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.
Continuing on Plato’s dialogue depicting the death of Socrates.
We go into more detail re. arguments for the immortality of the soul, the theory of forms, and the different laws governing the realms of the senses and the intellect. If intellect is at base behind everything, then there simply must be an afterlife to reward good philosophers.
On Plato’s middle dialogue depicting the death of Socrates (390 BCE) depicting the death of Socrates. Should philosophers fear death?
In the course of giving arguments for the immortality of the soul, we get an elaboration of the recollection theory of knowledge (from the Meno) into Plato’s first full account of Forms. But how literally are we supposed to take the words of Socrates as he comforts himself facing mortality?
First the weather: Seth’s stories of the blizzard in Austin that made him miss Timaeus. We look back at that, then forward at Phaedo, Avicenna, and some other possible topics.
Continuing on the Timaeus, we consider some quotes and details starting at the beginning of the dialogue where Plato argues for differences between the perceived, created, impermanent world and its perfect model. We cover time (established by the movement of the planets), space (a characterless but substantial “receptacle” to which Forms are applied to create matter), alternatives to Plato’s model of creation, and the ethical implications of the cosmology Timaeus describes.
On the later Platonic dialogue from around 360 BCE.
How is nature put together? Plato speaks through the fictional Timaeus (not Socrates) to give a “likely story” about the universe, physics, and biology involving a Craftsman (Demi-Urge) who created everything based on a pre-existing perfect model (the Forms!). Timaeus derives his whole story from the principle that the world is good, and so the Craftsman must necessarily optimize creation, with any imperfections being introduced only by the necessity involved when a perfect blueprint gets embodied to create ever-shifting, impermanent matter.
We do some post-gaming on ep. 263: How did you like us covering a secondary source and having two guests sitting in for two hosts? We think about an Badiou episode; should we invite a guest for that? Should we ever cover secondary literature again? Finally, we anticipate Plato’s Timaeus.
Continuing on Warspeak: Nietzsche’s Victory Over Nihilism with guests Jeff Black and Michael Grenke.
We get more into the “agonistic” relationship Lise describes between the feminine principle of Becoming with the masculine principle of Being, plus the role of comedy, the relationship between author and reader, and the sovereign individual.
On Warspeak: Nietzsche’s Victory Over Nihilism (2020) with Dylan, Seth, and guests Michael Grenke and Jeff Black.
What’s a viable counter-ideal to the asceticism that Nietzsche thought is so pervasive? Lise’s book works out strategies for re-valuing that emphasize Nietzsche’s positive comments about the feminine and the power of words.
Recorded on Jan. 28, we first consider the question “what are the dumbest ideas in philosophy? We consider again the Angela Davis episode idea as a way of getting into a discussion of our coverage or inclusion of controversial or even criminal writers and guests. Finally, Seth expresses some COVID-related fatigue about reading philosophy, particularly if that philosophy is more abstract and less political.
Continuing on Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals (1887), “Third essay: what do ascetic ideals mean?”
We try to fit asceticism into Nietzsche’s overall ethical picture, examine his critique of the scientific attitude, explore the (partially positive) function of the priest, try briefly to apply N’s social critique to modern politics, and wrap up by discussing his perspectivism.
On Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals (1887), “Third essay: what do ascetic ideals mean?”
Self-regulation, where we tamp down certain aspects of our personality, is necessary for disciplined action, but it can clearly go too far. Nietzsche uses this concept of asceticism to analyze both geniuses and the masses. It is a chief tool of the will to power, highly dangerous to human flourishing but also unleashing many new capabilities beyond our animal nature. Does this picture of motivation and greatness make sense?
Recorded on Jan. 14, we give some off-the-cuff updates to our take on the pandemic and our coping strategies. Plus, updates on PEL book, transcripts, and a potential black history month episode (Angela Davis?).
Continuing on Reasons and Persons, ch. 10-13. Start with part one.
We get into more of Parfit’s examples, including his responses to Bernard Williams’ physicalist argument. Plus, split brains, In short, the concept of personal identity breaks down when applied to tricky cases, and and so we should be reductionists about personal identity: We get rid of that concept and just talk about the facts about physical and psychological continuity instead.
On Reasons and Persons (1984), ch. 10-13. What makes a person persist over time?
After using various sci-fi examples to test the Lockean (personhood=psychological continuity), physicalist (same brain=same person), and Cartesian (same soul=same person) theories, Parfit concludes that the whole notion is incoherent and isn’t actually what we care about when wondering “will I die?”
One last take on John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), covering Book II, ch. 21 and 28.
What makes a moral claim true? Do we have free will? What makes us choose the good, or not? In this coda to our long treatment of Locke’s opus, we bring together all he has to say about morality, which is strangely modern yet also just strange.
An extra-long Nightcap looking forward to PEL coverage in 2021, with some political dialogue on the state of the country and what we might want to do about it. Plus, we respond to listener emails: Will doing philosophy put a crimp in your science career (or other prep for your legit day job)?