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)

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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.

One thought on “Suggested readings, #60”

  1. I started writing notes here on the long National Affairs piece so that I wouldn’t post a totally “Net-style” comment.

    As someone who doesn’t read books on Kindles, who is trying (not always hard) to reduce his social media self-exposure time, and other things, I agree with large chunks of the piece.

    I was also reminded, on the evolutionary side, about one thing I saw online this week. A new study confirms that chimps and gorillas, like some other apes, in their lip smacking speed (if you’ve seen this behavior) do it at the same rate as human oral articulations in speaking. So, that’s part of the evolutionary background of the musculature control, and an exapted habit of some sort, behind speech.

    That said, I think the piece went off the rails a bit with Luther, Protestantism, democracy, popular sovereignty vs divine right kingship and such. Luther with the Peasants Revolt, like Augustine with the Donatists (and possibly, tacitly prompted by this example), had no problem in using the arm of the state to, in essence, “compel conscience.” Popular sovereignty arose from the Enlightenment, not Protestant Christianity. And, as a good ex-Lutheran, I can say this from background.

    With the paragraph of “left” vs “right” that came next, I was already anticipating an argument for modern political-science liberalism next. Obviously, I wasn’t surprised.

    And, from there. Was America 1776 CE that much more literate than, say Maccabean Israel 164 BCE, given the high rate of basic, if not “deep” literacy, among Jews compared to their neighbors?


    The New Atlantis piece is interesting enough itself.

    I’m a “quantum realist” of some sort, but I’m not sure I’m in the same sort of quantum realism camp as Smolin. I think what’s missing is that, in aggregate, yes, quantum particles are probabilistic, while yes, an individual particle creates an individual event. In other words, there is NO “superposition of eigenstates,” and Schroedinger needs to toss his Gita or whatever particular Hindu work inspired him onto the trash pile. It’s all straightforward probabilities, not turtles, all the way down, as I blogged many years ago extending his cat thought experiment into three sub-experiments.

    The real issue is, probably, that both Smolin AND Carroll are wrong about how “things will eventually just fall into place.”

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