Zero Squared #87: Sam Harris vs Noam Chomsky

C Derick Varn is the guest this week. Varn is a reader at Zero Books, poet, and teacher currently living in Cairo, and my co-host on the now defunct Pop the Left podcast. In this episode of Zero Squared we discuss last year’s online debate between Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky as well as our tendency on the left to avoid difficult arguments. The Motte and Bailey doctrine is mentioned and utilitarian and deontological/Kantian ethics are discussed.

Here’s a description of the Motte and Bailey doctrine from “Rational Wiki”:

Motte and Bailey is a snarl word purporting to describe a particular form of equivocation wherein one protects a desirable but difficult to defend belief or proposal by swapping it with a more defensible, perhaps trivially true interpretation when the former comes under scrutiny. The trivial version is only temporarily proposed to ward off critics and not actually held. The “difficult” (bailey) version always remains the desired belief, but is never actually defended. This gives the belief an air of being counter-intuitive yet somehow true.

In this episode you’ll hear clip from the online course “Law and Justice,” the song Telestar by the Tornados, a clip from the Waking Up podcast with Sam Harris, and a short clip from the film “Fight Club.” Right now you’re listening to Nmesh : Nu.wav Hallucinations, but in just a moment you’ll hear C Derick Varn and I discuss Sam Harris and Chomsky.

Zero Squared #58: Memory, Spirit, and Christopher Hitchens

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer for magazines such as The Smart Set, the former Critic-in Residence at Drexel University, a multi-media artist, and a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. Her husband Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy is a founding member of Flux Factory as well, and is a recipient of the Whiting Award. Together their book Dead People, a collection of literary and critical obituaries, is due out from Zero Books in June of this year.

As this week’s episode is about remembering and attempting to understand the significance of the dead it seems appropriate here at the start to offer up a short excerpt from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit:

The dead individual, by his having detached and liberated his being from his action or his negative unity, is an empty particular, merely existing passively for some other, at the mercy of every lower irrational organic agency, and the [chemical, physical] forces of abstract material elements, both of which are now stronger than himself, the former on account of the life which they have, the latter on account of their negative nature.(1) he family keeps away from the dead this dishonouring of him by the desires of unconscious organic agencies and by abstract elements, puts its own action in place of theirs, and weds the relative to the bosom of the earth, the elemental individuality that passes not away. Thereby the family makes the dead a member of a community(2) which prevails over and holds under control the powers of the particular material elements and the lower living creatures, which sought to have their way with the dead and destroy him.

In this episode you’ll hear from Thomas J.J. Altizer on Hegel and the death of God, an clip from Gene Martin and Reverend AA Allen and the gospel hymn “God’s Not Dead,”a bit of dialogue from the television show True Detective, a clip from the documentary film “Manufacturing Consent,” and Dan Lett’s “Yeah It’s All Right.”

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 Podcast #23: Pop Grenade

Matthew Collin is the guest this week and we discuss his book Pop Grenade which came out from Zero Books in May. Collin has worked as a foreign correspondant for the BBC, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, and as an editor at the website Time Out among many other places. He is a survivor of raves, an investigator of sounds, and the author of several other books including Altered State and The Time of the Rebels.

Dorian Lynskey, Author of 33 Revolutions per Minute, blurbed Pop Grenade as follows:

Matthew Collin has a reporter’s eye, a critic’s erudition and a fan’s passion. Whether embedded with ravers in Berlin and Bosnia or protesters in Istanbul and Moscow, he tells vivid and surprising stories about music’s capacity for resistance and change.

In this episode you’ll hear Brother Theodore, Martin Hielscher, The Infernal Noise Brigade, Lipps Incorporated, Terence McKenna, Deee-Light, Professor Paul Fry, Chuck Roberts’ In the Beginning, and Altern-8’s Armageddon.

Also in this episode a discussion of this letter from Noam Chomsky circa 1994.