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

On Jacques Lacan's "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'" (1956), Jacques Derrida's "The Purveyor of Truth" (1975), and other essays in the collection The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading. How should philosophers approach literature? Lacan read Edgar Allen Poe's story about a sleuth who outthinks a devious Minister as an illustration of his model of the psyche, and why we persist in self-destructive patterns. Derrida thought this reading not only imposed a bunch of psychobabble onto the story, but demonstrated that Lacan just didn't know how to read a text. Get the full discussion at

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_075_4-2-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 6:28pm CST

On Bruce Fink's The Lacanian Subject (1996) and Lacan's "The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience" (1949). What is the self? Is that the same as the experiencing subject? Lacan says no: while the self (the ego) is an imaginative creation, cemented by language, the subject is something else, something split (at least initially) between consciousness and the unconscious. Lacan mixes this Freudian picture with semiotics--an emphasis on systems of linguistic symbols--using this to both create his picture of the psyche and explain how psychological disorders arise. Get the full discussion at

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_074_3-17-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 10:56pm CST

Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan share what drove them into philosophy and keeps them there. How is philosophy different than (or similar to) science? Than religion? Art? The consensus seems that philosophy, to us, is inevitable for the curious. It's just inquiry, unbounded (in principle at least) by any fixed assumptions. We did no formal reading for this discussion, but did tell each other to keep in mind Plato's "Apology." Get the full discussion at

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_073_3-3-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 9:13pm CST

We're joined by an international terrorism expert to discuss how to define terrorism and whether it can ever be ethical. With readings by Donald Black, J. Angelo Corlett, Igor Primoratz, Karl Heinzen, Bhagat Singh, and Carl von Clausewitz. Looking for the full Citizen version?

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_072_2-19-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 3:26pm CST

On Buber's 1923 book about the fundamental human position: As children, and historically, we start fully absorbed in relation with another person (like mom). Before that, we have no self-consciousness, no "self" at all. It's only by having these consuming "encounters" that we gradually distinguish ourselves from other people, and can then engage in what we'd normally consider "experience," which Buber calls "the I-It relation." Buber thinks that unless we can keep connected to this "I-Thou" phenomenon, through mature relationships, art, and nature. With guest Daniel Horne. Get the full discussion at

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_071_2-1-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 3:02pm CST

On Karl Marx's The German Ideology, Part I, an early, unpublished work from 1846. What is human nature? What drives history? How can we improve our situation? Marx thought that fundamentally, you are what you do: you are your job, your means of subsistence. All the rest, this culture, this religion, this philosophy, is just a thin layer over our basic situation. Ideas are not primarily what changes the world; it's economics. Get the full discussion at

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_070_1-13-13.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 11:51pm CST

Excerpts of discussions about Deleuze & Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus,  an article on emergence called "More Is Different" by Nobel Prize Winning physicist P.W. Anderson, John Searle's Mind: A Brief Introduction, and Italo Calvino's trippy science fantasy novel Cosmicomics.

Direct download: PEL_Not_School_Digest_Jan_2013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:47pm CST

On Plato's Dialogue, "Gorgias" (380 BCE or so). Why philosophize? Isn't it better to know how to persuade people in practical matters, like a successful lawyer or business leader? Plato (via Socrates) thinks that the "art" of rhetoric isn't an art at all, in the sense of requiring an understanding of one's subject matter, but merely a talent for saying what people want to hear. Looking for the full Citizen version?

Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_069_12-18-12.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 9:28pm CST

Three podcasters and two listeners join to read Plato's fabulous dialogue.
Direct download: PEL_Players-Platos_Gorgias_pt1.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 11:16pm CST