Suggested readings, #45

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

Science hasn’t refuted free will. A growing chorus says that science has shown free will to be an illusion. But it actually has offered arguments in its favor. [Kind of, sort of.] (Boston Review)

The Stoicism of Thomas Jefferson. Ten rules to follow in daily life. (Medium)

The dark shadow in the injunction to ‘do what you love’. [A somewhat rambling, long, but nevertheless interesting piece.] (Aeon)

Stoicism and the Military. Did Stoic philosophers go to war? (Medium)

Virgilian afterlives: the classics in question. [A bit self-indulging, but bear with it, it pays off.] (LA Review of Books)

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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.

5 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #45”

  1. Good piece on free will. Good stuff in general to be found at Boston Review. And, per the piece, yes, that was one of the highly touted Harari’s biggest flops.

    I’ve said before that I think a lot of everyday people don’t get the idea of emergent properties and therefore think that a materialistic worldview means determinism MUST BE how the mind works. That said, Harari (and Coyne and Harris, and others) are theoretically smart enough to know better.

    So why, especially on Harari and alleged philosopher Harris, Massimo, do they believe determinism?

    As for Caruso? I blogged about his two appearances on your old Scientia Salon.

    And, per the idea that Caruso is worried about society focusing too much on retributive justice, I’ll again mention Kaufmann’s “Without Guilt and Justice.” (Oh, I’m about halfway through that new bio of him.)

    One slight failure of the piece, as I was thinking about this earlier this week. One need not go all the way “down” to quantum theory to refute the idea of a rigid determinism in the sciences. Just going to chaos theory will work well enough.


  2. Well put on the work and do what you love, and the management / ownership class exploiting this. That said, the idea of “do what you love” is a bit of privilege at times. I’m at least doing what I don’t totally hate. Contra Keynes’ 15-hour work week ideas, or the people pushing basic income when we still don’t have national health care in the US? It’s not going to be an option for everybody for some time.


  3. I should have been more precise, Massimo; I was thinking about the variance in initial conditions within chaos theory. That said, a hardcore determinist likely wouldn’t consider that a refutation, you’re right, to play that out.

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    1. The world of fractals could be seen the same way, with real world playout. Depending on what degree of fineness we use to map a coastline, a beach hike, an outing in a motorboat, or at yet cruder scales long ago, a coastline voyage by a naval or commercial sailing ship would all be affected. But, again, a hardcore determinist probably wouldn’t see that as undercutting their position. (This also seems vaguely — but not too closely — analogous to the issue of emergent properties.)


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