This is the tenth installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Tom Poljanšek who is currently working as a postdoc at the University of Göttingen.
Our conversation is inspired by his recent book Realität und Wirklichkeit: Zur Ontologie geteilter Welten and zooms in on topics such as the relation between reality and appearance, relativism, bureaucracy, norms, Musil’s Man without Qualities, and empathy as well as Tom’s approach to writing this book. Here is a rough overview:
Tom’s book 01:20
Rules – from semantics to politics 22:00
Implicit rules and trust 28:26
Empathy – and how it figures in sharing experience 40:40
How to read work by students and others openly 51:50
On mapping philosophy and being part of the map 55:40
Philosophy as orientation 01:11:00
If you prefer to watch this conversation as a video, click here.
This is the ninth installment (not the eighth!) of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Daniel-Pascal Zorn who is a Lecturer of Philosophy at Bergische Universität Wuppertal. In addition to his scholarly work in comparative philosophy, he wrote a number of books and pieces that found much recognition widely beyond the confines of professional philosophy.
In this conversation, we focus on reading practices in philosophy (from 01:33 onwards) and social media, especially twitter and Daniel’s “twitter persona” (from 1:05:54).
Crucial for our discussion is a distinction between to kinds of attention or concepts, namely concepts of content and operation, the latter being the means through which we express content. You can read more about Daniel’s approach and the distinction here. You can follow him on Twitter here.
* If you prefer to watch this conversation as a video, click here.
This is the eighth installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Marise Timmenga who is a student at the University of Groningen. After discussing my recent post on my anxiety disorder, we thought that we might contribute to social awareness by talking about some of the ingredients of anxiety. We ended up having a quite intense conversation, which I cut down to a podcast of just under an hour. If you feel like skipping bits or want to focus on a specific topic, here is a rough overview:
Introduction 00:00 What anxiety disorder can be like 01:45 The misleading mind-body dualism 06:00 What helped? 08:43 Awareness and the (un)availability of psychological vocabulary 13:20 Social infrastructures: What can others do to help? 15:00 Do you really have to settle it yourself? 16:25 Educating health professionals 17:50 Mental health in academia 22:05 Some ways of sorting it out – and trigger warnings 25:40 Catching tacit beliefs: magical thinking as a crucial ingredient 34:25 What does anxiety do for me? 35:55 The role of guilt, moral judgments, and pessimism 44:22 Magical thinking as self-ascribing agency 48:30 The role of disowned beliefs 50:40 Having anxiety as a way of keeping yourself safe 52:30
This is the seventh installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Anik Waldow who is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. Starting out from a recent paper by Anik (on Hume calling himself an “uncouth monster”)*, we talk about the boundaries of normality today and in the 18th century.
Topics we cover include:
the social nature of rationality and emotions,
what it means to be a monster,
scepticism as a trope in philosophy,
feeling cut off,
* Here is the ‘uncouth monster passage’ from Hume’s Treatise:
“I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am plac’d in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expell’d all human commerce, and left utterly abandon’d and disconsolate. Fain wou’d I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have expos’d myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declar’d my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surpriz’d, if they shou’d express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; tho’ such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in my reasoning.”
