Thursday, February 2, 2023

Stephen West: Philosophy/History/Critical Theory (Shooting Azimuths)

 


West, Stephen. "A Basic Look at Post-Modernism." Philosophize This (May 21, 2018)

---. "Achievement Society and the rise of narcissism, depression and anxiety - Byung-Chul Han." Philosophize This! (September 6, 2023) ["Today we talk about positive power, neoliberalism, narcissism as a reaction to modern life, how technology makes isolation easier, and some tactics to find peace in the digital panopticon."]

---. "Adam Smith Part 1 - Specialization." Philosophize This!  #48 (January 17, 2015)  ["... we begin our discussion of Adam Smith and how specialization has enabled each of us to live like a king, whether we realize it or not. First, we find out why Stephen is that weird guy who sits alone in the bar smiling to himself. Next, we take a look at what an hour of work buys today versus 200 years ago, and consider how this changes our ideas about wealth. Finally, we find out how pursuing our own self-interests ultimately benefits society and allows us to accomplish more together."]

---. "Antonio Gramsci on Cultural Hegemony." Philosophize This! #131 (May 23, 2019) ["Gramsci begins his explanation by evoking and repurposing a word that had been thrown around all throughout human history but it was a word that he thought in recent years was starting to take on an entirely new meaning. The thing that was responsible for allowing a particular social class to ascend to power and then maintain a privileged status…was what he called Cultural Hegemony. This concept of hegemony is going to become massively important to the political conversation of the 20th and 21st centuries and by the end of this arc of the show we’re going to have looked at it from a lot of different perspectives. Maybe we should start from the origins of the word…the word hegemony originates in ancient Greece…the root of the word comes from the greek word meaning “to lead”, some translators say it’s closer to “to rule over”…but either way during antiquity there were things called hegemons…now in the context of ancient Greece a hegemon was typically a state that had a significant military advantage over another state…the arrangement being that if the weaker state didn’t comply with certain demands from the hegemon they would be annexed or dominated militarily or burned to the ground, take your pick. The term hegemony implied the threat of physical dominance over a population of people…this was the case all throughout human history. But Gramsci is going to say that in our modern world the definition of the word hegemony needs to evolve with the political reality we are living in. We are no longer living in a world where most political control is exercised by military dominance over a population of people. Since the advent of mass media people in positions of power have realized that a much more effective way of controlling populations is by manipulating the cultural parameters that citizens have to navigate. The general idea is this: to be a human being living a life in our modern world…you always HAVE to be living that life immersed within a particular culture. But what IS a culture other than an elaborate collection of norms, rules, structures, mores, taboos, rituals, values, symbolic gestures…these things are not exactly abstract concepts…they are acute. They are visible. This is the cultural custom of a handshake to pay deference to someone else. This is not talking with your mouth full. This is the sum total of every ritual we engage in on a daily basis that all come together to create a cohesive society. But what Gramsci is going to ask is: who exactly created all of these norms and taboos that we abide by?"]

---. "Are we heading for a digital prison? - Panopticon (Foucault, Bentham, Cave)." Philosophize This! #186 (August 23, 2023) ["Today we talk about Jeremy Bentham's concept of the Panopticon. Michel Foucault's comparison to society in 1975. The historical role of intelligence as a justification for dominance. The anatomy of free will, and how a digital world may systematically limit our free will without us knowing it."]

---. "Are You Left or Right?" Philosophize This! #50 (February 6, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the contrasting political philosophies of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. First, we find out the origin of the terms “left” and “right” in relation to politics, and find out that the meanings of these terms are not as simple as they may first seem. Next, we discuss the opposing viewpoints of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine on how society should progress and implement change. Finally, we think about how their ideas relate to modern issues and consider whether or not their positions are mutually exclusive."]

