Mark takes a very close look at pages 1-4 of the first chapter of On Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980) to follow up on our Kristeva discussion.
On Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980), ch. 1 and 2.
What is horror? Kristeva’s book is about a process she calls “abjection,” where we violently reject things like corpses, bodily wastes and other fluids, and the Lovecraftian unnameable that lurks at the edge of our awareness.
The book is also all about the self, suggesting modifications to Freud’s Oedipal complex and Lacan’s mirror-stage story. With guest Kelley Citrin.
End song: “Eyes of Fire” by Jill Freeman, as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #28.
Watch out for Mark’s Close Reading/follow-up on this text, coming soon!
Mark and Seth get further into the specifics of Marcus’s metaphysics and how this is supposed to relate to behavior. Can his directives really come solely “from reason” as he claims? How does this interact with the behaviors that we pursue (appropriately, according to Marcus) “by nature,” i.e., without conscious deliberation required? Seth is concerned with how individualistic the philosophy is. Mark is concerned that if you discard the metaphysics (as modern skeptics largely do), why should you expect the rest of the philosophy to be coherent?
Listen to episode 201 first.
On The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 180 CE) plus Ryan’s The Daily Stoic (2016).
What does Stoicism look like in practice, in both ancient and modern contexts? You might think that eschewing the shallow, out-of-our control trappings of fame and wealth in favor of personal cultivation would make one unambitious, but Ryan uses Marcus as a prime example of how to be a Stoic while trying to accomplish great things.
End song: “Any Way the Wind Blows” by MIR; listen to Mark talk with Asif Illyas on Nakedly Examined Music #33.
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On “What Is Enlightenment” by Immanuel Kant (1784), “On Enlightening the Mind” by Moses Mendelssohn (1784), and “What Is Enlightenment” by Michael Foucault (1984).
At the end of the historical period known as the Enlightenment, a Berlin newspaper asked what exactly that is, and Kant and Mendelssohn responded. Both were concerned with whether too much enlightenment among the public can cause social unrest, and so whether there should be freedom of speech and opinion. Foucault thinks that we’re not yet Enlightened, that it’s an ongoing process of critique.
Visit partiallyexaminedlife.com/pel-live to help us plan the 10-year anniversary live event!
End song: “Holy Fool” by Love and Rockets. Listen to singer Daniel Ash on Nakedly Examined Music #35.
The U. of Michigan prof joins us to discuss Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It) (2017) and “What Is the Point of Equality?” (1999).
What is a government? Liz argues that this includes companies, and that we should thus apply political science concepts in evaluating their power. Her egalitarianism involves everyone retaining a minimum level of inalienable autonomy, and we should resist encroachments on this not just by the state but from employers as well.
End song: “Straight Job” by Rod Picott. Hear him on Nakedly Examined Music #80.
Mark and Seth continue our conversation from ep. 198 by going through the arguments in the second half of the dialogue.
This puzzling section is largely a monologue by the character Parmenides, with the stated aim of showing the implications from first, the assumption that the One exists, and then that the One does not exist. But is this really Parmenides’s One or the Platonic Form of Oneness? Can these be the same thing?
On the most peculiar Platonic dialogue, from ca. 350 BCE.
Are properties real things in the world, or just in the mind? Plato is known for claiming that these “Forms” are real, though otherworldly. Here, though, using Parmenides as a character talking to a young Socrates, Plato seems to provide objections here to his own theory. What’s the deal?
End song: “Young and Lovely” by Jherek Bischoff. Hear him on Nakedly Examined Music #65.
Wes discusses the Steven Spielberg film with philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson. What is there to fear in artificial intelligence? How does this shed light on what it means to be fully human?
On the fragments referred to as “On Nature” from ca. 475 BCE, featuring guest Peter Adamson from the History of Philosophy without Any Gaps podcast.
End song: “Circle” by Gareth Mitchell, as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #4.
The Cambridge/etc. prof joins Mark, Wes, and Dylan to discuss his book On Truth (2018).
What is truth? Simon’s view synthesizes deflationism and pragmatism to avoid relativism by fixing on the domain-specific procedures we actually engage in to establish the truth of a claim, whether in ethics, science, art, or whatever. A gift of clarity after two episodes threshing through the jungles of analytic philosophy!
End song: “with you/for you” from the new cold/mess EP by Prateek Kuhad, interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #79.
On two articles in the “ordinary language” tradition of philosophy called “Truth” from 1950 by J.L. Austin and P.F. Strawson.
Is truth a property of particular speech acts, or of the propositions expressed through speech acts? Does truth mean correspondence with the facts, or does the word “fact” make this definition totally uninformative? Does saying “is true” add any information content to a sentence over and above just stating that sentence?
End song: “Troof” by Shawn Phillips, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #77.
A new, Wes-driven endeavor! He and Bill Youmans discuss the 1611 play about revenge, forgiveness, and authorship. Or maybe it’s about exploitation, or how we react to changes in status, or perhaps how a liberal education can give you magical powers! Listen and decide for yourself! And tell Wes if you like this kind of thing so he’ll do more.
On Tarski’s “The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics” (1944), Hartry Field’s “Tarski’s Theory of Truth” (1972), and Donald Davidson’s “The Folly of Trying to Define Truth” (1977).
What is truth? Tarski gives a technical, metaphysically neutral definition for truth within a particular, well-defined language. So how does that apply to real languages? He thought he was defining truth (a semantic concept) in terms of more primitive (physical?) concepts, but Field and Davidson think that actually, truth as a general concept is indefinable, even though it’s still helpful for Tarski to have laid out the relations among various semantic concepts.
End song: “In Vino Vertias” by Sunspot; Mark interviewed Mike Huberty on Nakedly Examined Music #64.
Wes and Dylan discuss Leo Strauss’s “Mass Education and Democracy” (1967) and Richard Rorty’s “Democracy and Philosophy” (2007). Must philosophical training, or liberal education more generally, necessarily be restricted a privileged minority? PEL Citizens get to find out!
The president of St. John’s College, Annapolis joins us to discuss Jacob Klein’s “The Idea of a Liberal Education” (1960) and “On Liberal Education” (1965), plus Sidney Hook’s “A Critical Appraisal of the St. John’s College Curriculum” (1946) and Martha Nussbaum’s “Undemocratic Vistas” (1987).
What constitutes a liberal education? Should we all read the Western canon? Klein (and our guest) think that we need to wonder at the familiar, to explore the ancestry of our current concepts in order to avoid their sedimentation.
End song: “Preservation Hill” by The Bevis Frond; Mark interviewed Nick Saloman on Nakedly Examined Music #75.
Mark, Seth, and Wes, continue on Bloom, getting into The Instruments of Last Manhood, i.e., the influence of Nietzsche (and his predecessor Rousseau) through Freud and Weber. Listen to ep. 192 first. Plus Seth on Lysistrata, since he missed that discussion.
On Allan Bloom’s 1987 best-selling polemic. What is the role of the university in our democracy? Bloom thinks that today’s students are conformist, relativistic, and nihilistic, and that great books and thinking for thinking’s sake are the cure. Watch for the follow-up recording to be released soon.
End song: “Greatness (The Aspiration Song)” by Colin Moulding as heard on Nakedly Examined Music #74.