The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast (podcast episodes)
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
On Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in 20th Century America (1998). What makes for efficacious progressivism? Rorty argues that reformism went out of fashion in the '60s in favor of a "cultural left" that merely critiques and spectates, leaving a void that a right-wing demagogue could exploit to sweep in, claiming to be a champion of regular working people. Sound familiar?
Direct download: PEL_ep_157pt1_1-4-17.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

Continuing our liberal bubble-bursting exercise, the core foursome address more directly the question of how philosophy is supposed to shape one's political views and actions. On a non-partisan "public good" and rhetorical strategies in the face of an apathetic and/or ignorant public. End song: "Better Days" from The Getaway Drivers' Bellatopia; check out Mark's interview with singer/songwriter Bob Manor on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 11.
Direct download: PEL_ep_156pt2_12-20-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

How does studying philosophy help you to make sense of the political landscape? Wes, Mark, Dylan, and Seth play pundit and reflect on political rhetoric, elitism, and much more. There is no text for this episode! Freedom!
Direct download: PEL_ep_156pt1_12-20-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 7:40am CDT

Continuing on Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Ch. 3–4. Rorty claims that Kantians improperly read Kantian concerns (the connection between the senses and reason) back into the ancients. He thought that Sellars's "epistemological behaviorism" was right on, and despite what you may have heard does not give a bad rep to animals and babies. Plus, psychological nominalism! Woo hoo! End song: "The Ghosts Are Alright" from The Bye-Bye Blackbirds; check out the interview on Nakedly Examined Music #32.
Direct download: PEL_ep_155pt2_12-15-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

On Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Part II: "Mirroring." Is a "theory of knowledge" possible? Rorty thinks that any such account will be a fruitless search for foundations. Knowledge is really just a matter of social agreement, and beliefs must be justified from other beliefs, not from any alleged relationship to reality.
Direct download: PEL_ep_155pt1_12-15-16.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:00am CDT

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