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The Partially Examined Life

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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.

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.
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Location:

Madison, WI

Description:

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.

Language:

English


Episodes

Episode 190: Film Analysis: "mother!"

5/21/2018
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On Darren Aronofsky's philosophical 2017 film about humanity's relationship to nature. We discuss the philosophical content of the film (Gnosticism, anyone?) and explore the relation between meaning and the sensuous aspects of an artwork. Can a work be both allegorical and yet have fully fleshed out characters and the other elements that make a film feel real? This was a very polarizing film; how do the circumstances of viewing affect reception? With guest Tim Nicholas. End song: “The Day...

Duration:01:28:18

Episode 189: Authorial Intent (Barthes, Foucault, Beardsley, et al) (Part Two)

5/14/2018
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Continuing on "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes (1967) and "What Is an Author?" by Michel Foucault (1969), and finally getting to “Against Theory” by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels (1982). What could it mean to say that a text, once written, speaks itself? We get into Foucault's critique of the cult of the author and the reader-centric types of analysis he proposes in its place. Plus, Knapp and Michaels's poem written by natural forces on a rock. Crazy stuff! Listen to...

Duration:01:19:25

Episode 189: Authorial Intent (Barthes, Foucault, Beardsley, et al) (Part One)

5/7/2018
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On four essays about how to interpret artworks: “The Intentional Fallacy” by W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley (1946), "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes (1967), "What is an Author?" by Michel Foucault (1969), and “Against Theory” by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels (1982). When you're trying to figure out what, say, a poem means, isn't the best way to do that to just ask the author? Most of these guys say no, and that's supposed to reveal something about the nature of...

Duration:00:57:11

Episode 188: Discussing "Lysistrata" and Politics with Lucy and Emily (Part Two)

4/30/2018
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Concluding our discussion of Aristophanes's play with Lucy Lawless and Emily Perkins. We focus on trying to connect its lessons to the here and now: Is Lysistrata's victory properly described as the ascension of some kind of "feminine spirit" over warlike values, and how does that actually relate to women's struggles now to attain positions of power? Listen to our performance and then part one of the discussion before listening to this (or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen...

Duration:00:59:33

Episode 188: Discussing "Lysistrata" and Politics with Lucy and Emily (Part One)

4/23/2018
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We are rejoined by actresses Lucy Lawless and Emily Perkins to discuss Aristophanes's bawdy play. Listen to us perform it first. Supplementary readings included Jeffery Henderson's introduction to his 1988 translation of the play; "Sexual Humor and Harmony in Lysistrata" by Jay M. Semel (1981); and "The 'Female Intruder' Reconsidered: Women in Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae" by Helene P. Foley (1982). Don't wait for part two! Get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now....

Duration:00:53:13

NEM#71: Aaron David Gleason Is a Wry Observer

4/15/2018
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Aaron was born into show business, staring young in L.A. in the early 00's with All Hours, then went solo, moved to New York, became an actor, and has now released his first album in seven years, Wry Observer. We discuss the title track from that album plus "Brooklyn at Dawn" (the intro music is from that too: "The Last to Die in Battle"). Then we look back to "Box Office Stud" by All Hours (2004) and finish by listening to "Bright Lights" from the album Aaron David Gleason (2010). Learn...

Duration:00:51:02

"Lysistrata" w/ Lucy Lawless, Emily Perkins, Erica Spyres, Bill Youmans & Aaron Gleason

4/15/2018
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The PEL Players return to perform a "cold read" of Aristophanes's play about using a sex strike to end war, first performed in 411 BCE. Jeffrey Henderson's translation makes this very accessible, and it's still really damn funny. Your hosts are joined by five real actors from TV, film, and Broadway. We will be following this up in ep. 188 with a full discussion of the play and the issues it raises. We're pleased to bring you this performance without commercial interruptions. Why not...

Duration:01:22:31

PREVIEW-Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part Three)

4/13/2018
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Three substantial chunks of a follow-up conversation to our free speech episode. Mark and Wes discuss Jordan Peterson on speech, organizations' promoting certain speech (as opposed to restricting), insults vs. arguments, offense vs. harm, "incoherence" arguments like Fish's, fundamental principles in ethics, and more. Get the full discussion by becoming a PEL Citizen or Patreon supporter.

Duration:00:13:37

Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part Two)

4/9/2018
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Continuing our free form discussion, trying to make sense of Stanley Fish's “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too” (1994) and other potential rationales for prohibiting hate speech. How might the same sentence or idea be used in different speech acts, some of which might be legitimately censured but others not? Listen to part one first, or get the Citizen Edition, along with the full-length follow-up discussion by Mark and Wes. Sponsors: Visit Squarespace.com...

Duration:01:04:08

Episode 187: The Limits of Free Speech (Part One)

3/29/2018
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A free-form discussion drawing on Stanley Fish's “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too” (1994), Joel Feinberg’s “Limits to the Free Expression of Opinion” (1975), and other sources. What are the legitimate limits on free speech? Feinberg delves into the harm and offense principles. Fish argues that every claim to free speech has ideological assumptions actually favoring some types of speech baked into it. A lively back and forth ensues! Don't wait for part...

