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Episode 58, ‘The Idealism and Pantheism of May Sinclair’ with Emily Thomas (Part II)

April 14, 2019 - 06:00

Emily Thomas is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University; whose work focuses primarily on the history of metaphysics and the metaphysics of space and time. Thomas’ work in these areas has had a great impact, most notably, through her 2018 books Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics and Early Modern Women on Metaphysics.

In this episode, we’ll be discussing Emily Thomas’ forthcoming work on The Idealism and Pantheism of May Sinclair. Born in 1863, May Sinclair was a prolific novelist, as well as a deeply influential poet, translator, critic and philosopher. It Is this last field, philosophy, which perhaps she is least well known for her work. Amongst her many great novels, short stories and poems, May Sinclair published her philosophical treatise in A Defence of Idealism in 1917, and The New Idealism in 1922, which both form the focus of today’s discussion. Sinclair’s unusual take on questions concerning space and time, god, and classic philosophical problems such as Zeno’s paradox, provide us with a refreshing and exciting approach to our understanding of the universe. Combined with her great passion, wit, and her breathtaking writing style, it is no stretch to say that May Sinclair is one of the 20th-centuries most underrated philosophers.

Episode 58, ‘The Idealism and Pantheism of May Sinclair’ with Emily Thomas (Part I)

April 7, 2019 - 06:00

Emily Thomas is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University; whose work focuses primarily on the history of metaphysics and the metaphysics of space and time. Thomas’ work in these areas has had a great impact, most notably, through her 2018 books Absolute Time: Rifts in Early Modern British Metaphysics and Early Modern Women on Metaphysics.

In this episode, we’ll be discussing Emily Thomas’ forthcoming work on The Idealism and Pantheism of May Sinclair. Born in 1863, May Sinclair was a prolific novelist, as well as a deeply influential poet, translator, critic and philosopher. It Is this last field, philosophy, which perhaps she is least well known for her work. Amongst her many great novels, short stories and poems, May Sinclair published her philosophical treatise in A Defence of Idealism in 1917, and The New Idealism in 1922, which both form the focus of today’s discussion. Sinclair’s unusual take on questions concerning space and time, god, and classic philosophical problems such as Zeno’s paradox, provide us with a refreshing and exciting approach to our understanding of the universe. Combined with her great passion, wit, and her breathtaking writing style, it is no stretch to say that May Sinclair is one of the 20th-centuries most underrated philosophers.

Episode 57, ‘Pantheism: Personhood, Consciousness and God’ with Sam Coleman (Part II)

March 31, 2019 - 05:00

Specialising in philosophy of mind, Sam Coleman is a reader in philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire. Coleman’s main work centres around questions concerning consciousness, predominantly, on what has come to be known as ‘the hard problem of consciousness’. To paraphrase Colin McGinn, the problem can be summarised as follows: how does soggy grey matter give rise to vivid technicolour experience?

In this episode, we’re going to be focusing on Coleman’s views concerning ‘Personhood, Consciousness and God’, specifically relating to pantheism. In a word, pantheism is the view that God is identical with the universe, as the pantheist slogan goes, “God is everything and everything is God.” If we are to think of personal identity as a stream of uninterrupted consciousness, Coleman argues that pantheism runs into significant problems. Instead, Coleman suggests an alternative theory of personhood which leaves open the possibility of a personal God, which is identical with the universe. As we will find, Coleman’s view bridges fascinating philosophical questions concerning personal identity, metaphysics of consciousness and God, into an original and exciting pantheist theory.

Episode 57, ‘Pantheism: Personhood, Consciousness and God’ with Sam Coleman (Part I)

March 24, 2019 - 04:00

Specialising in philosophy of mind, Sam Coleman is a reader in philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire. Coleman’s main work centres around questions concerning consciousness, predominantly, on what has come to be known as ‘the hard problem of consciousness’. To paraphrase Colin McGinn, the problem can be summarised as follows: how does soggy grey matter give rise to vivid technicolour experience?

In this episode, we’re going to be focusing on Coleman’s views concerning ‘Personhood, Consciousness and God’, specifically relating to pantheism. In a word, pantheism is the view that God is identical with the universe, as the pantheist slogan goes, “God is everything and everything is God.” If we are to think of personal identity as a stream of uninterrupted consciousness, Coleman argues that pantheism runs into significant problems. Instead, Coleman suggests an alternative theory of personhood which leaves open the possibility of a personal God, which is identical with the universe. As we will find, Coleman’s view bridges fascinating philosophical questions concerning personal identity, metaphysics of consciousness and God, into an original and exciting pantheist theory.

Episode 56, ‘Utopia for Realists’ with Rutger Bregman (Part II)

March 17, 2019 - 06:00

Rutger Bregman is a historian and author, best known for his bestselling book, Utopia for Realists: and how we can get there. Arguing for new utopian ideas such as a fifteen-hour work week and universal basic income, Utopia for Realists has been translated into over 30 different languages, making headlines and sparking movements across the world.