This is the sixth installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Emma Young who is a research master student in philosophy at Groningen University. We focus on the issue of (political) polarisation. While it seems common to portray public discourse as being polarised, we rarely find the assumption itself questioned or investigated as such. Here is a rough outline of topics:
Is polarisation empirically discovered or an assumption structuring our perception? 5:58
Does the assumption of polarisation create a self-fulfilling prophecy? 9:30
First summary. And does polarisation obscure problems? 12:10
Division over corona policies as an example 15:50
How polarisation promotes the illusion of a (neutral) centre 23:00
How this illusion figures in history (of philosophy) 33:03
Interests in or beneficiaries of polarisation 45:02
Is polarisation irrational? 48:26
Does philosophy fail in overcoming polarisation? 52:28
This is the fifth installment of my series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Anna Tropia who is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Prague. Following up on some earlier musings, we focus on issues of writing (philosophy) as they figure in my blogging. Here is a rough table of contents:
Introduction and the focus of “Handling Ideas” 0:00
How can and why should we avoid the delete button? 2:17
Dare to say something wrong! A general tip on writing 6:53
This is the fourth installment of my still fairly new series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Andrea Sangiacomo who is an associate professor of philosophy at Groningen University. In this conversation, we focus on meditation both as part of philosophical traditions as well as an approach that might be a resourceful factor impacting (academic) philosophy, teaching and academic culture. While Cartesian and Buddhist ideas* form a continuous resource in the background of our discussion, here is a list of themes in case you look for something specific:
Meditation and Descartes’ Meditations 2:20
The notion of experience – and objections against experience as a basis in philosophy 9:00
Meditation in teaching 21:14
Why aren’t we already using these insights in education? 37:00
How can we teach and learn effectively? 44:36
How can we guide and assess? 52:50
Where is this approach leading, also in terms of academic culture? 1:03:00
* The opening quotation is from Andrea’s blogpost What can we learn today from Descartes’ Meditations? Here is the passage: “Since last year, I appreciated the text of the Mediations as real meditation, namely, as a way of practicing a meditative kind of philosophy (for lack of better term), a philosophy more concerned with what it means to experience reality in this way or that way, rather than with what a certain set of propositions means.”
This is the third installment of my still fairly new series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Jef Delvaux who is in the third year of his PhD programme in Philosophy at York University in Toronto. Although we had a number of themes lined up, we ended up focusing on what is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which despite an increasing attention to mental health in academia still seems to be flying somewhat under the radar. Jef addresses this issue not as a specialist, but from the perspective of someone affected by it. The aim is to provide an understanding of the condition and how it can be addressed (and perhaps ameliorated) in academic settings. One thing we discuss in particular is the difficulty of deliberating and making decisions. It’s a long conversation. So if you feel like skipping bits or want to focus on a specific topic, here is a rough overview:
Mental health and ADHD 2:00
Belittling ADHD 4:00
What is it like to live with ADHD? 7:20
Teaching students with ADHD: buddy systems* and autonomy 12:20
Decision paralysis with and without ADHD: what is the difference? 22:15
ADHD during the pandemic 1:02
“What if I could talk to my undergraduate self?” 1:08
This is the second installment of my still fairly new series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation with Nora Migdad who majors in Biology and minors in Philosophy. Like me (but a long time ago), Nora is a first-generation student. While being a first-gen student is often (rightly) treated as lending itself to disadvantages, it also offers intriguing perspectives on the peculiarities of academic life.
Following up on a guest post about being a first-gen student, Nora eventually initiated a conversation about this topic. After some exchanges about possible questions to be addressed we finally found time for the virtual meeting recorded above. Among the issues we covered are:
being a first-gen student 0:00
work-pressure and hierarchies 11:17
hierarchies, misconduct and prestige 12:32
protecting harassers 15:00
dealing with harassment outside and inside academia 22:40
This is the first installment of my new series Philosophical Chats. In this episode, I have a conversation (for about 40 minutes) with my old friend Kai Ivo Baulitz, an actor and playwright, who is currently in Prague for a film shooting, but has to quarantine most of the time.* – We talk about how the crisis changed our minds and ways, about Kai’s situation in Prague, about being under surveillance, about anger and guilt, about acting and kissing, about how doing philosophy is like having a midlife crisis, about embracing fatalism, and about how we end up feeling inconsistent much of the time. Enjoy!
* Fun fact: This year, Kai and I would have celebrated our 30th school leaving anniversary (Abiturfeier), but corona took care of preventing that. Perhaps this conversation makes up for that a bit.
Those who know us from our school days might find it particularly ironic that Kai is currently stuck in Prague.