Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 95

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

You probably think this art is about you

The historically proven way to reduce inequality: wars and assorted catastrophes.

Why so many Indians support men like the “guru” recently convicted of rape.

Time to play more board games. It’s good for you, and it may save the world…

And here are ten of the best board games, if you intend to follow up on the advice above. (Ask me what my choices were…)

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Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Thanks

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Categories: Plato's Suggestions

69 replies

  1. The Scheidel book seems very interesting and Hanson’s review is both comprehensive and detailed. It is never a bad thing to examine whether a good — in this case — equality can be accomplished in ways that don’t wind up being worse than its absence. And it seems to me quite plausible that as liberal values prevail, inequality will inevitably rise. Hence the balancing act. It’s also always a good thing to remember — with the help of history — that efforts to accomplish a good like equality without such a balancing act typically involve violent or otherwise undesirable means.

    Really good review. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Socratic

    Do you have any opinion on his scholarship of Greek Warfare?

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  3. Saph, it’s been a long time since I’ve read him on that. I can’t remember what I thought of his relative strategic analysis, but as far as the two sides sociologically, he ran ancient Persia through a “300” movie stereotyping lens, and was all wet on that.

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  4. Arthur,

    “Of course, he had this just backwards, building the autobahn was the means, the goals were imperialism, persecution and genocide. Eventually, I got him to see this!”

    Hitler’s ends were the purification of German culture and its geographic expansion. Everything else was means. An example of an ideal being taken as an absolute.

    Like a hurricane, people better understand the carnage left in its wake, than the dynamic driving it.

    The article on inequality also seems to focus on human perceptions, than the dynamics driving society. Societies do go through cycles of building up and breaking down and while politicians and people want that tide that lifts all boats, even tides eventually go out again.

    Riding the crest of an ever building wave makes the eventual downside that much greater.

    Eventually people will understand that while we are naturally goal and object oriented, these are just focal and turning points, horizon lines and details, fluctuating between the absolute and the infinite.

    It is a hall of mirrors and we just want a selfie.

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  5. Hitler’s ends were the purification of German culture and its geographic expansion. Everything else was means. An example of an ideal being taken as an absolute.

    You make it sound almost benign — mere conquest? I don’t think, so.

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  6. Arthur,

    Within a broad enough context, the end of civilization sounds benign. It’s when it’s up close and personal that it’s a bitch.

    The fact remains that knowledge is as much a function of context, as content.

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  7. Hitler was anti-Semitic. He was also pro-German.

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  8. Was Hitler evil? Yes. Was he too evil to analyze? No.

    It is when we get into these simple good/bad categories and insist they are beyond objective consideration, that large numbers of people run off cliffs, or go to war with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ‘It is when we get into these simple good/bad categories and insist they are beyond objective consideration, that large numbers of people run off cliffs, or go to war with each other.’

    Which is why it becomes necessary to understand good/bad as a biological binary, then as emergent social ethics, rather than a top down theological absolute, given the strong emotional responses that quickly drown out any objectivity.

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