Suggested readings, #36

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

I’m a vegetarian—Will I eat lab-grown meat? Say my Thanksgiving turkey were cultured from stem cells in a lab. That eliminates some—but not all—of my ethical and environmental concerns. (Wired)

Lessons from Seneca. What can we learn today from his life and philosophy? (Medium)

Is virtue signaling a perversion of morality? [It’s complicated, and the author relies a bit too much on pop evopsych. Still.] (Aeon)

The neuroscience of anxiety. [For once, a “the neuroscience of…” article that is actually useful.] (Medium)

Does the many-worlds interpretation hold the key to spacetime? [Critical, yet still far too charitable, toward mathematically-inspired metaphysics like the many-worlds interpretation.] (Physics Today)

The science against [unmoderated] pleasure seeking. (Medium)

Could I be my own soul mate? Maybe Emma Watson and Lizzo are on to something. [Despite the silly title, the author is onto something.] (New York Times)

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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

2 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #36”

  1. I like the virtue signalling piece. On religion and virtue signaling, I think it’s in line with some of the ideas of Atran, Boyer and others who have studied the evolutionary development of religion (from both biological and cultural roots). I get where you’re coming from too, but I think, of course that there is an evolutionary basis to emotions and to morals — just that there is also of course not ONLY an evolutionary basis to them.


    Rejecting the idea of soul mates, on both rejecting the religious idea of souls and the Greek myth narrated in the Symposium, nonetheless, the idea of being self-partnered? Ultimately, I think Shakespeare covered that with “to thine own self be true.” And, on the broader psychology? As a lifelong single, I agree.


    I’m with the lab meat piece on several grounds, starting with the environmental. We have ZERO guarantee it will readily ramp up as far as price, environmental cost etc. It will take MASSIVE energy to create commercial lab meet, including to maintain large “clean rooms” for its cultivation. Plus, let’s look at the veggie burgers. “Processed” is not necessarily evil, but it’s not good. (Plus, they’re higher in sodium than beef, and not much better in saturated fats.)

    Second, on the religious side? I’ve said before than any good Hindu will still consider that beef. On lab pork, I presume a good Jew or Muslim would do the same.

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    1. Socratic, oh, I agree that human emotions, as well as what I call instinctive (as distinct from deliberate) morals, evolved. But as you know, I think it’s too easy to tell empirically dubious stories about them.

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