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Podcast Profile: Hotel Bar Sessions

podcast imageTwitter: @hotelbarpodcast@DrLeighMJohnson@c_fpeterson@rickleephilos
Site: hotelbarpodcast.com
144 episodes
2021 to present
Average episode: 58 minutes
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Categories: Three+ Hosts

Podcaster's summary: where the real philosophy happens

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List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:08 UTC. Episodes: 144. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2024-Apr-12 • 56 minutes
Companion Animals
The HBS hosts celebrate the paw-some impact of furry companions on our lives.Companion species, like dogs and cats, have been a part of human history for thousands of years. The first domesticated dog was over thirty thousand years ago, and the first cat over ten thousand years ago. So, much of what we call human civilization has always been a multispecies endeavor. In recent years, however, cats and dogs have seemed to have taken on increased significance, both in terms of what they offer us and in our ded...
2024-Apr-05 • 61 minutes
Psychoanalysis (with Benedetta Todaro)
The HBS hosts take a break from the bar and lie down on the couch.Almost from the beginning of its theoretical elaboration and clinical practice, Psychoanalysis has had a profound impact on culture, particularly in the west. We all laugh at the idea that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!” And we speak freely of “Freudian slips.” And many are at least passingly familiar with the main concepts: Ego, Id, repression, sublimation, etc. Philosophy, in particular, has been in a fairly constant dialogue with Freu...
2024-Mar-29 • 53 minutes
Whose Anthropocene?
The HBS hosts look for the cause of the Golden Spike.The term “Anthropocene” was coined in the 1980’s, although it wasn't until 2000 that Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer suggested that we are living in a new geological epoch marked by the impact of humans on the Earth and its inhabitants. Geological epochs are determined by profound and measurable changes in the rock layers and changes in the fossil record. For example, the end of the last ice age marks the beginning of the Holocene, in which we find an ex...
2024-Mar-22 • 55 minutes
Academic Freedom
The HBS hosts consider a case study testing the limits of academic freedom.Nathan Cofnas, holder of an Early Career Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, is being threatened with losing his position because he is a “race realist” and, in particular, has stated that there is a difference in natural intelligence in people of different races. What is more, he has argued that race realism, if widely adopted, would be the end of what he has called “wokism.” He unsurprisingly argues that he has the right, because...
2024-Mar-15 • 58 minutes
Immediacy (with Anna Kornbluh)
The HBS hosts discuss the style of "too late" capitalism with Anna Kornbluh. Immediacy would seem to be the defining cultural style of our moment. From video to social media and from autofiction to autotheory, the tendency is towards direct intensity of experience and away from the mediations of form, genre, and representation. What drives this turn to the immediate in art, culture, and even politics? What do we lose in this turn to immediacy? Anna Kornbluh, author of Immediacy: Or, the Style of Too Late Ca...
2024-Mar-08 • 53 minutes
Boredom
The HBS hosts discuss the many paradoxes of ennui. Most of our podcast episodes are about “big” issues, “interesting” topics, “provocative” conversations, or “important” matters… but the truth is that the overwhelming majority of our day-to-day lives is dominated by ennui. Boredom. Tedium. Lethargy. Lassitude. Or, in more common parlance, “the blahs.”Voltaire famously claimed (in The Prodigal Son) “all genres are allowed, except the boring genre." It’s easy to see why this is the case for artistic works of ...
2024-Mar-01 • 70 minutes
Breaking Things at Work (with Gavin Mueller)
The HBS hosts discuss how the Luddites were right about why we hate our jobs. The term “luddite” generally functions as an insult these days. It is something people are accused of, and a term that no one would claim for themselves. To adopt and adapt to new technologies is part of what it means to be progressive and modern, not to mention hip. However, the history of actually existing technologies paints a different picture, technologies from the laptop to the cellphone have been used to extend the working ...
2024-Feb-23 • 54 minutes
Lying
The HBS hosts parse the difference between mistakes, half-truths, embellishments, and outright lies. George Costanza (from the TV series Seinfeld) once insisted: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” This seems both true and false. It's certainly wrong to claim that someone lied accidentally, so intention, and therefore knowing what you are saying is not true, appears to be a necessary part of what it is to lie. Yet, the “if you believe it” part often operates like a “get out of jail free" card, and none of u...
2024-Feb-16 • 56 minutes
Growing Old(er)
The HBS hosts consider the sands through the hourglass. It seems as if, when we’re young, the solution to all of our problems is just getting older—when will people take me seriously? when will I understand my own body? when will I gain the confidence to assert my own will? or, just be myself? Then, as we age, it paradoxically occurs to us that the only solution to our problems is to be young again: if I only knew then what I know now, if I only had a chance to do that thing over, if I only could move like...
2024-Feb-09 • 51 minutes
The Phenomenology of Black Spirit (with Biko Mandela Gray and Ryan Johnson)
The HBS discuss Hegel, the black radical tradition, and the history of Philosophy with Biko Mandela Gray and Ryan J. Johnson.This week we are joined by Biko Mandela Gray and Ryan J. Johnson to talk about their book Phenomenology of Black Spirit, which reads Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit against the tradition of black thought from Frederick Douglass to Angela Davis. It is a stunning demonstration of a relationship to philosophy that is at once creative, breaking the boundaries between exegesis and history,...
2024-Feb-02 • 54 minutes
Back to "Normal"
The HBS hosts discuss post-COVID demands to get "back to normal."In 2020 the NCAA canceled its basketball tournaments for the year. Over the next several months, mitigation measures became more widespread and strict. In some places more quickly than others, we all eventually “returned to normal.” Did we though? In some ways, normalcy seems to be an irresistible pull. But is “normalcy” not the same as the status quo? And shouldn’t we be critical of both? We can look at other contexts in which we either have ...
2024-Jan-26 • 60 minutes
Real Life Heroes
The HBS hosts chat about heroes without capes. In a world saturated with fictional caped crusaders and masked vigilantes, we want to redirect our attention to the unsung champions who make a tangible impact in the lives of others, in other words, “real life” people who display acts of courage, compassion and commitment and who transcend the confines of comic book fantasies.Not all heroes wear flashy costumes or flashy costumes, and they don’t all possess superhuman abilities. Often, they emerge from diverse...
2024-Jan-19 • 57 minutes
Deconstruction
The HBS hosts dig into Jacque Derrida's philosophy to see if it really is responsible for everything that's wrong with the world.There are very few philosophies that are blamed for so much as deconstruction. Introduced by Jacques Derrida in the late 60s, deconstruction rose to popularity in the late 70s and 80s, fought a real battle to be accepted as something other than a “fad” in the early 90s, and really built up steam in the late 90s, after having been adopted by other humanities disciplines as a method...
2024-Jan-12 • 58 minutes
HBS Goes to the Movies: "The Magnificent Seven" (1960)
The HBS hosts return to the movies to learn why men are cheaper than guns.The Magnificent Seven, produced in 1960 and directed by John Sturges, has a significant place in the history of the western in the U.S. Some have claimed that it is, in fact, the last true western. In fact, the movie practically says this itself. It is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, The Seven Samurai, placing it in a different genre and a different cultural context. Kurosawa, apparently, told Sturges that he loved the film. T...
2023-Dec-08 • 51 minutes
Decartes' Second Meditation
The HBS hosts don their nightgowns, cozy up to the fire, and contemplate wax.There is, perhaps, no more famous statement in the history of philosophy than Rene Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am.” This conclusion is reached in the Second of Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy and is seen as one of the crowning achievements of modern philosophy, at least that kind of philosophy usually called “rationalism.” In fact, this claim can be said to be the founding moment of a trajectory in philosophy that g...
