Ep. 257: Locke Against Innate Ideas (Part One)
Play • 53 min

On Book I of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).

How do we know things? Locke thought all knowledge comes from experience, and this might seem uncontroversial, but what are the alternatives? We consider the idea that there are some ideas we're just born with and don't need to learn. But what's an "idea," and how is it different from a principle? Clearly we have instincts ("knowhow") but is that knowledge? We consider occurrent vs. dispositional nativism, the role of reason, and what Locke's overall project is after.

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Reforms in Myanmar (formerly Burma) have eased restrictions on citizens' political activities. Yet for most Burmese, Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung shows in Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar (U Wisconsin Press, 2019), eking out a living from day to day leaves little time for civic engagement. Citizens have coped with extreme hardship through great resourcefulness. But by making bad situations more tolerable in the short term, these coping strategies may hinder the emergence of the democratic values needed to sustain the country's transition to a more open political environment. Thawnghmung conducted in-depth interviews and surveys of 372 individuals from all walks of life and across geographical locations in Myanmar between 2008 and 2015. To frame her analysis, she provides context from countries with comparable political and economic situations. Her findings will be welcomed by political scientists and policy analysts, as well by journalists and humanitarian activists looking for substantive, reliable information about everyday life in a country that remains largely in the shadows. Anyone interested in political economy, development, or culture in Myanmar or more generally will find Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar an insightful and intellectually provocative read. John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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16 min
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Marshall Poe
Kathryn Ciancia, "On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World" (Oxford UP, 2020)
As a resurgent Poland emerged at the end of World War I, an eclectic group of Polish border guards, state officials, military settlers, teachers, academics, urban planners, and health workers descended upon Volhynia, an eastern borderland province that was home to Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Its aim was not simply to shore up state power in a place where Poles constituted an ethnic minority, but also to launch an ambitious civilizing mission that would transform a poor Russian imperial backwater into a region that was at once civilized, modern, and Polish. Over the next two decades, these men and women recast imperial hierarchies of global civilization-in which Poles themselves were often viewed as uncivilized-within the borders of their supposedly anti-imperial nation-state. As state institutions remained fragile, long-debated questions of who should be included in the nation re-emerged with new urgency, turning Volhynia's mainly Yiddish-speaking towns and Ukrainian-speaking villages into vital testing grounds for competing Polish national visions. By the eve of World War II, with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union growing in strength, schemes to ensure the loyalty of Jews and Ukrainians by offering them a conditional place in the nation were replaced by increasingly aggressive calls for Jewish emigration and the assimilation of non-Polish Slavs. Drawing on research in local and national archives across four countries and utilizing a vast range of written and visual sources that bring Volhynia to life, On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World (Oxford UP, 2020) offers a highly intimate story of nation-building from the ground up. We eavesdrop on peasant rumors at the Polish-Soviet border, read ethnographic descriptions of isolated marshlands, and scrutinize staged photographs of everyday life. But the book's central questions transcend the Polish case, inviting us to consider how fears of national weakness and competitions for local power affect the treatment of national minorities, how more inclusive definitions of the nation are themselves based on exclusions, and how the very distinction between empires and nation-states is not always clear-cut. Kathryn Ciancia is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has taught since 2013. She holds a BA from Oxford University, an MA from University College-London, and a PhD from Stanford University. Her first book, On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World, has just been published by Oxford University Press. She is now at work on a new book about the role of Poland's global consular network in policing the boundaries of citizenship between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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A. M. Thawnghmung, "Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar" (U Wisconsin Press, 2019)
Reforms in Myanmar (formerly Burma) have eased restrictions on citizens' political activities. Yet for most Burmese, Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung shows in Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar (U Wisconsin Press, 2019), eking out a living from day to day leaves little time for civic engagement. Citizens have coped with extreme hardship through great resourcefulness. But by making bad situations more tolerable in the short term, these coping strategies may hinder the emergence of the democratic values needed to sustain the country's transition to a more open political environment. Thawnghmung conducted in-depth interviews and surveys of 372 individuals from all walks of life and across geographical locations in Myanmar between 2008 and 2015. To frame her analysis, she provides context from countries with comparable political and economic situations. Her findings will be welcomed by political scientists and policy analysts, as well by journalists and humanitarian activists looking for substantive, reliable information about everyday life in a country that remains largely in the shadows. Anyone interested in political economy, development, or culture in Myanmar or more generally will find Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar an insightful and intellectually provocative read. John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
57 min
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