53 episodes

Interviewing leading philosophers about their recent work

PhilosophyPodcasts.Org August Baker

    • Society & Culture

Interviewing leading philosophers about their recent work

    Sharon Patricia Holland. an other

    Sharon Patricia Holland. an other

    Sharon Patricia Holland
    an other
    In an other, Sharon Patricia Holland offers a new theorization of the human animal/divide by shifting focus from distinction toward relation in ways that acknowledge that humans are also animals. Holland centers ethical commitments over ontological concerns to spotlight those moments when Black people ethically relate with animals. Drawing on writers and thinkers ranging from Hortense Spillers, Sara Ahmed, Toni Morrison, and C. E. Morgan to Jane Bennett, Jacques Derrida, and Donna Haraway, Holland decenters the human in Black feminist thought to interrogate blackness, insurgence, flesh, and femaleness. She examines MOVE’s incarnation as an animal liberation group; uses sovereignty in Morrison’s A Mercy to understand blackness, indigeneity, and the animal; analyzes Charles Burnett’s films as commentaries on the place of animals in Black life; and shows how equestrian novels address Black and animal life in ways that rehearse the practices of the slavocracy. By focusing on doing rather than being, Holland demonstrates that Black life is not solely likened to animal life; it is relational and world-forming with animal lives.
    “With her characteristic brilliance and speculative flair, Sharon Patricia Holland breaks new ground in an other, a book that will prove to be her most philosophical and speculative text yet. Holland pulls at the ways that blackness as ontology and epistemology undoes and ethically remakes the bio/zoopolitical distinction between animals and humans. She remakes the very ideas that underline life itself as a human project that both denies and relies on animality: love, death, knowing, being, and ultimately revolution as it happens on the scale of the ordinary and the everyday. An essential volume.” — Kyla Wazana Tompkins, author of Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century
    “Sharon Patricia Holland’s an other is a beautiful, expansive, rich, and genius gift to a world that could not have anticipated it. Her work at the level of the animal and cohabitation and about relationality and comportment is assuredly a necessary and brilliant offering. Holland’s enormous intervention cannot be overstated. Black studies will not be the same after this book.” — Sarah Jane Cervenak, author of Black Gathering: Art, Ecology, Ungiven Life
    Sharon Patricia Holland is Townsend Ludington Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of The Erotic Life of Racism and Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity, both also published by Duke University Press

    • 44 min
    Stephanie Li. Ugly white people

    Stephanie Li. Ugly white people

    Stephanie Li
    Ugly White People: Writing Whiteness in Contemporary America
    White Americans are confronting their whiteness more than ever before, with political and social shifts ushering in a newfound racial awareness. And with white people increasingly seeing themselves as distinctly racialized (not simply as American or human), white writers are exposing a self-awareness of white racialized behavior—from staunch antiracism to virulent forms of xenophobic nationalism. Ugly White People explores representations of whiteness from twenty-first-century white American authors, revealing white recognition of the ugly forms whiteness can take.
    Stephanie Li argues that much of the twenty-first century has been defined by this rising consciousness of whiteness because of the imminent shift to a “majority minority” population and the growing diversification of America’s political, social, and cultural institutions. The result is literature that more directly grapples with whiteness as its own construct rather than a wrongly assumed norm. Li contextualizes a series of literary novels as collectively influenced by changes in racial and political attitudes. Turning to works by Dave Eggers, Sarah Smarsh, J. D. Vance, Claire Messud, Ben Lerner, and others, she traces the responses to white consciousness that breed shared manifestations of ugliness. The tension between acknowledging whiteness as an identity built on domination and the failure to remedy inequalities that have proliferated from this founding injustice is often the source of the ugly whiteness portrayed through these narratives.
    The questions posed in Ugly White People about the nature and future of whiteness are vital to understanding contemporary race relations in America. From the election of Trump and the rise of white nationalism to Karen memes and the war against critical race theory to the pervasive pattern of behavior among largely liberal-leaning whites, Li elucidates truths about whiteness that challenge any hope of national unity and, most devastatingly, the basic humanity of others.
    Ugly White People is not about the 'racists' but about the way whiteness shapes the subjectivity of all white people. Relying on an elegant and parsimonious textual analysis of the work of contemporary authors, Stephanie Li shows how whites manage to evade while they acknowledge their whiteness, how they consume people of color through racist love, and how they accept whiteness in a way that neglects addressing racism. I highly recommend this book to readers interested in understanding contemporary whiteness.

    —  Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Duke University

    The best writing critically studying whiteness today intensely engages imbrications of race with other identities, especially class, gender, nationality, and disability. No one does all of that better than Stephanie Li. Addressing literary moments with a sure grasp of history and an adventuresome readings of texts, Ugly White People speaks compellingly to the persisting strength of Trump and white nationalism and to the desire for social media celebrity as something authors both explore and share.