2023-Dec-01 • 60 minutes
Trust
The HBS hosts discuss the meaning of trust, and how it is built, broken, and restored. Trust acts as both a glue and a sieve, holding together our personal and professional worlds while filtering and determining the depth of our relationships. It’s the invisible thread weaving through the fabric of our lives, influencing everything from the simple exchanges of daily interactions to the intricate negotiations of politics and economics. How do we establish trust? What ruptures this fragile yet resilient eleme...
2023-Nov-24 • 70 minutes
Thought Leaders (with Christopher P. Long)
The HBS hosts ask Chris Long how philosophers contribute and how best to value their contributions. TThis week, we are joined in the bar by Christopher Long to talk about thought leaders, universities prioritizing public engagement, and the ways in which activities like podcasting are and are not valued by university administrators.Christopher P. Long is MSU Research Foundation Professor, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, Dean of the MSU Honors College, and Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State...
2023-Nov-17 • 58 minutes
Trans Philosophy (with Talia Mae Bettcher)
The HBS co-hosts learn why it's not just about pronouns.In recent years, society has witnessed a seismic significant shift in our understanding of gender. For some, the binary notion of gender, once seen as immutable and fixed, has given way to a more inclusive and fluid understanding of identity… a transformation that has brought to the forefront the lived experiences of transgender individuals, who have long grappled with issues of self-identity, societal acceptance, and the philosophical underpinnings of...
2023-Nov-10 • 59 minutes
The Stories We Tell
The HBS hosts explore what is lost when we choose documentation over narration.We live in an era that can be said to be documented more than it is narrated. First, on the most immediate level every event, from mundane to world shattering, is photographed, live streamed, or tweeted, producing a real time account of events all over the world. Second, there is no shortage of documentaries or docudramas, every crime, scandal, and disaster seems to get its own series or podcast recounting the events that have ha...
2023-Nov-03 • 63 minutes
Collegiality
The HBS hosts wonder if "collegiality" is a virtue... or just a cover for prejudice. Everyone who works with others has colleagues. In the academic world, the term "colleague" usually refers to the members of one’s own department, whether friend or foe. To describe someone as "collegial," however, is an entirely different matter."Collegiality" refers to those qualities that make someone a "good" colleague... though, especially in academia, the adjective "collegial" often takes on a more nuanced force, somet...
2023-Oct-27 • 55 minutes
Debt
The HBS hosts wonder why it is so hard for us to think of ourselves as "we, debtors"?Debt has an odd function within modern capitalist societies. On the one hand, the economy cannot function without debt; it provides the oil that eases the friction of production, circulation, and consumption. On the other hand, there is a lot of moral language surrounding debt. In many languages, the word for debt is related to or even the same as the word for guilt or sin. During the financial crisis of 2007-2008, it was n...
2023-Oct-20 • 55 minutes
Political Philosophy of Mind (with John Protevi)
The HBS hosts are joined by John Protevi to talk about case studies, COVID, and the political philosophy of mind.At first glance, a "political philosophy of mind" would seem to be an oxymoron of sorts. Minds, after all, are often considered to be the individual basis for decision and action, while political philosophy would demand that we think at least on some level in terms of collectivity if not relations. A political philosophy of mind demands, then, overcoming the binary of individual and collective, i...
2023-Oct-13 • 58 minutes
Fan Culture
The HBS hosts chat about the symbiotic relationship between cultural products and their fandoms.For a long time, the image of the fan and fan culture was summed up by an infamous skit by William Shatner on SNL, in which he implores the trekkies to “get a life.” To be a fan was to be a passive stooge of the culture industry, one who mindlessly buys its products, and memorizes its trivia at the expense of their own creativity and life. Gradually this image began to change. The field of “Cultural Studies” dema...
2023-Oct-06 • 60 minutes
The Problem Spaces of Philosophy (with William Paris)
The HBS hosts are joined by Will Paris to talk about Du Bois, public philosophy, podcasting, and carving out "problem spaces." In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois famously asked the question “What is it like to be a problem?,” highlighting the stigmatizing and dehumanizing treatment of Blacks in the post-Reconstruction but Pre-Brown v. Board of Education United States. The purpose of his question was two-fold: on the one hand, Du Bois was urging his readers to consider the emotional and psychologica...
2023-Sep-29 • 64 minutes
The Uncanny Valley
The HBS hosts discuss why humanlike robots are sooooo creepy.In 1970, a Japanese roboticist by the name of Masahiro Mori published a short essay in the journal Energy entitled “The Uncanny Valley," in which he attempted to explain humans' reactions to robots that looked and acted almost human. Mori hypothesized that when we encounter humanlike technological objects, our feelings of affinity toward them tend to increase as their verisimilitude increase. (To use a Star Wars example, think of the way we’re mo...
2023-Sep-22 • 59 minutes
Jordan Peele's Horror (with Johanna Isaacson)
The HBS hosts discuss Jordan Peele's special brand of horror with the author of Stepford Daughters, Johanna Isaacson.For a long time, or at least it seemed, horror films were considered to be beneath serious scrutiny. The problematic politics of such films were all too apparent in the violence brought to bear on women’s bodies in countless slasher films. The racial politics were not much better; the cliche of the black character dying first exists for a reason. Gradually this changed, though, first with suc...
2023-Sep-15 • 52 minutes
The Subversive Seventies (with Michael Hardt)
The HBS hosts ask Michael Hardt why we so quickly jump from the 60's to the 80's in our political imagination? Most histories of the present either overlook the seventies, jumping from the sixties of radical struggle to the eighties of Reagan/Thatcher and repression, or dismiss it as just the end point of the previous era struggles, the point where the sixties fell apart, collapsing into infighting, or went too far, devolving into violence. What do we overlook in not thinking about the seventies as a decade...
2023-Sep-08 • 57 minutes
Forgiveness
The HBS hosts wonder how a hard heart is melted and mended.In a world often colored by misunderstandings, hurtful actions, and lingering grudges, the concept of forgiveness emerges as a beacon of hope and healing. For some, its transformative power to mend relationships, free us from the shackles of resentment, and grant us the gift of emotional liberation make forgiveness a moral imperative. Forgiveness is not merely an internal journey; it's also a dynamic force that shapes societies and mends the fabric ...
2023-Sep-01 • 60 minutes
HBS Goes to the Movies: "Hands on a Hardbody" (1997)
The HBS hosts discuss a real human drama.Note to listeners: if you haven't already, you may want to watch “Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary” (link to complete film on YouTube here) before listening!"Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary" tells the story of an annual competition held from 1992 to 2005 in Longview, Texas, in which a local Nissan dealership selected 24 contestants by lottery for a chance to win a tantalizing symbol of freedom and mobility in many rural areas: a brand-new hardbody truck. All...
2023-Aug-25 • 59 minutes
REPLAY: Death
The HBS hosts confront the inevitable.It is most obviously true that we are all going to die. The very fact that anything is alive seems to entail that it is going to die. Death confronts us as an ultimate cancellation and nullification in the face of which one might ask, “what does it matter if I am going to die?” The chorus in Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus says that the best thing is never to have been born at all. This is especially true if one’s life is filled with suffering and then death. Kant, not ab...
2023-Aug-18 • 54 minutes
REPLAY: Revolutionary Mathematics (with Justin Joque)
The HBS hosts chat with Justin Joque about how we might get Thomas Bayes' robot boot off our necks. Why does Netflix ask you to pick what movies you like when you first sign on in order to recommend other movies and shows to you? How does Google know what search results are most relevant? Why does it seem as if every tech company wants to collect as much data as they can get from you? It turns out that all of this is because of a shift in the theoretical and mathematical approach to probability. Bayesian st...
