277 episodes

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books
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New Books in Philosophy New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.6 • 14 Ratings

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books
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    Samantha Matherne, "Cassirer" (Routledge, 2021)

    Samantha Matherne, "Cassirer" (Routledge, 2021)

    Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) was a leading neo-Kantian who developed a systematic view of how we construct and experience culture, widely construed to include mathematics, science, religion, myth, art, politics, ethics and other social endeavors. In Cassirer (Routledge 2021), Samantha Matherne explains how Cassirer updates Kant to develop his critical idealism in the form of a distinction between substance and function – the mind-dependent objects we cognize, and the structure of our minds that these objects depend on. He uses this view in his broad philosophy of symbolic forms, unpacking the way we build up the cultural world around us and our lived experience in that cultural world. Matherne, who is an assistant professor of philosophy at Harvard University, brings Cassirer’s work to life for those beyond his contemporary influences in the metaphysics of science, the philosophy of art, and the insertion of myth into the politics of fascism.
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    Jennifer Lackey, "The Epistemology of Groups" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Jennifer Lackey, "The Epistemology of Groups" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    We commonly ascribe beliefs and similar attitudes to groups. For instance, we say that a foreign government believes that members of the press are spies, or that a corporation denies that its product is harmful to the environment. Sometimes, it seems that in such cases, we are simply ascribing to the group the shared beliefs of its members. But there are other cases in which it appears we are referencing an independent subject of the belief or attitude – the government or the corporation, over and above its members. Puzzles abound.
    In The Epistemology of Groups (Oxford 2021), Jennifer Lackey develops a unified account of group belief, justified group belief, group knowledge, and group assertion. Intriguingly, this account serves ultimately to allow us to make sense of group lies.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Perry Zurn, "Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry" (U of Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Perry Zurn, "Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry" (U of Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Is curiosity political? Does it have a philosophical lineage? In Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), Perry Zurn shows, consequentially, yes. He further asks: Who can be curious? How? When? To what effect? What happens when we are curious together? 
    Engaged with multiple social movements ranging from the mid-twentieth century to our current time, and thinkers of curiosity from the Ancient world until now, Zurn theorizes the normative and political force of curiosity while providing insight into how it has and can be wielded for transformative collective resistance.
    Sarah Tyson is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Denver.
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    • 59 min
    John Sellars, "Marcus Aurelius" (Routledge, 2020)

    John Sellars, "Marcus Aurelius" (Routledge, 2020)

    Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is one of the most popular philosophical works by sales to the public, while in academic philosophy he is considered somewhat of a philosophical lightweight. In Marcus Aurelius (Routledge, 2020), John Sellars argues that this academic perception mistakes the Meditations as a failed work of theoretical argument, when instead it is a series of spiritual training exercises to condition the Roman emperor’s character in accordance with the Stoic doctrines he learned as a bookish boy. 
    Sellars, who is reader in philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, sees Marcus Aurelius as using his Meditations as an antidote to corrupting pressures of his powerful position and debilitating suffering in the face of adversity in his personal life and in his military campaigns against Germanic tribes. The book accessibly introduces the main Stoic doctrines that form the background of Marcus Aurelius’s writings, and shows how he reviews the day’s events and where he has gone wrong in his responses to them in their light.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Luke Russell, "Being Evil: A Philosophical Perspective" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Luke Russell, "Being Evil: A Philosophical Perspective" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Evil is among our everyday moral concepts. It is common to hear politicians and others condemn certain acts, purposes, people, or even populations as evil. But what does it mean to say that something is evil? Is the evil simply the exceedingly wrong? Is evil rather a distinctive kind of wrongness? Is it a kind of wrongness at all? Are acts evil regardless of the motives of those who commit them, or are people the things that are fundamentally evil (or not)?
    It takes only a few simple questions to complicate our familiar conception of evil. That’s partly the point of Luke Russell’s fascinating book, Being Evil: A Philosophical Perspective (Oxford UP, 2020). In it, he takes the reader through a careful analysis of the concept of evil. Along the way, he develops and defends his own conception of what evil is.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    M. Kirloskar-Steinbach and L. Kalmanson, "A Practical Guide to World Philosophies: Selves, Worlds, and Ways of Knowing" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

    M. Kirloskar-Steinbach and L. Kalmanson, "A Practical Guide to World Philosophies: Selves, Worlds, and Ways of Knowing" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

    The first book in a new series, A Practical Guide to World Philosophies: Selves, Worlds, and Ways of Knowing (Bloomsbury Academic 2021), co-authored by Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach and Leah Kalmanson, introduces readers to a diverse range of world philosophies. It both guides readers through philosophical questions and reflects on how the discipline of philosophy has come to define its boundaries, thus deciding which questions are worth asking, within which contexts, and by which methods. The book takes up a range of philosophical traditions, including Chinese, Indian, African, Islamicate, and Maori ideas about knowledge and personhood. The book moves between first- and second- order philosophical reflection, both thinking about the context in which we do philosophy and doing philosophy with these traditions, making pedagogical applications along the way.
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    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

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...

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.

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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