Announcing our newest podcast, “Culture and Value”

by Daniel A. Kaufman

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The Electric Agora is proud to announce its newest podcast, hosted by our own Mark English, “Culture and Value.” The podcast will be audio only, and available on all the podcast-apps on which our other podcasts are found.  Mark describes the project in this brief, introductory episode.

11 comments

  1. Hah, there is a voice behind the name! Mark, it is lovely to hear you speak. I look forward to your continuing contributions.

    Like you, I am also concerned by the ongoing decline in Western culture. But to describe and understand that decline we first need to understand the forces that made Western culture great. I hope you can deal with this in one of your next podcasts.

    Quite serendipitously the very next essay, Dan’s Growing Up Metal graphically illustrates this decline. I read his essay with vague feelings of revulsion at the values he so proudly puts on display. After reading his essay I was overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness at this proud display of decay in culture.

    I noted with interest your mentions of science and I look forward to hearing you say more about the subject. My forthright opinion on the subject is that the stunning advances in science graphically illustrate, by contrast, the absolute poverty of thought in modern philosophy.

    Where you and I will likely differ is the relative positions of religion and science. I maintain that there is no opposition between science and religion whereas I believe that you think there is. I would go even further and claim that science provides powerful reasons for believing in God and greatly weakens the arguments of atheism. These are all subjects we can happily debate in future podcasts.

    I will also provoke you by claiming that the basic assumptions contained in Christianity are one of the important forces leading to the rise in Western culture. Hah! That should get you going!

    I think your podcasts are a great idea and look forward to hearing more. By the way, are you now based in Australia? If so your cultural observations will be most interesting.

    1. Thanks, Peter. As I indicated, I don’t envisage religion being a major focus but, as you suggest, you can’t ignore the role that Christianity has played in Western culture. And of course other religious traditions in other cultural contexts.

      For some years I have been based in Melbourne, in a rented apartment overlooking Little Lonsdale Street in the old Chinatown district (restaurant businesses crippled by the ongoing lockdowns of course).

      I hope we can work out some way of engaging beyond comment threads.

  2. Hi Mark,
    Doing these podcasts is an interesting experiment. What motivated this? Why this rather than the more conventional essay? I suppose the answer, in part, is that academics are accustomed to oral delivery and they are comfortable with it. I approve of your choice of an audio only format. Video adds little value and consumes a lot of bandwidth.

    The format lends itself to interactive debate and that is a substantial advantage.

    I hope we can work out some way of engaging beyond comment threads.

    You are welcome to contact me via Telegram on 27 76 382 3615. I simplified my life enormously by getting off Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter and using only Telegram. Telegram, with its Groups, is an interesting way of supplementing blog discussions that is worth exploring. Any regular commentator on EA is welcome to contact me on Telegram.

    1. Motivations? Trying something I hadn’t done before. Also I have the sense that, in general and for various reasons, people are less enthusiastic about reading, many preferring to listen than to read.

      I am starting off with a few monologues. If things work out and the podcast continues… well, we’ll see. Interviews/other voices would make things more interesting, sure. But I am taking things slowly, a step at a time.

      Thanks for the Telegram invitation. I will look into it and probably be in touch.

  3. Hi Mark: You’ve been a writer for a long time — now you’re a speaker! I hope you will go on telling stories about what you see around you. I remember the one about seeing the Australian PM walking towards you on one of your night-time strolls. And your family stories are memorable. Your skill, I think, is at hinting at bigger matters lying behind the concrete stories.

    I find I am a slow speaker. Having been interviewed on radio occasionally, I am struck by how fast it goes, even though it doesn’t sound fast to the listener. There’s no time to think; thinking time sounds terrible. I would not do well in a spoken format.

    Good luck with the new venture.

    Alan

    1. Thanks Alan.

      You wrote: “Your skill, I think, is at hinting at bigger matters lying behind the concrete stories.”

      I’m coming to a point where I would like to deal more directly with those bigger issues. But because the framework of my thinking (including key presuppositions and assumptions) is often out of line with the frameworks of others, it is rather difficult to do so effectively.

      “I find I am a slow speaker. Having been interviewed on radio occasionally, I am struck by how fast it goes, even though it doesn’t sound fast to the listener. There’s no time to think; thinking time sounds terrible. I would not do well in a spoken format.”

      Not so sure about that!

      Wittgenstein was famous for his lack of verbal fluency and hesitations (“thinking time”) but, as you know, in his case physical contortions (including head clutching), curses and self-critical exclamations filled the void.

    1. Jay

      It just seemed like an appropriate title and the Wittgenstein echo should not be taken too seriously. However, if I weren’t sympathetic to *some* of Wittgenstein’s ideas and attitudes as expressed in that book I would not have settled on that title.

      “One age misunderstands another; and a petty age misunderstands all the others in its own ugly way.”

  4. Alan,
    I never had time to reply to your question about my ‘surprising’ statement vis a vis China before the comments were closed. I will when a suitable opportunity presents itself. Then I will surprise you even more by telling you that I am a strong supporter of the recent Aukus agreement between Australia, the UK and the US.

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