2023-Aug-11 • 55 minutes
The Master/Slave Dialectic
The HBS hosts struggle for recognition.The dialectic of lordship and bondage, more commonly known as the “Master/Slave dialectic,” is a moment in a much longer and exceedingly difficult-to-read (much less understand!) text by G.W.F. Hegel entitled The Phenomenology of Spirit. It’s probably a passage that is referenced in a wide number of fields– psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, literary analysis, any number of “area studies,” and even economics-- though very few of the scholars who reference it...
2023-Aug-04 • 52 minutes
Too Soon?
The HBS hosts discuss timing, prudence, discretion, and propriety.When we talk about propriety, there are a lot of “gray” areas, largely because propriety demands that we conform to conventional rules of speech or behavior… and “conventional rules” are often more the product of “convention” than they are actual “rules.” Propriety requires that we develop prudence and discretion, our capacities of judgment, sagacity, and interpersonal awareness, which are arguably quite different from our capacity to apply a...
2023-Jul-28 • 49 minutes
Tenure
The HBS hosts discuss the pros and cons of tenure.There are many good ideological reasons to defend tenure in higher education, not least of which among them is that tenure is perhaps the only institutional guard that society has established to protect its researchers, scientists, and intellectuals against the pressures of the market. That’s no small thing. But we also understand that, to the non-academic public, tenure may seem like nothing more than a guarantee that haughty academics with cushy jobs can’t...
2023-Jul-21 • 69 minutes
Prestige TV
The HBS try to decipher what makes prestige TV "prestigious." The 21st Century hasn’t given us a lot of reason to recommend it so far—terror, war, fascism, plague, climate disaster, and an impending technopocalyps... but, hey, at least we’ve had good tv! Often referred to as “Peak TV,” the so-called second (or “new”) Golden Age of Television began in the very late 90’s and really cemented its influence in the first decade of the 2000’s. The plots were complex and protracted, not episodic. The protagonists w...
2023-Jul-14 • 59 minutes
Hobbies
The HBS hosts lobby for hobbies.The concept of hobbies is perhaps anachronistic and even ambivalent. Many hobbies are shadows of more respected pursuits such as the creation of art, music, or literature, and thus tinged with the idea of failure. Their primary function seems to be to pass the time. Every hobby risks being seen as not just an idiosyncratic activity, but a kind of failure as if that time and energy was better spent on something else, something more useful or productive. Hobbies are often seen ...
2023-Jul-07 • 57 minutes
What's YOUR Philosophy?
The HBS hosts celebrate our 100th episode by asking each other the question "what's YOUR philosophy?"Hotel Bar Sessions, as a podcast, is committed to the idea of "public philosophy," but is there such a thing as a “private philosophy"? Not private in the sense that it is kept out of the public, but private in that it is a philosophy that belongs to an individual. As professional philosophers, we often find that when were out in public and tell people what we do, they will often ask: "what's your philosoph...
2023-Jun-30 • 58 minutes
Community
The HBS hosts try to determine who's in and who's out. In 1887, Ferdinand Tönnies published a groundbreaking book, Community and Society (an excerpt from his text that lays out the argument can be found here), in which he argues that community is a different form of social group from society. The main distinguishing characteristics are that community is a group in which members are personally connected, relying on each other, close in worldviews and values, while society is impersonal, disconnected, with me...
2023-Jun-23 • 57 minutes
Gossip
The HBS hosts spill the tea about tales whispered, secrets shared, and reputations shaped. Gossip seems like exactly the sort of topic that serious philosophers would wave their hands in disgust at, as not worthy of consideration. Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet, once declared, "Gossip is mischievous, light and easy to raise, but grievous to bear and hard to get rid of," and similarly, in Leviticus, we find Moses warning his people with the admonition, "Do not go up and down as a talebearer among your people...
2023-Jun-16 • 58 minutes
Men and Masculinity (with Nathan Duford)
The HBS hosts chat with Nathan Duford about what men can (and can't) want. Men, or rather masculinity, seems to be increasingly in crisis. This crisis takes many forms: incels (involuntary celibates who claim that they have been denied the sexual attention they feel that women owe them), volcels (so-called "voluntary celibates"), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW, who feel that relationships with women threaten their masculinity), and Men’s Right Activists (who believe that everything from divorce laws to #m...
2023-Jun-09 • 50 minutes
Gatekeeping
The HBS hosts discuss culture wars, Midwestern housewives, and Kafka. “Gate-keeping” is a term that actually originated in 1943, when Kurt Lewin coined it in his study Forces Behind Food Habits and Methods of Change to describe how Midwestern housewives effectively managed their families’ food consumption during World War 2. Housewives, who were the primary conduit for getting food from the marketplace to their families’ mouths, recognized that not all family members’ need for food had equal weight in makin...
2023-Jun-02 • 55 minutes
Punching Nazis (with Devin Shaw)
The HBS hosts ask Devin Shaw whether and how to punch Nazis.Since at least the 2016 election the word fascism has emerged from the historical archive to contemporary political debates. This question has primarily been one about the identity of fascism, what are its minimal characteristics? To what extent can the Trump administration be considered fascist, and so on? We discussed some of this last season with Alberto Toscano. As much as this question of definition is important, a no less important question ...
2023-May-26 • 58 minutes
Progress
The HBS hosts ask: how do we know if we're getting where we're going? Recently, an article about four "hard problems" in philosophy and their possible solutions came into Rick's newsfeed. Upon reading it, his first question was whether or not philosophy is about "solving problems" at all, which immediately led him to think not only about progress in philosophy, but progress in general. Some philosophers have argued that humans, in general, have made great “moral progress.” Others argue that history is essen...
2023-May-19 • 54 minutes
The University and its Discontents
The HBS hosts consider the recent spate of assaults on academic freedom.As a public institution of sorts (and sometimes) the university claims to be neutral with respect to politics. This has imposed an ideal of seeing “both sides” of all issues. These two sides are supposed to roughly correspond to the two political parties. Such a model is arguably reductive and simplistic, forcing a particular political model in the ideal of being noncommittal in politics. However, lately even this model has come under a...
2023-May-12 • 59 minutes
Lazy Relativism
The HBS hosts do NOT agree to disagree! On the first day of co-host's Leigh's classes, she warns her students against (what she calls) “lazy relativism.” The example she gives is of a conversation in which two people have been at odds for a while, they suspect that they are not going to come to an agreement on the matter at hand, and so one of them says: “yeah, agree to disagree” or “everybody has different opinions on this” or, worst of all, “what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is ...
2023-May-05 • 57 minutes
HBS Goes to the Movies: The Conversation (1974)
The HBS hosts discuss Coppola's classic treatment of Nixon-era surveillance and paranoia.Released in 1974, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is often hailed as one of the defining films of the post-Watergate era, a film dealing with surveillance, conspiracy, and paranoia. While it is definitely about that in many ways, it is also an interesting study of a particular kind of subject, and a particular ideal of subjectivity. Gene Hackman’s Harry Caul is a man who endeavors to be an island, to have no con...
2023-Apr-28 • 64 minutes
REPLAY: The Public Intellectual (with Eddie Glaude, Jr.)
While the HBS hosts are taking a break between Seasons 6 and 7, we're re-playing some of our favorite conversations you might have missed. Enjoy this REPLAY episode from Season 5 on "The Public Intellectual" with special guest, Eddie Glaude, Jr.Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. is the James S. McDonnel Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Princeton University, and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He is also on the Morehouse College Board of Trustees...
2023-Apr-21 • 55 minutes
REPLAY: Vulgarity
While the HBS hosts are taking a break between Season 6 and Season 7, we're re-playing some of our favorite conversations you might have missed. Enjoy this NSFW episode from Season 2, in which our co-hosts parse the difference between obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity! Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... ----------------If you enjoy Hotel Bar Sessions podcast, make sure to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and follow us on Twitter @hotelbarpodcast.You can also help keep...
