Discussing Arthur Schopenhauer’s On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, published in 1847 (as an expansion of his doctoral thesis from 1813). What kinds of explanations are legitimate? S. thought that causal and logical explanations are often confused, resulting in philosophical errors. In laying out the four types of explanation — the four versions of the principle of sufficient reason — he clearly elaborates his modernized Kantian epistemology.
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Discussing Soren Kierkegaard’s “The Sickness Unto Death” (1849). What is the self? or K. we are a tension between opposites: necessity and possibility, the finite and the infinite, soul and body. With guest Daniel Horne.
Primarily discussing “Reasoning: The Sixty Stanzas” and “Emptiness: The Seventy Stanzas,” by the 2nd century Indian Buddhist Nagarjuna. Is the world of our experience ultimately real? If not, does it have something metaphysically basic underlying it? For Nagarjuna, the answers are “no” and “no… well… not that we can talk about.” With guest Erik Douglas.
Discussing Civilization and its Discontents (1930). How can we live happily in society when happiness as a matter of fulfillment of pent-up desires?
Discussing Books II through V of the Ethics. What is the relation between mind and body? How do we know things? What are the emotions? Is there an ethical ideal for us to shoot for? What is our relationship to God?
Discussing Spinoza’s Ethics (1677), books 1 and 2. God is everything, therefore the world is God as apprehended through some particular attributes, namely insofar as one of his aspects is infinite space (extension, i.e. matter) and insofar as one of his aspects is mind (our minds being chunks or “modes” of the big God mind).
Discussing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse in Inequality (1754) and book 1 of The Social Contract (1762). What’s the relationship between culture and nature? Rousseau engages in some wild speculation about the development of humanity from the savage to the modern, miserable wretch.
On William James’s “The Will to Believe,” and continuing our discussion on James’s conception of truth as described in his books Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth. Does pragmatism give ground for religious belief, like if it feels good for me to believe in God, can that justify belief? Is belief in science or rationality itself a form of faith?
Discussing articles by Alan Turing, Gilbert Ryle, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and Dan Dennett. What is this mind stuff, and how can it “be” the brain? Can computers think? What is it like to be a bat? With guest Marco Wise.
On Pragmatism (1907) by William James and “The Fixation of Belief” (1877) and “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (1878) by Charles Sanders Peirce. Is truth a primitive relation between our representations and things objectively in the world, or is it an analyzable process by which propositions “prove their worth” by being useful in some way, like by fitting well with other portions of our experience or being delicious?
Discussing Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783). Do we have any business doing metaphysics, which is by definition about things that we could not possibly experience? With guest Azzurra Crispino.
Discussing Plato’s Theatetus and Meno. In the Theaetetus, Plato considers and rejects a series of mostly very lame conceptions of knowledge and replaces them at the end with… NOTHING. In the Meno, knowledge is “remembrance” (maybe).”
On David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748). Hume thinks that all we can know are our own impressions, but that no experience shows us one event causing another event. So, causality must just be regular patterns of conjoined events.
Discussing three essays by Arthur Danto from The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1986): the title essay, “The Appreciation and Interpretation of Works of Art,” and “The End of Art.” I understand you may not have heard of Danto, and you may think modern art is goofy, but you’ll definitely enjoy this discussion and the reading anyway. Note that Danto listened to this episode and liked it.
Discussing G.W.F Hegel’s Introduction to the Philosophy of History.
Discussing Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince and Ch. 1-20 of The Discourse on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy
On Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy. Dylan Casey’s first appearance (as a guest).
On the “Chuang Tzu,” Chapters 2, 3, 6, 18, and 19. With guest Erik Douglas.
Discussing The Genealogy of Morals (mostly the first two essays) and Beyond Good and Evil Ch. 1 (The Prejudices of Philosophers), 5 (Natural History of Morals), and 9 (What is Noble?).