Suggested readings, #64

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Ancient Greeks devised a way to fight disinformation. Sophists used rhetoric and debate to arrive at practical truths. [A fairly badly argued article in defense of sophistry, co-signed by a lawyer. Good example to keep in mind… Oh, and using a cover image of Socrates, the ultimate anti-Sophist! “Big Think” keep disappointing.] (Big Think)

How to live as the Ancients did. From drinking to ruling to growing old, a series of books offers classic advice. [On an ongoing series at Princeton Press, distilling the best writings of the Greco-Romans.] (Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Public philosophy and the civic duty of universities. (Daily Nous)

This ancient Japanese principle will help you overcome fear of failure. How to become an “imperfectionist”. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #63

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

In praise of aphorisms. What if we see the history of philosophy not as a grand system of sustained critique but as a series of brilliant fragments? [This article, I think, gets it seriously wrong. Still, a stimulating reading.] (Aeon)

The Ancient Greek’s guide to rejecting propaganda and disinformation. How Plato and the Sophists Can Help Us Find Shared Truth and Solve Our Political Problems. (Zocalo)

Gods and robots. Time-traveling back to antiquity might help us think about the human transformations of the future. (Noema)

What is emergence, and why should we care about it? [I’m going through one of my phases of skepticism about strong emergence. Still, interesting article.] (Axis Praxis)

Suggested readings, #62

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

The robot artists aren’t coming. Artificial intelligence is making machines more creative — but machines don’t make art. (New York Times)

Where did the grandeur go? Superlative things were done in the past century by marshalling thousands of people in the service of a vision of the future. (Aeon)

How the coronavirus is changing digital etiquette. We’re watching the norms of using technology evolve in real time. Here’s how to keep up. (New York Times)

Why do we cling to art in apocalyptic times? (Art News)

What will greetings look like in a post-coronavirus world? It might be a while before we can offer a hug or handshake. But that’s OK. [I vote for “live long and prosper.”] (New York Times)

Video conversation: objectivity and realism

Is there a difference between something being “objective” and it being “real”? What do we mean by those terms, anyway? That’s the topic of a new conversation I’ve had with my friend and colleague Dan Kaufman.

We actually started by exploring a side path, when Dan wanted to know whether human beings are really as social as the Stoics thought (I think so, particularly on the strength of evidence from comparative anthropology and primatology). Then we plunged into the title question, and went on to discuss the difference between distinct philosophical meanings of “real.”

Dan argued that it doesn’t make any difference whether or not our values are objective, because that’s not what motivates people to action. I replied that people are moved to act by a number of social and biological forces, but that arguments to the soundness of certain values certainly play a role.

Near the end of the show we talk about what Dan’s calls my solution to the so-called omnivore dilemma (shouldn’t we all just be vegetarians, or even vegans, given what we know about animal cruelty and the environment?), which obviously very much has to do with the alleged objectivity of certain values informing our choice of diet.

Finally, I explain why values are never really separate from facts (in part because even our choices of what counts as a “fact” are value-laden). This may seem to be a problem if one seeks “the facts, just the facts,” but appreciation of this, ahem, fact turns out to be important and consequential. Here is the video:

Suggested readings, #61

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Metaphors matter in a time of pandemic. Warfare may be a rousing way to speechify, but it’s perilous when used to describe disasters from hurricanes to viral outbreaks. (Wired)

What near-death experiences reveal about the brain. A close brush can leave a lasting mental legacy—and may tell us about how the mind functions under extreme conditions. (Scientific American)

The evidence for evidence-based therapy is not as clear as we thought. (Aeon)

Zoom fatigue: how to politely decline a call during quarantine. The normal boundaries that once dictated social etiquette have essentially dissolved. So how do you disconnect? (New York Times)

Have We Weaponized Virtue? A review of The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, the Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies, by Robert Boyers. (LA Review of Books)

Infectious diseases and the evolution of viruses. A primer from a philosopher of science. (Auxiliary Hypotheses)

Suggested readings, #60

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Stoicism, an elevator pitch. (Medium)

Let’s just admit that a Zoom party isn’t really a party. Stop with the awkward virtual mass gatherings. Instead, embrace intimacy during the pandemic. (HuffPost)

The erosion of deep literacy. [Long read, but worthwhile.] (National Affairs)

Inventing the Universe. Are quantum physicists making things up as they go along? [The answer appears to be yes.] (New Atlantis)

Suggested readings, #59

Turkish Artist Uses Artificial Intelligence To Share Historical Ottoman Archives

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Computers don’t give a damn. The improbability of genuine thinking machines. (TLS)

To build resilience in isolation, master the art of time travel. When the present is unpleasant, it helps to think ahead to the future and back to the past. [Actually, some of this advice doesn’t seem that good to me, but try it out and let me know.] (New York Times)

Simworld. A brief history of the idea that reality is unreal. (Philosophy Now)

What does Epictetus mean by “prohairesis.” A key idea of Stoic philosophy, worked out in detail by Epictetus. [My friend Greg Sadler writes about Stoic mindfulness.] (Medium)

‘Believe All Women’ is a Right-Wing trap. How feminists got stuck answering for a canard. (New York Times)

Suggested readings, #58

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Pandemic stories in the news: something to laugh about. (Skeptical Inquirer)

What the pandemic tells us about personal identity. (New Statesman)

Are there laws of history? Historians believe that the past is irreducibly complex and the future wildly unpredictable. Scientists disagree. Who’s right? (Aeon)

Antisthenes and the Cynics: how to live a pure and honest life. (Ancient Origins)

Did Galileo truly say, ‘And yet it moves’? A modern detective story. An astrophysicist traces genealogy and art history to discover the origin of the famous motto. (Scientific American)

Suggested readings, #57

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

What humans could be. As psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote, “Perhaps human nature has been sold short.” (Scientific American)

SpaceX and the ethics of space travel. (Prindle Post)

Who cheats more? The demographics of infidelity in America. (Institute for Family Studies)

Rich people more likely to lie, cheat, study suggests. (Live Science)

How science fails. For the émigré philosopher Imre Lakatos, science degenerates unless it is theoretically and experimentally progressive. [From my friend Jim Baggott, highly recommended.] (Aeon)

Should you take Wolfram’s physics seriously? [Probably not, but it’s fun to think about it.] (Medium)

Stop reading self-help books: the incredible power of novels. [Don’t let the entirely out of place encomium of Elon Musk at the beginning of the article turn you off.] (JotForm)

Suggested readings, #56

Here it is, your weekly rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Why your brain is not a computer. For decades it has been the dominant metaphor in neuroscience. But could this idea have been leading us astray all along? (Guardian)

What Thucydides can teach us. Ancient reflections on a time of plague. (Public Seminar)

The pandemic isn’t a Black Swan but a portent of a more fragile global system. [Even Nassim Taleb is right, occasionally…] (New Yorker)

The Buzz Aldrin fallacy. [It’s a thing.] (Medium)

What Sci Phi is all about: treating science fiction as philosophy. (Sci Phi Journal)

Intellectual alchemists. [On Umberto Eco and Emmanuel Carrère] (Public Books)

Five contemporary philosophies from the Eastern World. (Medium)