2023-Apr-15 • 61 minutes
REPLAY: YouTube's Alt-Right Rabbit Hole (with Caleb Cain)
The HBS hosts are on break between Seasons 6 and 7, so we're REPLAYing our Season 5 episode on "YouTube's Alt-Right Rabbit Hole."In this episode, we interview Caleb Cain (@FaradaySpeaks) about his experience of being radicalized by the al-right internet.n June 2019, the New York Times featured a story about Caleb Cain, entitled “The Making of a YouTube Radical.” That piece was meant to highlight the subtle, severe, and devastating IRL effects of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which has been proven many...
2023-Apr-07 • 72 minutes
REPLAY: Robots (with David Gunkel)
The HBS hosts are on break between Seasons 6 and 7, so we're REPLAYing our Season 2 conversation with David Gunkel about robots and robot rights.The HBS hosts interview Dr. David Gunkel (author of Robot Rights and How To Survive A Robot Invasion) about his work on emergent technologies, intelligent machines, and robots. Following the recent announcement by Elson Musk that Tesla is developing a humanoid robot for home use, we ask: what is the real difference between a robot and a toaster?Do robots and intell...
2023-Mar-31 • 56 minutes
The Allegory of the Cave
The HBS hosts consider the merits and demerits of the red pill/blue pill option.The Allegory of the Cave (a section from Plato's longer dialogue entitled Republic) is one of the most famous and widely referenced passages in the history of Western philosophy. Many, even those who are not "professional" philosophers, are at least noddingly familiar with Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Yet, those who have never had the opportunity to read it may wonder: what does Plato actually say in the Allegory of the Cave? W...
2023-Mar-24 • 60 minutes
Late Capitalism
In a passage that could be considered the motto of our historical moment, Fredric Jameson writes "It seems to be easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism; perhaps that is due to some weakness in our imagination." Why does capitalism seem so inescapable? Why do we see it not just as an economic system that came into existence at a particular time, and will end at some point as well, but as a reflection of some fundamental ...
2023-Mar-17 • 55 minutes
ChatGPT
The HBS hosts try to figure out how much of the ChatGPT panic is warranted.There seems to be a real panic among not only the professoriate, but also employers, about what ChatGPT is doing to "kids these days." The concern in higher education is that ChatGPT makes cheating easier and, by extension, the worry among employers is that all of the college-educated candidates they might interview in the coming years are really not as "college-educated" as they may appear on paper. Is this panic justified?ChatGPT, ...
2023-Mar-10 • 58 minutes
Death
The HBS hosts confront the inevitable.It is most obviously true that we are all going to die. The very fact that anything is alive seems to entail that it is going to die. Death confronts us as an ultimate cancellation and nullification in the face of which one might ask, “what does it matter if I am going to die?” The chorus in Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus says that the best thing is never to have been born at all. This is especially true if one’s life is filled with suffering and then death. Kant, not ab...
2023-Mar-03 • 54 minutes
Fascism (with Alberto Toscano)
The HBS hosts chat with Alberto Toscano about the long shadow of racial fascism. Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the word "fascism" has moved from the historian’s archives to the editorial pages of newspapers. The point of comparison has generally been drawn from European history, but drawing our analogies and checklists from the trajectory of fascism in Europe obscures both the connection between what is happening now in American politics with the history of racism and racial capitalism in this...
2023-Feb-24 • 51 minutes
Bullshit Jobs
The HBS hosts discuss the work of flunkies, goons, duct-tapers, box-tickers, and taskmasters. In the middle of the last century it was expected that the number of working hours-- at least in the so-called "developed" world-- would continue to decrease: just as they had gone from the twelve or ten hours a day down to eight at the beginning of the century, they would continue to decrease to six or even less by the end of the century. Furthermore, it was thought that the mechanization and automation of labor ...
2023-Feb-17 • 62 minutes
Abolition of the Family (with Sophie Lewis)
The HBS hosts ask Sophie Lewis why the "family" is a troublesome institution.In a society that is increasingly structured around isolated self-interested individuals, the family appears to be the one place of refuge, the heart in a heartless world, a space of care in a world of indifference. What then is the case for abolishing it? How does discussing that reveal the role that the family plays in capitalism? And what it might take to create a world in which care and nurturing are available to everyone rathe...
2023-Feb-10 • 48 minutes
Influencers
The HBS hosts ask themselves why and how they are under the influence of influencers.Although humans have been influencing other humans for as long as we’ve been around each other, the category of “influencer” is a relatively recent phenomenon, really only emerging in the last decade. In fact, the term “influencer” as we currently understand it—a thoroughly platformized figure who documents, optimizes, and monetizes their self as “brand”—wasn’t officially included in English dictionaries until 2019. Today, ...
2023-Feb-09 • 33 minutes
Afterthoughts: Season 6, Eps 79-81
The HBS hosts rewind the tapes to reconsider episodes 79-81.They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so we designed “Afterthoughts” to give us a first chance to make a second impression. Whether it’s diving into a particularly thought-provoking comment, exploring new angles, or uncovering a new idea that we missed the first time around, “Afterthoughts” is all about plumbing the depths of our previous conversations. We look back over our last three Season 6 episodes—episode 79 on “...
2023-Feb-03 • 48 minutes
Materialism
The HBS hosts talk about "stuff."Materialism seems to be both one of the oldest and most contended philosophical positions. From Thales saying “all is from water,” to Hobbes saying “whatever is, is a body” to the New Materialism of both feminist philosophers and those influenced by cognitive science, something called “materialism” that has some kind of preference for or gives priority to matter seems to always tempt philosophers. Yet, philosophy is a way of thinking about things, and thought has demands th...
2023-Feb-01 • 48 minutes
Afterthoughts: Season 6, Eps 76-78
The HBS hosts reconsider what they might've missed in the first three conversations of Season 6.They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so we designed “Afterthoughts” to give us a first chance to make a second impression. Whether it's diving into a particularly thought-provoking comment, exploring new angles, or uncovering a new idea that we missed the first time around, "Afterthoughts" is all about plumbing the depths of our previous conversations. We look back over our first th...
2023-Jan-27 • 57 minutes
Hospitality (with Michael Naas)
The HBS hosts invite Michael Naas to make himself at home on the podcast.There are two popular ideas about hospitality that seem to be at odds with one another. The first is an understanding of a bygone era in which our ancestors were frequently forced–- through battles, famines, the search for water, etc.–- to move frequently and, for many of them, regularly. Under such conditions, the virtue of welcoming a guest was prized among many other virtues. “Tomorrow I might need this hospitality,” leads one to pr...
2023-Jan-20 • 56 minutes
Attention and Distraction
The HBS hosts focus their attention on... oh, look, a squirrel!It is said that we are living in an attention economy, an age in which attention has become both a scarce resource and a source of wealth. Devices and apps do everything in their power to solicit our attention and keep us glued to our screens, turning minutes scrolling and clicks into revenue. Because of this demand on our attention, distraction has become an ongoing problem; from the road to the classroom we are worried that we are not truly p...
2023-Jan-13 • 57 minutes
The History of Philosophy
The HBS hosts argue for the merits of studying the history of philosophy.In a recent essay, Hanno Sauer argued against the importance, for philosophy, of the history of philosophy. In summary, he presented a positivistic, scientistic model of philosophy, namely, that like physics, biology, and chemistry, philosophy has actually “made progress” on many of the issues that philosophy struggled with from Thales until relatively recently. Because of this progress, Sauer's argument goes, we do not need to study t...
