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The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast
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The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast

Author: Mark Linsenmayer

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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 www.partiallyexaminedlife.com.

We also feature episodes from other podcasts by our hosts to round out your partially examined life, including Pretty Much Pop (prettymuchpop.com, covering all media), Nakedly Examined Music (nakedlyexaminedmusic.com, deconstructing songs), and (sub)Text (lit, film, psychoanalysis). Learn about more network podcasts at partiallyexaminedlife.com.
438 Episodes
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On Gottfried Leibniz’s Theodicy (1710). Why does God allow so many bad things to happen? Leibniz thought that by the definition of God, whatever He created must be the best of all possible worlds, and his theodicy presents numerous arguments to try to make that less counter-intuitive given how less-than-perfect the world seems to us. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Sponsor: Open a real estate portfolio at fundrise.com/PEL and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived.
In 1919, the world seemed to have descended into anarchy. World War I had killed millions and profoundly altered the international order. Four empires, along with their aristocracies, had disintegrated. Russia was in a state of civil war, and Ireland was on the verge of its own. It’s these events that helped inspire William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” which famously tells us that “things fall apart,” that “the center cannot hold,” and that a new historical epoch is upon us. Just what rough beast is it that slouches, as Yeats has it, toward Bethlehem? Wes & Erin discuss.  Subscribe: (sub)Text won’t always be in the PEL feed, so please subscribe to us directly: Apple | Spotify | Android | RSS Bonus content: The conversation continues on our after-show (post)script. Get this and other bonus content at by subscribing at Patreon. Follow (sub)Text: Twitter | Facebook | Website
We're releasing JUST THIS ONE Nightcap to the wider public so induce you all to go support us and so gain the ability to hear these free-wheeling, feeling-sharing, email-reading fiestas between every regular episode. This time we gripe about Habermas and reflect on what secondary sources we use. We consider whether to have an episode on anarchism and if we should ever have guests on who are hard-core adherents of the philosophy we're discussing. We reveal which reading we've covered has pleasantly surprised each of us the most. Finally, we talk about how to front-load our episodes so that folks who do not sign up to hear the part 2's still get a satisfying, self-contained experience.
If you'd like to hear more of the discussion on Jürgen Habermas' "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically Mediated Interactions, and the Lifeworld" (1998) that we started in part one, you'll need to go sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. We're just sharing a few minutes of part two here to get you all hot and bothered. You're welcome!
Mark, Erica and Brian (all manga noobs) are joined by Japanese Studies prof. Deborah Shamoon to talk about barriers for Americans to appreciate manga, different manga types (Deborah works on shojo manga, i.e. for girls), Osamu Tezuka (the "god of comics" who created Astro Boy et al), classic vs. new manga, gender portrayals, and more. For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop.
On Jürgen Habermas' "Actions, Speech Acts, Linguistically Mediated Interactions, and the Lifeworld" (1998), with guest John Foster. What's the relation between individuals and society? Habermas says that language has ethics built right into it: I'm trying to get you to agree with me, to engage in a cooperative enterprise of mutual understanding. Part two of this episode is only going to be available to you if you sign up at partiallyexaminedlife.com/support. Get it now or listen to a preview. Sponsors: Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service. Open a real estate portfolio at fundrise.com/PEL and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived.
Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Mike Wilson discuss the director's films from Eraserhead to Inland Empire plus Twin Peaks and his recent short films. We get into the appeal and hallmarks of his mainstays--Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive--and also consider outliers like Dune, The Elephant Man, and The Straight Story. How many of these films actually make sense, and is failing to do so bad? For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. Sponsor: Get 15% off earbuds at BuyRaycon.com/Pretty w/ offer code "Pretty15."
On "Theoretical Picture of a Free Society" (1934). What's the ideal living situation for us all, given the peculiarities of human nature? Weil describes fulfillment as coming from being able to picture goals and plans and knowingly put them into effect, so social groups need to maximize that power by being small and cooperative. End song: "Libreville" by Bill Bruford, as interviewed for Nakedly Examined Music #25. Get this episode ad-free with a PEL Citizenship, which also gets you access to our PEL Nightcaps and future Part Two episodes. Sponsors: Get $35 off meal delivery at SunBasket.com/PEL, code PEL. Open a real estate portfolio at fundrise.com/PEL and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived.
Mark led Grand Funk Railroad through 13 albums in the 70s and early 80s and has had around eight solo releases. We discuss "Nadean" from For the People (2006), "Not Yet" from Some Kind of Wonderful (1991), and the title track of Born to Die by Grand Funk Railroad. End song: "Take You Out." Intro: "I'm Your Captain" from GFR's Closer to Home (1979). For more see markfarner.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon.
Concluding on "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943). This time we cover punishment, security, risk, private property, collective property, freedom of opinion, and truth. Start with part one or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Supporting PEL will also get you access to our PEL Nightcaps End song: "Even Though the Darkest Clouds" by liar, flower. Mark interviewed KatieJane Garside on Nakedly Examined Music #127. Sponsors: Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service. Get up to a $100 donation matched at Givewell.org/PEL, selecting "podcast" and "Partially Examined Life" at checkout. Subscribe to the Burn Your Draft podcast Seth helped with!
