Citizen Feed Episodes: Paywalled and Ad-Free

Available only to PEL Citizens: All of our paywalled and ad-free regular episodes in a single feed. That includes paywalled full episodes from the back catalogue, Nightcap and (Starting in September 2020) Part 2 of all episodes. You can add this feed to the podcast app of your choice by following the instructions here. You can download them, listen to them here, or get them on the podcast app of your choice by following the instructions here. Not a Citizen? Join here.

View Ascending View Descending

Closereads: Isaiah Berlin on Liberty (Part One)

Sign up for Closereads at patreon.com/closereadsphilosophy to get future parts on this reading, as well as our previous and future installments of this podcast. Mark and Wes read through the beginning of "Two Concepts of Liberty" (1969). What are the various ways we can conceive of freedom, and is the concept necessarily political? Can you legitimately say you've been  Continue Reading …

Closereads: Aristotle Against Platonic Forms (Audio Part One), aka PEL Ep. 335 (Part Three for Supporters)

Sign up for Closereads at patreon.com/closereadsphilosophy to get future parts on this reading, as well as our previous and future installments of this new podcast. Aristotle offers a critique of Plato's theory of forms at a few points in his Metaphysics, and in this and the following part of this series, we'll be tackling this by reading part of book 1, ch. 9. Read  Continue Reading …

Ep. 335: Aristotle on Fundamental Explanations (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing on Aristotle's Metaphysics, book 1. We get seriously into Aristotle's four types of causation and how previous philosophers in leaving out one or most of these made a mistake. This includes a critique of Platonic forms, which as eternal, unchanging patterns can't actually explain why change occurs in the world. Parmenides famously only thought there was one  Continue Reading …

Ep. 335: Aristotle on Fundamental Explanations (Part One for Supporters)

On Aristotle's Metaphysics, book 1 (aka Alpha) (ca. 340 BCE). What constitutes a basic explanation of the universe? Featuring Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth. Aristotle famously give us four types of causation; the Greek word is "aitia," which is perhaps better translated as "explanation," and in this book, Aristotle (or whoever put this book together based on Aristotle's  Continue Reading …

PEL Long Winter’s Nightcap (Jan-Feb 2024)

Recorded 1/24/24. First, we anticipate our first Aristotle Metaphysics reading by talking about translations, ancient philosophy students, and whether this text is timeless, or is really a text intended for publication at all. Second, we respond to some viewers who pointed us to the Books That Kill podcast's discussion of Mounk's Identity book, which we covered in our ep.  Continue Reading …

Ep. 334: Gabriel Marcel’s Christian Existentialism (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing on "On the Ontological Mystery" (1933), we talk more about problems (the character of whose solution is pre-defined) vs. mysteries (the dense conundrums of experience like "How free is my will?" and "How is real intimacy possible?"). Re. the problem of evil: A theodicy like Leibniz's treats this as a puzzle to be solved in terms of the logically possible will of God  Continue Reading …

Ep. 334: Gabriel Marcel’s Christian Existentialism (Part One for Supporters)

Discussing "On the Ontological Mystery" (1933) about our need for meaning, featuring Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan. Against the emphasis in our lives on our functions (our jobs and duties) and our technological approach to problems that stresses practical solutions, Marcel asserts that we all have an "ontological need," which is a need for some content in our lives that is not  Continue Reading …

Closereads: Hegel on Jesus and Kant (Audio Part Five + Reflections on Recent PEL Episodes)

Sign up for Closereads at patreon.com/closereadsphilosophy to get the previous four parts on this reading, as well as our previous and future installments of this new podcast. Hey, PEL supporters: Since there's no part three for Fear and Trembling (nor will there be one for our next episode on Marcel, we thought we'd share with you the conclusion of our Closereads  Continue Reading …

Ep. 333: Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling” on Faith (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on Kierkegaard's perhaps most famous book, how focusing largely on the section called "Problem One: Is There a Teleological Suspension of the Ethical?" Kierkegaard (writing as Johannes de Silentio) describes this "unmediated" access to God that constitutes faith. It's not obeying moral law (which would be a mediator), which characterizes tragic  Continue Reading …