---. "The Buddha." Philosophize This! #9 (November 10, 2013) ["... the life of Siddhartha Gautama and his Heisenberg-esque transformation into Buddha. We learn how Buddha left a lifestyle of being fed grapes and being fanned with palm leaves to pursue a life of celibacy, starvation, and sleep deprivation. We also learn about how Buddha reached enlightenment while sitting beneath a fruit tree à la Isaac Newton, and about the four noble truths which he believed were the key to ending human suffering once and for all. "]

---. "Capitalism vs Communism." Philosophize This #81 (May 10, 2016)

---. "Carl Schmitt on Liberalism, Part 1." Philosophize This! (July 1, 2019) ["When John Dewey and Antonio Gramsci show up with their lunchbox the first day at the new job…this is the first order of business that people like them are going to have to deal with. Now, it’s right here that we can understand why the two of them went in the respective directions they did…because like we talked about the beginning of the 20th century can be broadly understood in terms of three major branches of political discussion, three primary conversations…that are going on…we’ve already talked about two of them and understanding all three of them is absolutely crucial because the contents OF these conversations is going to go on to dictate the direction of almost all subsequent political philosophy all the way up to the present day…when a philosopher sets out to contribute something to the political discussion of the 20th century they are almost without exception doing so in consideration to one of these three major critiques of the way we’ve done things in the past. Once again, what we’ve done in the past is Liberal Capitalist Democracy…the three major critiques are going to be John Dewey and his critique of traditional Democracy…Antonio Gramsci and his critique of Capitalism…and the guy we’re going to be talking about today…the philosopher Carl Schmitt and his critique of Liberalism."]

---. "Carl Schmitt on Liberalism, Part 2." Philosophize This! (July 1, 2019) ["So maybe the best place to begin our discussion today is just to say that the fact that the sovereign still exists at some level in our Liberal societies shouldn’t come as an enormous surprise to people. I mean, after all what exactly are systems of norms like the constitution trying to normalize? Carl Schmitt would ask if the constitution is a regulatory document…what exactly is it regulating? He would say that what it is regulating is the more fundamental, underlying political process that has been going on since the dawn of civilization. Liberalism’s been tacked on after the fact…makes us feel good…helps us feel like the world is a lot more peaceful and tolerant than its ever been…but once again, the reality of the world to Carl Schmitt, the reason we haven’t seen a respite from dictatorships, bloodshed and political instability is because we are still engaged in the exact same political process we’ve always been engaged in…one rooted in intolerance…to Carl Schmitt the foundation of the political lies in a distinction between friend and enemy."]

---. "Confucianism." Philosophize This! #8 (October 29, 2013) ["On this episode of the podcast, we learn about Confucius, a man whose ideas impacted China and eastern philosophy for thousands of years after his death. We find out how Confucius went from being the poor, friendless son of an ancient Chinese 'Teen Mom' to becoming one of the most quoted people in history, as well as how he was reduced to selling his philosophy door-to-door after a brief career as a politician which ended in conspiracy and bribery."]

---. "Consequences of Reason." Philosophize This! #134 (August 7, 2019)

---. "Daoism." Philosophize This! #7 (August 9, 2013) ["So, this demand to find strategies and guidelines to follow in an attempt to rule more efficiently and masterfully caused these officials to spread out and sort of innovate and teach their own versions of what the most effective way to rule people was. There were a lot of them, and a lot of great wisdom comes from their teachings. A few of these stood out from the rest, the best of which still affect Chinese and Asian culture to this day. But all of their ideas collectively became known as the One Hundred Schools of Thought. Daoism and Confucianism are two of these hundred. So, philosophy in the East arose by means of necessity."]

---. "David Hume, Part 1." Philosophize This! #51 (February 24, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we talk about David Hume! First, we learn about Hume’s ‘is’ versus ‘ought’ distinction and how not being mindful of this pitfall can lead us down a dangerous path. Next, we discuss the limitations of science and learn what Hume thought should fill in the gaps it leaves (spoiler alert: it’s not religion). Finally, we discuss Hume’s thoughts on causality and ensure that you’ll never think about playing pool the same way again."]

---. "Derrida and Words." Philosophize This (June 25, 2018) ["To put this point another way, there are stable, authentic meanings to words and statements out there somewhere, the same way an Enlightenment thinker might think there is a stable, authentic reality out there that we’re all accessing or a stable, authentic self-identity that can be accessed, and that if only we reason about the meanings of things in the Athenian Agora long enough and are careful and precise enough with our word usage, we can arrive at the stable, authentic meaning of these words that we can then use to communicate in a more objective way. To a thinker like Jacques Derrida, this way of thinking would be naïve, outdated, and it’s based on some pretty fundamental misconceptions about how language works and what words are when you look at them under a microscope. And probably the best place to start explaining this is to talk about two things that every word carries beneath a surface level examination: diachronic and synchronic meaning."]

