Suggested readings, #125

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

The lucrative business of stoking vaccine skepticism. How misinformation peddlers are using crowdfunding sites to bankroll their work. For years anti-vaccine figures have made money publishing books and giving speeches, and only in the past couple of years have major sites like YouTube started preventing anti-vaxxers from directly earning revenue from advertising. (Slate)

Classical patricide. On the state of the classics in higher education. Should the formal study of Greece and Rome die—or be killed off? Some classicists seem to think so. (New Criterion)

The force of scientific authority. In the years leading up to the 1975 publication of Against Method, Paul Feyerabend rehearsed many of the monograph’s provocative and polemical claims in a series of earlier articles and lectures. Against Method earned Feyerabend the inauspicious title of “currently the worst enemy of science” in the pages of Nature and the moniker “anti-science philosopher” in the New York Times. (The Philosopher)

The mind does not exist. The terms ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ are messy, harmful and distracting. We should get rid of them. Or not. (Aeon)

We should all be ethical consumers. But unthinking zealotry helps no one. Before trying to drive change with our purchases we should consider how progress actually happens. (Prospect Magazine)

Skepticism needs more historians and social scientists. Organized skepticism has a reputation for attracting physicists and psychologists. All other disciplines were well behind. (Skeptical Inquirer)

Stoicism and mourning. The oldest and arguably most potentially damaging criticisms of Stoicism is that it unrealistically sets its back against all emotions.  However, that this is a contentious, arguably inaccurate understanding. (Modern Stoicism)

Suggested readings, #124

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

Computer models of civilization offer routes to ending global warming. But of course they demand too much of us, so we will not actually act on it. (NPR)

Living with uncertainty. As opposed to pretend a certainty that doesn’t exist. (Skeptical Inquirer)

On the lost “Lenny Bruce of Athens.” In defense of the ancient comedian who went after Aristotle. (LitHub)

Diomedes: the Iliad’s second Achilles. Diomedes functions as a second Achilles in the Iliad (as if one were not enough!). When he takes center stage, he is completely dominant and can take on seemingly any opponent, even the gods. (The Collector)

The Stoic obsession with figs. How a philosophy of life came from a snack. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #123

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

Talking to science deniers and sceptics is not hopeless. Fears of backfire effects are overblown, and advice to listen and interact still stands. (Nature)

Ancient (bizarre) arguments for vegetarianism. (The Philosophers’ Magazine)

The Man Behind the Myth: Should We Question the Hero’s Journey? A well deserved criticism of Joseph Campbell, which then slides into a lot of questionable wokeness accompanied by a good portion of cherry pickiness. (LA Review of Books)

Is there such a thing as collective virtue? These authors make the case, which I find unconvincing. (Journal of Value Inquiry)

Stoicism and the Eleusinian mysteries. How Marcus Aurelius was Initiated into the Cult of Demeter. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #122

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

Can comedy change the world? Despots aren’t defeated by laughter, but the fundamental message of the comedian – “it doesn’t have to be this way” – threatens authority and disturbs the prevailing order. (New Statesman)

Poseidon’s wrath. Vanished beneath the waves in 373 BCE, Helike is a byword for thinking about disaster, for ancients and moderns alike. (Aeon)

Exploring Postcolonialism in “Star Trek.” (The Great Courses Daily)

Why relativism is the worst idea ever. (APA Blog)

Why Stoicism now? One fool’s answer to a sage question in nine propositions. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #121

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

The philosophy of porn. Ubiquitous pornography doesn’t persuade, it trains. Star philosopher Amia Srinivasan says it’s time to reconnect desire with creativity. (Prospect Magazine)

Reason & Emotion. How do we bridge the (alleged) gap? (Philosophy Now)

Pursuing happiness is a mistake. The limits of utilitarianism in a pandemic. Though the author missed out entirely on the third option, other than utilitarianism and deontology: virtue ethics. (IAI News)

