259 episodes

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

New Books in Philosophy New Books Network

    • Philosophy

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

    David Chai, "Zhuangzi and the Becoming of Nothingness" (SUNY Press, 2018)

    David Chai, "Zhuangzi and the Becoming of Nothingness" (SUNY Press, 2018)

    Zhuangzi and the Becoming of Nothingness (SUNY Press, 2018) offers a radical rereading of the Daoist classic Zhuangzi by bringing to light the role of nothingness in grounding the cosmological and metaphysical aspects of its thought. Through a careful analysis of the text and its appended commentaries, David Chai reveals not only how nothingness physically enriches the myriad things of the world, but also why the Zhuangzi prefers nothingness over being as a means to expound the authentic way of Dao. Chai weaves together Dao, nothingness, and being in order to reassess the nature and significance of Daoist philosophy, both within its own historical milieu and for modern readers interested in applying the principles of Daoism to their own lived experiences. Chai concludes that nothingness is neither a nihilistic force nor an existential threat; instead, it is a vital component of Dao's creative power and the life-praxis of the sage.
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    • 1 hr 14 min
    C. Thi Nguyen, "Games: Agency as Art" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    C. Thi Nguyen, "Games: Agency as Art" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Monopoly, Solitaire, football and Minecraft are all games, but for C. Thi Nyugen they are also an art form – specifically, the art form of agency, our capacity to set goals and pursue them. In Games: Agency as Art (Oxford UP, 2020), Nguyen argues that a game designer sculpts agency by specifying the goals and abilities of the potential player – what the player should care about and what their abilities are in the game environment. The resulting disposable ends and interesting struggles yields valuable aesthetic experiences that enhance our capacities for autonomous agency. Yet Nyugen, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Utah, also warns of the harmful effects of the gamification of real life, when the simple goals and motivations in games leak into our real- world agency and can lead to social and moral disaster.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Zena Hitz, "Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Zena Hitz, "Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    We live in a culture that tends to view thought with a degree of suspicion. Thinking is frequently associated with uselessness, idleness, laziness. These suspicions can be somewhat allayed when thinking can be directly tied to some kind of purpose or tangible result, of course. Accordingly, we tend to conceptualize thinking in terms of learning. In turn, we think of learning largely as a matter of acquiring marketable skills. However, when overtly attached to products and outcomes, thinking and learning become just another mode of commerce. They thus can become constrained and corrupted by worldly ambitions. The idea that learning can be a mode of release from those ambitions, and thus a kind of liberation from the world, seems to have been lost to us.
    However, in Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton 2020), Zena Hitz provides a vision of how learning is a characteristically human activity that is essential for a fulfilled life.
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    • 1 hr
    Elisabeth Paquette, "Universal Emancipation: Race Beyond Badiou" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    Elisabeth Paquette, "Universal Emancipation: Race Beyond Badiou" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)

    What is Badiou’s theory of emancipation? For whom is this emancipation possible? Does emancipation entail an indifference to difference? In Universal Emancipation: Race Beyond Badiou (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) (Minnesota University Press, 2020), Elisabeth Paquette pursues these questions through a sustained conversation with decolonial theory, particularly the work of Sylvia Wynter. Through consideration of Négritude and the Haitian Revolution, Paquette argues for a theory of emancipation that need not subtract particularities, as Badiou theorizes, but rather build a pluri-conceptual framework, as Wynter theorizes, for emancipation based on solidarity.
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    • 1 hr
    William P. Seeley, "Attentional Engines: A Perceptual Theory of the Arts" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    William P. Seeley, "Attentional Engines: A Perceptual Theory of the Arts" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    How do we distinguish art from non-art artifacts, and what does cognitive science have to do with it? In Attentional Engines: A Perceptual Theory of the Arts (Oxford University Press, 2020), William Seeley offers a cognitive science-based account of how we engage with art, what it is that artworks do, and what artists do to make sure they do it. In his diagnostic recognition framework for locating art, artworks are communicative devices in which artists embed perceptual cues that enable the perceiver to categorize the work as intended and thereby unlock its meanings. Seeley, an associate professor at the University of Southern Maine, also considers how his framework might handle conceptual art, what goes wrong when a novice about art perceives an artwork, and the relation between the neuroscience of art and neuroaesthetics.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Serena Parekh, "No Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Serena Parekh, "No Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Discourse in wealthy Western countries about refugees tends to follow a familiar script. How many refugees is a country morally required to accept? What kinds of care and support are host countries required to provide? Who is responsible to maintaining the resulting infrastructure? What, ultimately, is to be done with refugees?
    Many of these questions assume that states are morally required to rescue refugees. Rarely does the discourse consider the role of wealthy Western countries in creating the conditions under which a refugee crisis emerges. More importantly, we often overlook the role of wealthy Western countries in designing the systems that refugees must navigate in order to access support and assistance; as it turns out, these systems are often complex, inefficient, unfair, and haphazard.
    In No Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis (Oxford UP, 2020), Serena Parekh argues that the refugee crisis needs to be understood as two crises: one crisis focused on the moral responsibilities of wealthy Western countries in hosting refugees, and another having to do with the obstacles and impediments that refugees confront in accessing assistance.
     
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    • 1 hr 13 min

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