Conversations about philosophy, science, religion and spirituality

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Activism and Philosophy (Daniel Kaufman & David Ottlinger)

The fight, and meta-fight, in philosophy over trans issues ... David's essay on philosophy and activism ... The admonition to "go read the literature" ... Dan: The profession needs to push back against the mob ... Should philosophers avoid signing petitions? ... David regrets the "neglect of the ordinary virtues" in this battle ... How professors should teach controversial subjects ...



Death and the Self (Robert Wright & Nina Strohminger)

Nina's research on how we understand the self ... The traits that make your self yourself ... Buddhism and the continuity of self through time ... The link between egocentrism and an equanimous attitude toward death ... Bob: Not-self is hard to experience and very hard to understand ... Asian Buddhists vs. "white boy Buddhists" ... Does a happy life require virtuous behavior? ...



Postmodernism in Life and Literature (Daniel Kaufman & E. John Winner)

A brief history of 20th-century literary criticism ... John's battles against radical feminists as a grad student at SUNY Albany ... Post-structuralism and "how modernity failed itself" ... English department politics ... John: "Postmodernity is all around us" ... Postmodernity in the world vs. in the academy ... Post-postmodernism and cultural stagnancy ...



Quantum Physics and Social Science (Robert Wright & Alexander Wendt)

Why Alex shifted from international relations to quantum physics ... Alex: "We are walking wave functions" ... Do the origins of consciousness and free will lie in the wave collapse? ... Quantum decision theory and human irrationality ... The advantage of viewing humanity as quantum rather than classical ... How a nation-state is like a quantum state ... Alex: Language is best understood quantumly ... The possibility of collective consciousness ...



Against Freud (John Horgan & Frederick Crews)

How Frederick became a Freudian and then an anti-Freudian ... Frederick: Psychoanalysis is the Metamucil of the intellectuals ... The politics of anti-Freudianism ... Why has Freud persisted in the public imagination? ... Frederick psychoanalyzes John ... Repressed memories as a Freudian legacy ... Frederick's new book, Freud: The Making of an Illusion ...



Western Philosophy as White Supremacy (Daniel Kaufman & Crispin Sartwell)

Crispin's recent essay, "Western Philosophy as White Supremacy" ... Dan accuses Crispin of ahistorical revisionism ... Descartes as a product of his age ... Privileging the intellectual over the physical ... Is "the conquest of nature" a good or bad thing? ... Crispin: Metaphysics and racism feed each other ... Is self-mastery a key to freedom, or antithetical to it? ... The worst political philosophy, except for all the others? ...


 09 August 2019  1h27m

McMindfulness (Robert Wright & Ronald Purser)

Ron's new book, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality ... A brief history of mindfulness in America ... Ron's critique of the corporate teaching of mindfulness ... A tool vs. a path ... Ron: The mindfulness industry individualizes social problems ... A call for civic mindfulness ... Can capitalism and spirituality be reconciled? ...


 08 August 2019  1h1m

The Great Disintegration (Daniel Kaufman & Oliver Burkeman)

Journalism, from information scarcity to attention scarcity ... Is it harder to find “good” information these days? ... Oliver: Reliance on social media creates false controversies ... Has the mainstream media really drifted towards partisanship? ... How to dismantle the partisan divide ... Dan: Americans were more divided in 1968 than now ... Social injustice: Perception, reality, and urgency ...


 25 July 2019  1h26m

How to Do Nothing (Josh Summers & Jenny Odell)

Jenny’s new book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy ... Learning from "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (part 1) ... Cultivating attention through art and mindfulness ... Josh’s critique of contemporary mindfulness ... How social media destroys context ... Jenny: “Aliveness is change” ... Learning from “Bartleby, the Scrivener" (part 2) ...


 23 July 2019  1h12m

"Stranger Things" and Generation X (Daniel Kaufman & Milton Lawson)

Why Dan and Milton love Stranger Things ... How does the new season measure up? ... Is "the Upside Down" a coherent idea? ... Is Generation X about to have its moment in pop culture? ... Dan fears wokeness is ruining pop culture ... The risks of a fourth Stranger Things season ... Pop culture in an era of massive corporate control ... Speculating on HBO's mysterious Watchmen adaptation ...


 18 July 2019  1h25m