Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 62

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

The relationship between child’s play and scientific method. (Except there is no scientific method.)

Bringing philosophy to bear again on everyday life.

Are Democrats the party of science? Not really.

Can we really measure implicit bias? Maybe not.

University as an intellectual asylum and the spiraling downgrading of public discourse.

What is logic? And why should we care about its history?

The real problem with hypocrisy: moral condemnation is largely about signaling.

It’s time to address the dirty underbelly of “clean eating” (apparently, the issue can get quite emotional).

Machiavelli was right (maybe, it’s complicated).

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81 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 62

  1. The comment above relates to we Green members and how much we should operate as a nudge to Dems and how much we need to stand as our own party, period. I back the latter, which is one of the issues I and many other Greens had with Jill Stein. (To the degree I can ethically do so as a member of the media — and yes, Astro and others, some of us are ethical — I have a fair degree of activity in the party. I’ve been to one state convention, multiple local meetings years ago when I lived in Dallas, and a desire to go to last year’s national convention in Houston, thwarted by my broken arm.)

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  2. As for JFK, many people forget that he actually triggered the missile crisis by putting missiles in Turkey, right at the doorsteps of the Soviet Union

    That is not correct. The missiles where already n Turkey and if I remember coreectly where widely considered obsolete. Eisenhower put them there in 1959 before JFK was in office. One might consider JFK partially responsibledue too that non-sense about the ‘missile gap’ he spouted, However, Eisenhower had to be planning their installation long before that.

    The advent of the Polaris submarine based missiles made Jupiter irrelevant and obsolete.

    My father designed the wave tank at UC Berkeley used to test the stability of underwater launches. This would have been around 1952 + a bit.I was old enough to still remember being taken to see the wave tank. I didn’t see any launch test which ere presumably classified

    Eisenhower/Nixon triggered the missile crises. JFK might have prevented the crisis, by unilaterally removing the irrelevant missiles before hand. It was Eisenhower’s doctrine to deter conventional attack on Europe with Nuclear weapons — a very bad idea as JFK found out the hard way[a].

    [a]I do blame him for the ‘missle gap’ rhetoric that made it harder to have a rational policy’.

    We are all mortal…

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  3. Massimo,

    If it had been Cruz, Rubio, or possibly some of the other Repub candidates, I would readily agree, but Trump is a wild card and there really are serious structural issues that have been kicked about as far down the road as they can. Contrary to what Dick Cheney says, debt does matter, or we wouldn’t be running it up.

    Eventually the downside will come and then everyone will be fighting over the crumbs. The right has fought deficits over the years, but still want money for their priorities. The left tends to ignore it, on the assumption it’s spent on their preferred constituencies, but that means they have no conceptual foundation to offer for why stronger social structures and institutions matter more for national security, than an extravagant military.

    There are a few good economists, Michael Hudson, Steve Keen, Thomas Pikkety, etc., but it’s not like the larger academy gives the situation the attention it deserves. The academic segmentation creates lots of experts in every possible sub-field, but where are the intellectual strategists? Even people with lots of money are starting to realize the situation is not stable. Isn’t there some way to take this post truth moment and get beyond the polarization? Left and right lay out the arguments and assume there is no easy solution, but understand the feedback between the sides. There can be no ideal world where all unhappiness is purged, because there has to be both carrot and stick to make society function.
    While draining as much value out of the larger society doesn’t help those managing it, in the long term. As my father put it, you can’t starve a profit.
    Trump is the president. Right now, Sanders seems to be the only one offering an alternative, that is any more than crying over spilt milk.

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  4. Not much (or any) comment on the article on Mark Greif, but I guess one positive outcome of a roundup of reviews like this is that someone will actually read the works in question, so I will declare that I intend to read “Against Everything.” My thought, after reading the article, was that somewhere between Aquinas and Luther, religion lost a lot of its status as interpreter of the world and guide to everyday life, and philosophy was poised to step into the gap, when it was blindsided by all the new discoveries of science, and has been trying to find its role ever since. In another field, music, in the works of Mozart there is no gulf whatever between pop and profundity, and much the same can be said of Shakespeare, especially when the plays are performed on a stage, as they were meant to be. If you look around, epiphanies can be found everywhere.

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  5. WTC: Depends on what level of European society you’re looking at to ask when religion lost that status, how much and why. Don’t forget the Renaissance and its increased trade and prosperity, the rise of nation-states in unifying Spain, France and England on one hand, but subnational-states disintegrating the HRE, on the other hand, and more. Given that the likes of Newton explicitly tried to integrate science and religion, this was a drawn-out process.

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  6. Yes, Ike put those missiles in Turkey — and the ones in Massimo’s Italy that were ALSO removed as part of the Cuban Missile Crisis deal. And, contra Camelot myth, neither JFK nor Nikita covered themselves in much glory over the incident.