Duration:00:58:32

Episode 186: J.L. Austin on Doing Things with Words (Part Two)

3/26/2018
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Continuing on How to Do Things with Words (lectures from 1955), covering lectures 5-9. Austin tries and fails to come up with a way to grammatically distinguish performatives from other utterances, and so turns to his more complicated system of aspects of a single act: locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary. In doing so, he perlocutionarily blows our minds. Listen to part one first, or get the ad-free Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Get a free trial and 10% off your...

Duration:01:12:04

Episode 186: J.L. Austin on Doing Things with Words (Part One)

3/19/2018
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On How to Do Things with Words (lectures from 1955). What's the relationship between language and the world? Austin says it's not all about descriptive true-or-false statements, but also includes "performatives" like "I promise…" and "I do" (spoken in a wedding) that are actions unto themselves. They can't be true or false, but they can be "unhappy" if social conventions aren't fulfilled (e.g., you try to marry a pig). Austin thinks performatives will change your whole view of language and...

Duration:00:49:46

Episode 185: Ethics in Homer's "Odyssey" Feat. Translator Emily Wilson (Part Two)

3/12/2018
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Continuing with Emily Wilson on her translation of the Greek epic poem. We discuss the "oikos" or estate, built on violence, and its connection to "xenia," or hospitality, which serves to forge military alliances. Also: status distinctions and the role of the gods in the text. Listen to part one first, or get the ad-free, unbroken Citizen Edition. Please support PEL! End song: "Tiny Broken Boats" by Arrica Rose, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #66. Sponsors: Get $25 off...

Duration:01:13:28

Episode 185: Ethics in Homer's "Odyssey" Feat. Translator Emily Wilson (Part One)

3/5/2018
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On the classic Greek epic poem, written ca. 750 BC and translated by our guest Emily Wilson in 2018. Does this story of "heroes" have anything to teach us about ethics? Wilson wrote an 80-page introduction to her new translation laying out the issues, including "hospitality" as a political tool, the value for status and identity of one's home (including your family and slaves), and the tension between strangeness and familiarity. Can time and change really be undone? Don't wait for part...

Duration:00:50:10

Episode 184: Pascal on the Human Condition (Part Two)

2/25/2018
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Continuing on Pascal's Pensées. More on our human desire and how God is supposed to address that, plus Pascal's views on political philosophy, the relation between faith, reason, and custom... and finally the wager! Why not just be a skeptic? Is Pascal right that people suck? Listen to part 1 first or get the unbroken, ad-free, Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! End song: "44 Days" by Dutch Henry, written and sung by Todd Long, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music...

Duration:01:09:49

Episode 184: Pascal on Human Nature (Part One)

2/19/2018
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On Blaise Pascal's Pensées (1670). Is it rational to have religious faith? You're likely familiar with "Pascal's Wager," but our wretchedness is such that we can't simply choose to believe and won't be argued into it. Pascal thinks Christianity is the only religion to accurately describe the human condition. Don't wait for part 2! Get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit MUBI.com/PEL for 30 days of free curated movies and Squarespace.com for a...

Duration:00:52:28

Episode 183: Mill on Liberty (Part Two)

2/11/2018
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Continuing on John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. We discuss "partial truths," whether "truth will out," whether we can discard some "experiments in living" as established failures, how Mill compares to Nietzsche, education, "barbarians," and more. Listen to part 1 first, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition. End song: "Flavor" by Tori Amos with strings by John Philip Shenale, interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #12. Sponsors: Visit Squarespace.com for a free trial and 10% off with...

Duration:01:06:56

Episode 183: Mill on Liberty (Part One)

2/4/2018
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Discussing John Stewart Mill's On Liberty (1859). If we disapprove of certain behaviors, when is it okay to prohibit them legally? What about just shaming people? Mill's "harm principle" says that we should permit anything (legally and socially) unless it harms other people. But what constitutes "harm"? And how can we discourage someone from, e.g., just being drunk all the time? Mark, Wes, and Dylan bring this debate to current issues and explore some of the weirder aspects of Mill's...

Duration:01:00:37

TEASER-Episode 182: Reflections on PEL 2017 (Part Two)

2/4/2018
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The PEL guys get personal and political and tell you in brief about things like Planet of the Apes, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Vine Deloria Jr. in the second half of our year-in-review discussion. Here you get a taste. You can only hear the meat with the full, ad-free episode, posted for PEL Citizens (see partiallyexaminedlife.com/support!) or at patreon.com/partiallyexaminedlife.

Duration:00:03:36

Episode 182: Reflections on PEL 2017 (Part One)

1/28/2018
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To what extent has our podcast changed in reaction to current politics? Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan reflect back on our year, discuss how we select texts, and give some thumbnail sketches of potential topics. Also, does authorial intent matter, and how to talk philosophically about works that aren't philosophical texts. Attention: Only the first 45 min of this discussion will be posted on the blog feed. If you like PEL, consider becoming a PEL Citizen or supporting us via Patreon to get...

Duration:00:53:01

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