2023-Jan-06 • 54 minutes
Revolutionary Mathematics (with Justin Joque)
The HBS hosts chat with Justin Joque about how we might get Thomas Bayes' robot boot off our necks. Why does Netflix ask you to pick what movies you like when you first sign on in order to recommend other movies and shows to you? How does Google know what search results are most relevant? Why does it seem as if every tech company wants to collect as much data as they can get from you? It turns out that all of this is because of a shift in the theoretical and mathematical approach to probability. Bayesian st...
2022-Dec-30 • 57 minutes
Human Nature
The HBS hosts ask not what is human nature, but what is at stake in this constant recourse to human nature. The history of philosophy can in part be understood as one long rumination on the question of human nature. Throughout its history philosophers have put forward multiple definitions of what it means to be human and what sets humans apart from other animals: political animal, rational animal, tool making animal, etc., but these definitions have come under scrutiny for both the way they maintain both h...
2022-Dec-23 • 53 minutes
HBS Goes to the Movies: Casablanca
The HBS hosts return to the movies and this week we are discussing Casablanca. Shot in 1942, a year after the U.S. entered The Second “World War,” Casablanca makes it onto many lists of the best movies of all time. It is part caper movie, part romance, part war flick, and part resistance movie. These are woven together in a fairly complex plot that is beautifully shot, has gorgeous characters, and has given us some memorable lines. On top of all of that, the entire movie takes place almost exclusively in a ...
2022-Oct-28 • 66 minutes
REPLAY: Whose History? (with Dr. Charles McKinney)
While the HBS hosts are taking a break between Season 5 and Season 6, we're re-playing some of our favorite conversations you might have missed. Enjoy this episode from Season 3 "Whose History?" (with special guest, Dr. Charles McKinney) and check out the full episode notes at this link: http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/episode-31-whose-history/If... you enjoy Hotel Bar Sessions podcast, make sure to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and follow us on Twitter @hotelbarpodcast. You can also help keep this ...
2022-Oct-25 • 63 minutes
REPLAY: Style
While the HBS hosts are taking a break between Season 5 and Season 6, we're re-playing some of our favorite conversations you might have missed. Enjoy this episode from Season 4 on "Style" and check out the full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... you enjoy Hotel Bar Sessions podcast, please be sure to subscribe, submit a rating/review, and follow us on Twitter @hotelbarpodcast. You can also help keep this podcast going by supporting us financially at patreon.com/hotelbarsessio...
2022-Oct-14 • 55 minutes
Podcasting and Philosophy
The HBS hosts-- now, all four of them!-- chat about what podcasting can do for Philosophy. There are roughly 2.4 million podcasts in existence right now, with over 66 million episodes between them, and recent studies show that 28% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly. Podcast genres are as diverse as human interests themselves; there are comedy podcasts, social and cultural podcasts, health and fitness podcasts, political podcasts, true crime podcasts (some of which have truly helped to solve crime!), an...
2022-Oct-07 • 53 minutes
The Last Dance
The HBS hosts reflect on four fantastic seasons with the inimitable Charles Peterson. Co-host Charles F. Peterson has been the beating heart of Hotel Bar Sessions for the last four seasons. Throughout that time, he has pushed the podcast to be more and more expansive, in deeper and deeper ways, with his intellect, curiosity, and rapier-like wit. Charles was the mastermind behind many of our best episodes, the connection to some of our best guests, and the source of our most hilarious on-air moments. Unfort...
2022-Sep-30 • 58 minutes
Artificial Personhood (with Regina Rini)
The HBS hosts consider the possibility of sentient artificial intelligence with Dr. Regina Rini.The debate about the possibility of emergent AI sentience has staunch defenders both for an against, many more people shrugging their shoulders in the middle, with many, diverse, and non-interchangeable lexicons being used to discuss this phenomenon. Today, we’re going to try to untangle those discursive webs a little bit with Dr. Rini, not so much to settle the question “Is AI sentience possible?” but rather “sh...
2022-Sep-23 • 60 minutes
The Rights of Nature (with Stewart Motha)
The HBS hosts discuss legal personhood and rights for rivers, lakes, and mountains with Dr. Stewart Motha.In most discussions about extending rights or legal personhood to non-humans, the focus tends to be on robots/machines or non-human animals. However, given our current global climate crisis, we have good reason to ask: isn't it time to devote more attention to the rights-- and perhaps legal and moral "personhood"-- of natural entities? What sorts of protections might be extended by the law if our notion...
2022-Sep-16 • 55 minutes
Critics and Criticism (with A.O. Scott)
The HBS hosts chat with A.O. Scott about the role and responsibilities of the critic.The critic is frequently seen as a parasite who lives of the creative life of others but not producing a work of art through their criticism. In this episode, we are honored to be joined by A.O. Scott to discuss the role of the critic, the creativity of criticism, and the mutual dependence of art and criticism.A.O. Scott is chief film critic (along with Manohla Dargis) for The New York Times. He also write for The Book Revi...
2022-Sep-09 • 57 minutes
Democracy in Peril (with Linda Alcoff)
The HBS hosts ask Dr. Linda Alcoff just how close to the edge of the bed is the United States sleeping?A year and a half ago, as an angry, armed mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building in what was, thankfully, an unsuccessful insurrection attempt, many of us watching the event unfold on television asked ourselves: is democracy itself in peril? This is, of course, a question we should have been asking for many years prior to Jan 6, 2021. And it is a question we should still be asking. At the federal level, an ...
2022-Sep-02 • 56 minutes
Fear
The HBS hosts wonder whether the call is coming from inside the house.Fear is a one of the most complex of human affects. It is both physical and psychological. It can be intensely private or shared by entire communities. It is sometimes paralyzing and other times exciting. Fear often seizes us without warning, but we can also "think ourselves into" being afraid. What, if anything, distinguishes fear from dread or anxiety? How are fears managed or overcome? Why do so many people share similar phobias? Is th...
2022-Aug-26 • 61 minutes
YouTube's Alt-Right Rabbit Hole (with Caleb Cain)
The HBS hosts chat with Caleb Cain about his experience being radicalized by the Alt-Right internet.In June 2019, the New York Times featured a story about Caleb Cain, entitled "The Making of a YouTube Radical.” That piece was meant to highlight the subtle, severe, and devastating IRL effects of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which has been proven many times over to promote what (in internet slang) is called “red-pilling”—that is, the conversion of users to far-right beliefs. Today, we’re talking to Ca...
2022-Aug-19 • 53 minutes
Rethinking Disability (with Joel Michael Reynolds)
The HBS hosts talk with Dr. Joel Michael Reynolds about what bodies are afforded and denied. As we come to recognize more and more the occlusions that occur in, and often constitute, philosophy and its history, attention to an ableist presupposition in philosophy has come to the fore. Much as with feminist theory or queer theory or race theory, disability theory not only works to expose the ableist presuppositions of philosophy but also to alter philosophy for the better by the inclusion of the formerly exc...
2022-Aug-12 • 65 minutes
Sex Robots (with Kate Devlin)
The HBS hosts sit down with Dr. Kate Devlin to talk about social relationships between humans and machines.When most people think about our future with robots, they tend to ask the following three questions: (1) Will robots take my job?. (2) Will they kill us?, and (3) Can I have sex with them?This week, the HBS hosts are joined by Dr. Kate Devlin, Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London and the author of Turned On: Sci...
2022-Aug-05 • 63 minutes
The Blues (with Charles L. Hughes)
The HBS hosts ask Dr. Charles Hughes for water, and he gives them gasoline. According to co-host Charles Peterson, the blues is "as American as apple pie and as Black as the Funky Chicken." The blues is a genre of music, to be sure, but it's also an emotion, perhaps even an existential bearing. What makes blues music distinctive? What does it mean to have "the blues"? Can everyone have or play the blues? Should everyone?In this episode, the HBS co-hosts discuss these questions (and more!) with Dr. Charles ...