    Sidebar: LBJ, because he did NOT regularly sit in on the “ExComm,” apparently did not know JFK had made this bargain. He thought Jack had simply been that tough. It’s been argued this was partially behind his hard line on Vietnam.

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  7. What Trump did is more than a ‘freeze’. It’s not clear he even knew what he was signing, but whether he did or not it is very broad and would allow HHS sec to effectively culminate mandate and leave the issue of whether he can to it or not to spend years being fought over in court while ACA dies on the vine.

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  8. Socratic, my remarks were pretty general. I was intrigued by the gap between the high middle ages, where philosophy was the “handmaiden of theology” and its emergence in the 17th century in the work of Descartes and Spinoza.

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  9. wtc,

    On a similar note, I think the problem with the atheistic movement is that it is scientific, rather than philosophical.
    The approach is to take the most literal expressions of religion, such as a creator God, or Jesus rose from the dead and disprove them on an evidentiary basis, rather than peel away what are often metaphors and political constructs, to get to the deeper conceptual issues.
    Such as the point I keep making about God as conceived as an all-knowing absolute, is flawed and serves a political function, in that absolute would be basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence of sentience, from which consciousness rises, not an ideal of judgement and wisdom from which it fell. The new born babe, not the father figure/wise old man.
    Having covered various aspects of the issue before, I won’t go into them, but to point out the problems this has caused for science, in that while it has rejected the theistic aspects of the model, it still assumes the monolithic point of focus. Such as that everything must fit into a single frame or model, from the Big Bang theory, to a ToE, to the idea that the hard sciences, such as QM and GR are the seed from which all other aspects of reality spring, rather than the skeleton of stable structure that can be distilled out of this reality.
    Rather reality is more of a panorama, where there are connections between all the various aspects of it, but trying to condense and distill it all into some elemental model only serves to break down many of the complexities. Reality is not ultimately reducible.
    Absolutist monolithic religions have a similar problem, in the quest for purity creates a downward spiral, as anything judged impure is rejected.

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  10. This monolithic assumption also goes to the current political debate, in that each side sees their position as valid and the other as “fake,” when they are often two sides of the same process.
    Say liberalism as social expansion and conservatism as civil and cultural consolidation.

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  11. There might not be any “party of science” on the current map, but there are still some differences in how the different political players view applied science and technology, versus pure science and theory. The greens are certainly luddites when it comes to GMO and atomic power, but as far as I know they are not denying the basic science behind genetic modification or nuclear reactions, they are just objecting to how it should be applied. Neocons on the other hand are happy to pander to faith-based basic science denial, but at the same time want to deregulate any technology (which might as well be magic, for all they care) that might produce a short-term strategic advantage to their interests.

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  12. Brodix, I see what you’re getting at, but by the time I come up with a response, the door will probably slam on comments. I’m mostly trying to get a handle on the basic duality between biological humans and cultural humans, a sort of schism dating back around 250,000 years and gradually widening. Being a human myself complicates this effort, but I try to maintain some kind of Martian POV.

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  13. wtc,

    I don’t know that there is a difference, so much as two sides of the same coin. Biologically we are bottom up bunches of organic protoplasm, constantly looking for ways to grow and push forward. While culturally we are top down, in that all the things we encounter and push against, including each other, create limits and therefore definition and structure.
    As an analogy, consider that galaxies are energy radiating out, as mass falls in. It’s a dichotomy of energy pushing out, as structure pulls in.
    Then there is the circularity, as structures become ever more complex as they fold back onto themselves.
    So even basic organisms develop what might be considered a proto-culture, in that they develop sets of responses to conditions that adapt over time. The sense that culture is static is due to structure needing to be stable. Though as it gets more rigid, it also gets more compact and dense, so cultural rigidity serves a smaller section of society.
    To put it in context, consider that we evolved a central nervous system to process form/information, while we evolved a digestive, respiratory and circulatory system to process the energy to carry that information processing forward.
    So while organic consciousness goes from past to future thoughts, these mental forms go future to past.
    Now as groups of people, we evolved forms of government to further guide our group behavior, much as we have the mind to guide our individual behaviors. This started as what would be considered private enterprise, i.e. the initiative of individual members. Gradually we acculturated it as a social assumption and then institutionalized it as monarchy. Then when this proved to be of limited use, given the stability of heredity was overridden by the vagaries of genetics, it became a public function.
    Now my argument has been we are going through the same process with what amounts to finance as the community circulation system. Money and blood as medium. Which also started as private initiative, but is reaching limits of effectiveness and will eventually have to be incorporated as a form of public utility, but distinct from formal government, much as the circulation system and nervous system are distinct and serve different functions.
    Having politicians in control of the money supply is a recipe for disaster, given their short term needs are contrary to the long term functioning of the economy.
    Eventually we might even be working towards a more formal Gaia hypothesis, with humanity as the central nervous system, managing and protecting the larger organism, but that is likely centuries, if not millennia away. Right now, we are just top predator in a collapsing ecosystem.
    My Martian view.

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