Zero Squared #145: Thaddeus Russell against Rationalism

Thaddeus Russell is a historian, author, and professor. He has taught history, American Studies, and the history of philosophy at Columbia University, Barnard College, and the New School for Social Research. He is also the host of the Unregistered Podcast and the guest on this week’s podcast. While we start off discussing the anti-SJW industry and Russell’s own encounters with it, we quickly veer off into a conversation about Capitalism, Foucault, whether rationalism is necessarily imperialist, Sam Harris, Noam Chomsky and a variety of other topics. The pull quote from this episode is probably near the end of this first half of the conversation when Russell says something like, “Wait, I’m not finished. I’m building a total refutation of the entirety of what you think, Doug.”

I want to thank James T, Jason R, Andrew F, Matt S, and R for becoming patrons in the last few days. They along with 200 hundred other Patrons of the Inside Zero Books podcast are making the expansion of Zero Books’ digital content production possible. And I also want to remind listeners that if you enjoy this podcast, especially if you enjoy this conversation with Thaddeus, you might want to become patrons of Inside Zero Books this week as the second half of this conversation is coming out for members only this weekend.

If you haven’t already you might pick up a copy of Marx Returns by Jason Barker or get ahold of Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies which was recently selected as one of the top ten books of 2017 by the novelist George Saunders. Or, if you’ve had enough of Nagle and want to re-embrace the call out culture you can get yourself a copy of Shaun Scott’s Millennials and the Moments that Made Us which was published by Zero Books in February.

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.