    —  David Roediger, author of The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History of Debt, Misery, and the Drift to the Right
    Stephanie Li is Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. She is author of Pan-African American Literature, Playing in the White, and Signifying without Specifying.

    • 47 min
    Carol Gilligan. In a human voice

    Carol Gilligan. In a human voice

    Gilligan, Carol In a Human Voice

    Carol Gilligan's landmark book In a Different Voice – the "little book that started a revolution" – brought women's voices to the fore in work on the self and moral development, enabling women to be heard in their own right, and with their own integrity, for the first time.
    Forty years later, Gilligan returns to the subject matter of her classic book, re-examining its central arguments and concerns from the vantage point of the present. Thanks to the work that she and others have done in recent decades, it is now possible to clarify and articulate what couldn't quite be seen or said at the time of the original publication: that the "different voice" (of care ethics), although initially heard as a "feminine" voice, is in fact a human voice; that the voice it differs from is a patriarchal voice (bound to gender binaries and hierarchies); and that where patriarchy is in force or enforced, the human voice is a voice of resistance, and care ethics is an ethics of liberation. While gender is central to the story Gilligan tells, this is not a story about gender: it is a human story.
    With this clarification, it becomes evident why In a Different Voice continues to resonate strongly with people's experience and, perhaps more crucially, why the different voice is a voice for the 21st century.

    During the podcast, Mary Gaitskill's piece on Anna Karenina, from Fassler, Joe. Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process (pp. 69-73). Penguin, excepted here: 
    "I Don’t Know You Anymore"
    I READ ANNA KARENINA for the first time about two years ago. It’s something I’d always meant to read, but for some reason I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. ... I found one section in particular so beautiful and intelligent that I actually stood up as I was reading. I had to put the book down, I was so surprised by it—and it took the novel to a whole other level for me.
    Anna’s told her husband, Karenin, that she’s in love with another man and has been sleeping with him. You’re set up to see Karenin as an overly dignified but somewhat pitiable figure: He’s a proud, stiff person. He’s older than Anna is, and he’s balding, and he has this embarrassing mannerism of a squeaky voice. He’s hardened himself against Anna. He’s utterly disgusted with her for having gotten pregnant by her lover, Vronsky. But you have the impression at first that his pride is hurt more than anything else—which makes him unsympathetic. 
    Then he finds out Anna is dying, and he goes to visit her.]  He hears her babbling, in the height of her fever. And her words are unexpected: She’s saying how kind he is. That, of course, she knows he will forgive her. When Anna finally sees him, she looks at him with a kind of love he’s never seen before. ...
    Throughout the book, he’s always hated the way he’s felt disturbed by other people’s tears or sadness. But as he struggles with this feeling while Anna’s talking, Karenin finally realizes that the compassion he feels for other people is not weakness: For the first time, he perceives this reaction as joyful, and becomes completely overwhelmed with love and forgiveness. He actually kneels down and begins to cry in her arms; Anna holds him and embraces his balding head. The quality he hated is completely who he is—and this realization gives him incredible peace. He even decides he wants to shelter the little girl that Anna’s had with Vronsky (who sits nearby, so completely shamed by what he’s witnessing that he covers his face with his hands). You believe this complete turnaround.
    You believe it’s who these people really are. I find it strange that the moment these characters seem most like themselves is the moment when they’re behaving in way

    • 51 min
    Merav Roth. A psychoanalytic perspective on reading literature: Reading the reader

    Merav Roth. A psychoanalytic perspective on reading literature: Reading the reader

    Merav Roth
    A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Reading Literature: Reading the Reader
    (Art, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis Book Series) 1st Edition
    What are the unconscious processes involved in reading literature? How does literature influence our psychological development and existential challenges? A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Reading Literature offers a unique glimpse into the unconscious psychic processes and development involved in reading. The author listens to the 'free associations' of various literary characters, in numerous scenarios where the characters are themselves reading literature, thus revealing the mysterious ways in which reading literature helps us and contributes to our development.
    The book offers an introduction both to classic literature (Poe, Proust, Sartre, Semprún, Pessoa, Agnon and more) and to the major psychoanalytic concepts that can be used in reading it – all described and widely explained before being used as tools for interpreting the literary illustrations. The book thus offers a rich lexical psychoanalytic source, alongside its main aim in analysing the reader’s psychological mechanisms and development. Psychoanalytic interpretation of those literary readers opens three main avenues to the reader’s experience:
    the transference relations toward the literary characters;
    the literary work as means to transcend beyond the reader’s self-identity and existential boundaries; and
    mobilization of internal dialectic tensions towards new integration and psychic equilibrium.
    An Epilogue concludes by emphasising the transformational power embedded in reading literature.
    The fascinating dialogue between literature and psychoanalysis illuminates hitherto concealed aspects of each discipline and contributes to new insights in both fields. A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Reading Literature will be of great interest not only to psychoanalytic-psychotherapists and literature scholars, but also to a wider readership beyond these areas of study.

