Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 110

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

The philosophy of food.

Liberals need to take their fingers out of their ears.

The truth about cultural appropriation, and why it’s a bad idea for creativity and social progress.

Why physicists need philosophy. (Yeah, yeah, the other way around too!)

Research perversions are spreading, and you will not like the proposed solution. (Though I’m not so sure myself.)

Jacques Lacan was very high maintenance. Particularly about his silk underwear…

Do we “translate” science for the general public? I actually think that’s a misleading metaphor. But food for thought.

150 years of bullshit, P.T. Barnum to Donald Trump.

The science-based and ethical case for banning children from using smartphones.

Speaking of banning, the ethics of doing so to friends on Facebook.


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. Also, keep ‘em short, this is a comments section, not your own blog. Thanks!

129 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 110

  1. wtc48

    Synred: “Kansas: Not to mention Kansas was founded as a free state and fought a war with Missouri over the issue.

    It would appear they’ve lost…”

    In a bigger sense, what we’re witnessing in politics is the final victory of the C.S.A. In the 150-odd years since the Civil War, the leading export of the South has been Southerners, and they weren’t all black.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. brodix


    “Whatever the merits may be of the Gaia hypothesis, what it represents to me is a crack in the mindset that the interests of humans and those of the planet are identical, which is just another version of “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.” Beyond that, I’m pretty much skeptical about any monistic solution.”

    I don’t see it as an ultimate good, but more of a natural progression of the globalization process. The field coalescing into the particle. More the end of the beginning, than the beginning of the end for the anthropocene.

    My point isn’t so much that what is good for humanity is good for the planet, as humanity being faced with caring for its habitat, or else.

    Humanity is going to remain dominant for the foreseeable future, so it is more a matter of tempering the ego, with an understanding and appreciation of the cyclical processes at work. Which is at least a step beyond our current rush for our individual pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Let future generations deal with the problems that arise. Just give them a future to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ejwinner

    十年树木,百年树人 – It takes a decade to grow a tree, a century to teach a people.

    FDR began maneuvering to the White House thirty years before his election. The current Republican hegemony is the result of 50 years work in both the private and the public sectors.

    Oh, and the current rise of China comes after a hundred years of effort, much of it suffered through the pure hell of war and revolution, missteps, and famines.

    History is unkind to any desire for ‘instant gratification,’ but rewards hard work, long range planning, tolerance for set-backs. Strategy is not about an election, but about a way of life.

    That is why the young should vote *, but should not determine policy. What the heck does an adolescent know about patience and perseverance?

    I should admit that I always thought the reduction of the franchise age to eighteen was an enormous mistake – and I was sixteen at the time. But I already knew the kind of political nonsense teenagers come to believe in, having been a Nixon Youth at 13, but later developing into a Yippie, Vote at 18? They can’t even have good sex at eighteen, what do they know about anything?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. wtc48

    I think much of the rhetoric in the media on the liberal/conservative division is pretty irrelevant where I live, in a rural county (Jackson) in southern Oregon. Overall, Jackson county votes Republican, but on an individual basis, it’s often hard to tell the difference, because there’s a distinct lack of extreme views. People are mostly concerned with local issues that don’t have much to do with ideology. The big new thing here is pot farming, which offers the first opportunity in many years for farming on a small scale as a somewhat profitable activity. The efforts by Zinke to shrink monuments and disrupt environmental matters are distinctly unpopular, as a great deal of local income comes from eco-tourist activities such as hunting and fishing, and cuts in funding for the arts has an adverse effect on our local (and nationally famous) Shakespeare festival. I think doctrinaire and/or identity politics has very little appeal here, and after living here for over 40 years, I suspect that much the same condition prevails in many of those “red” counties around the country. If the politicians would just get back to governing, a lot of people would breathe a sigh of relief.


  5. ejwinner

    冰冻三尺,非一日之寒 – One cold day will not freeze a river three feet deep.

    (Massimo – sorry I didn’t include translation in original post, I was hoping the humor would be in presenting only the Chinese. But the sense should be clear enough: we don’t know what the current policies of China will produce until many years from now.)


  6. SocraticGadfly

    Robin, yes, I should have qualified my comment about Australia’s Liberals. (I follow politics in the rest of the Anglosphere and EU to some degree.)


    Well, Dan, per my triangulation, I don’t have a problem putting “classic liberals” in the US in square quotes. For the other countries, the quotes were simply “reference quotes.”

    That said, do you support a European-strength safety net? Let’s get to brass tacks here.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. SocraticGadfly

    WTC, now that I know more exactly where you live, maybe I’ve seen you at a distance on a vacation? I’ve been to Ashland (and Medford, and Grants Pass). Been up to the top of Mount Ashland once. Redwoods NP and Crater Lake, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. brodix


    It goes without question FDR was a good politician and, overall, a good person.
    The point is both sides need the other. It’s a cycle, like bottom up and top down.
    That this is obscured creates a lopsided balance of power.


  9. SocraticGadfly

    One other angle on the race vs. class issue. Thomas and I are the only regular commenters here to live in the South, as far as I know. (Sorry, Brodix, but Maryland is Mid-Atlantic.) And yes, very far east of Dallas, East Texas is the South. Live oaks, magnolias, and Spanish moss, plus culture. And, I’m the only person to live in a small town in the South, as far as I know, among regular commenters. It’s still different, including different from red states of the Midwest. (And, small towns are also different from small cities, like St. Joe.)

    I offer an In These Times link to a story about former NY Times columnist Bob Herbert’s new documentary about the intersection of race and class.