The poet John Keats is famous for the concept of “negative capability,” his description of the ability to tolerate the world’s uncertainty without resorting to easy answers. Literary minds in particular should be more attuned to beauty than facts and reason. In fact, truth in the highest sense is the same thing as beauty, he tells us at the end of his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn. What does that mean? Is it true? Wes and Erin discuss these questions, and how it is that aesthetic judgments can communicate a kind of truth that is not strictly descriptive or factual. Subscribe: (sub)Text won’t always be in the PEL feed, so please subscribe to us directly: Apple | Spotify | Android | RSS Bonus content: The conversation continues on our after-show (post)script. Get this and other bonus content at by subscribing at Patreon. Follow (sub)Text: Twitter | Facebook | Website The cover art is based on Keats’ tracing of the Sosibios Vase, which may have helped inspire the poem. Thanks to Tyler Hislop for the audio editing on this episode.
Continuing on "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943). We got started in part one with our need for order, and in this part we add liberty, obedience, responsibility, equality, hierarchy, and honor. We'll conclude with part 3, covering freedom of speech, punishment and more, but you needn't wait: Get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. and you'll also get our Nightcap recordings. Sponsor: Open a real estate portfolio at fundrise.com/PEL and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived.
When egotistical weatherman Phil Connors gets trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he gets drunk, steals money, manipulates women, binges on breakfast food, plays God… and finally grows up. The story charts Phil’s development over the course of thousands of repeated February 2nds. Along the way, it raises questions about our own capacity for growth. How do we go about improving ourselves? How can we escape boredom? Achieve fulfillment? Wes and Erin discuss the 1993 film Groundhog Day. Subscribe: (sub)Text won’t always be in the PEL feed, so please subscribe to us directly: Apple | Spotify | Android | RSS Bonus content: The conversation continues on our after-show (post)script. Get this and other bonus content at by subscribing at Patreon. Follow (sub)Text: Twitter | Facebook | Website Thanks to Jeff Mitchel for allowing us to repurpose his poster for the cover art. Thanks to Tyler Hislop for the audio editing on this episode.
On "The Needs of the Soul" from The Need for Roots (1943) and "Meditation on Obedience and Liberty" (1937). What are our needs that should then drive what kind of society would be best for us? Weil says we need liberty yet obedience, equality yet hierarchy, security yet risk... and none of these words mean quite what you'd think. And to start off, why do the many obey the few? Don't wait for Part Two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Support for this discussion came from listener Charles, who dedicates it to Temple Grandin.  Sponsors: Get $35 off meal delivery at SunBasket.com/PEL, code PEL. Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service. Get up to a $100 donation matched at Givewell.org/PEL, selecting "podcast" and "Partially Examined Life" at checkout.
Roger rose to fame as keyboardist/songwriter for Jellyfish in the early '90s, then formed Imperial Drag, The Moog Cookbook, TV Eyes, backed Beck, and finally released two albums under his own name starting in 2006. He's recently released a solo EP and one with The Likerish Quartet that reunites him with some other members of Jellyfish. We discuss "Lighthouse Spaceship" by The Lickerish Quartet from Threesome, Vol. 1 (2020), "The Turnstile at Heaven’s Gate" from Catnip Dynamite (2008), "Time to Time" by Malibu (a solo techno project) from Robo-Sapiens (2007), and listen to "Operator" from his solo Glamping EP (2018). Intro: "The King is Half-Undressed" by Jellyfish from Bellybutton (1990). For more, see thelickerishquartet.com and rogerarranging.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music. Like our Facebook page. Support us on Patreon. Visit masterclass.com/EXAMINED for 15% off a MasterClass All-Access Pass and use code NEM15 at BuyRaycon.com/nem for 15% off wireless earbuds.
Continuing on John Dewey's Democracy and Education (1916) ch. 1, 2, 4, and 24 with guest Jonathan Haber. How is education different than mere conditioning, and how does it relate to habits and growth? We discuss how much of what Dewey recommends lines up with liberal education and multiculturalism. Also, can education change taste? Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition, which will also get you our PEL Nightcaps. End song: "Too Far to Turn Around" by The Ides of March; Jim Peterik appears on Nakedly Examined Music #126. Sponsors: Get 15% off game-changing wireless earbuds at BuyRaycon.com/pel. Visit SJC.edu to learn about St. John's College. Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of unlimited learning from the world's greatest professors.
On John Dewey's How We Think (1910) ch. 1 and Democracy and Education (1916) ch. 1, 2, 4, and 24. What model of human nature should serve as the basis for education policy? Dewey sees learning as growth, and the point of education as to enable indefinite growth. With guest Jonathan Haber. Don't wait for part two; get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsors: Visit SJC.edu to learn about St. John's College. Check out the Being Reasonable podcast.
Continuing on Alia Al-Saji’s “A Phenomenology of Hesitation” (2014) and other things with guest Phil Hopkins.  Can we restructure our (and the police's) reactions and live with each other? We further explore the psychology of habit and Al-Saji's notion of hesitation. How does it compare to other types of heistation recommended by philosophies and religions? Start with part one, or get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition. Includes a preview of our Citizen Hang. End song: "Every Man's Burden" by Dusty Wright, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #89. Sponsors: Get $35 off meal delivery at SunBasket.com/PEL, code PEL. Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.
On Alia Al-Saji’s “A Phenomenology of Hesitation” (2014), bits of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945), and Linda Martín Alcoff’s Visible Identities (2006), plus Alex Vitale's The End of Policing (2017). Is there sub-conscious racism, and how might we root it out and fix our policing problems? Ex-cop Phil Hopkins joins to look at how phenomenology can help. Don't wait for part two, get the full, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Sponsor: Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.
Continuing on the Rhetoric (ca. 335 BCE) book 1, ch. 1–6 and book 2, ch. 1–5, 18–24. We finish up with enthymemes (rhetorical arguments), maxims, and signs. We then move to emotions, where we chiefly talk about anger: Is it always a matter of status injury, or is frustration equally (or more) foundational? Begin with part one, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! End song: "Reason with the Beast" by Shriekback, whose leader Barry Andrews was interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #107. Sponsors: Save 25% on clothing styled for you at StitchFix.com/PEL. Visit thegreatcoursesplus.com/PEL for a free trial of The Great Courses Plus Video Learning Service.
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Comments (13)