---. "Dewey and Lippman on DemocracyPhilosophize This #130 (May 23, 2019)

---. "Everything that connects us is slowly disappearing. - Byung Chul Han pt. 2." Philosophize This! #189 (October 3, 2023) ["Today we talk about the disappearance of rituals, truth, community, communication, public spaces and talk about the importance sometimes of being an idiot."]

---. "The Frankfurt School - Introduction." Philosophize This #108 (August 17, 2017) ["The Frankfurt School, also known as the Institute of Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), is a social and political philosophical movement of thought located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is the original source of what is known as Critical Theory. The Institute was founded, thanks to a donation by Felix Weil in 1923, with the aim of developing Marxist studies in Germany. The Institute eventually generated a specific school of thought after 1933 when the Nazis forced it to close and move to the United States, where it found hospitality at Columbia University, New York."]

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 2) - The Enlightenment." Philosophize This #109 (August 26, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 3) - The Culture Industry." Philosophize This #110 (September 7, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 4) - Eros." Philosophize This #111 (October 20, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 5) - Civilization." Philosophize This #112 (November 6, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 6) - Art As a Tool for Liberation." Philosophize This (December 2, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School (Part 7): The Great Refusal." Philosophize This (December 23, 2017)

---. "The Frankfurt School: Erich Fromm on Love." Philosophize This! #150 (January 30, 2021) [A discussion of Erich Fromm and his book The Art of Loving.]

---. "The Frankfurt School - Walter Benjamin, Part 1." Philosophize This! (March 19, 2021) [With a focus on "The Task of the Translator."]

---. "Frederick Hayek - The Road to Serfdom." Philosophy This! #139 (February 11, 2020)

---. "Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle." Philosophize This! #171 (November 1, 2022) ["... if you were lost in a city…right now in 2022…what would you do to find your way back home? I don’t know about you, but I would pull out my phone, and I would map my way back to wherever I wanted to go. Back in the 90’s though…maybe you’d pull out your Thomas Guide to find your way home. Back in the 70’s maybe you’d ask someone for directions. In the 1800’s maybe you’d pull out a compass and a map. 20,000 years ago maybe you’d look at your relative position to the sun and trace your steps back to where you came from. Point is: the technology available to you, changes how you live your life. And if the technology available to you is an elaborate spectacle … that perpetuates a religious obsession with appearances, alienates you from other people, keeps you hypnotized never really knowing what’s going on in reality, commodifies your relationships, personal information, even where your eyes are pointing…if this is what technology is doing to us… we can’t look at this stuff as just disinterested technology anymore…to Guy Debord this is a clear degradation of human life and relationships. Not to mention the fact that you face a situation with this technology that no other human generation has ever had to deal with. You can’t just choose to abstain, from the economic system like someone can just walk out of a Catholic mass if they think it’s all nonsense. You have to be a part of it in some way. And as you do that…there are literally teams of people working in close correlation with algorithms… super smart people…where their entire job …is to look at your tendencies on these screens…and find any way they can to get you to spend more time contemplating the spectacle instead of living."]

---. "Hannah Arendt - The Banality of Evil." Philosophize This! (November 2, 2019) ["To not be engaged in the “active life” is a mistake to Hannah Arendt. But she’d want us to understand that not living the “active life” can take on many different forms. You could surrender your responsibility to think, fall into an identity given to you by someone else, the mistake made by people like Adolf Eichmann. But you could just as easily become an accessory to evil being carried out in the world by sitting around, thinking about stuff all day, like so many traditional philosophers have done in the past. This is why she doesn’t want to be thought of as a political philosopher, because so many philosophers she’s seen lead by the example of sitting quietly in an academic institution, theorizing about abstract concepts all day long, but never taking action on anything. She’d want us to realize that this “contemplative lifestyle” has real consequences in the world. You can’t innocently and benignly theorize about things by yourself and just expect things to end there. The sad reality of living the contemplative life is that this passive, inactive approach almost always leads to your ideas being coopted and used by people that are actually engaging in the “active life.” Philosophy and politics will always be closely connected to each other, and to deny that fact is to be willfully complacent so that you can sit in a tower alone where it’s safe. Safe at least for now, she would say."]