2022-Jul-29 • 63 minutes
Memes (with Andrew Baron)
The HBS hosts try to go viral with Andrew Baron, creator of KnowYourMeme. Memes: if you get them, you get them... and if you don't, you don't. But how is a meme created? How does it spread? And how does it die? In this episode, we dig into the complex dynamics of memes-- on Dawkins' account, the most rudimentary units of social information-- to see how they do (and don't) imitate so-called "natural" processes in their generation, mutation, adaptation, and replication. With our special guest, Andrew Baron (c...
2022-Jul-22 • 55 minutes
Reason
The HBS hosts investigate the limits of Reason alone and, more importantly, in real human history.Many, rightly, understand the discipline of Philosophy as primarily defined by its commitment to Reason. But, what is “Reason”? Is it universal? Is it some kind of fundamental human capacity that transcends class, culture, politics, religion, or any other iteration of human difference? What do we make of the fact that, since the 17th C., inheritors of “European Enlightenment” thinkers unilaterally dictated the ...
2022-Jul-15 • 65 minutes
Plagiarism
The HBS hosts attempt to measure the real stakes of cheating. According to a recent study, almost 60% of college/university students in the United States admit to having cheated at least once during their studies. Around 15% of U.S. students admit to plagiarizing intentionally and, of those, less than 1 in 5 is caught or punished for academic dishonesty. Professors regularly report that cheating and plagiarism is on the rise; many blame remote learning for what feels like a "plagiarism pandemic."Meanwhile, ...
2022-Jul-08 • 63 minutes
The Public Intellectual (with Eddie Glaude, Jr.)
The HBS hosts sit down with Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. to talk about what constitutes a "public intellectual."Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. is the James S. McDonnel Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Princeton University, and one of America's leading public intellectuals. He is also on the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. He frequently appears in the media, as a columnist for TIME Magazine and as an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe and Deadline...
2022-Jun-17 • 57 minutes
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
The HBS hosts try to get to the truth of untruths.Mark Twain famously claimed that there are three kinds of untruth: lies, damned lies, and statistics. In an age of widespread misinformation, where it has become considerably more difficult to distinguish between truths and lies, the HBS hosts make an impassioned plea for us to think seriously about what a lie is, what it is not, and why it matters. We consider the whole menagerie of falsehoods: from trifling fibs ("you look great in those pants!") to catas...
2022-Jun-10 • 57 minutes
Queers
The HBS hosts chat with Dr. Ladelle McWhorter about the evolution of "queer" as an identity category and a verb.Once only used as a slur with unambiguously negative valences, the noun "queer" has been reappropriated by (many) members of the LGBTQIA+ community as referring to a positive, even celebrated, notion of self-identity.... but the history of the term "queer" is complicated. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Ladelle McWhorter (University of Richmond) about that complicated history, including how "que...
2022-Jun-03 • 58 minutes
Utopia
The HBS hosts discuss the where, when, and how of utopic imagination.On the one hand, utopia as an ideal place, space, political arrangement, or future has been criticized because it delays action to some, perhaps impossible, future. On the other hand, something like utopia just might be necessary for political struggles. We begin with Cruising Utopia by José Esteban Muñoz and move on to discuss the importance, problems, and possibilities of utopia.Full episode notes at this link: http://hotelbarpodcast.com...
2022-May-27 • 56 minutes
Philosophers on the Internet
The HBS hosts sit down with Justin Weinberg of the Daily Nous to talk about philosophers on the internet.While everyone is on the internet, many philosophers (some of whom may be on this podcast!) seem resistant to blogging, social media, and other forms of web presence. In this episode, we look at philosophers on the internet. What benefits does the internet bring to philosophy and/or philosophers? Is the internet our new “town square?” If so, should philosophy be brought to the town square? Another way to...
2022-May-20 • 62 minutes
Musical Theater
The HBS hosts chat with actor, dancer, and choreographer Blake Zolfo about what makes musical theater so unique.What could possibly make musical theater important or relevant to three philosophers? We all love musicals! The affective appeal of musical theater is clear, even though there are those (philistines?) who do not find it enjoyable. Although Hegel, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Fine Art claims that opera puts text in the service of music, he also recognizes that the libretto of opera is the s...
2022-May-13 • 62 minutes
National Identity
The HBS hosts wrestle with Fukuyama's "Why National Identity Is Matters." In this episode, we will focus on questions of national identity. In the U.S., the contemporary political moment is riven with competing ideas of what the United States is or are. These ideas are based in various ways of knowing including ideological, political, racial, and generational. Using Francis Fukuyama’s essay “Why National Identity Matters” we will explore fundamental questions regarding the origins of national identity, its...
2022-May-06 • 62 minutes
Algorithms
The HBS hosts discuss the pervasiveness and perversity of algorithms in our lives.Algorithms measure, and increasingly influence/determine, our behaviors. Yet, most people don’t know or understand what an algorithm is! Algorithms are essential to the logic of late capitalism and people need to understand them in order to work toward more ethical AI.Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... Hotel Bar Sessions on Patreon here:patreon.com/hotelbarsessions
2022-Apr-29 • 56 minutes
Metaphysics
The HBS hosts get to the bottom of what is real, what exists, and what is virtual.In this episode, we take head on the question of whether an analysis, understanding, and assumption of reality, in other words, metaphysics, is a crucial task for philosophy. We argue about whether metaphysics should come before social and political theory, political engagement, and ethics. We come clean about our own positions on what is real. In short, we get real with reality.Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarp...
2022-Apr-22 • 54 minutes
Immortality
The HBS hosts talk about the striving to live forever in physical, psychical, and social dimensions.Immortality seems to be a spoken and unspoken obsession within contemporary culture, whether through the obsession with maintaining youthful looks through diet, exercise or, medical procedure or the hope for a future where people can live on as memories or even as digital intelligences. We talk about the underlying motivations for this hope, what it may say about the underlying dynamics of our culture in rega...
2022-Apr-15 • 66 minutes
Moral Subjectivity
The HBS hosts unpack Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals, Section 13, to uncover how we arrived at morality and moral subjectivity. There are conditions that seem to be necessary in order for our whole moral outlook and values, conditions that are not found in nature. What must be the case in order for one to be said to be morally responsible? In this episode, we take Section 13 of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals as our guide to uncover the conditions of moral subjectivity.Full episode notes available here:http...
2022-Apr-08 • 64 minutes
Desire
The HBS hosts look under the hood, inspect the engine, and try to figure out what drives us. Perhaps more than any other affect, desire is put to work in so many areas of philosophy. For Plato, it is the beginning of knowledge (or the soul’s search for truth), for Augustine, it is what marks post-lapsarian humanity–“Our hears are restless until they rest in you.” For Hobbes, it is one of the root affects and, perhaps, the root of the war of all against all. More recently, desire has become a focus in femini...
2022-Apr-01 • 64 minutes
Memory
The HBS hosts discuss the role of memory in the constitution of human intelligence, subjectivity and culture/civilization.As we age, we often lose the ability to retain our past experiences. In doing so, we seem to lose a part (or even all) of our selves. What is the role of memory in the constitution of human intelligence, subjectivity and culture/civilization? In this episode, the HBS hosts discuss memory and its relation to personal identity and social identity. This means that we also confront forgettin...
2022-Mar-25 • 63 minutes
The Simulation Hypothesis
The HBS hosts take the red pill.Are we "living" in a computer simulation? What difference would that make? Why would it ever occur to anyone that we are in a simulation? In this episode, the HBS hosts discuss the hypothesis that we are just playing out another being's computer simulation.Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... HOTEL BAR SESSIONS podcast at Patreon here:patron.com/hotelbarsessions
2022-Mar-18 • 63 minutes
Style
The HBS hosts talk about style. Style can simply mean a way of doing something, like dressing, decorating, writing, singing, painting. Often, it seems as if style is an “add on,” something not essential, and often seems closely akin to fakery (we can say someone is “all style, no substance”). But is there something more significant about style? Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... HOTEL BAR SESSIONS podcast at Patreon. As we often say, we do this for free but it does have ...
