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 …

Ep. 328: Yascha Mounk Against Identity Politics (Part Three for Supporters)

Mark, Wes, Dylan, and now Seth too discuss further Mounk's project in The Identity Trap and what philosophically we can glean from it. Listen to parts one and two of the interview first. How does the ideology that Mounk describes compare to, on the one hand, an ethical theory by an individual philosopher, and on the other hand, a scientific paradigm that provides a  Continue Reading …

Ep. 328: Guest Yascha Mounk Against Identity Politics (Part Two)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free, plus tons of bonus content, including a supporter-exclusive, guest-free part three to this episode. Listen to a preview.. Continuing from part one on The Identity Trap (2023). In arguing against a "monomaniacal" prism for interpreting the world (whether via class as the Marxists use or via race, gender, and sexual  Continue Reading …

Ep. 328: Guest Yascha Mounk Against Identity Politics (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free, plus tons of bonus content. On The Identity Trap (2023), Yascha's intellectual history wokeness (which he calls "the identity synthesis") and defense of philosophical liberalism against this set of ideas. Which is more important, the characteristics that we all share as human beings, or those that make us part of  Continue Reading …

Ep. 328: Guest Yascha Mounk Against Identity Politics (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on The Identity Trap (2023). In arguing against a "monomaniacal" prism for interpreting the world (whether via class as the Marxists use or via race, gender, and sexual orientation as is the case for identity theorists), Yascha's book seems to be championing common sense: Of course all of these things matter but need to be balanced against each other.  Continue Reading …

Ep. 328: Guest Yascha Mounk Against Identity Politics (Part One for Supporters)

On The Identity Trap (2023), Yascha's intellectual history wokeness (which he calls "the identity synthesis") and defense of philosophical liberalism against this set of ideas. Which is more important, the characteristics that we all share as human beings, or those that make us part of distinct identity groups? According to Yascha's analysis, the ideology that currently  Continue Reading …

Ep. 318: Friedrich Schiller on the Civilizing Potential of Art (Part Two)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this ad-free, plus a supporter-exclusive part three. Listen to a preview.. We continue (from part one) working through letters 1-15 of On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795), helped by Markus Reuter. By the end of this, we get a clearer picture of what Schiller means by the experience of Beauty. We have a sensuous drive on the one hand  Continue Reading …

Ep. 318: Friedrich Schiller on the Civilizing Potential of Art (Part Three for Supporters)

Mark and Wes dive deeper into the text of the first several letters of On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). Start with part one. Are verbal descriptions of art destined to fall short? Beauty for Kant (and hence Schiller) is semi-conceptual, in that it uses the cognitive tools that are employed in making concepts, but doesn't actually come up with a concept; instead the  Continue Reading …

Ep. 318: Friedrich Schiller on the Civilizing Potential of Art (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free, plus tons of bonus content including an exclusive part three to this discussion. Can art make us better people? Musician Markus Reuter joins Mark, Wes, and Seth to discussion the first half of On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). Schiller was a famous poet of early German Romanticism, and this book is partly  Continue Reading …

Ep. 318: Friedrich Schiller on the Civilizing Potential of Art (Part Two for Supporters)

We continue (from part one) working through letters 1-15 of On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795), helped by Markus Reuter. By the end of this, we get a clearer picture of what Schiller means by the experience of Beauty. We have a sensuous drive on the one hand to fill our experience with material stuff, and a form drive on the other that raises us up (a la Plato) to wonder  Continue Reading …

Ep. 318: Friedrich Schiller on the Civilizing Potential of Art (Part One for Supporters)

Can art make us better people? Musician Markus Reuter joins Mark, Wes, and Seth to discussion the first half of On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). Schiller was a famous poet of early German Romanticism, and this book is partly political philosophy and partly philosophy of art. The work takes the form of a series of letters. We read 1-15 for this discussion and will cover  Continue Reading …

Ep. 315: Mengzi (Mencius) on Virtuous Leaders (Part Two for Supporters)

To conclude our treatment of this seminal Confucian text, we consider a particularly puzzling passage about ethics and then move to politics and economics. Start with part one, or better yet, with part one of ep. 314. The passage 7A17 says only "Do not do what you would not do. Do wish what you would not wish. Only be like this," and we found an article by David Nivison (p.  Continue Reading …

Ep. 315: Mengzi (Mencius) on Virtuous Leaders (Part One for Supporters)

Following up on our previous discussion, we go further into the collected teachings of this early Confucian (aka Ruhist) from the late 4th century BCE. What's the best way to be a virtuous person and hence (on the ancient Chinese view, contra someone like Machiavelli) an effective leader? We review and elaborate Mengzi's moral psychology, which is based on humaneness that  Continue Reading …

Ep. 313: Mozi’s Political Ethics (Part Two)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free, plus a supporter-exclusive part three. Listen to a preview.. Continuing from part one on the central Mohist text, with guest Tzuchien Tho. Sponsors: Check out the Continuing the Conversation web series by St. John's College at sjc.edu. Check out the Hermitix podcast at hermitix.net. Was Mozi really only concerned  Continue Reading …

Ep. 313: Mozi’s Political Ethics (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free, plus tons of bonus content including including a new Nightcap discussion relevant to this episode about tributes to the dead. On the central Mohist text, collecting the teachings of Mozi (aka Mo Tzu), from the Chinese Warring States period around 430 B.C.E., with guest Tzuchien Tho joining Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth. The  Continue Reading …

Ep. 313: Mozi’s Political Ethics (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on the central Mohist text, with guest Tzuchien Tho. Was Mozi really only concerned with material well-being? Is the lack of this well-being why people act badly? We talk more about Mozi's arguments against elaborate funerals and music (and art in general). Plus, we look at Mozi's words against war and whether his defense of some past wars makes  Continue Reading …

Ep. 311: Understanding the Dao De Jing (Part One)

Subscribe to get parts 1 and 2 of this now, ad-free. The Daodejing (or Tao Te Ching) from around 500 BCE, attributed considerably after its production to Laozi (or Lao Tzu according to an older but still prevalent style of transliteration; it just means "old master") is the fundamental text of Daoism (Taoism), but what they hell does it mean? Well, it depends on which of  Continue Reading …

Ep. 295: Kant on Preventing War (Part Two)

Subscribe to get Parts 1 and 2 ad-free, plus a supporter exclusive Part 3, which you can preview. Continuing from part one on Immanuel Kant's essay "Perpetual Peace," we go further into how Kant's politics relate to his ethics and consider his actual policy proposals: each state must be a republic, i.e. somehow representative with separation of powers, and countries should  Continue Reading …