The Partially Examined Life

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Saints & Simulators 5: #3MinuteUniverse

February 21, 2019 - 12:00
The technological ability to emulate a convincing world is plausible in the not-so-distant future. We additionally know that the motivation to create one already exists, given the huge popularity of video games, and the amount of money and effort put into making them. A big difference, however, between a current-day video game and this potential game of tomorrow, is that the player of a current game knows she is playing a game. Could we really be in a game and not know it?

NEM#92: Steve Young (Hedflux): Electronica Breaking Club Conventions

February 19, 2019 - 05:52
Steve started producing tracks for dance clubs in 2007, changing his style in 2013 to slow down, carve out space for spontaneous performance, and develop "audio alchemy" over a few EPs and two recent albums. We discuss "Equinosis" from the Mercurial EP (2018), "Superluminal Sound" from his Soul Science album (2016), and the title track from his Wanderlust EP (2013). We conclude by listening to "Origins" by Hedflux and Alex Delfont from Kin (2018). Opening/closing: "Music Is My Weapon" (2007). For more, see hedflux.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Check out Mark's new album.

Episode 209: Francis Fukuyama on Identity Politics (Part Two: Discussion)

February 18, 2019 - 17:40

Continuing on Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (2018).

Fukuyama recommends a "creedal national identity" as a solution for tribalism; does this work? Is this "demand for recognition" that he describes foundational for the act of making an ethical claim? For self-consciousness itself? How does ideology prejudice the sort of theorizing that Fukuyama engages in?

Listen to part one first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!

End song: "Cornerstone" by Richard X. Heyman, as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #61.

Sponsors: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service. Visit the St. John's College Graduate Institute: partiallyexaminedlife.com/sjcgi.

See PEL Live in NYC on April 6.

Saints & Simulators 4: #AloneInTheCyberverse

February 14, 2019 - 12:00
We all have a solipsistic experience nightly, when we sleep and dream. Each night we inhabit a universe which seems to us, convincingly at the time, to have a wealth of external people and places in it. But all of those people and places are created inside our brains solely for the benefit of the dreamer. In the modern world, however, we can place an additional, familiar experience of a solipsistic reality next to that of the dream: the single-player video game.

Episode 209: Guest Francis Fukuyama on Identity Politics (Part One)

February 11, 2019 - 12:00

Talking with the author about Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (2018).

What motivates people? Frank points to thymos, the demand for recognition, as at the root of both the "end of history" (i.e., democracy as demand for equal recognition) and our current tribalist stalemates, involving desires to be seen—in virtue of group membership—as superior. Thymos may in fact be central to self-consciousness, ethics, and the origins of political association.

See PEL Live in NYC on April 6. Get your 2019 PEL Wall Calendar with free domestic shipping!

Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a one-month free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.

NEM#91: Rachel Taylor Brown’s Decorated Aphorisms

February 8, 2019 - 20:32
Portland-based singer-songwriter Rachel has released 10 albums of off-kilter, usually piano-based, lyric-heavy indie rock since the mid '00s. We discuss "Maker" and "God" (plus the intro "Gyre") from Run Tiny Human (2018), "Taxidermy" from World so Sweet (2011), and "Ormolu" from Ormolu (2006), and also listen to "We'll Have A" from Falimy (2014). For more, see racheltaylorbrown.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Check out Mark's new album.

Saints & Simulators 3: #WhatIsSimulation

February 7, 2019 - 12:00
One of the first things people discovered when modern computing became a reality is that it's relatively easy to simulate laws of physics, representing aspects of the real world. This theoretically enables an approach to simulation that builds an entire universe from basic building blocks. A quark could be a tiny bit of fundamental matter (whatever that might be), but it could just as easily be a rule programmed into a computer—or perhaps even a coherent thought in the mind of an all-powerful intellect.

Episode 208: Epicurus on Seeking Pleasure (Part Two)

February 4, 2019 - 17:53

More on the ethics-related fragments of Epicurus and accounts by Martha Nussbaum and Tim O'Keefe.

What would a purely therapeutic philosophy consist of? Does philosophy as pursuit of pleasure mean that you eschew political action or other substantial goals? Mark, Wes, and Dylan try to figure out which of our desires are vain and whether society is compatible with human happiness.

Listen to part one first or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Tickets are now available for PEL Live: See partiallyexaminedlife.com/pel-live.

End song: "The Language of the Body" by Ant-Bee as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #68.

Sponsors: Take back your Internet privacy with 3 months free at EXPRESSVPN.com/PEL. Visit the St. John's College Graduate Institute: partiallyexaminedlife.com/sjcgi.

Saints & Simulators 2: The #SimulationArgument

January 31, 2019 - 12:00
In the year 1999 CE, just on the cusp of a new millennium, the then Wachowski Brothers released "The Matrix," one of the most influential, imitated, and widely discussed movies of its times. It was only four years later, in 2003 CE, that philosopher Nick Bostrom of Oxford University introduced an argument that it is not only possible we are living inside a computer simulation, it is actually significantly likely. Although it may have sounded like a high-concept science-fiction thriller, the argument drew upon well-established lines of logic and a widely held series of assumptions.

Constellary Tales #5. Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” and “Predestination”

January 30, 2019 - 12:00
Robert Heinlein's short story "All You Zombies" (and the later film adaptation Predestination) starts with the classic "grandfather paradox" trope and ties it in knots. Get more Constellary Tales podcasts, and read original sf in the magazine at constellary.com.

