Plato’s weekend suggestions

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Julian Baggini at The Guardian reviews “Hands: What We Do With Them — and Why,” by Darian Leader, a book that asks “What if, rather than focusing on the new promises or discontents of contemporary civilisation, we see today’s changes as first and foremost changes in what human beings do with their hands?”

Lots of people think that philosophical thought experiments, like the infamous trolley dilemma, are irrelevant mental masturbation. Turns out, your actual life might depend on them…

Wendy Werris penned an article for Publishers Weekly where she described her very rough two weeks working for Barnes & Noble. Though it’s hard to imagine why on earth she was expecting something different.

The European soccer championship is entering its final phase, but this summary of famous philosophers’ take on sports events and what they teach us about life applies equally well to the Olympics, the SuperBowl, and the (so-called) World Series.

Heard about Brexit, right? Here is Sir Patrick Stewart’s take on it, in turn inspired by the famous Monty Python sketch, “What have the Romans ever done for us?

Finally, indulge me if I publish one of my own Plato Comics (TM), but let me clarify just in case that it obviously reflects my own idiosyncratic opinion, and that it is meant just for fun. So, no need to “reply” to it, it ain’t an argument…


249 thoughts on “Plato’s weekend suggestions

  1. dbholmes

    Hi Synred, post-translational modification is too huge of a thing to capture accurately in a comment section. But you are correct that there are shared amino acid sequences (of course that is often true from different “genes”), and different folding conformations can produce wildly different effects.

    The different types and sources of modifications are many and varied. You can start with the wiki page:

    However, for the most part (outside of fertilization and early gestation) it would not rely on chemistry from the mother’s egg.

    If you are highly interested in the subject, a great textbook (which I feel is accessible even to lay people with basic chem/bio knowledge) is “Molecular Biology of the Cell” by Alberts. Excellent resource.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dbholmes

    Hi Robin, I answered your question way before you asked it! 🙂

    Earlier in the thread I said that it is not (always) necessary but it can be useful and is a valid means of affecting the behavior of others.

    Contrary to Coel I don’t believe it is needed in childhood, or at least not for every single aspect of who you become/are.

    I suppose no one feels like it is/was “needed” for themselves, but it is usually identified when it was “needed” to affect the behavior of someone else.

    I admit it was needed to keep me from doing things (at least in public) that people (at the time) did not want. Whether society “needed” to be protected from my behavior is another question.

    It seems the answer now is no, and the same technique “needed” to prevent some people in engaging in behaviors (at least in public) that are bigoted (when earlier it was considered “good” and my behavior “deviant”).

    As Coel has pointed out, the mechanism is neutral. It can be used for different purposes. Using the “negative” goals to discredit the mechanism is pretty much throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And as Synred points out there is a contrary method “social approval”. Is the latter any better/worse than social criticism?

    It seems a practical tool, particularly “in the moment” where most of us have to affect the behavior of others (or where it matters most).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Philosopher Eric

    Hi Garth,

    I’ve been taking some extra time with your last question because I consider there to be some important subtleties that I’d rather not be overlooked. Above I’ve presented a model of how social opprobrium functions as a lever from which to alter our behavior, or essentially that we’ve evolved to be highly concerned about what others think of us, and so that a fundamentally selfish creature was able to become highly social. But then if you go further to ask me “should” or “ought” social opprobrium be implemented, and do so in a purely prescriptive sense, then I won’t be able to answer you as such. This is because I don’t believe that independent oughts exist. From my own perspective, is is all there is!

    Here you might concede this and say, “Okay then, *describe* whether or not you think social opprobrium is a good method for regulating behavior?” To this I can say that it depends upon the utility of any given subject — sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it’s negative. If you then grant me this as well, you might ask if I personally am more thumbs up or thumbs down on the stuff in respect to its effect upon people in general?

    To this I can say that there are plenty of evolved aspects of our nature which I am thumbs down about. In the modern world desires which make us extremely fat seem unhelpful for example. But in the modern world do I sense that people would be more happy if we didn’t care what others thought of us? No I can’t say that! And if you’re asking (even when we do have such concerns) if I think people in general are more happy because we judge each other, then yes I suppose that I am still thumbs up.

    Let’s say that a government were to try to use social opprobrium, or even laws, in the quest to stamp out blatent examples of social opprobrium. Would this make people more or less happy? I suspect less, and because this dynamic should counter what seems to be an essential governing aspect of what we are.

    If you believe that people in general would be more happy if standard judgementation were somehow diminished, or perhaps that you see better tools from which to refine our behavior so that we’re able to function in human societies, then I’m curious about what gives you this perception?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. synred

    f you are highly interested in the subject, a great textbook (which I feel is accessible even to lay people with basic chem/bio knowledge) is “Molecular Biology of the Cell” by Alberts. Excellent resource.

    I’m pretty interested. Perhaps not enough to buy the book. Maybe I can get it from the library.

    I’m trying to make the genetics in my simulation program FINCHES more realistic, but while it is a very detailed simulation, it skips past protein synthesis.

    The wiki looks good.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. synred

    Does anyone feel they need (present tense) social opprobrium (as opposed to parenting or socialisation) to control their own behavior?

    Doesn’t seem likely that many will admit it even to themselves. Doesn’t mean it is or isn’t effective as part of ‘social control’.

    What’s your point? To show ‘opprobrium’ is not needed because nobody on PF needs it? You can’t demonstrate that by a survey even if you had a less biased sample

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Philosopher Eric

    Does anyone feel they need (present tense) social opprobrium (as opposed to parenting or socialisation) to control their own behaviour?

    Robin that’s a wicked question! I like it! Thus Synred might now write out that he’s nearly crippled by his longstanding desire to rape little boys, though the thought of what others would think of him if they found out has been instrumental in his fight against this horrible temptation. But wait… no what he actually publishes is “Great question Robin. I can’t think of any!” (Obviously I’m joking here, and chose Synred because I suspect that he appreciates being included in the humor.)

    Anyway my point is that through honest introspection, we should find countless ways in which our behavior is altered because we are concerned about what others think of us. So yes to the question itself, I feel that I need social opprobrium as opposed to just parenting or socialization, to control my own behavior. Furthermore the question which I would ask is, does anyone here believe that their behavior would not change if, unlike now, they had no concerns whatsoever about how they were perceived by others?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. synred

    Lack of consequence (or even in some cases approval) likely contributes to the bad behavior of men in war. Stalin likely encouraged it. Hitler too. And for the great Khan. Serbia, etc. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

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