2022-Mar-10 • 66 minutes
Bars
The HBS hosts go where people know troubles are all the same.In this episode, the HBS hosts discuss Bars—as a social, cultural and communal space, bars as a space removed from the regular function of society, yet at the center of essential social discussions. Why are we “Hotel bar sessions?” Let’s talk about the role the bar plays at conferences and why we say “this is where the real philosophy happens?” What does that say about the bar.Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/......
2022-Feb-11 • 66 minutes
Turning Up the Heat
The HBS hosts take turns in the "hot seat" as they fire questions at one another.Can we be honest? Each week the HBS hosts say that one of us is in the "hot seat." But they never get "grilled." This last episode of Season 3, we grill one another through a series of questions. Some are rapid fire with the clock ticking down, some are "would you rather?" questions. And others we take some time to talk. Maybe it is a bit self-indulgent, but it surely will provide more insight into the lives and perspectives of...
2022-Feb-04 • 71 minutes
The Godfather Trilogy
The HBS hosts discuss The Godfather Trilogy.The Godfather and The God Father: Part II often make it to lists of the best films. It can be argued The Godfather is America’s response to Shakespearean drama. The complexity of character, deft use of language, and the themes of the film interrogate fundamental historical, social and human concerns of American life.Full episode notes at this link: http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/episode-44-the-godfather-trilogy/...
2022-Jan-28 • 65 minutes
Superstition
The HBS hosts discuss the nature, origin, and deployment of superstitions.It seems as if superstitions just evidence a misunderstanding of the relation between some cause and some effect. So, training in critical thinking *should* help to allay superstitions… and, yet, it doesn’t. How important are behaviors to superstitions? Do superstitions require a belief in the supernatural? Are there harmless superstitions?Full episode notes at this link:http://hotelbarpodcast.com/podcast/... Hotel Bar Sessions podcas...
2022-Jan-21 • 56 minutes
Optimism and Pessimism
The HBS hosts talk about optimism and pessimism in its personal, political, and philosophical senses.We tend to think of optimism and pessimism as personal, psychological characteristics. Betty White said that her secret to living to just so shy of 100 was that she never ate anything green and that she was a “cockeyed optimist.” But it seems as if there are non-personal, non-philosophical senses of optimism/ pessimism. There is clearly a political sense–can we work together to amass power to make the world,...
2022-Jan-14 • 58 minutes
Tourism
The HBS hosts discuss the ugly underside of tourism.Tourism is a superficial activity that has deep historical and political underpinnings. In A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid argues highlights the power relation within tourism, where the tourist lives a life that allows them to visit the land of the (Fanonian) native. Tourism suggests privilege and power and a shaping of the world that makes a person a tourist. What other types of tourism are there? What are the other implications of being a tourist? What ar...
2022-Jan-07 • 55 minutes
Resolve
The HBS hosts talk about resolutions and the resolve behind them.It is close to the start of a new year and at this time resolutions are in the air. But what is it to make a resolution? And if you make a resolution, do you have to also have the resolve to carry it through? And what is resolve? In this episode, let’s talk about resolutions and resolve.Full episode notes at this link: WEBSITE: www.hotelbarpodcast.comSUPPORT US HERE: patreon.com/hotelbarsessions
2021-Dec-31 • 63 minutes
Work
The HBS hosts sit down with Dr. Jason Read to talk about how to understand work in the 21st C.In this episode, Jason Read (Philosophy, University of Southern Maine) joins us to examine the Boots Riley‘s film Sorry To Bother You (2018) and what it might be able to tell us about the dystopic situation of the 21st C. worker. Why has it become so important that the worker demonstrate that they “love” their work? How much of our work demands “emotional labor”? Why is it necessary for (some) workers to abdicate t...
2021-Dec-24 • 61 minutes
Social Media
The HBS hosts talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media.Social media dominate much of our current lives. Sometimes this is for the better, sometimes this is for the worse. Social media platforms allow much that is beneficial to individuals, communities, and society. Yet they also allow much that is detrimental or even damaging. What is good about social media? What is bad? And what is downright ugly? We talk about who is helped by social media and who is hurt by it. We talk about its effect...
2021-Dec-17 • 58 minutes
Transcendence
The HBS hosts talk about transcendence, the good kind and the bad kind.Philosophers traditionally have thought of entities like God or Ideas as outside of or other than this world. At the same time, that transcendent reality is thought to be the cause or meaning of our reality. Is this the only kind of transcendence? Do we need transcendence? Perhaps politics and/or justice requires some notion of transcendence. Can we have a good transcendence without the bad?Full episode notes available at this link. http...
2021-Dec-10 • 49 minutes
The Global South
The HBS hosts discuss philosophy and theory in relation to the global south with Prof. Surti Singh.We does it mean to theorize from the Global South? What tools can theory bring to the global south? And is there such a thing as The Global South? We talk with Prof. Surti Singh, the co-principal investigator of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s project “Extimacies: Critical Theory from the Global South” about these issues and what theorists in the global south challenge the “north” to encounter in its theoriz...
2021-Dec-03 • 60 minutes
Legally Right, Morally Wrong
The HBS host discuss the criminal justice system’s failure to produce morally right outcomes.The "not guilty" verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial made plain the often dramatic difference between what is legally permissible and what is morally permissible. In this episode, we talk about where that difference should be maintained and where it should be diminished or abolished.Full episode notes at this link.
2021-Nov-26 • 63 minutes
Cancel Panic
The HBS hosts discuss so-called “cancel culture” and the panic surrounding it.For some, “canceling” is an essential tool of social justice. For others, it is a threat to free speech. In this episode, we try to identify what cancelation involves (de-platforming, boycotting, public criticism, shaming), what it doesn’t involve (actual silencing), and just how common it is (not common enough to constitute a “culture,” we think). Is cancel culture itself evidence of a moral panic, or is there a cancel panic bein...
2021-Nov-19 • 64 minutes
Thought Experiments
The HBS hosts discuss the pedagogical pros and cons of thoughts experiments.Philosophy has its own laboratory! While it doesn’t have graduated cylinders or Bunsen burners, it is a “clean room” in which philosophers can distill the essential elements of a theory. We talk about the pros and cons of thought experiments, their uses, and their abuses. We give some examples of famous thought experiments and, yes, we talk about the trolley problem.Full episode notes at this link.
2021-Nov-12 • 59 minutes
American Christianity
The HBS hosts wonder whether there is a uniquely "American" form of Christianity. There are more than 2.3 billion Christians in the world, and 205 million of them live in the United States of America. Is there an identifiable strain of Christianity that is unique to the U.S.? If so, what are its dominant characteristics? How closely does it adhere to-- or how far does it stray from-- the basic tenets of Christianity? In this episode, the HBS hosts take a hard look at some of the more curious features that ...
2021-Nov-05 • 66 minutes
Whose History?
The HBS hosts sit down with Dr. Charles McKinney, Jr. to talk about whose history is (and isn't) being taught.Following on the heels of a recent and very contentious political debate over the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, we invited Dr. Charles McKinney, Jr. (Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College) to sit for a few rounds at the hotel bar as we explore the dynamics of power, liberation, and Truth as they play out in the teaching o...
