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?).
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)?
Join the office party, where Mark holds mini conversations on philosophy, art, and life with all PEL and PMP co-hosts, plus Ken Stringfellow, Jenny Hansen, and the members of Mark Lint’s Dry Folk, whose 12 tunes are presented in succession with nary a partridge in sight. Will these 12 spirits turn you (or Mark) from errant ways? BYOB!
Some post-election hot takes, more on Locke’s project and responding to listeners about Kropotkin, philosophical journaling, and more.
The Norwegian philosopher Peter Zapffe is little-known to most Anglophone readers. “The Last Messiah” is a 1933 essay that stands out as an important work in the sphere of philosophical pessimism. The views expressed are a kind of evolutionary existentialism. For Zapffe, angst, despair, and depression are due to our overly evolved intellect: we have an overabundance of consciousness. We think too much for our own good.
The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran long struggled with insomnia, although he did not exclusively view it as a curse. He actually found insomnia to be an insightful condition, casting it as something distinctly human, as well as a state that could be highly productive for the philosopher.
The confusion caused by categorical reasoning in the cancel culture debate.
The passing of nature seems to provide an immediate therapy, “a self-forgetful pleasure in the sheer alien pointless independent existence of animals, birds, stones and trees.” I’ve found this to be true during my attempts to wade through high grass near my house. The fact that the birds have no idea what’s going on in my mind has been reassuring; their indifference to our condition provides what Murdoch describes as “unselfing,” as I reposition my concerns in the wider world.
In this final post in a series on the history of Satan, Vincent Czyz shows us how in the early centuries of the Christian era, the serpent in the Garden of Eden came to be identified with the Prince of Darkness, and the details of the story of the Fall From Heaven, familiar to readers from Paradise lost, were filled in.
In the intertestamental literature, written between the Old and the New Testaments, Satan continues his dual evolution into both the personification of Hate and God’s opponent. The New Testament exhibits completely contradictory versions of Satan: Sometimes he is the Tester, as in Mark, Matthew, and Luke; but in other places, as in Revelations, Persian dualism seems to hold sway.
In the Hebrew Bible, satan originally not a name but an office; he is a messenger from God, sent as an accuser and tester. There’s only a single reference to an independent spiritual force named “Satan.” This is the moment when the concept of the Devil as the West has come to understand it was born, and it may be a borrowing from Zoroastrian dualism.
Lucifer and Satan are not different names for the same supernatural being; they’re not even related, and the Hollywoodesque plot about a rebellious archangel is nowhere to be found in the entire Bible. Instead, the evolution of Lucifer and his conflation with Satan involves misinterpretation, misinformation, and flat-out fabrication on the part of church fathers, saints, and poets.
The modern concept of forgiveness is fundamentally flawed. Instead of learning to forgive, we should learn to resent rightly, and, in some cases, to pardon.
Why has this film done so well? It offers no spectacle, and good doesn’t triumph. It is psychologically true and expertly performed. The audience can enjoy tragedy and identify deeply with a social outcast and villain. The film successfully exploits the relationship between humor and violence, and comedy and tragedy.
As late as the eighteenth century, plagues were believed to be caused by polluted air and mediated by creatures of putrefaction such as rodents and witches. Public health specialists agree that the sanitary efforts brought about under the miasmic paradigm were effective. If we think that current views of epidemics and pollution are devoid of the mythical thinking of our predecessors, we might humbly want to reassess our position. The mythical is still embedded in scientific inquiry today.
How does the recent spate of media discussion on this site fit in with our larger dedication to philosophy? Mark explains how the new spin-off pop culture podcast is part of the dictum to know thyself… but maybe don’t get so pompous about it.
In PEL’s foray last year into the understanding and discussing Indian thought vis a vis The Bhagavad Gita, the PEL team and their guest Shaam Amin did a great service in bringing forth the Indian system of thought to PEL listeners. As someone who has a strong background in both Western Philosophy and Indian Philosophy and founder of a podcast Continue Reading …
As it turns out, if our purpose is to test the simulator hypothesis against religious belief, it is only in the specifics that we can easily distinguish between the two. The Deist God, who creates the universe, and then leaves it to run entirely on its own, is not easily disambiguated from the hands-off simulator. One might well call them one and the same. Similarly, the Platonic ideal of good, which remains removed and remote in eternal perfection while the demiurge creates the world in imitation of it, needs not change at all if we choose to think of the demiurge as working with pixels and electrons rather than with primal matter. Such abstract, philosophical conceptions of God are general enough that even a shift as dramatic as reconceptualizing reality itself as a simulation can be integrated relatively easily. It is more of a challenge, however, to reconfigure the simulation hypothesis in order to yield the specificity of Christ.
As we sink deeper and deeper into the realm of religion, we find ourselves forced to face up to a core religious dilemma of the modern, globalized world, the same dilemma glossed over by Pascal in his wager: In a world filled with so many different and often contradictory religions, how would we choose one as more plausible than the others?
From a Neoplatonic point of view, what goodness there is our world must come from the world deeper than ours, the one doing the simulating. The evil and chaos and disorder could all be nothing more than random numbers firing, but the beauty and the nobility and the truth in the world demand some source. And if the next world deeper is somehow a dirtier, nastier, less good place than ours, then our world must be reflecting some yet higher-still world toward which the artisans who created our simulation are striving.