A second venture into this new series (four of which have now been recording; the website should be up fairly soon for all to listen to) where Mark and improv comedy instructor Bill Arnett engage in mutual edification.
Continuing from part one on The Vocation of Man (1799), Book II.
In this preview, we clarify whether Fichte is trying to keep the notion of a “real world” beyond our experience or not. It’s part of the progression of the text that while at first he assumes that there must be something real behind this experienced world we as individuals create, he gives up that notion in the middle of Book II. So how does he get to his startling reversal? First he develops the notion of “intuition” as distinct from perception to explain how we perceive space. Really, we just have these point-to-point experiences of color, but we somehow unconsciously synthesize these into perception of a whole covered surface.
On The Vocation of Man (1799), Books I and II. What is reality? Fichte’s armchair journey starts him considering nature and thus himself as determined, but then he backtracks to say that actually, experience doesn’t tell us whether we’re determined or free. In Book II, he argues that since our experience is always of something going on in ourselves, then all of our concepts like causality, the external world, and the self must be really just our own mental creations. So we’re free after all, yet everything is drained of significance! Tune into ep. 272 for the resolution of this drama!
Anticipating our German idealism episodes, some book recommendations, new projects, Israel, news dieting, and more.
Continuing on God and the World’s Arrangement: Readings from Vedanta and Nyaya Philosophy of Religion after the departure of our guest, Stephen Phillips.
We’re all familiar with the design argument, so why wade through all these unfamiliar schools and archaic formulations? Mark, Seth, and Wes talk more about these readings in the Indian context of liberation, reason vs. revelation, and whether we might want to read anything else like this and under what conditions.
On God and the World’s Arrangement: Readings from Vedanta and Nyaya Philosophy of Religion with one of its translators, Stephen Phillips.
Does nature require an intelligent designer? Śaṅkara (710 CE) and Vācaspati Miśra (960 CE), commenting on the Brahma-sūtra (ca. 200 CE) and Nyāya-sūtra (ca. 200 BCE), argue that it does against atheistic Buddhists, Sāṃkhya believers in a primordial matter that acts on its own, and the Mīmāṃsā conservatives who so venerated scripture that they ruled out a God who created it. But if we’re all Brahman (God), just trying to discover that we are and so escape the cycle of rebirth, then where is there room for a particular deity who created us?
A new limited (?) series is afoot in PEL-land: Mark joins with improvisational comedy instructor Bill Arnett for an exciting encounter between two areas of expertise. Will this week’s lesson in improv or philosophy have the most profound effect? NO TAKING TURNS.
Recorded on 4/27/21. Seth is late. We question Slack and Nightcap itself. Then, audiobooks, improv comedy and how we might apply its tenets to philosophy, Seth’s homeowner complaints, and Wes’ Stoicism “course.”
Continuing on “On the Nature of Totalitarianism” and On the Origins of Totalitarianism, ch. 13 (both from around 1953).
We further discuss the logic of totalitarianism and and its relevance for contemporary political movements. Has Arendt captured an authentic, novel danger, or is what she diagnoses more a modern manifestation of an old problem, or was it merely a horrific oddity of her historical period?
On “On the Nature of Totalitarianism” and On the Origins of Totalitarianism ch. 13 (both from 1953).
Is totalitarianism just an especially virulent form of tyranny, or something unique to the modern age? Arendt says that unlike other forms of government, totalitarianism is not animated by an active psychological principle that motivates its participants. Instead terror is designed to make citizens incapable of agency altogether.
Recorded 4/16, reflecting back on Avicenna and Postman: Should we do more from the Middle Ages and/or in communications studies? Arendt and Fichte coming up! The status of our Discord server. Will PEL ever end? How non-philosophical should these Nightcaps get?
Continuing on Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business with guest Brian Hirt.
Is it really the case that the written word is so much more suited for providing context than television, which after all does retain some of the virtues of the pre-literate speechifying culture that Socrates preferred over writing? We debate whether some of our favorite books could be made into decent films and consider Postman’s takes on TV news, politics, education, and religion.
On Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) with guest Brian Hirt.
How does the form in which we receive media affect how we think? Education theorist Postman (building on Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”) claimed that the advent of television has eroded our capacity to reason and given us the expectation that everything in the world must entertain. Is this a viable piece of social construction theory? How does the critique apply to the Internet age?
Recorded 3/30. We reflect on nutrition and self-care choices, then on how our not-so-secret podcaster identities fly among our day-job acquaintances. Finally, a heated discussion on the justification for unearthing and covering more pre-20th-century women philosophers.
Continuing on Avicenna’s argument for the existence of God and on the “flying man” argument for the soul’s immateriality.
We fill out Avicenna’s metaphysical picture: his concept of necessity, how knowledge means knowing necessary attributions (why self-knowledge can grasp the soul’s character), “mental existence,” infinity, and how God’s character established his uniqueness, simplicity, generosity, and other characteristics.
On selections and commentary about Avicenna’s argument from around 1020 C.E. for the existence of God as a necessary being, plus arguments to prove that God has the person-like properties that Islam imputes to him, and his “flying man” argument for the soul’s essential independence from matter. Featuring Mark, Dylan, and our guest Peter Adamson from the History of Philosophy podcast.
Recorded 3/16, with a little genetic testing talk, then teaching/audience interaction things we have considered doing. We look forward to Avicenna and an Indian philosophy episode, consider Emily Dickenson, and talk more about our parameters re. what to cover in light of the fun we had with Lear, which was both a secondary source (bad) and basically a third Plato episode in a row (also bad).
Continuing on essays from Lear’s Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul (1988).
More about reading Plato as comedy and tragedy. Then, which part of the soul (if any) is fundamental? Finally, we consider Plato’s take against poetry.
On essays from Lear’s Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul (1988): “Inside and Outside the Republic,” “Eros and Unknowing: The Psychoanalytic Significance of Plato’s Symposium,” and “An Interpretation of Transference,” which compares Socrates’ questioning with psychotherapy.
Is Plato’s analogy between mind and state in The Republic a good one? What can we learn from it about what makes for a stable, healthy character? How does eros (desire) fit into this picture? Lear gives a creative, helpful reading of Plato informed by psychoanalysis.
Recorded on March 2 after the Phaedo and before recording on Jonathan Lear’s Open Minded. We talk death, arrogance, and answer letters: one from Cambodia and one asking “IS PEL OVER?” It is not.