The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast
The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a short text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flippancy. You don't have to know any philosophy, or even to have read the text we're talking about to (mostly) follow and (hopefully) enjoy the discussion. For links to the texts we discuss and other info, check out
Continuing on "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind." We consider a couple of Sellars's thought experiments, both of which are supposed to show that what we might think are primitive mental terms like "appearance" are really derivative and secondary relative to statements about the external world. With guest Lawrence "Dusty" Dallman. End song: "Senses on Fire" by Mercury Rev. Check out the interview with singer Jonathan Donahue in Nakedly Examined Music ep. 14.
Direct download: PEL_ep_154pt2_12-7-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

On "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (1956). Is knowledge based on a "foundation," as Descartes, Locke, et al. thought? Sellars says no: The allegedly basic elements upon which knowledge would be built either have to be propositions, in which case they involve a lot of prior knowledge involved in language use and so aren't really basic, or they're "raw feels," in which case they can't actually serve as reasons for anything; reasons have to be propositional. With guest Lawrence Dallman.
Direct download: PEL_ep_154pt1_12-7-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

Continuing on Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Part I: "Our Glassy Essence." Rorty relates the immateriality of mind to the ontology of universals. Plus, the return of the semantic/syntactic distinction! With guest Stephen Metcalf. End song: "Wall of Nothingness" from Sky Cries Mary from This Timeless Turning (1994). Listen to Mark's interview with the band's frontman, Roderick Romero, in Nakedly Examined Music ep. 9.
Direct download: PEL_ep_153pt2_11-17-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 12:59pm CDT

On Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Part I: "Our Glassy Essence." "The mind" seems to be an unavoidable part of our basic conceptual vocabulary, but Rorty thinks not, and he wants to use the history of philosophy as a kind of therapy to show that many of our seemingly insoluble problems like the relation between mind and body are a result philosophical mistakes by Descartes, Locke, and Kant. With guest Stephen Metcalf.
Direct download: PEL_ep_153pt1_11-17-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

Democracy is in peril! So said Tocqueville in 1835 and 1840 when Democracy is America was published, and it's still true now. Democracy is always just one demagogue away from stripping us of our liberties, though certain structural and cultural features can make that more or less likely. He liked our volunteerism and innovation, but not so much our tendencies toward materialism and isolation and our lack of philosophical curiosity. Recorded live at Brown University 10/27/16 with audience Q&A. Watch the video!

End song: "Shot of Democracy" by Cutting Crew. Listen to Mark's interview with singer/songwriter Nick Eede on Nakedly Examined Music #10.

Direct download: PEL_ep_152_10-27-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

More on Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), where Burke advocates for the nobility as a stabilizing element in society: These folks are driven by honor, groomed from youth to lead, and estates themselves provide continuity and give people something to protect. But could anyone really defend this system who wasn't himself benefitting from it at the expense of others? Reform, not revolution! End song: "Hard Times of Old England" from Peter Knight's Gigspanner (from Layers of Ages, 2015); listen to Mark's interview with Peter on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 27 at
Direct download: PEL_ep_151pt2_10-4-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

On Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). What relevance do the concerns of a monarchy-defending aristocrat have for us today? Surprisingly, a lot! The full foursome discuss possible conflicts between freedom, rights, and well-being. What is political freedom without public wisdom? The tyranny of the mob!

End song: "Hard Times of Old England" from Peter Knight's Gigspanner (from Layers of Ages, 2015); listen to Mark's interview with Peter on Nakedly Examined Music #27.

Direct download: PEL_ep_151_10-4-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

NEM now features jazz, hip-hop, classical, folk, and more. Check out all the episodes at, where you can subscribe and follow on Facebook. Bill was the original drummer for Yes, a default member of King Crimson, and briefly played with Genesis and the late '70s supergroup U.K., but most of his output has been with his own jazz-inflected Earthworks and Bruford, as rock proved too confining for his rhythmic and tonal creativity.
Direct download: PELSpecial_NEM_ep_025_8-10-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 8:46pm CDT

Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan discuss our interview with Peter Singer. Does Singer's asserting such a heavy moral burden on us successfully condemn us to changing our priorities and/or feeling perpetually guilty, or is there something wrong with the argument? Even if we admit the moral demand is legitimate, can we soften Singer's position by seeking to balance the obligation to help the poor with numerous other obligations, even though the latter don't rise to the level of life and death? Listen to the interview itself first or get the whole thing unbroken and ad-free via the Citizen edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Ann the Word" by Beauty Pill (2015), explored in Nakedly Examined Music's ep. 19:
Direct download: PEL_ep_150pt2_9-20-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 7:00am CDT

Direct download: PEL_ep_150_9-13-16_AdFree.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am CDT