Plato’s suggestions

readingsOur regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Here is a book review dealing with the possibility of unifying philosophical and psychological insights concerning the idea of a “good life.” Not endorsing the author’s specific solution, but it seems like a generally good approach.

Do you know the difference among a socialist, a social democrat, and a communist? A very much needed brief refresher, particularly since I’ve just heard two “experts” in political science on National Public Radio getting it completely wrong.

Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher have a funny and barbed conversation about the Paris attacks, Islam, religion and what not.

Speaking of the Paris attacks, here is a well balanced — I think — editorial in the New York Times by Paul Krugman. (And, in case you missed it, my Stoic perspective on it.)

A really sad story of a man who gave more than $700k to a psychic in order to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend, who, turns out, had in the meantime died. It reads like an Onion article, but unfortunately it isn’t.


Categories: Plato's Suggestions

16 replies

  1. Unifying philosophy and psychology? Kind of like a Scottish empiricist did a bit? 🙂


    On the political stances, I consider myself a reluctant occasional corporate socialist. I think the US needs not just “single payer” health care coverage, but a British-type NHS. I think nationalization of health care services in the US is going to be the only truly effective way of controlling costs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, I also wanted Obama to follow the 1990s Swedish financial crisis model and (temporarily) nationalize a few banks.


  3. The Three-Worlds model of welfare governments has these classifications: Social-Democratic, Christian-Democratic, Liberal. The descriptions* of these are more informative than the names chosen.


  4. Wikipedia actually has a fair amount of depth on a variety of political movements. Libertarian socialism is another. Bit naive, bit too anarchist for me, but:


  5. @Philip, I know it has its name because of its European roots, but what If we had “Muslim-Democratic”? Or if Mr. Modi tempered the worst “religious nationalism” of the BJP and had “Hindu-Democratic”?


  6. This, linking off Philip’s link, is also important. Some libertarians in the US (albeit a definite minority of tthem) accept viewing health care in general along with other utilities as being at least a partial entitlement:


  7. One more link, for Massimo the biologist, and others who may not have heard — new news about the Denisovans:


  8. I liked your Stoic response to terrorism. I have always felt that hating people is, in a sense, to excuse them, because it says that you would have expected no better of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. On the “good life” review: Perhaps it is best to first read what Michael Bishop’s “network theory”* is about. There are so many “network” theories of everything now (cf. network science) that it has become dull reading about a new one. From a codicalist’s view, the “good life” is achieved by just finding the right “life code” and executing it.



  10. As the article on the various isms points out, these are umbrella concepts that have been used in such various configurations that they are little more than dog whistles currently.

    Some ideas to also consider would have to do with how the various financial mechanisms that regulate our economic interactions might be reconsidered, both of money and finance.

    For instance; modern monetary theory;

    And public banking;


  11. Philip,

    “the “good life” is achieved by just finding the right “life code” and executing it.”

    Well, that’s it? Someone should have told Socrates that! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The network theory(as answer to the good life) does overlook the obvious.

    The opposite side of that dichotomy is the node and we very much function as nodes in life. Specifically very linear and goal oriented nodes. Even the underlaying premise of this book is built on that, that we as individual beings are seeking this state of well being.

    For many young people, often it is just attained by going fast enough to burn off all that excess desire and energy driving them. Consequently bouncing off much of what they encounter, without particularly connecting to it.

    As we get older and start to build more connections, not just burn through the ones we are born to, then the reality of the network gets much stronger.

    Yet we still, as individuals, need to maintain some sense of control over our networks and not become totally subsumed into them, or the sense of self becomes somewhat lost in the shuffle.

    Now for a lot of people, that being part of the larger group is foundational to life, but then as one’s purpose becomes integrated into a larger whole, the larger entity becomes the motivation and direction, otherwise it too will fragment and scatter across the even larger network.

    Organisms and ecosystems.


  13. One more link, relevant to the socialism. A “real socialist” like Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is not yet highly impressed by Sanders.


  14. Versus (or extending upon) the network theory (of psychology), it’s surprising if the the rhizome (rhizomic, rhizomatic) doesn’t come up.

    cf. (“The Cocreation of Crazy Patchworks: Becoming Rhizomatic in Systemic Therapy”)


  15. It is interesting that for as much as religions function as political movements throughout history, there seems to be so little analysis of them from this perspective, as opposed to the rejection of their spiritualist claims.

    For instance, Islam was a very successful political and military movement for about the first half of its history, before settling into being primarily a branch of world civilization.

    Consequently it has a more hard nosed and doctrinaire theological claim, than Christianity, which as an underground movement for its first 400 years, before being co-opted as a state religious by a fading empire. Consequently Christianity tends to have more lenient social and political views.

    Now Islam did provide the space for a significant civilization to rise, but its core canon does read as a bit of a manual of political and military opportunism, so the more liberalizing aspects do seem more peripheral to those looking for guidance.

    Yet the secular approach to all of this is to grant the monotheistic religions their claims of spiritual authority and only dismiss it all on those very narrow terms, leaving the rest of humanity to chose between versions of ancient social movements, or a shallow materialist rejection of all spiritual claims.

    What is to say there isn’t a spiritual ecosystem out/in there, every bit as vibrant as the organic expression of it? One which naturally shrugs off any claims about it.

    It just seems to be a normal tendency of any school of thought to claim itself to be universal, even to the point of knowing the entirety of reality to fit within its claims. This goes from the most medieval religions, to the most modern cosmologies. ( Lemaitre was a Catholic priest.)

    I think we will eventually come to realize these only constitute singular expressions within ever larger dynamics. Little more than collective thought bubbles.


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