Ep. 333: Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling” on Faith (Part One for Supporters)

Ending our treatment of Soren Kierkegaard, we consider the religious stage of personal development through consideration of this 1843 text analyzing the Biblical story of Abraham faithfully following God's directive to sacrifice his long-promised, much-cherished son Isaac. Can we observers possibly understand that kind of faith? This text was released close on the heels of  Continue Reading …

PEL Winter Nightcap (Concluding 2023)

Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan set ourselves as part of our ongoing Kierkegaard reading to re-listen to our 2010 episode 29 on The Sickness Unto Death. This leads us to our personal histories regarding faith and how the idea of faith intersects with our philosophy studies. Does a thinker like Kierkegaard defy treatment via our format? Given that we cover typically one short work  Continue Reading …

Ep. 332: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Ethical Self (Part Two for Supporters)

Concluding our discussion of Either/Or, still this time considering “The Balance Between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” on how the ethical helps us to develop a self. Listen to part one first. What is this ideal self that Kierkegaard wants us to aim for, but yet which is within us as individuals already? How can each of us merge with the  Continue Reading …

Ep. 332: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Ethical Self (Part One for Supporters)

We're reading the second half of “The Balance Between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” from Vol. 2 of Either/Or (1843). This is a direct continuation from ep. 331, which we felt gave us more than enough critique of the aesthetic life, but not enough of K's picture of the alternative, which is formation of a coherent self that is somehow  Continue Reading …

Ep. 331: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Ethical Life (Part Three for Supporters)

Mark and Wes talk in more details about the "stages of despair" Kierkegaard lays out in “The Balance Between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” from Vol. 2 of Either/Or. Listen to parts one and two first. These are supposed to be the stages that someone in the aesthetic mode might go through in order to eventually be ready to take the leap to  Continue Reading …

Ep. 331: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Ethical Life (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on “The Balance Between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality." Kierkegaard's polemicist Judge William begins this part by criticizing (Hegelian) philosophy as being too abstract and not providing concrete guidance to people. The ethical point of view, on the other hand, as Kierkegaard conceives of it, is all about how  Continue Reading …

Ep. 331: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Ethical Life (Part One for Supporters)

On “The Balance Between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” from Vol. 2 of Soren Kierkegaard's Either/Or (1843). What is choice? While in our last episode, we covered the "Either," i.e. the Romantic, aesthetic way to live, this essay taking up much of the "Or" half of the book is presented as a lengthy letter sent to the author of that first  Continue Reading …

Ep. 330: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Aesthetic Life (Part Three for Supporters)

Mark, Wes, and Seth read through more of Kierkegaard's Diapsalmata, translated as "Refrains," which are the aphorisms that begin the book and demonstrate the aesthetic point of view. Start with parts one and two. Here Kierkegaard (or rather his character "A") criticizes himself, gives advice for authors, analyzes laughter, talks about how to live with suffering in a debased  Continue Reading …

Ep. 329: Kierkegaard on Irony (Part Four for Supporters/Closereads Part Two)

Continuing from the previous installment, Mark and Wes conclude our read-through of the final section of The Concept of Irony, "Irony as a Controlled Element, the Truth of Irony." How can a controlled level of irony help us gain health and truth? Read along with us, starting at PDF p. 324 in the middle. Closereads supporters (see patreon.com/closereadsphilosophy) can  Continue Reading …

Ep. 330: Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”: The Aesthetic Life (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on "Diapsalmata" and "Rotation of Crops" from the "Either" portion of Kierkegaard's pseudonymous book ("either" being the aesthetic and "or" being the ethical, which we'll cover in ep. 331). We get a bit personal about this; to what extent is Seth criticizing our younger selves? (Here's a song Mark wrote in 1990 in this vein.) We talk through more  Continue Reading …