Jean-Maxime Riviere

I’ve been a listener and a fan for years now, clocking at well over 100 hours with Mark, Seth, Dylan and Wes. While the conversational approach takes away some of the structure and organization you could find in a top-down lesson-style approach, it’s way more engaging, fun and varied. Each of the 4 team member is brilliant and brings his own set of specific topics of expertise and predilection. Thanks for this fantastic podcast!

Sep 18th
Reply

Philly Burbs

without closed captioning, most would be lost. Watched 3x. each time picked up something new. this is more than rap & hip hop. it's 50's do wap & Caribbean from the 1970s. I saw a study of this, music & musicals on YouTube they break down each song & part. look for it. watch it worth it.

Aug 7th
Reply

Valente Pozas Sr.

To the two pastors... to question your faith is not dangerous... it may actually strengthen it.... something we should never take for great... I was raised southern Baptist and accepted Christ at age 7 and 60 years later ... I still dig into the good word to learn and to strengthen my faith. Valente Pozas 781.234.8843 vpozas@yahoo.com

Apr 12th
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Brad Pasbjerg

The content is great, using it on this platform is awful for going through all episodes since you only get previews. I have paid for the monthly subscription, but this is my preferred way of listening which turns me off to the podcast.

Apr 9th
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Ali

Awesome subject, poor sound quality

Jan 26th
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Bharath T

"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Gotta agree with Plato/Socrates on this one. Sure, putting your life on the line for such an ideal sounds stupid,but considering the mindset of most of the people back then it almost makes Socrates a romantic hero. People didn't start questioning the authoritative beliefs. almost everyone from the past 3-4 generations probably started questioning the existing social fashions and having philosophical conversations. Makes me wonder if Socrates had been born in our generation with the same traits as he did, would he be so iconic a figure? To sum it up, Socrates was an asshole of a person considering his failure to serve those he needed him But also a romantic hero for going out flipping the finger to the authority. Loved the episode. Most other philosophical podcasts seem to have a one dimensional opinion on Socrates. You guys put a lot on the table. Cheers!

Jan 23rd
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Pat Maloney

Now im interested in reading Chekhov. And the podcasts of course.

Apr 20th
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Andrew Oliver

There were no seatbelts in Camus' time.

Mar 26th
Reply

Nuage Laboratoire

text

Jan 28th
Reply (2)

Ambient Cello

me too

Apr 4th
Reply

Ezra Fickov

favorite 😸

Mar 10th
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