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)

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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.

3 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #117”

  1. Good stuff Massimo. I was surprised by the whitewashing article; it has never occurred to me that Rome was White; in fact, one of the defining characteristics of the empire, arguably for the first time in history, was the drawing in of people from disparate lands. Conquer, tax, and invite to Rome for Ferragosto! Bring your spices!

    I think one of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy now is the censorship of the anti-vaxxers. Government colluding with our big tech overlords (one of the two main pillars of fascism as you are undoubtably aware) to demonetize, deplatform, and dehumanize (Neanderthals) those with different opinions kindles doubt among those with liberal ideals (civil rights, basic freedoms such as the freedom to have and express opinions). When people with a bit of hesitancy see that the Federal Government is directing big tech (while they are also sabre rattling about more regulation and oversight, introducing obvious threat if the big tech companies don’t play along) to censor those with differing opinions, it increases their hesitancy. We’ve surely seen enough deception and corruption in government in the past 100 (10,000) years to wonder what they might be hiding, no? Combine this healthy suspicion with valid reasons for doubt in this particular instance (the vaccines are authorized on an emergency basis only, they were developed under the direction of a President viewed as an uber-villain by many, they are so new that despite assurances of safety there is no way to know the long term effects, they were developed by companies with a long history of prioritizing profits over people’s health–especially in this case where they were given protection from lawsuits while at the same time handed billions of dollars up front, if and only if they could develop vaccines faster than any historical precedent, etc.), and free and open discussion, even including the crazies, is the only way for the truth to be visible.

    But, I lean strongly toward freedom of speech, even with it’s pitfalls, over censorship. I trust people to make decisions over the government, as long as the former group has access to all the information. Once one gives up this belief, all hope is lost it seems to me, and authoritarianism beckons. I’m trying to think of a time in history where the censors turned out to be the good guys…

    After all, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (I’m looking at you Plato…)

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    1. Montana, good points, but I find myself in profound disagreement. Yes, governments sometimes betrays us, and I certainly don’t trust major corporations. But in the case of covid vaccines none of that stands up to a reasonable scrutiny.

      Anti-vaxxers are not being shut down at all. In fact, the problem is that they have plenty of platforms to misinform others. But frankly I’m sick and tired of having my life, and that of my loves ones, curtailed by a bunch of “skeptics” who really ought to know better.


  2. Private businesses cannot and do not “censor” in the constitutional law sense of the word, Montana. Period and end of story. “Nice” narrative, but totaly wrong on the legal angle.

    Oh, and since Biden just called out Hucksterman for promoting antivaxxerism, wrong on other angles, too.

    As far as vaccines, liability, and the Vaccine Court? You’re wrong on that angle as well.

    Congrats: you hit the trifecta.

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