  10. brodix


    It is 20 miles south of the Mason Dixon Line!

    The local town, Hereford, is because Merrymans came from Herefordshire.

    Cavaliers. So the split with those Puritans goes back to the English Civil War.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ejwinner

    “Thomas and I are the only regular commenters here to live in the South, as far as I know.”
    Dan lives in Missouri. That’s as far south as one needs go these days.


  12. Daniel Kaufman

    EJ: St. Louis certainly isn’t the South. But where I live, way down in the Southwest corner, closer to Arkansas than St. Louis, it’s definitely the South. We have Confederate military cemeteries.


  13. SocraticGadfly

    Dan: Thanks for the confirmation on what you will, and won’t, support.

    So, why should anybody believe that your classical liberalism is really good for everyday Americans? See “triangulation.”


  14. SocraticGadfly

    To some degree, true, “the South” doesn’t follow state borders. The Ozarks of southern Missouri, and Arkansas, is essentially Appalachia extended. Per my earlier “mudsills” observation … a relatively high concentration in that area. But, a St. Joe, or say, a Bethany, due east of it? Midwest. Certainly a Nebraska, etc.


  15. saphsin

    I think it may be reasonable to pin whether it’s appropriate to describe him as the 2nd Reagan. I know that Reagan was worse, just that Clinton did much to further the project of neoliberalism and dismantle the remaining products of the New Deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. brodix

    On the issue of racism, competition versus integration is not really an issue that can be dictated.

    First off different peoples and cultures are always going to compete on core issues and integrate on peripheral ones. The old conservative/liberal divide. Stability is sustained by giving them the space to where their cores remain reasonably separate and their edges can evolve stable relationships. Nodes and networks.

    Which gets back to the economic question. When we have global financial networks specifically designed to siphon all spare value out of any relationship and central store of value, i.e. both liberal and conservative functions, then those social units are going to fall together and clash. Blaming it on the other, not on the loss of the underlaying medium, solves nothing and only obscures the problem and its solution.


  17. Daniel Kaufman

    Socratic: The discussion thread on this week’s reading suggestions is not the place to have a full-blown discussion of which is the best political philosophy and why. Certainly more than one is defensible, and certainly the classical liberalism of John Locke and John Stuart Mill is one of them.


  18. synred

    Ten miles NORTH of Bloomington Indiana there is a town call Martinsville that was (and may still be) run by the KKK. Black visitors to the University where warned to avoid it.

    A little further north there’s a town called Unionville.,_Indiana,_Indiana
    Historically, Martinsville was the place of some racial controversies, such as the 1968 murder of 20-year-old African American, Carol Jenkins, who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver while doing part-time work selling encyclopedias door-to-door.
    Carol Jenkins’ murder remained unsolved for 33 years until Kenneth Richmond was arrested for the crime. Richmond was a nearby Hendricks County resident who was passing through Martinsville on the night Jenkins was murdered.[21] It was revealed that, following Carol’s murder, Richmond laughed and said to his unknown accomplice, “She got what she deserved.”[22]
    The white couple Don and Norma Neal, who called the police to try to help Carol a half-hour before she died, proposed a monument in Carol’s memory on the courthouse grounds. The County declined to place a monument on that location at that time.[21] In November, 2017, Martinsville partnered with Carol’s hometown of Rushville, Indiana, both communities holding memorial events in Carol’s honor with her family present. At that time, the city of Martinsville dedicated a monument in Carol’s memory that will be installed in a garden at City Hall. A smaller replica of the stone was presented to Carol’s family. [23]
    Martinsville still fights its reputation for racism and prejudice, though many people living there say they welcome people from all races, sexual orientations, and religions. The high school’s LGBTQ club was the highest charter in 2015,[24] and town leaders have spoken out against and enacted orders in defiance of Indiana’s controversial RFRA.[25]

    –>It looks like Martinsville has improved since I lived there in 1981.

    The Coke distributor (who area included Martinsville) lived across the street from us in Bloomington. His daughter Heather was my daughter’s best friend. He was from the deep south someplace and was not w/o prejudice, but he was the Carol Jenkins murder and esp. the the guy ‘was still walking around town.’


  19. synred

    Clinton got rid of Glass-Stegal. The new deal regulations stopped the cycle of depressions every ~20 years of depressions. We had none till the near miss in 2008.

    If Repubs had retained power, and cut-cut-cut it might well have turned into a depression. They still made the recovery too slow by making the stimulus too small.

    The current stock Market looks damned bubbly.


  20. Alan White

    Just for future reference, I was born in Alabama (had to have the banjo surgically removed from my knee: BTW if you don;t know how utterly racist “Oh Susana” originally was, check Wikipedia ), raised in a small town in Tennessee till 10, then transplanted to Vallejo, CA (“the most diverse city in America” according to a recent NYT story, and I can vouch for that). The latter move not only scrubbed out my Southern accent, but gave me a 1st-class public education that I could never have gotten in rural Tennessee. But all my surviving relatives live either in Tennessee, Alabama, or California. Now just retired from UW in Wisconsin, I can say my life’s experiences with respect to different environs and family politically have been all over the map. My older brother, a retired police officer/college instructor in Pulaski, TN, would have certainly voted for Roy Moore had he had the chance. Not even to mention how when I arrived here as a TT professor in 1981 Wisconsin was as blue as a blue state can be–and has become what I now call “Wississippi”. Let’s see what the Koch money can do about Senator Baldwin next year–if she loses, we’ll be as red a state as there is anywhere.


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