2021-Oct-08 • 71 minutes
Robots
The HBS hosts discuss how robots and intelligent machines are upending our social, moral, legal, and philosophical categories.For this last episode of Season 2, the HBS hosts interview Dr. David Gunkel (author of Robot Rights and How To Survive A Robot Invasion) about his work on emergent technologies, intelligent machines, and robots. Following the recent announcement by Elson Musk that Tesla is developing a humanoid robot for home use, we ask: what is the real difference between a robot and a toaster?Do r...
2021-Oct-01 • 69 minutes
Defending the Humanities
The HBS hosts present their best defense of humanities-based education and, in doing so, try to justify their existences.As higher education has become more corporatized and STEM-focused, areas of study are often "pitched" to students on the basis of their future income-earning potential. However, college students now are entering a workforce where more than 30% of available jobs will be automated before those students reach middle age. Today's college students need more than vocational training to prepare ...
2021-Sep-24 • 65 minutes
Generations
The HBS hosts discuss whether or not generational tags– “Boomer,” “GenX,” “Millennial,” and “Gen Z”– are useful descriptions or just gerrymandered groups.Are you Gen Z, a Boomer, Gen X? We don’t know either but in this episode Dr. Rick Lee leads a discussion to try to figure out whether these generational designations have any stable meaning. Do they make sense as organizational categories. Are they Objective Types, Natural Kind, or Gerrymandered Sets? Do generational markers say more than gender, racial, c...
2021-Sep-17 • 55 minutes
The Hustle
The HBS hosts discuss scams, cons, gig work, and what drives us to live and work at full speed.In the immortal words of Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. (aka, T.I.) "If you don't respect nothing else, you will respect the hustle." In this episode, Dr. Leigh M. Johnson takes the lead in an analysis of how "the hustle," in all senses of that term, define our lives today. We look at the HBO docuseries Generation Hustle-- which tracks the stories of 10 young scammers, con-artists, and/or sociopaths-- before trying t...
2021-Sep-10 • 61 minutes
Music
The HBS hosts talk about music, mathematics, groove, and "altar calls."Dr. Charles Peterson takes the lead in this week's discussion of the power of music in our lives. After a quick run-down of each co-host's own musical likes and dislikes, the HBS gang jumps right into a consideration of the effect that music has on us both as individuals and collectively. Does music give us some singular insight into what it means to be human? What does music evoke within us? How does it seem to have the power to inspire...
2021-Sep-03 • 63 minutes
Guns
The HBS hosts try to figure out why there are 150 guns for every 100 Americans.In the midst of a pandemic, as COVID-related deaths creep closer towards 1 million, it's easy to forget the other public health epidemic plaguing the United States, namely, gun violence. Nearly 10,000 people had already been killed by gun violence by June of 2021, with no sign of slowing numbers. Schoolchildren regularly practice "active shooter" drills and, in states like Tennessee, gun-control laws have been relaxed so much tha...
2021-Aug-27 • 60 minutes
Specialization
The HBS hosts discuss academic specializations and how to make the humanities more inclusive.Over the last several decades, there has been a long-overdue push for professors in the humanities to diversify their curricula to include more women, BIPOC, queer, disabled, and other under-represented thinkers and texts. Yet, the “add diversity and stir” model for syllabus design in many ways fails to address a lot of the problems that motivated this demand in the first place. It isn’t just syllabi in the humaniti...
2021-Aug-20 • 63 minutes
Superheroes
The HBS hosts discuss the role of superheroes in culture and popular media. In American graphic fiction and contemporary film, the superhero stands at the center of many popular narratives. Superhero stories published by DC Comics and Marvel are a multi-million dollar per year industry and, in 2019 alone, superhero movies grossed 3.19 billion dollars in revenue. Although it may seem to the novice as if these publishing houses and film studios just recycle the same stories (and sequels) over and over, connoi...
2021-Aug-13 • 58 minutes
White Working Class
The HBS hosts take a critical look at the white working class and their grievances.
2021-Aug-06 • 59 minutes
Conspiracy Theories
The HBS hosts discuss conspiracy theories and what motivates people to believe in them. The word "conspiracy" derives from the Latin con- ("with" or "together") and spirare ("to breathe"), and it seems like more and more people are breathing in the thin air of dubious explanations and bonding together over them. From Q-Anon to flat earthers to anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers to people convinced that a pedophilic, blood-drinking, sex-trafficking, deep state cabal is orchestrating our lives, conspirac...
2021-Jul-30 • 55 minutes
Vulgarity
The HBS hosts lower themselves into the muck in this NSFW episode.Dr. Charles F. Peterson is in the hot seat for this episode’s discussion of vulgarity. What is the difference between obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity? Who determines what is “appropriate”? Is the very concept of vulgarity elitist?Full episode notes available at this link.
2021-Jul-23 • 58 minutes
Laughter
The HBS hosts share a lot of laughs trying to figure out if there is any adequate “theory” of comedy.
2021-Jul-16 • 64 minutes
Digital Afterlives
The HBS hosts discuss what happens to our digital personalities after the meatspace person dies.
2021-Jul-09 • 58 minutes
Citizenship
The HBS hosts discuss the meaning of citizenship in an era of protest.
2021-Jul-02 • 56 minutes
Private Cities
The HBS hosts discuss how cities, once considered hubs of public life and interaction, have become increasingly segregated, partitioned, disconnected, and privatized.Drawing on his experience using the city of a Chicago as a classroom, Rick Lee asks: can we identify the material markers of "privatization" in contemporary cities? How do we know which parts of the city are for "us," which parts of the city are for everyone, and which parts aren't? Is there anything like a "public commons" anymore and, if so, ...
2021-Jun-04 • 58 minutes
Hey, Biden!
The HBS hosts evaluate Biden's first 100 days and offer suggestions.
2021-May-28 • 56 minutes
Shame
The HBS hosts discuss the meaning, use, and abuse of shame.
2021-May-21 • 62 minutes
Teaching
The HBS hosts discuss their successes and failures in the classroom.
2021-May-14 • 64 minutes
WhoDunnIt?
The HBS hosts talk about mysteries as both a literary and philosophical form.
2021-May-07 • 61 minutes
Privacy
Is privacy dead? How do we draw the boundaries of our secret lives?
2021-Apr-30 • 56 minutes
Love
What is love? Baby, don't hurt me.
2021-Apr-23 • 58 minutes
The Philosophical Canon
The HBS hosts take a look at the much (and rightly) maligned “Philosophical Canon.” Who should stay in? Who should be cut? Is it time to get rid of the Canon altogether?
2021-Apr-16 • 59 minutes
Apocalypse(s)
The HBS hosts chat about our impending doom. Is the apocalypse nigh? Will it be environmental, political, technological, or biological? Can we imaging human beings existing in 50 years? 100 years? 5000 years?
2021-Apr-09 • 64 minutes
Nostalgia
The HBS hosts take a look at the political, philosophical, cultural, and personal dimensions of nostalgia.
2021-Apr-02 • 60 minutes
Metrics
A discussion of all the metrics by which we are rated and ranked.
2021-Mar-26 • 49 minutes
One Year with COVID
A look back over the last year of living with COVID. What can we not believe that we did before COVID? What can't we wait to get back to doing? What do we hope we never go back to doing?
2021-Mar-19 • 49 minutes
Origins
What is the significance of the origin stories we tell, whether they are true or not, and what happens when they fall apart?
2021-Mar-12 • 51 minutes
Leigh M. Johnson on Technology
Leigh M. Johnson is in the hot seat to explain why philosophers should be thinking more about emergent technologies.
2021-Mar-12 • 56 minutes
Shannon M. Mussett on Freedom
Shannon Mussett is in the hot seat to explain how the existentialist conception of freedom remains useful and important for Philosophy.
2021-Mar-12 • 57 minutes
Ammon Allred on Art
Ammon Allred is in the hot seat to explain how thinking about aesthetic experience more seriously can free us from the hold of normativity.