Zero Squared #144: How to Read a History Book

Feb 22nd, 2018 | By | Category: Articles, Zero Squared

Perhaps in the current climate, I shouldn’t admit this, but this week’s guest Marshall Poe has lived in the USSR and Russia, his academic specialty being Russian History. He later spent a decade teaching at Harvard University, before leaving academia to take a position at The Atlantic Monthly. Since then he founded the New Books Network. He is also the author of the book How to Read a History Book which came out last month from Zero.

I wanted to thank Dave DD and a YouTuber named Subconscious qualms as well as some people at a Chomsky Reddit group for arguing with me after I posted the last Zero Books video about Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek. I especially want to thank the guys at Reddit because they pointed out that while I interpreted Chomsky’s ontological position as being neo-Kantian, they pointed out that Chomsky has, in the past, to be a neutral monist. Looking into it a bit I see that neutral monism makes Chomsky, at least in some ways, more aligned with Spinoza than with Kant. However, given Chomsky’s emphasis on understanding the innate structures of cognition and, specifically, language, I would dare to say that his metaphysics are probably not quite aligned with Spinoza either.

The truth is I haven’t quite backed off from my original estimation of the consequences of Chomsky’s position but I do realize that the question of his metaphysics is more interesting than I originally realized. It seems to me that Chomsky’s position is difficult as any continental philosopher’s and I do have to admit that nobody has quite been able to explain them to me in any way I can fully understand.

If you’re looking for a good book to read on the topics I recently covered on Zero Books’ youtube channel you might check out Frank Smecker’s Night of the World. Also, you might subscribe to the Zero Books youtube channel to see how my engagement with Chomsky develops and to see how the videos improve. I’ve been talking to an animation studio in London called Pixel8 on getting a cut-rate deal on their services and I’m able to get that help because of patrons like Dylan H, Jack H, Muke, Patrick K, Sahir P, and 190 others. If you’d like to help Zero Books expand its digital content production or if you just want to hear the second half of this week’s podcast with Marshall Poe you should become a Patreon subscriber to the Inside Zero Books podcast. When we reach 400 patrons we’ll be hiring another helping hand to improve our podcasts.

The music you’re listening to right now is Adios Nonino by Astor Piazzolla but in just a moment you’ll be listening to Marshall Poe and I discuss How to Read a History Book.

If you enjoy the Zero Books podcast consider listening to the Inside Zero books podcast on Patreon!
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One Comment to “Zero Squared #144: How to Read a History Book”

  1. dmf says:

    DL you should interview Chris Knight about his book Decoding Chomsky: Science and Revolutionary Politics.

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