---. "The Hellenistic Age Pt. 5: Race to the Dark Ages." Philosophize This! #14 (January 18, 2014) ["On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Middle Platonism and the Race to the Dark Ages. We learn how Philo of Alexandria reconciled Judaism with Plato's vision of God as a master craftsman, and find out how this relates to building an IKEA bookcase. We also discuss the important distinction Plutarch made between a flatterer and a friend, and why he would have absolutely hated Facebook. "]

---. "How much freedom would you trade for security? (Foucault, Hobbes, Mill, Agamben)." Philosophize This! #187 (August 31, 2023) ["On today's episode we talk about the upsides of a surveillance state. The ongoing social dilemma of freedom vs security. The value of privacy. States of exception. And Deleuze's Postscript on Societies of Control."]

---. "John Rawls - A Theory of Justice." Philosophize This! (January 2, 2020) ["But another way to think about the answer to this question is to say that every, great philosopher in their own way... questioned the fundamental assumptions that were present in the thinking of their time. That is a hallmark of a great philosopher...because when seeking solutions to philosophical problems...casting aside the cultural or linguistic assumptions of a particular snapshot in time...very often leads philosophers of the next generation to understand how those assumptions have been limiting our ways of thinking about things. The philosopher we're going to talk about today falls into this category...and he's going to question an assumption that seemed to others as radical as it was dangerous. His name was John Rawls...and this was the assumption that he questioned: Can human beings actually live and flourish for any extended period of time in liberal democratic societies? The political paradigm of the Enlightenment...liberal democratic societies. A government BY the many. Democracy. Liberal in the sense that there is a strong focus on rational discourse, the acceptance of outside ideas... the legitimacy of political ideas being decided by having conversations between competing ideas, let the best ideas rise to the top and direct the future of society for the time being, and if those prevailing ideas don't happen to be the ones you believe in, you're supposed to accept those ideas as part of the greater political process and work to defend your positions better the next time we're having a conversation."]
 
---. "Jürgen Habermas – The Public Sphere." Philosophize This! #143 (May 1, 2020) ["When transnational corporations with very specific ends they’re trying to achieve OWN major media outlets. When there is so much power in controlling people’s values…Habermas thinks the economic/governmental system COLONIZES the lifeworld. Where we used to sit around the dinner table and have discussions to determine our thoughts about the world…we now turn on a screen and are SOLD ways to think about things. The further we got from the origins of the public sphere in those coffee houses back in France …the further we got away from communicative rationality. We got so far away from it we could barely SEE it anymore…to the point where brilliant thinkers like Adorno and Horkheimer wrote an entire book about rationality and didn’t even consider its existence! But for any chains we were supposedly wrapped in by the Enlightenment, Habermas thought the key to get us out of them was built into the Enlightenment all along. We just lost sight of it. The emancipatory potential of reason…reason’s ability to direct us AWAY from treating people as a means to an end…the type of reason GROUNDED in communication…GROUNDED in the pursuit of genuinely trying to understand the other person’s perspective and then working towards agreement…the type of reason that can allow us to make our decisions about things not by buying into an endless sales pitch, but by talking to our fellow citizens in the lifeworld comparing our individual perspecitives… True democracy, to Habermas, is when the lifeworld controls the system. Not the system controlling the lifeworld."]

---. "Leo Strauss: Moderns vs Ancients." Philosophize This! (October 9, 2019)

---. "Michel Foucault (Part 1)." Philosophize This (August 15, 2018) ["Foucault himself would never describe [Discipline and Punish] as a 'history' of anything. Foucault hated the word history and almost never used it in his writing. He used words to describe this book more like, a geneology of the way we’ve treated criminals, or an archaeology of how criminals have been punished over the years. He hates the word history…because so often the word history brings with it a connotation… that we exist in our modern world at the end of this long historical timeline of events that have led to near constant progress. This idea that, hey, we used to be these barbaric savages that followed the playbook of Machievelli, the ends justify the means, we used to believe that it was morally acceptable for the king or the people in power to brutally torture and kill someone that was guilty of a heinous crime…but then HISTORY happened. Time went on…progress was made. Great political theorists came along…great leaders, great ethical philosophers did their work and we all realized the error of our ways and brought into existence a more modern world where everyone is much more free…the people in power inhibiting the lives of the average citizen far less than they used to . Foucault is going to call this assumption about history into question and really dig deeper into the idea of: how much has really changed when it comes to the fundamental relationship between those in power and the citizens?"]