Despite the fact we’ve never had it better, says Bregman, here in the Land of Plenty, we lack the desire and vision to improve society. The crisis of our times, of our generation “is not that we have it good, or even that we might be worse of later, but that we can’t come up with anything better… Notching up purchasing power another percentage point, or shaving off our carbon emissions; perhaps a new gadget – that’s about the extent of our vision.”

At best, Bregman provides us with a desirable and achievable vision of human progress; a world with no borders, 15-hour work weeks and a universal basic income for everybody. At worst, Bregman wakes us up from our dogmatic slumber, encouraging us to ask important questions about 21st-century life. In his own words:

“Why have we been working harder and harder since the 1980s despite being richer than ever? Why are millions of people still living in poverty when we are more than rich enough to put an end to it once and for all? And why is more than 60% of your income dependent on the country where you just so happen to have been born?”

Part I. Utopia for Realists.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 56, ‘Utopia for Realists’ with Rutger Bregman (Part I)

March 10, 2019 - 07:00

Rutger Bregman is a historian and author, best known for his bestselling book, Utopia for Realists: and how we can get there. Arguing for new utopian ideas such as a fifteen-hour work week and universal basic income, Utopia for Realists has been translated into over 30 different languages, making headlines and sparking movements across the world.

Despite the fact we’ve never had it better, says Bregman, here in the Land of Plenty, we lack the desire and vision to improve society. The crisis of our times, of our generation “is not that we have it good, or even that we might be worse of later, but that we can’t come up with anything better… Notching up purchasing power another percentage point, or shaving off our carbon emissions; perhaps a new gadget – that’s about the extent of our vision.”

At best, Bregman provides us with a desirable and achievable vision of human progress; a world with no borders, 15-hour work weeks and a universal basic income for everybody. At worst, Bregman wakes us up from our dogmatic slumber, encouraging us to ask important questions about 21st-century life. In his own words:

“Why have we been working harder and harder since the 1980s despite being richer than ever? Why are millions of people still living in poverty when we are more than rich enough to put an end to it once and for all? And why is more than 60% of your income dependent on the country where you just so happen to have been born?”

Part I. Utopia for Realists.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 55, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Part IV - Further Analysis and Discussion)

March 3, 2019 - 07:00

Published in 1915, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a gruelling and ironic depiction of the pressures imposed by family and profession in the Twentieth Century. The novella centres around travelling salesman Gregor Samsa who, one morning, finds himself transformed into an insect. What follows, depending on the interpretation, is a reflection of how modern life provides a misunderstanding of predicament and a lack of empathy towards those who have been beaten down by an unforgiving capitalist system.

Equally, The Metamorphosis asks questions of Gregor himself. Over time he has continued to disregard his own well-being and autonomy, seeing himself as the saviour of his family’s debts. Yet, by doing so, he has missed the fact that his family appear to resent the house he has chosen to rent, or that their debts are not quite as bad as they seemed. He has taken a cross which he need not have beared.

In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “In The Metamorphosis, contract and unity, style and matter, manner and plot are most perfectly integrated”.

Contents

Part I. The Life of Franz Kafka.

Part II. The Plot.

Part III. The Meaning.

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 55, Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis (Part III - The Meaning)

February 24, 2019 - 07:00

Published in 1915, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a gruelling and ironic depiction of the pressures imposed by family and profession in the Twentieth Century. The novella centres around travelling salesman Gregor Samsa who, one morning, finds himself transformed into an insect. What follows, depending on the interpretation, is a reflection of how modern life provides a misunderstanding of predicament and a lack of empathy towards those who have been beaten down by an unforgiving capitalist system.

Equally, The Metamorphosis asks questions of Gregor himself. Over time he has continued to disregard his own well-being and autonomy, seeing himself as the saviour of his family’s debts. Yet, by doing so, he has missed the fact that his family appear to resent the house he has chosen to rent, or that their debts are not quite as bad as they seemed. He has taken a cross which he need not have beared.

In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “In The Metamorphosis, contract and unity, style and matter, manner and plot are most perfectly integrated”.

Contents

Part I. The Life of Franz Kafka.

Part II. The Plot.

Part III. The Meaning.

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 55, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Part II - The Plot)

February 17, 2019 - 07:00

Published in 1915, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a gruelling and ironic depiction of the pressures imposed by family and profession in the Twentieth Century. The novella centres around travelling salesman Gregor Samsa who, one morning, finds himself transformed into an insect. What follows, depending on the interpretation, is a reflection of how modern life provides a misunderstanding of predicament and a lack of empathy towards those who have been beaten down by an unforgiving capitalist system.

Equally, The Metamorphosis asks questions of Gregor himself. Over time he has continued to disregard his own well-being and autonomy, seeing himself as the saviour of his family’s debts. Yet, by doing so, he has missed the fact that his family appear to resent the house he has chosen to rent, or that their debts are not quite as bad as they seemed. He has taken a cross which he need not have beared.

In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “In The Metamorphosis, contract and unity, style and matter, manner and plot are most perfectly integrated”.