Forget morality. Moral philosophy is bogus, a mere substitute for God that licenses ugly emotions. Here are five reasons to reject it. Or not. The author is more than a bit confused about what counts for morality… (Aeon)

Stoic approaches to weight loss. Insight, self-control, and a sense of duty. No, not another “diet & exercise” article. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #120

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

Want to know, even if it hurts? You must be a truth masochist. Good points, some bad examples. (Psyche)

The idea that trees talk to cooperate is misleading. It’s a romantic notion, but pretending they’re like humans could actually harm the cause of conservation. (Scientific American)

Ignorance by design. On Jason Stanley’s “How Propaganda Works.” (Philosophical Salon)

The divine Dante. At 700, Dante’s Divine Comedy is as modern as ever – a lesson in spiritual intelligence that makes us better at being alive. (Aeon)

Stoicism vs Self-Help. How self-help and Stoicism remain incompatible. (Medium)

Suggested readings, #119

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

10 Latin phrases people pretend to understand. Knowing some Latin has its advantages. (Mental Floss)

Why the free will debate never ends. Julian Baggini looks beyond traditional approaches to the free will debate. And, as usual, he has something very much insightful to say. (The Philosophers’ Magazine)

Why did evolution create conscious states of mind? Finally a good question to ask about consciousness. (OUP Blog)

The end of reductionism could be nigh. Or not. By Sabine Hossenfelder, provocative as usual. (Nautilus)

Mistakes about the meaning of life. (The Philosophers’ Magazine)

Is Eric Weinstein a crackpot? The grand unified theories of the man who brought us the Intellectual Dark Web. A bit too charutable to Weinstein, for my taste. (Nonzero)

Illusory attitudes and the playful stoic. Why Stoics may have the best attitude toward competitive games. (Philosophical Studies)

How to Live a Good Life — Two Examples

Below is the abstract of a paper I co-wrote with my friend Skye Cleary about the value of philosophies of life. We present two examples in some depth: Stoicism and Existentialism. The full paper can be downloaded here. More on philosophies of life in the book that inspired this essay: How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy of Life, ed. by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary & Daniel Kaufman (Vintage, 2020).

What is a philosophy of life? And why should people examine both their own and those of others? We present an operational definition of philosophies of life as constituted of three components: (i) a metaphysics, i.e., a view of how the world works; (ii) an ethics, i.e., a view of how we should behave in the world; and (iii) a set of practices. We also argue that examining and comparing philosophies of life is conducive to more tolerance of others and to a more fulfilling life path for oneself. We then present two examples of life philosophies—Greco-Roman Stoicism and contemporary existential- ism—as case studies.

Suggested readings, #118

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

A non-Standard model. Most cosmologists say dark matter must exist. So far, it’s nowhere to be found. A widely scorned rival theory explains why. (Aeon)

Zebras, bacteria and asteroids. On what’s real and whether whatever it is can be part of a unified science. A very good summary of some fundamental debates in philosophy of science. (The Philosopher’s Magazine)

Tragedy as self-deception. We do it to ourselves. (IAI News)

The paradox of individualism. Individualism has been blamed for the break up of communities, personal alienation and rampant western consumerism. At the same time, with its focus on liberty and human rights, it is lauded as the crowning glory of western culture. (3 Quarks Daily)

Was Marcus Aurelius a persecutor of Christians? The scholarly take. (Harvard Theological Review)

Suggested readings, #117

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

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and its connection with the present. (Greek Reporter)

Ideas that work. Truth, knowledge, justice – to understand how our loftiest abstractions earn their keep, trace them to their practical origins. (Aeon)

How we discovered a new tool to help combat vaccine hesitancy. Our social experiment showed the first step is empathy with the skeptical. (Prospect Magazine)

The whitewashing of Rome. White supremacists fetishise ancient Rome – but antiquity was more diverse and polychromatic than racists will admit. (Aeon)

Do Stoic ethics depend on the Stoic worldview? (Modern Stoicism)