240 episodes

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

New Books in Philosophy New Books Network

    • Philosophy
    • 3.3, 12 Ratings

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

    Santiago Zabala, "Being at Large: Freedom in the Ago of Alternative Facts" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2020)

    Santiago Zabala, "Being at Large: Freedom in the Ago of Alternative Facts" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2020)

    In recent years, questions around the nature of ​truth ​and ​facts have reentered public debate, often in discussions around journalistic bias, and whether politically neutral reporting is possible, or even desirable. Many pundits have tried to place blame for the increasingly slippery and fickle nature of truth in reporting on the ideas developed in much 20th-century philosophy, particularly postmodern theory.
    Santiago Zabala, however, argues that this is to mistake a diagnosis with the condition itself, and makes the case in his recent book, ​Being at Large: Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020),​ that much of the hermeneutic and postmodern philosophical traditions can help us navigate these times out of joint.
    Santiago Zabala is a philosopher and cultural critic and ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. He is author of many books, including Why Only Art Can Save Us: Aesthetics and the Absence of Emergency (Columbia University Press, 2017). His opinion articles have appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, and Al-Jazeera among other international media outlets.
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    • 57 min
    Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette, "Dialogue and Doxography in Indian Philosophy" (Routledge, 2020)

    Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette, "Dialogue and Doxography in Indian Philosophy" (Routledge, 2020)

    This ground-breaking work on Indian philosophical doxography examines the function of dialectical texts within their intellectual and religious milieu. In Dialogue and Doxography in Indian Philosophy: Points of View in Buddhist, Jaina, and Advaita Vedānta Traditions (Routledge, 2020), Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette examines the Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā of the Buddhist Bhāviveka, the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya of the Jain Haribhadra, and the Sarvasiddhāntasaṅgraha attributed to the Advaitin Śaṅkara, focusing on each of their representation of Mīmāṃsā, to arguing that each of these doxographies represent forms of spiritual exercise.
    We refer to Bouthillette's Instragram account in the interview. You can find it here.
    For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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    • 1 hr
    B. Earp and J. Savulescu, "Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships" (Stanford UP, 2020) )

    B. Earp and J. Savulescu, "Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships" (Stanford UP, 2020) )

    Consider a couple with an infant (or two) whose lives have become so harried and difficult the marriage is falling apart. Would it be ethical for them to take oxytocin to help them renew their emotional bonds, or would this be an unethical evasion of the hard work that keeping a marriage going requires? What if someone has sexual desires that they consider immoral – should they be able to take a drug to suppress those desires, or alternatively can society force them to? Debates about the ethics of using drugs for enhancement rather than treatment usually focus on the individual, such as doping in sports.
    In Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships (Stanford University Press, 2020), Brian Earp and Julian Savulescu consider the case for using drugs to alter our love relationships. Earp, who is Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and and Health Policy at Yale University, and Savulescu, the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, note that drugs that alter sexual desire and attachment are already available, although are restricted or illegal. What is needed, they argue, is more research into the interpersonal effects of drugs, and more discussion of the ethics of their use for non-medical purposes. Let’s turn to a fascinating interview on a complex topic with no easy answers.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Adrian Johnston, "Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism: The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy " (Northwestern UP, 2013)

    Adrian Johnston, "Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism: The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy " (Northwestern UP, 2013)

    In the contemporary philosophical landscape, a variety of materialist ontologies have appeared, all wrestling with various political and philosophical questions in light of a post-God ontology. Entering into this discussion is Adrian Johnston, with his 3-volume ​Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism​, an attempt to develop a systematic and thoroughly atheistic material ontology of the subject. The first volume, subtitled ​The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy (Northwestern University Press, 2013) looks at three recent French theorists, Jacques Lacan, Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillasoux, arguing that all three ultimately fail to maintain a consistent atheism, regularly relying on various supramaterial elements to hold their systems together. In doing so, the book attempts to clear the ground for a consistently materialist ontology to be pursued in the latter two volumes.
    Adrian Johnston is chair and distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of New Mexico and a faculty member at the Emory Psychoanalytic Institute. He is the author of close to a dozen books, including among others ​Time Driven: Metapsychology and the Splitting of the Drive (Northwestern 2005) and ​Adventures in Transcendental Materialism: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers (Edinburgh 2014). He is also a co-editor of Northwestern University Press’ book series ​"Diaeresis​," of which this trilogy is a contribution.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    Dominik Finkelde, "Excessive Subjectivity: Kant, Hegel, Lacan and the Foundations of Ethics" (Columbia UP, 2017)

