and when Bro pitched this topic to me, he described her as the transition from Wittgenstein to Alasdair MacIntyre. This is puzzling, as Wittgenstein Continue Reading …
“Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world. Â . . . The supreme task is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding Continue Reading …
Listen to Mark’s summary of the two main readings, then Listen to the PEL Players act out the play “No Exit.” At long last, we’re returning to existentialism after an initial foray into it with Camus. We’ve previously covered Sartre talking about phenomenology and the self, and also Kierkegaard talking about the self and values, so those are related, as Continue Reading …
In support of our ep. #87 discussing Sartre, the PEL Players present our 2nd annual dramatic reading of a work of philosophical theater.
On Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism” (1946), “Bad Faith” (pt. 1, ch. 2 of Being & Nothingness, 1943), and his play No Exit (1944).
On The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published mostly in 1962.
Listen now to Dylan’s introduction to the text. Science is just us accumulating more and more knowledge and getting a more and more accurate picture of the world, right? Not according to Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first published in 1962. Yes, there’s progress, in terms of better and better answers to a given question, more and more Continue Reading …
On John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), most of ch. 1-4.
Listen now to Seth’s Precognition for this episode. On the evening of 11/10, we’re discussing John Rawls. What is justice? Rawls interpreted this question as asking what basic social rules and structures would result in a society that we’d consider fair. Justice is fairness, on a social level. Fairness, of course, is an intuitive notion, and begs for a philosophical Continue Reading …
Talking with Frithjof Bergmann, Prof. Emeritus from U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor about his book New Work, New Culture (2004, English release coming soon).
On Popper’s Conjectures and Refutations (1963), the first three essays.
What is science, and how is it different than pseudo-science? From philosophy? Is philosophy just pseudo-science, or proto-science, or what? Popper thinks that all legitimate inquiry is about solving real problems, and scientific theories are those that are potentially falsifiable: they make definitely predictions about the world that, if these fail to be true, would show that the theory is false.
There was a comment (Thanks, Libby!) on my topic announcement post reacting to the short-hand way that I conveyed Bergmann’s experience with a native Canadian tribe that I thought would be best responded to simply by providing in full Bergmann’s anecdote about this from the book. So this is an account of one experience he had visiting and initiating a Continue Reading …
Listen to Mark’s introduction to this topic via our Precognition mini-episode. On Saturday, 9/21, we’re scheduled to interview Frithjof Bergmann, Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan, about his book New Work, New Culture (published in German in 2004 and due for English-language release this year). I’ve written on this topic several times on this blog already, so perhaps you’d Continue Reading …
On Carl Jung’s “Approaching the Unconscious” from Man and His Symbols, written in 1961. What’s the structure of the mind? Jung followed Freud in positing an unconscious distinct from the conscious ego, but Jung’s picture has the unconscious much more stuffed full of all sorts of stuff from who knows where, including instincts (the archetypes) that tend to give rise to behavior and dream imagery that we’d have to call religious. We neglect this part of ourselves at our psychological peril!
Listen now to Dylan Casey introduce these essays. On 9/3/13 we’ll be discussing the first three essays in Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963). The book is a retrospective in part, presenting the ideas in the philosophy of science that had established his reputation back in the 1930s. The first essay, “On the Sources of Knowledge and Continue Reading …
On Martin Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism” (1949). What’s our place in the world? What is it, really, to be human? Heidegger thought that being human hinges on having a proper relationship to Being, which is more basic than particular beings like people and tables and such, yet it being so close, Heidegger thinks it’s hardest to see, and easy to be distracted from.
In the Precognition for episode 81 on Carl Jung, Wes Alwan read off of some divinely inspired notes that we’ve now made available to PEL Citizens here, in the “Transcripts” category. Become a Citizen to download it! Listen to Wes’s Precognition of Episode 81.
Listen now to Wes’s introductory precognition of this Jung discussion. On 8/7/13, we recorded a discussion of Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols, specifically essay he wrote that kicks off the book (which includes several authors), “Approaching the Unconscious.” This reading (written shortly before Jung’s death in 1961 and published afterwards) was recommended to us by some Jung fans on Continue Reading …
My concern here, as is often the case, is with our methodology at PEL. As we go through these various readings and figure out what we want to say about them, I periodically figure out some articulable point about how I’m reading and why I feel the need to express what I do as opposed to something else. On three Continue Reading …
Listen right now to Seth giving a 10-min summary of Heidegger’s essay via a new “Precognition” mini-sode. Back in episode 32 (over two years ago!) we covered the project of Martin Heidegger’s most famous work, Being and Time, composed early in his career. (Incidentally, I see a new and exciting looking translation of this on Amazon that you may want Continue Reading …