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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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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INTOXICATION AND THE WILL TO POWER

August 1, 2018

In this podcast I consider Nietzsche's accounts of promise-making, bad conscience, ressentiment, the mnemo-technics of pain and the rise of Christianity understood as the spiritual revenge of slaves as outlined in On the Genealogy of Morals [1886]. I offer a riposte to Judith Butler's objection to Nietzsche's account of the development of a continuous will which seems to be in contradiction to Nietzsche's account of language as a 'moving army of metaphors'. [Butler, 1997 - The Psychic Life of Power.] From there, I move on to consider how the concept of ressentiment can be utilised to understand the current populism in conjuction with the notion of ideology. To the Freudian-Marxists question 'Why do slaves aquiesece in their slavery?', the Nietzschean might answer, 'They don't always. Sometimes they seek subterranean means of revenge in order to experience the intoxication of exerting their will to power over others.'  [Free. 39 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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LAOTZU 14

July 9, 2018

In this podcast, we consider Chapters 23 and 24 of The Tao Te Ching. We tease out Lao Tzu's advice that meditation is best approached with a light touch. [Free. 21 minutes.]

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DESIGNING SOCIETY AND EVALUATION

May 2, 2018

This podcast is a rambly continuation of some previous considerations of value. In this case, I claim that calls for designing society around resources available [rather than money], though inspiring, need to make good a lacuna around value. [In particular, I consider the Zeitgeist project.] The question needs to be asked, 'What future should we value?'. Prior to that though, we need to figure out how to tackle that question and elucidate the process of evaluation. I also point out that we ourselves, with our desires, are at stake in any cogent appraoch to evaluation. [Free. 20 minutes.]

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THE USES AND ABUSES OF THE CONCEPT OF NATURE

January 22, 2018

In this podcast, I consider the concept of nature and its ideological uses in justifying inequalities of wealth and power in ordinary discourse. I find that its use in the form of 'state of nature' arguments in political philosophy is also ideological as is the idea of human nature in most of its articulations. I suggest the concept can have a less ideological use for helping us picture our situation. In this positive use, nature is understood as a complex system which embeds the human being and culture which are themselves systems. [Free. 33 minutes.]

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ON INVENTION: THE CASE OF DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY

January 12, 2018

In this podcast, I draw attention to the question of the role of technological innovation in social, cultural and economic change. This leads to a consideration of various aspects of distributed ledger technology, including the internet of things, crypto-currency and blockchain. [Free. 40 minutes.]

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LANGUAGE AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

November 26, 2017

In this podcast, I consider the attempts of Lao Tzu and Wittgenstein to urge upon us that the ineffable cannot be spoken of whilst themselves continuing to speak of it. This can be made sense of if we inderstand that language has many more possibilities than just fact-stating and indeed that it can point us in the direction of 'spiritual experience'. [Free. 24 minutes.]

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WITTGENSTEIN 101

November 22, 2017

This podcast offers a broad summary of Wittgenstein's work, drawing mainly on the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus to describe the early Wittgenstain and the Philosophical Investigations for the later Wittgenstein. [Free. 24 minutes.]

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