IS SMALL BEAUTIFUL?

August 12, 2018

This meander was stimulated by a recent repudiation by Zizek of the possible role of small communities in any future human flourishing. In this context, I revisit E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful (1973). I discuss some of the core ideas from that seminal work. In particular, I focus on the treatement of raw materials as [inexhaustible]  income and the treatement of the environment as a free dump by capitalism and the economic theories that act as its ideological justification. I touch upon intermediate technology, the role of 'spirituality' in the good life, the way in which economic theories and political practice often treat people as numbers on a spreadsheet, the 1984-5 UK Miners' Strike and the persistence of alienation in nationalised industries. I do this by discerning Zizek's 'inner Schumacher' and Schumacher's 'inner Zizek' and recounting instances of their expression. In both cases these inner others are mostly repressed, but vigorous enough to surface now and then in brilliant insight. [Free. 47 minutes.]

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TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART TWO: FRAGMENTATION]

July 23, 2018

This wide-ranging podcast draws on the same sources as Part One and is similarly stimulated by current affairs. This time, the thesis that the current historical unfoldings of the mutually entangled economic, cultural and ecological systems are characterised by fragmentation is defended and a variety of possible material antecedents of this tendency are considered. We identify environmental degradation, technological developments, contradictions in capitalism in its current phase, cultural fragmentation, the enmeshment of state and corporate power, gross inequalities of wealth and power and movements of populations as mutually dependent factors giving rise to fragmentation, amongst others. [Free. 54 minutes.]

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TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART ONE: POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS]

July 23, 2018

This podcast is a wide-ranging commentary on the Trump charm offensive on Nato, the UK Prime Minister and Vladimir Putin of last week [13/7/18 ff]. It draws on the relevant press conferences, the film The Vietnam War [Ken Burns and Lynn Novick], the film An Inconvenient Sequel [Al Gore] and broadcasts of the UK Parliament. I consider the thesis that the political class are largely scoundrels. [Free. 37 minutes.]

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NUMBERS ONE: SEDUCTIONS OF THE ALGORITHM

March 14, 2018

In this podcast, I consider the mysticism of numbers of the Pythagoreans and its influence down the ages on Plato, Aristotle, Kepler, Newton and on to the scientism of the modern age. I contrast this with a mysticism of endless, unfathomable mystery and tease out the ramifications for the Socratic question of how life is to be lived. [Free. 38 minutes.]

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LAO TZU 11

February 19, 2018

This podcast deals with Chapters 16 and 17 of the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu revisits the character of the sagacious ruler who is rooted in contemplation, this time drawing on a metaphor of plant growth and nuture by deep roots. Not only is contemplation to be nurtured by our roots in the earth, but the sage should quietly nurture those around him. This leads on to considerations of styles of government of which a pure anarchism is evaluated as the most desirable. We suggest that this would only be possible for a population deeply rooted in contemplation of nature and its underpinning processes and cycles. [Free. 23 minutes.]

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ORGANIC, FREE-RANGE [MYSTERY AND BELIEF]

December 25, 2017

This one was impomptu. Consequently, it was free-range, across questions of mystery, knowability, certainty, belief and faith. As always, the matter of living well presses itself into the picture, as does the matter of the puzzling limits of language. Thanks for your continued patronage. I'm planning some good stuff for patrons in 2018. [Patrons only. 23 minutes.]

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LAO TZU: PART THREE

May 5, 2017

In this podcast, we reflect on Chapters 4 and 5 of The Tao Te Ching. The cornucopean yet empty and ineffable nature of the Tao is further considered. The logic of the Taoist influence on the development of science in ancient China is explored. We also ponder how Freud's distinction between oceanic and super-ego religions is illuminated by Lao Tzu's account of religious experience. And more .... [Free. 39 minutes.] 

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART THREE: METAPHYSICS

February 22, 2017

In this podcast, we outline some of the resonances of The Matrix with metaphysics which we take to be the philosophical effort to characterise the being of beings as a whole. We particularly focus on Plato's myth of the cave and Descartes' radical doubt, regarding both of these as utilising the metaphor of human being as camera obscura and the real-apparent and subject-object distinctions. This is not as obscure as it sounds! [Free. 35 minutes.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART TWO: EXISTENTIALISM, CHOICE & FREEDOM

February 13, 2017

Part Two of our series on The Matrix attempts to characterise Neo's choice of the red pill in terms of the kind of human freedom posited by the existentialist philosophers. We draw particularly of Kierkegaard and Sartre. See the blue pill - red pill choice in this four minute clip: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 32 minutes.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

February 8, 2017

This is the first of a series devoted to the philosophical resonances of the film The Matrix [1999]. We take it that many of the philosophical issues brought up in The Matrix boil down to the consequences of presupposing the binary 'real-apparent'. We outline how this is so in this introduction in preparation for forthcoming podcasts on the real-apparanet binary's entanglement with existentialism, metaphysics and politics. If you can't see the film, at least watch this brilliant four minute clip in which the hero Neo is given the choice between the red pill which will open him up to the reality of his situation and the blue pill which will keep him in a state of delusion: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 22 minutes.]

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