    Dominik Finkelde, "Excessive Subjectivity: Kant, Hegel, Lacan and the Foundations of Ethics" (Columbia UP, 2017)

    How are we to conceive of acts that suddenly expose the injustice of the current order? This is a question that has puzzled philosophers for centuries, and it’s the question that animates Dominik Finkelde’s book ​Excessive Subjectivity: Kant, Hegel, Lacan, and the Foundation of Ethics (Columbia University Press, 2017). The book looks at these three major thinkers, and the ways they saw subjects as being immersed in a particular set of ethical orientations, but also always with a subtle but profound potential to do something beyond what they might’ve thought possible. Dominik Finkelde is a professor of contemporary political philosophy and epistemology at the Munich School of Philosophy, and is also the author of ​Zizek Between Lacan and Hegel and Benjamin Reads Proust.​
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    Emily Thomas, "The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Emily Thomas, "The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Travel has been a topic lurking in the background (at least) of a lot of philosophy. Socrates was keen to remind his jury as well as his interlocutor Phaedrus that he had spent nearly his entirely life within the city of Athens. For another example, Descartes saw fit to take the intellectual journey of his Meditations from a room in a foreign country. But that’s not all: many great philosophical works comment on the value of travel: think here of the reflections that close Rousseau’s Emile.
    In The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad (Oxford University Press, 2020), Emily Thomas picks up this longstanding, though now generally overlooked, philosophical concern with travel. This fascinating book not only reflects on the philosophical significance of travel, but is also a philosophical travelogue in its own right.
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    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

TalkyMeat ,

Thoughtful, thorough long-form interviews, aimed at an academic audience

New Books in Philosophy is a series of long-form interviews in which philosophers discuss their newly-published books. The interviews are thorough, thoughtful, and deliberative; and if you are listening as a student or researcher in the discipline, you have almost certainly added books to your to-read list as a result of interviews in the series.

It is, however, definitely a podcast intended for a specialised academic audience. There are lots of really great podcasts intended to bring philosophy to a general audience (I particularly recommend _The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps_, _Philosophy Bites_, _The Partially Examined Life_, and _Elucidations_, if that's what you're looking for). These podcasts do commendable work, and can be enjoyed by more advanced listeners as well - but researchers and advanced students will get far more out of a podcast thet meets them at their level than one which takes time to explain stuff they've known for years. It's good that both kinds of podcast exist.

I'm labouring this point a bit because the show has had some negative reviews from listeners who appear to be judging it in comparison to philosophy podcasts for a general audience. The 'pauses' and 'ummms' in the interviews are the result of actual *thinking* happening inreal time. The 'wandering off' the reviewer complains of is *digging into the philosophical issues and arguments*. It's true that the interviews often refer to other philosophers' work, and use the jargon of the discipline - but for a specialist audience, that's not an obscurantist bug, it's a time-saving feature. If you are an academic in philosophy or neighbouring disciplines, and you want a podcast that gets you up to speed quickly on the latest philosophical research, you want something that gets straight to the point and goes deep - not something that spends 80% of the runtime explaining Phil101 material. And the former is exactly what New Books in Philosophy does.

Skatertny ,

Ummmm, Ahhhhh

These ought to be really good. But they're not, alas.

It's not clear whether they are aiming at experts or intelligent non-experts.

The presenter Carrie Figdor may know her stuff, but she has no humour or sparkle, and often seems almost unable to complete a sentence - the extended flat ummmms and aaaaahs and youknows can get almost painful to listen to. She also name-drops other supposed academic philosophers without explaining why they might be relevant.

It's therefore not surprising that the interviewees themselves sometime seem baffled by what's expected of them and can wander off into annoying jargon or intricacies of meaning that are next to impossible to follow.

NB that these directly linked to new books in philosophy rather than wider philosophical themes, and many of these books seem to make angels dancing on the end of a pin seem positively sensible.

And as another reviewer has noted, the sound quality is patchy.

All of which said, if you want to follow philosophy and hear some smart people talking about smart books, you can still get a lot out of it even though the format is doing its best to stop you! I'll press on...

NeilE ,

Argh

The New Books Network produces several podcasts and I’ve been subscribed to them for a couple of years now. Across the board, they all share two characteristics: they present interesting content; and they have truly appalling sound quality. They’ve been going for years now and the audio quality is still as bad as it was the day they started. It physically hurts my ears if I listen on my iPod. Requests for better sound quality get no response from their web site, so I’m giving up. Unsubscribing...

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