Contents

Part I. The Life of Franz Kafka.

Part II. The Plot.

Part III. The Meaning.

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 55, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Part I - The Life of Kafka)

February 10, 2019 - 07:00

Published in 1915, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a gruelling and ironic depiction of the pressures imposed by family and profession in the Twentieth Century. The novella centres around traveling salesman Gregor Samsa who, one morning, finds himself transformed into an insect. What follows, depending on the interpretation, is a reflection of how modern life provides a misunderstanding of predicament and a lack of empathy towards those who have been beaten down by an unforgiving capitalist system.

Equally, The Metamorphosis asks questions of Gregor himself. Over time he has continued to disregard his own well-being and autonomy, seeing himself as the saviour of his family’s debts. Yet, by doing so, he has missed the fact that his family appear to resent the house he has chosen to rent, or that their debts are not quite as bad as they seemed. He has taken a cross which he need not have beared.

In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “In The Metamorphosis, contract and unity, style and matter, manner and plot are most perfectly integrated”.

Contents

Part I. The Life of Franz Kafka.

Part II. The Plot.

Part III. The Meaning.

Part IV. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 54, Why Buddhism is True with Robert Wright (Part II)

February 3, 2019 - 07:00

Currently Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Robert Wright’s work in journalism, psychology and philosophy has been deeply influential. Robert is the author of many best-selling books including ‘The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, ‘Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, ‘The Evolution of God, and most recently, ‘Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment’.

Our focus for this episode is Robert Wright’s latest book, Why Buddhism is True. In a word, Wright defends the Buddhist view that ‘the reason we suffer is because we don’t see the world clearly’. The reason we don’t see the world clearly, says Buddhism, is because our perception of our own minds and ‘the outside world’ is impaired by illusions. Viewing Buddhism through the lens of evolutionary psychology, Wright argues that we have good reason to think that this Buddhist claim (that suffering is caused by illusion) is true, and that Buddhism also holds the answer to how we can alleviate ourselves from illusion and suffering.

Part I. Why Buddhism is True.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 54, Why Buddhism is True with Robert Wright (Part I)

January 27, 2019 - 07:00

Currently Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Robert Wright’s work in journalism, psychology and philosophy has been deeply influential. Robert is the author of many best-selling books including ‘The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, ‘Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, ‘The Evolution of God, and most recently, ‘Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment’.

Our focus for this episode is Robert Wright’s latest book, Why Buddhism is True. In a word, Wright defends the Buddhist view that ‘the reason we suffer is because we don’t see the world clearly’. The reason we don’t see the world clearly, says Buddhism, is because our perception of our own minds and ‘the outside world’ is impaired by illusions. Viewing Buddhism through the lens of evolutionary psychology, Wright argues that we have good reason to think that this Buddhist claim (that suffering is caused by illusion) is true, and that Buddhism also holds the answer to how we can alleviate ourselves from illusion and suffering.

Part I. Why Buddhism is True.

Part II. Further Analysis and Discussion.

Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part IV - Further Analysis and Discussion)

January 20, 2019 - 07:00

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part III - Beyond Good and Evil)

January 13, 2019 - 07:00

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part II - Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

January 6, 2019 - 07:00

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”

Episode 53, Friedrich Nietzsche (Part I - The Life of Nietzsche)

December 30, 2018 - 07:00

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a man who suffered greatly from bodily ills, considered himself somewhat of a physician. Yet, his remedies were not aimed towards physical conditions of the body, but rather the personal and societal ills of his time. Nietzsche, often poetically and rhetorically, dissected what he perceived to be the root of the suffering or apathy many of his contemporaries were facing.

His diagnosis focussed primarily on the human tendency to deny life. Life denying, for Nietzsche, came in many ways: the asceticism of the Buddha or Arthur Schopenhauer, the herd-like mentality of what Nietzsche called “the Last Man”, and most famously – the otherworldly illusions of Christianity. To him, these were all attempts to cower in the face of an objectively indifferent reality.

Nietzsche’s prognosis? To stand in the face of this indifference and shout yes! To affirm life and strive for personal excellence. How he envisioned this is subject to much scholarly debate but Nietzsche provides certain clear themes over his prolific authorship.

His masterwork Thus Spoke Zarathustra suggests we should look forward to the “Ubermensch” or “Superman”, a spiritually healthier individual who approaches the world in an honest and fearless way. Similarly, continuing his claim from The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra also reminds the reader that “God is dead”. Nietzsche wanted people to recognise the void in values left by God’s absence and the responsibility we have been given to create our own meaning.

Nietzsche’s legacy is an interesting one. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, along with the Bible, ironically, were given to German soldiers during the First World War. He also, after his death, was accused of being a proto-Nazi due to his sister’s influence over his final posthumous works.

Nietzsche’s thoughts on his own works are remarkable in their irony and grandiosity. He hoped his messages would strike a chord with people and force them to look deep into their own intentions and actions. He also hoped they would provide a basis for personal change.

A passage from Ecce Homo gives us an insight into his style and desired effect:

“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.”