---. "Michel Foucault Pt. 2 - The Order of Things." Philosophize This! #122 (September 24, 2018)

---. "Michel Foucault Pt. 3 - Power." Philosophize This (September 24, 2018)

---. "On Media: Manufacturing Consent, Pt. 1." Philosophize This (December 17, 2020) [On Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman's landmark book Media Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.]

---. "On Media Pt. 2: Marshall McLuhan." Philosophize This! #149 (January 5, 2021) ["Regardless of where you stand on McLuhan’s media theory, he’s responsible for an entire branch of contemporary media theory that honestly wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for him. Some say his ideas are nostalgic and old. Some say they were far ahead of their time and that the longer technology develops the more we’ll see how many things he got right. For me personally, I don’t really care either way. The value of Marshall McLuhan to me, the true takeaway after reading his work that I think he would have been most happy if people left him with, is that we should pay attention. Be aware of the things that are going on around you. Try to be aware of media and the effects they’re having on human affairs. Don’t just cling to the ship and ride the vortex down into the blackness. Look at the details. Try to make connections. Try to find patterns. Because it’s only by paying attention that we can ever hope to step outside of the landscape we inherited at birth against our will. In the immortal words of Marshall McLuhan, 'A fish doesn’t know what water is until it’s been beached.'"]

---. "The modern day concentration camp and the failure of human rights: Giorgio Agamben." Philosophize This! #191 (December 4, 2023) ["Today we talk about the philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. Human rights, a political tactic to dehumanize groups that has been growing in popularity, governments declaring states of emergency and how the concept of potential may in fact be a unifying force."]

---. "Plato." Philosophize This! #4 (June 20, 2013) ["In this week's episode, we learn about Plato's "Symposium", which you might think of as philosophy's version of fan fiction. We also learn about Plato's "Theory of Forms" and ask ourselves what makes a tree, well, a tree. This leads to discussion of Plato's famous "Allegory of the Cave" and calls into question whether or not everything we see is merely a shadow of its true self. Finally, we learn about Plato's views on society and government and why he thought democracy was one of the worst forms of government, second only to tyranny."]

---. "Richard Rorty." Philosophize This! 142 (May 1, 2020) ["Some people called Rorty a postmodernist…which would usually place him in staunch opposition to anything that even sounds like the word Enlightenment. Like excitement! But let me tell ya…Rorty was a very exciting man. He rejected the title of postmodernist and most titles for that matter. He operated in a very unique realm for a thinker where like a typical post-structuralist he didn’t believe in any sort of grand narrative that could explain away the universe…but yet he was still…a die hard, card carrying fan…of the project of the Enlightenment overall. See in a world where there are so many 20th century thinkers hating on the Enlightenment…here is a guy some viewed as a post-structuralist, coming to its defense. Let me explain why he would do something like this."]

---. "Robert Nozick - The Minimal State."  Philosophize This! #138 (January 21, 2020) ["Robert Nozick and the book of his we're going to be talking about today is titled Anarchy, State and Utopia. Now, just to give the following conversation a little preliminary structure...that title, Anarchy, State and Utopia is referencing the three major sections that the book is divided into. The first section would be Anarchy...where Nozick spends a considerable portion of time being understanding of the Anarchist's aversion to government, but ultimately making a case that they go too far. The middle portion of the book, State, has Nozick laying out the TYPE of state that HE thinks is best...and in the Utopia section is where he describes WHY his version of a state is the best...Utopia is a sort of tongue in cheek musing by Nozick..he by NO MEANS thinks his system is an actual Utopia...but he thinks it's FAR BETTER than other systems that have been tried and he argues for why he thinks that is.See, Nozick is not a fan of there being a BIG state, with a lot of responsibilities...he's not a fan of there being no state...so what is he a fan of? How big should the government be and what exactly should it do? Nozick is a fan of what he would call "the minimal state". The best way to start understanding what he means by this is probably to contrast him with both the work of Rawls and the Anarchists of his time..."]

