Suggested readings, #39

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

Kant, the champion of equality under the law and individual freedom, was a sexist. And for most of his life, he was also a racist. How do we deal with these facts in modern times, RUG philosopher Pauline Kleingeld wonders. ‘You can’t just cut out the bad parts.’ [Hint: you need to reinterpret his whole philosophy.] (Ukrant)

Stoicism versus Jordan Peterson. [A lengthy and well done analysis by Don Robertson.] (Medium)

Where is my mind? The rise and fall of the claustrum epitomizes the hunt for consciousness in the brain. (Nautilus)

Self-help, The Classics: No 1, Bertrand Russell’s The Conquest of Happiness. (Medium)

Science Fiction’s wonderful mistakes. The great novels of the 1960s remain enjoyable because they got everything wrong. (New Republic)

Was Socrates anti-democratic? [It’s complicated, in interesting ways…] (3QuarksDaily)

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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.

6 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #39”

  1. Consider that consciousness might not be a thing localized to a single part of the brain but an ongoing process that might make use of many parts of the brain. I recently saw a paper that I cannot find now that stated that some tests associated with consciousness showed activity, simultaneously, in many parts of the brain.


    1. Jonathan, yes, I think that’s the emerging consensus: consciousness is an emergent activity of the brain, not localized. Still, there clearly are some areas of the brain (fronto-parietal lobes, for instance) that are more prominently involved with it than others.


  2. The 3QD piece fails in two ways. One, it refuses to look fully at the actual historic account of Socrates backing not just one but two coups against Athenian democracy. Two, on the level of literary criticism, it doesn’t wrestle with the question of what stances in Plato’s dialogues are Socrates’ and what are actually Plato’s. I have no problems continuing to see Socrates as anti-democratic. Third, a duty to obey the law is different from supporting democracy; Hobbes could tell the authors that. It’s about the law, not about what type of government wrote it.


    I like the Kant piece because it doesn’t let him off the hook with an easy “presentism.” You shouldn’t be surprise, you know I’ve long taken that stance, including on the beloved Hume. That said, Hume never made a late life turnaround effort.

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    1. However, the law is the product of culture, which raises interesting questions if you do not accept the tenets of the culture. Are some laws culture-based and others based on more fundamental ethical and physical considerations?

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