Continuing on the Introduction, we get into more detail on Hegel’s goal and his tricky terminology.
On G.W.F. Hegel’s 1807 opus: A series of treatments of various theories in epistemology (among other things), seeing how they’re internally incoherent, which then moves us to more sophisticated theories.
Concluding on Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), Parts 1 and 2.
What sort of self is created in the act of self-consciousness that according to Schelling grounds all knowledge? We further consider this primordial act.
On Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), Parts 1 and 2.
What is self-consciousness, and how did Schelling think that it grounds all of knowledge?
Continuing on the introduction of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism (1800).
We talk psychologism, the harmony between mind and world, imputing intelligence to nature, natural law vs. teleology, and the aesthetic character of apprehending nature.
On Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism (1800).
What’s the relationship between mind and world? Schelling thought that our minds produce the world, but also that the perceiver-world dichotomy comes to us as a single piece. “Transcendental philosophy” is an exploration of the internal logic of that revelation.
Concluding on The Vocation of Man (1799).
Our focus here is largely on how ethics fits in with Fichte’s epistemology in a unified theology with humans literally united (in this world or the next) in a shared, divine Will.
Our second full discussion on The Vocation of Man (1799).
What are the ethical implications of believing that the world is all in our minds? You could be a solipsistic nihilist, but Fichte thinks the path of faith is unavoidable for a reasonable person: faith that the world is real and matters, that other people have moral status, and yes, he’s going to argue for God and heaven, though unconventionally.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.