Release dates for PEL episodes refer to the release of the first half of the conversation. If you're a PEL Citizen, you'll get the whole thing on that date; if not, you'll have to wait another week for the second half.
The Next PEL Episodes
- Ep. 197: Parmenides. We're joined by History of Philosophy without Any Gaps host Peter Adamson to discuss the fragments of Parmenides. We recommend the Kirk/Raven/Schofield volume The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of Texts. Among the secondary sources that we also looked at to make sense of this very funny text is the Parmenides chapter (p. 113) by David Sedley in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy and John Palmer's entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Also see Alexander Mourelatos's "Some Alternatives in Interpreting Parmenides" (1979).
- Ep. 198: Plato's dialogue "Parmenides." This is perhaps the most puzzling of Plato's dialogues, featuring a young Socrates taking on an older Zeno and his mentor Parmenides. In the first half (which is what we concentrate on), Socrates is defending his theory of forms against Parmenides. And the objections are many of those you might think of: Are there forms for all adjectives, or just for ideal things (e.g., "justice") and/or natural kinds ("man")? How exactly do forms interact with individual things (what is this talk of "participation")? If forms are ideal/eternal, and we're not, how could we even know them at all? In the second half of the dialogue (which we discuss briefly, and then Seth and Mark discuss at more length in a follow-up), Parmenides gives a lecture where he interrogates his own notion of "the One" (it's unclear whether this means the form of oneness as it adheres in all individuated things or the wholeness of the cosmos as discussed in ep. 197; interestingly, Plato seems to assume these are the same): He finds that whether you assume the One exists or doesn't exist, you still come up with a bunch of crazy contradictions. Parmenides (i.e., Plato) doesn't tell us what to think about that. Buy the book or read it online; here's another version that breaks it down by verse. You may want to read the Stanford article about the dialogue.
- Ep. 199: Private Government with guest Elizabeth Anderson. We are joined by the U. of Michigan prof to discuss her new book as well as her seminal 1999 article, "What Is the Point of Equality?" The point of equality is not primarily (per Rawls) to get equal and/or fair distribution of society's goods, but it's about dignity. Treating everyone with dignity requires a baseline (dependent on human nature but negotiated per society as in a social contract based on local conditions) of both negative and positive freedoms: We have basic needs, both physical and emotional, that must be met for us to truly be persons. Government exists to ensure these goods, by protecting us from each other and enforcing what we owe to each other out of this respect. In the current book, Anderson argues that "government" is not just the state, but all organized power relations; for example, parents govern children. Likewise, employers govern employees. All government should be public, i.e., it should be respondent to the needs and voice of the governed. The employer-employee relationship is underwritten by the state, and its state-enforced baseline is "employment at will," which in effect gives all power to the employer except the power to quit. As a practical matter, the worst that the employee can do to the employer (quit) is much worse for the employee than for the employer, particularly for less-skilled workers. So Anderson argues that we need to use the tools of political science to analyze this relationship and restructure the power balance so that the government of the employer is public to the employed.
- Episode 200: Kant et al on Enlightenment. In 1784, a Berlin newspaper put out a call for essays (a contest!) to answer the question "What Is Enlightenment?" Kant produced a famous answer, which is our primary text. In 1984, this essay was answered by Michel Foucault, so we're reading his response. The winner was Moses Mendelssohn, so we'll read his short essay too.
- Episode 201: Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. This will be Stoicism part three for us. Check out our episodes on Epictetus and Seneca.
- Episode 202: Julia Kristeva: "The Powers of Horror." Some cool psychoanalytic-flavored philosophy with a dash of feminism. We're planning to read the first three essays of her 1982 book.
- Episode 203: The Bhagavad-Gita. More Eastern philosophy at last! The translation we're reading is online.
- Episode 204: Epicurus. As with Parmenides, we only have certain fragments, so we'll read what there is and some secondary literature. Maybe skim here.
The Next Phi Fic Episodes
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coatzee