Zero Squared # 57: Hegel vs. Spinoza


Gregor Moder teaches philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. The original plan for this episode was to discuss his paper about street theater and Althusser but the two of us hit it off so well, so easily fell into philosophical conversation, that my prepared questions on his paper were simply pushed aside as we entertained each other with a spontaneous conversation about Hegel, Spinoza, and, of all things, Donald Trump.

In the United States the reality TV show known as the presidential race is dominating our political imaginations as the hollowness, the silliness, and the unreality of the spectacle proves to have its own mesmerizing power. However, our aim at Zero Books shall be to, as much as possible, think and evaluate the problems this spectacle is designed to distract us away from even as we try to suss out what secret meanings even these distractions contain.

Having mentioned distractions I should also point out that listeners to this podcast might want to take a look at the 8 bit philosophy youtube channel. There is a video in the works about Alfie Bown’s book Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism as well as a fun vid about Donald Trump and the end of politics that’s online now.

In this episode you’ll hear a clip from Mel Brooks’ Hitler Rap, an excerpt from an old Diet Soap podcast wherein I describe Hegel’s phenomenology to my son Benjamin and my wife Miriam, the music of Cyriak, and Slavoj Zizek pontificating on Hegel. The music you’re hearing right now is from Cyriak’s video “Something” but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Gregor Moder and I talk about Hegel and Spinoza.

Zero Squared #53: Thinking Thomas


Thomas Lynn is a youtuber with a new channel entitled “Thinking Thomas.” A few months back he approached me about interviewing Zero Books authors on his channel and since then he has done so at least a few times. The following interview was one of the results of our correspondence and in this conversation you’ll hear us discuss the enlightenment, Adorno, and the perils of “radical” publishing.

I should take a moment now to mention a few of the new books that we’ll have coming in February. Pete Dolack’s It’s Not Over is a 900 page history of socialist revolution in the 20th century with an emphasis on the history of the Soviet Union, Stuart Feather’s Blowing the Lid is a history of the Gay Liberation Front written by a former participant, and Stuart Walton’s “In the Realm of the Senses” is a philosophical reexamination of the notion of materialism. I want to urge you to visit the website and check out these new titles as well as our entire catalog.

In this episode you’ll hear the theme from William Buckley’s Firing Line, an excerpt from a documentary entitled Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking and a clip from Alt Instrumental by Dan Lett.

Zero Squared: A New Year’s Special


This special January 2nd, 2016 episode of Zero Squared explores why Critical Theorists deploy the word “problematic” and what they are REALLY saying when they talk about your fave.

Clips in this episode/collage include KMO from the C-Realm, John Berger, The Wireless Philosopher on the Problem of Perception, Michel Foucault Beyond Good and Evil (1993), music from the Truman Show, Laci Green, Tori the Queer, Evan Edinger, Noam Chomsky, Robin Williams, and clips the film A Day in the Afterlive of Philip K Dick.

Here’s an excerpt from the collage:

What’s problematic in today’s Critical Theory? That is, what is it that motivates the critical theorist to call something “problematic?”
According to the Philosophy dictionary online (that’s www.philosophy-dictionary dot org) something is a “problematic judgement” when it involves “the consciousness of the mere possibility” or, when it does not contain the consciousness of actuality or necessity.

To clarify, something is a problematic judgement, when it is subjective. In Hegel’s Science of Logic he labels the problematic as “assertoric.” This just means that it is an assertion given by a particular subject. Hegel’s logic is quite complicated, but the claim here is that when one asserts something, like “twerking is bad” one is asserting more than a particular fact about one’s own subjective experience. One is also making a claim about a universal notion.
To make this clearer still, something is problematic or problematized when it can seen to be self-generated and thereby self-interested rather than objective or necessary.
Again, the problem in the term “problematic” is the subjectivity of experience. A claim is problematic when its relationship to a universal notion or an objective fact has not been determined.
We might wonder then why it is that so many people use the term “problematic” a bit differently.

Zero Squared #28: Imaginary Games


Chris Bateman is a game designer, outsider philosopher and author. His book Imaginary Games was published by Zero Books in 2011. Bateman is also the blogger behind Only a Game and he posts regularly in between writing how to manuals on game design and lecturing at the University of Bolton.

Jon Cogburn, Director of Philosophy at LSU blurbed Imaginary Games this way:

Chris Bateman’s Imaginary Games may just do for videogames what Noël Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror did for scary books and movies…. not only philosophically compelling and interesting; it is also a great read.

In this episode you’ll hear a rerun of a conversation about the movie Tron between me and my then thirteen year old son Ben, theme music from Super Smash Brothers Melee, Chad African explaining Zizek and his idea of ontological incompleteness, clips from a youtube documentary about smash, a short clip on Hegel from the 8-bit philosophy series, and the theme music from Super Mario Brothers.