The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast (general)
The Partially Examined Life is a 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 We also feature episodes from other podcasts by our hosts to round out your partially examined life, including Pretty Much Pop (, covering all media), Nakedly Examined Music (, deconstructing songs), Philosophy vs. Improv (, fun with performance skills and philosophical ideas), and (sub)Text (, looking deeply at lit and film). Learn about more network podcasts at

When we write, how much is planned vs. improvised? How much is inspirational vs. double-or-triple checked? How does this factor weigh into how much music we release, how eclectic our sound is, and how well we improvise with others?

This discussion features three returning guests:

  • Roger Joseph Manning Jr. was the keyboardist/singer for Jellyfish and Imperial Drag, and more recently as a solo artist and with the Likerish Quartet. Hear his solo episode. The end song on this episode "I'm Startin' a Band" from his Radio Daze EP (2023).
  • David Christian is the singer/guitarist for Britain's Comet Gain. Hear his solo episode. The intro music to this discussion is "Love and Hate on the Radio" from Radio Sessions 1996-2011.
  • Portland-based Rachel Taylor Brown has released 10 solo albums. Hear her solo episode. Her song choice relevant to this discussion was "Stagg Field."

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It's another TEAM PLAY episode, with our returning champions, star of improv stages and podcasts Chris and College of Southern Nevada philosophy prof Cole receiving NOT THE INFORMATION THEY EXPECT and gettin' all rational and such when consoling a friend and wrangling about a math quiz. Luxuriate in the rich characters and philosophy tools!

Mark philosophizes at Bill improvises (and teaches) at

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Direct download: PvI_072_1-23-24.mp3
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On the second half of Friedrich Schiller's On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795), getting into the mechanics of how aesthetic experience work in giving us a midpoint between animality and pure rationality where we can feel free. Also, does art reveal truth?

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Mark and Bill talk about the lost art of prank phone calls and act out some "customer service nightmares" with an eye to the foundations of law and creativity that defies artistic rules. The scenes are longer and riskier than normal.

Mark philosophizes at

Bill improvises (and teaches) at

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Direct download: PvI_043_11-7-22_Public.mp3
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Episode 2 of Wes's new podcasting endeavor, featuring Mary from the Phi Fic podcast, who's also the managing editor of the PEL blog.

Note: Part two will NOT be appearing on this feed. Become a PEL Citizen to get the full discussion. Visit to learn how.

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Is media trying to brainwash us into being ALL THE SAME? Are the excesses of the mob scaring us into conformity? Mark, Erica, and Brian muse on cultural homogenization and are joined by comedian Dr. Yakov Smirnoff to talk about growing up in a repressive society and the shadow of political correctness over comedy.

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This podcast is curated by and The Partially Examined Life Podcast Network.

Direct download: PMP_003_6-17-19.mp3
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Does politics have to be Machiavellian? Do you have to be ruthless to succeed?

Given our treatment of Game of Thrones and Life Is a Dream, and the way in which end-justifying-the-means logic plays endlessly in our real-life political situation, it's time we looked back on our episode 14 on Machiavelli. Mark Linsenmayer reviewed that episode and recorded a little essay about practicing Machiavellian politics to get you back in this spirit.

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David has recorded seven albums since 2000. Usually one wants to avoid the term "Beatlesque," but David is a Beatles freak who once recorded his performances all 209 Beatles songs over 209 days. We discuss "Time to Go" from David Brookings and the Average Lookings (2016), "Dead Battery" from Chorus Verses the Bridge (2005), and the title track from Obsessed (2007). We conclude by listening to "If I Don't Make It Back" from The Maze (2013). Opening music: "You’re So Right, It Went So Wrong" from the current album.

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Direct download: NEM_ep_053_6-30-17.mp3
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More on the 1967 Situtationist book. Do we buy Debord's critique? Is any merely partial critique (i.e. no revolution) just more spectacle? Is technology inherently dehumanizing? Don't these passivity/anti-technology arguments even apply to books? Could Debord's model of authenticity catch on in society as a whole?

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End song: "Millionaire" by The Mekons (1993); Jon Langford appears on Nakedly Examined Music #22.

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What is culture? In modern capitalism, Debord’s 1967 book describes it as all about the economy. It’s not just our jobs that keep us trapped, but our life outside of working hours is also demanded by “the system” via our activity as consumers, and this commoditization infiltrates every corner of our lives. Debord wants us to WAKE UP, break our chains, and live lives of immediacy, vitality, and authenticity.

Continue with part 2 or get your unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!

Direct download: PEL_ep_170pt1_7-27-17.mp3
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More on Darwin's famous book. Why does it matter for philosophy, beyond providing an alternative to intelligent design? Is it really anti-religious? How can well tell if it's really a scientific theory? Talking about a species evolving trait X to enable survival sounds teleological; is it really, and is that bad? Why would the mind develop through natural selection?

Continues from part 1, or just get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL!

End song: "I Live" by Jason Falkner, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #47.

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Continuing on the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670), ch. 1–11. We go more into natural laws vs. ordinances; does it make sense to say that God makes rules for people? Also, how does Spinoza deal with alleged miracles given that natural laws are absolute regularities?

Continued from part 1, or get the ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL!

End song: "Spinoza's Dream" by Dave Nachmanoff, as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #20.

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On Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," Albert Camus's "The Fall," Karl Jaspers's "Truth and Symbol," C.S. Peirce's "The Fixation of Belief," Bertold Brecht's "Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction," and Thomas Sheehan's Stanford lectures on the Historical Jesus.

These are snippets covering topics we haven't had time to cover on the podcast proper. Brief yourself via these 10–15 minute bursts, or become a PEL Citizen to listen to the full discussions.

Direct download: PEL_Not_School_Digest_2015.mp3
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Excerpts from discussions on Sartre's Nausea, Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology," Slavoj Zizek's Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Marx and Engels's "Communist Manifesto," Peter Schaffer's play Equus, and Cormac McCarthy's The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form.

Direct download: PEL_Not_School_Digest_4.mp3
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Excerpts of discussions about Frithjof Bergmann's New Work, New Culture, Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, and Martin Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism."

Direct download: PEL_Not_School_Digest_3.mp3
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Eva Brann discusses her book The Logos of Heraclitus (2011). What is the world like, and how can we understand it? Heraclitus thinks that the answer to both questions is found in “the logos.”

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Direct download: PREVIEW-PEL_ep_079_6-22-13.mp3
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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
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You can see blog and podcast posts for The Partially Examined Life at Thanks.
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