Episode 208: Epicurus on Seeking Pleasure (Part One)

January 28, 2019 - 14:57
On the extant fragments of Epicurus (341–270 BCE) dealing with ethics, including his "Letter to Menoceus," “The Principal Doctrines,” and “The Vatican Collection of Epicurean Sayings.” Plus Tim O’Keefe’s Epicureanism (2010) and Martha Nussabum’s The Therapy of Desire (1994). How are we supposed to act once we understand nature as atoms bouncing and swerving around in the void, temporarily producing order through fortuitous collisions? Ruling out demanding gods means ethics is dictated by human nature: we avoid pain and pursue pleasure. However, we're very bad at this, and Epicurus wants to fix all of us! Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Come see us live in NYC on Apr. 6. Read more at partiallyexaminedlife.com/pel-live. Don't forget your 2019 Wall Calendar with free domestic shipping: partiallyexaminedlife.com/calendar. Sponsors: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL and EXPRESSVPN.com/PEL.

NEM#90: Sam Phillips Brings Intuition Out of Dreams

January 25, 2019 - 18:57
Sam has released sixteen albums of catchy, textured pop music since 1983. We discuss "I Want to Be You" and "Tears in the Ground" from World on Sticks (2018), "How to Dream" from Fan Dance (2001), and conclude by listening to "When I’m Alone" from Push Any Button (2013). Intro: "Baby I Can’t Please You" from Martinis and Bikinis (1994). For more, visit samphillips.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Check out Mark's new album.

Saints and Simulators: Did Bostrom Prove the Existence of God?

January 24, 2019 - 12:00
Did Nick Bostrom, professor of philosophy at Oxford University, provide the first convincing modern proof of the probable existence of God? At first glance it seems more than unlikely. Bostrom—best known for his notorious theory that the world exists only on a giant computer—isn't a notably religious man. What's more, philosophers and theologians have argued for thousands of years whether God exists; whether the existence of God can be proven; and whether demonstrating proof of God’s existence is something we should even try to pursue. Despite all this, in the year 2003, when Bostrom published a new theory detailing the strong probability that God does in fact exist, nobody noticed (except David Pearce).

Phi Fic #26 The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

January 24, 2019 - 01:03
Cezary Baraniecki, Laura Davis-Chanin, and Nathaniel Hanks are joined again by the irrepressible Dan Johnson and Jennifer Tejada as we explore this fascinating and prescient story!

Episode 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part Two)

January 21, 2019 - 17:48
Continuing on Johann Gottfried von Herder's “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), then moving to “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divine Colloquy” (1785), and and some of Critical Forests: Fourth Grove (written 1769). With guest rock god John "Jughead" Pierson. What grounds good taste in society? Can an aesthetic education ground abstract thought? What would such an education consist in? Which is more affecting, music or painting? Start with part 1, or get the Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Get two months free of a vibrant online learning community at skillshare.com/PEL. Don't forget your 2019 PEL Wall Calendar, now with free domestic shipping!

Episode 207: Herder on Art Appreciation (Part One)

January 14, 2019 - 18:42
On Johann Gottfried von Herder's “The Causes of Sunken Taste among the Different Peoples in Whom It Once Blossomed” (1775), “On the Influence of the Belles Lettres on the Higher Sciences” (1781), “Does Painting or Music Have a Greater Effect? A Divine Colloquy” (1785), and some of Critical Forests: Fourth Grove (written 1769). With guest rock god John "Jughead" Pierson. What is aesthetic taste, and why do some societies (e.g. ancient Greece) seem rife with genius while others are not? Herder has some definite ideas about aesthetic, sensual education as grounding for abstract thinking, rages against attempts to copy another culture's art-forms, and likes melody over harmony. Plus he coined the term "zeitgeist!" Don't wait for part two! Get the full, unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now! Please support PEL! Don't forget your 2019 PEL Wall Calendar, now with free domestic shipping! Sponsors: Get two months free of a vibrant online learning community at skillshare.com/PEL. Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a one-month free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.

PREVIEW-Ep 206 Lucretius’s Epicurean Physics (Part Three)

January 13, 2019 - 02:10
Mark and Wes go into more textual detail re. Lucretius’s take on atomism and the metaphysical and epistemological problems it entails. Start with Part one. This is a preview; become a PEL Citizen or $5 Patreon supporter to get the full, 50 minute conversation.

Episode 206: Lucretius’s Epicurean Physics (Part Two)

January 7, 2019 - 15:29
More on Lucretius’s poem about Epicurean science: On the Nature of Things from the first century BCE. We talk more about how macroscopic phenomena are supposed to come out of the interaction of atoms, including mind and its processes of knowledge and illusion, including the illusion of love. One conclusion: life after death is not possible. Can the properties of the atoms themselves be explained? Listen to part one first or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition; this will also get you the follow-up discussion (coming soon). Please support PEL, and don't forget your 2019 PEL Wall Calendar! End song: "Came Round" by Mark Lint. Read about it and get the new album. Sponsor: Take back your Internet privacy with 3 months free at EXPRESSVPN.com/PEL.

NEM#89: Dusty Wright’s Metaphysical Americana

January 5, 2019 - 17:01

After starting in the 80s with The Trolls and The Bastards of Execution, Dusty has released six albums as a solo artist since 1997.

We discuss a new, unreleased song "Pardon My Love," then "Man in the Mirror" from Gliding Toward Oblivion (2018) and "High Flyin' Bird" by GIANTfingers from around 2003. We conclude by listening to "(Art at) the Speed of Life" by The Dusty Diamonds from 1994. Intro/outro: "Karma" from dust! (2000).

For more, see dustywright.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon.

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