---. "Rousseau pt. 2 - Democracy, Aristocracy or Monarchy?" Philosophize This! (January 1, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we continue last week's thought experiment about creating a society from scratch on a deserted island. First, we find out how building a society is similar to making cupcakes, in the sense that every ingredient contributes something important and interacts with the other ingredients in a unique way. Next, we discuss “human nature” and consider how our perception of it may be unfairly influenced by a small handful of people. Finally, we compare the three categories into which Rousseau believes all governments can be classified (democracy, monarchy, and aristocracy), and analyze the pros and cons of each structure."]

---. "Rousseau pt. 3 - The General Will." Philosophize This! #47 (January 9, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we continue our desert island thought experiment, this time focusing on the general will of the people. First, we examine several interpretations of what "the general will of the people" actually means. Next, we take an in-depth look at Rousseau's interpretation, and discuss the difference between democratic and transcendental will. Finally, we explore the multitude of complications that arise when a government tries to enact the general will after it's (somewhat) agreed upon."]

---. "Should we overthrow the government tomorrow? - Anarchism pt. 1 (Chomsky, Malatesta)." Philosophize This #192 (December 27, 2023) ["Today we talk about some common misconceptions about Anarchism, the weaknesses of traditional government structures, a possible alternative way of cooperating and whether or not the government is the hierarchy we should be focusing on."]

---. "Should we prepare for an AI revolution?" Philosophize This! #185 (August 10, 2022) ["Today we talk about the revolutionary potential of generative AI. For better or worse."]

---. "Simone Weil - Attention." Philosophize This! #172 (November 21, 2022) ["If you’re Simone Weil around this time in her life we’ve been talking about…and you’re looking at the world around you and trying to diagnose what the problems are that maybe we can improve upon…this psychological and spiritual crisis that she calls Affliction… this is going to be at the top of her list. This dehumanized state of learned helplessness, has infected millions and millions of people around the globe…which is also to say…that you don’t just find Affliction in factory workers that are being treated like a means to some economic end. Or in soldiers on the front line being treated as a means to a political end. You will find affliction, Simone Weil says, where ever you find people being transformed from human beings into things…and then those things being grouped into collectives that are easier to control…and then through various different strategies those people are rendered incapable of thinking their way out of the stuck place that they exist in. And all of this… mediated… by a sort of organizing principle of human political movement, that Simone Weil is going to refer to throughout her writing as Force."]

---. "Simone Weil - The Mathematician." Philosophize This! #174 (February 2, 2023) ["So in one of her earlier journals Simone Weil writes about a moral dilemma that ends up being a metaphor, for a situation that a lot of people might find themselves in while living in the modern world. She says to imagine a man…who lives in a society…where he is forced to solve complex math problems all day long…but the catch is that when he solves one of these math problems…any time he arrives at an answer, and that answer is an even number…he gets beaten with a stick…by the powers that be. They tell em we don’t take too kindly to even numbers round here son. Now go on…solve another one of them math problems, as he twirls the stick smiling with his dirty hands. The moral dilemma for Simone Weil was this: what should the mathematician do when he finds himself in this situation? Should he resist and fight back? Should he just refuse to solve any more of their math problems? Should he make a sign and protest about how upset he is? By the end of these two episodes released here today we’ll understand why Simone Weil came up with the particular solution that she did to this moral dilemma…and also why as the years went on…she grew in her thinking enough to realize that the answer…. might not be as simple as the one she originally came up with."]

---. "Simone Weil - Vessels of God." Philosophize This! #175 (February 2, 2023) ["Courage and moderation. Maybe the two virtues that most closely resemble moral obligation and thinking clearly. Two things I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another philosopher more committed to than Simone Weil."]

---. "Socrates and the Sophists." Philosophize This! #3 (June 23, 2013) ["This week we talk about the prosperity of Athens and how it led to the rise and ideas of a group of philosopher teachers called the Sophists, we tied up some loose ends and helped put all that we've learned in the last two episodes into context with a graph of the Presocratics, and we ended by talking about a man named Socrates."]

