Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 111

The end of violence?Here it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

It’s an increasingly unequal world. But it doesn’t have to be. As the difference between Europe and the US clearly shows.

The symptoms of dying. Be prepared.

Smart people do foolish things. Good critical thinkers, not so much.

Steven Pinker may be wrong about decreasing violence in society. It may be the result of a scaling artifact.

RNA world or not, we’ll probably never know exactly how life originated on Earth.


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Categories: Plato's Suggestions

106 replies

  1. