LAO TZU 15

September 7, 2018

In this podcast, we comment on Chapters 25 and 26 of The Tao Te Ching. In the first part, we elucidate Lao Tzu's cosmology and the categories of earth, heaven, the human and the Tao. We particularly highlight how, for Lao Tzu, the transcendent and the immanent are mutually dependent and how this precludes life-negation. Lao Tzu, we take it, arrives at this tremendous vision through his own contemplation and goes on to point out to us how we might do the same and how simple that task is. We flesh out Lao Tzu's contemplative [non] method, hopefully with some practical pointers. [Free. 37 minutes.]

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FREE SPEECH

August 27, 2018

In this podcast, I take it that free speech, as an instance of freedom per se, is a very great good. However, this stance is not unproblematic in that free speech and freedom can subvert themselves as well as eroding other goods, e.g. equality. The obvious and often proposed notion that this can be overcome by policing or regulation raises the problem that any claim to the right to do the policing is impossible to legitimate and will therefore ultimately be authoritarian in nature. There is some hope in the possibility of general eduction based on ecouraging questioning rather than on inculcating dogma but this project also encounters a legitimation problem in that curricula are likely to be determined by some authority. [Free. 33 minutes.]

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VALUE & NATURALLY OCCURRING COMMUNISM

July 29, 2018

This podcast is stimulated by David Graeber's remarks on value and a possible revolutionary ethical paradigm shift that could place value creation not in production of commodities but production of people. I follow Graeber, though with artistic license,  jumping off from the platform he provides to extol the virtues of 'naturally occurring communism', to praise idleness, to see hope in the revitalisation of the flame of humanness. I draw on Adam Smith, Marx, Engels, the TV series Silicon Valley and Bertrand Russell. [Free. 26 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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LAOTZU 12

April 28, 2018

This podcast deals with Chapters 18, 19 and 20 of The Tao Te Ching. In these chapters, Lao Tzu extols the virtue of alignment with the Tao for individuals and society. Simplicity is the way, he says, to come into that alignment. Instances of misalignment are consumerism, over-sophistication and acquisitiveness. Again, the character of the sage-leader is explored. [Free. 42 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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TRUST

September 23, 2017

This podcast is a meandering analysis of trust, starting with the question 'What does it mean when I say, "I trust you."?'. It covers considerations of character, predictability, and behaviour which lead on to a criticism of behaviourism and a phenomenological analysis of the ways we appraise character. The role of trust in exchange, promising and social organisation is outlined with a nod towards Nietzsche's polemical considerations of 'the mnemotechnics of pain'. A picture of our culture as a culture of mistrust emerges and this is illuminated by a tiny story conncocted by Wittgenstein. I also consider the atom of trust which is a possible relationship between two individuals. I conclude that trust takes a leap of faith, and though it might be irrational, life without it is barren. [Free. 35 minutes.]

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LAO TZU: PART SIX

September 16, 2017

In this podcast, we consider Chapter Eleven of The Tao Te Ching. This chapter deals with the uses of emptyness, not only in the sphere of practical life but also for meditation. [Free. 17 minutes.]

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LAO TZU: PART FIVE

August 25, 2017

In this podcast we consider Chapters 9 and 10 of The Tao Te Ching. Amongst themes we draw out are Lao Tzu's advice on meditation and how it is deeply practical and has ramifications for social organisation and politics, and the value of un-acquisitiveness, quietism and psychological balance for living a good life. [Free. 38 minutes.]

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