---. "Structuralism and Context." Philosophize This (January 28, 2018) ["On this episode, we talk about the origins of Structuralism. Included is a discussion on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, (born Nov. 26, 1857, Geneva, Switz.—died Feb. 22, 1913, Vufflens-le-Château), Swiss linguist whose ideas on structure in language laid the foundation for much of the approach to and progress of the linguistic sciences in the 20th century."]

---. "Structuralism and Mythology (Part 1)." Philosophize This! (March 18, 2018) ["On this episode, we talk about the mythology that underlies the media we consume and how it serves as an access point to the structures of culture."]

---. "Structuralism and Mythology (Part 2)." Philosophize This! (March 18, 2018)

---. "Susan Sontag - Do you criticize yourself the way you criticize a movie?" Philosophy This! #176 (March 1, 2023) [A discussion of Susan Sontag's "Against Interpretation." "This is the basis of what made her start to think that every truth needs to have a martyr associated with it. Because in a world where critics are always trying to moderate and understand and link everything to some normative theory … critics are not people indulging in the margins of society. These are people that take the margins of society, and spend their career trying to silence the margins for fear that they might call into question the normative, reasonable middle… of the way things are for most people. These are people…that generally speaking that have never had to sacrifice anything to be able to get to what they call the truth. But to Susan Sontag…if we’re truly committed to progess as a society…then the voices we need to hear the most, are the ones that have been marginalized. She says Simone Weil … to be one of these voices…if you think about it…simply… marginalized herself to try to access these perspectives. She’d say: In a world dominated by people that claim to bring a voice of reason to public discourse…what we need, are the voices that at first might seem, a little unreasonable. Because there’s nothing more boring to Susan Sontag…nothing more committed to keeping things exactly how they are…than the type of non-critical critics that hide behind what she calls the impersonal tones of sanity. And to tie this back to her thoughts on art…i’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from her. She says: “I never trust novels which fully satisfy my passion to understand.”"]

---. "Susan Sontag - Do You Speak the Language of Images and Videos." Philosophize This! #177 (March 22, 2023) ["Fact is: pictures and videos don't have to come with a disclaimer on them that says everything we’ve already said in this episode…as Susan Sontag says a picture doesn't need to come with a caption on it that says: This is the truth. The people looking at the picture or the video just assume that it’s the truth, on a level they never did with paintings or the written word. And if you say back to this well… not me. Not me, I’m not one of these morons that just accepts things as the truth. Well, to use one of Sontag’s own rebuttals to this kind of person…she’d probably say back to them: hey, so…when you watch a video or see a picture of something that you think is really cool…and then afterwards you find out that it was completely fake or staged. Are you disappointed when you hear that? Little bit? Well why are you disappointed? If you’re not bringing to the image a stamp of legitimacy that it probably doesn’t deserve yet. I mean knowing as much as we do in 2023 about how images are used to get you to feel a certain way…why would everyone not be taking every image they see with a grain of salt at first? And that’s part of her larger point here. You know, if any portion of this episode so far has come off like its obvious to you, of course images always have an agenda behind them…then why do so many intelligent people continue living their lives, consuming content every day, giving images a free pass on any level? When you’re shopping for a car and a used car salesman comes up to you and starts telling you about how the car you’re looking at is perfect for you…you’re thinking oh really? Is that what the car is? The car is perfect for me huh…hmm you’re always looking for what his angle is…and rightfully so be cause he’s trying to sell you something. When an advertisement comes on you’re thinking what are they trying to sell me and how are they trying to sell it? This is a healthy way of thinking about these interactions. Well, whenever a picture or a video is presented to you…to Susan Sontag you should be putting those images through a similar type of critical analysis. The default orientation towards anything that’s claiming to represent complex reality in the two dimensional image form, should BE one where you’re asking follow up questions…you should at least be asking: who is giving me this image? why are they giving me this image? What do they want me to feel having seen this image? How is this image being presented? How is it edited? Knowing that a picture is always obscuring something…what might be obscured about reality if I took this picture to be the gospel truth? Human beings… have learned to adapt and survive in a lot of different environments over the course of history…we’ve learned to survive from the Serengeti all the way to the arctic tundra. Well the environment you have to survive in now is one where you are saturated by images that are trying to get you to feel a certain way. And if you don’t develop and practice this critical thinking about the images that you’re consuming, and then bring those skills to every moment…you’re going to always be at the mercy of the person that’s giving you your images."]

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