    • 52 min
    William Egginton. Alejandro Jodorowsky: Filmmaker and philosopher

    William Egginton. Alejandro Jodorowsky: Filmmaker and philosopher

    William Egginton
    Alejandro Jodorowsky: Filmmaker and Philosopher

    Alejandro Jodorowsky is a force of nature. At 95 years old he is still making films and is a cultural phenomenon who has influenced other artists as disparate as John Waters and Yoko Ono. Although his body of work has long been considered disjointed and random, William Egginton claims that Jodorowsky's writings, theatre work and mime, and his films, along with the therapeutic practice he calls psychomagic, can all be tied together to form the philosophical programme that underpins his films.
    Incorporating surrealism and thinkers including Lacan, Kant, Hegel, and Žižek into his interpretation of Jodorowsky's work, Egginton shows how his diverse films are connected by interpretive practices with a fundamental similarity to Lacanian psychoanalysis. Using case studies of Jodorowsky's cult films, El Topo, Fando y Lis and Holy Mountain and more, this book provides a unique perspective on a filmmaker whose work has been notoriously difficult to analyse.

    • 42 min
    Peter Singer. The Buddhist and the ethicist

    Peter Singer. The Buddhist and the ethicist

    Peter Singer and Shih Chao-Hwei
    The Buddhist and the Ethicist: Conversations on effective altrusism, engaged Buddhism, and how to build a better world 
    Eastern spirituality and utilitarian philosophy meet in these unique dialogues between a Buddhist monastic and a moral philosopher on such issues as animal welfare, gender equality, the death penalty, and more
    An unlikely duo—Professor Peter Singer, a preeminent philosopher and professor of bioethics, and Venerable Shih Chao-Hwei, a Taiwanese Buddhist monastic and social activist—join forces to talk ethics in lively conversations that cross oceans, overcome language barriers, and bridge philosophies. The eye-opening dialogues collected here share unique perspectives on contemporary issues like animal welfare, gender equality, the death penalty, and more. Together, these two deep thinkers explore the foundation of ethics and key Buddhist concepts, and ultimately reveal how we can all move toward making the world a better place.
    “A remarkable and historical meeting of minds between one of the greatest philosophers of our times and a leading proponent of Buddhist ethics, grounded on utilitarianism and guided by compassion and insight, which aims at preventing and relieving all kinds of suffering, whatever they might be, and doing as much good as possible to all sentient beings without discrimination.”
    —Matthieu Ricard, author of Altruism and A Plea for Animals
    “Few things are more enlightening than good dialogue, and this engrossing conversation between a Western philosopher and an Asian Buddhist is a case in point. Their probing exploration of each other’s worldviews illuminates key concepts in the Buddhist and utilitarian traditions and reveals an underlying unity; these two schools of thought, though quite different in cultural ancestry, exhibit much commonality of purpose and spirit as they address some of life’s most important and challenging questions.”
    —Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism Is True
    “The Buddhist and the Ethicist is a fascinating exchange between two brilliant and wide-ranging thinkers who were originally brought together because of their shared interests in animal welfare. Their conversations cover a staggering array of topics, and I truly enjoyed seeing what came out of their extremely active brains and hearts and how much they got mine going in many different directions. I guarantee you, too, will rethink some views you have on different ethical questions and will be exposed to many situations and dilemmas about which you’ve rarely or never thought. I know I’ll be returning to this valuable collection time and time again.”
    —Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce) and A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans (with Jessica Pierce)
    “This gem of a book invites readers to listen in as two brilliant contemporary moral philosophers talk about what it means to be a good person and live an ethical life. The Buddhist and the Ethicist offers us a living encounter between Western and Eastern moral traditions. We have the honor of sitting in as Peter Singer, one of the West’s most innovative and influential utilitarian philosophers, and Shih Chao-Hwei, a prominent Buddhist scholar, monastic, and activist, talk some of the most contentious and significant moral issues of our time, including human-animal relations, equality, sexuality, and effective altruism. Singer and Chao-Hwei show us how to have constructive, respectful dialogue about values—a skill more vitally important now than ever before. They remind us that it is possible to begin from seemingly conflicting points of view and, through open-minded conversation, to find and expand common ground.”
    —Jessica Pierce, author of Who’s a Good Dog? And How to Be a Better Human
    “This timely a

    • 51 min

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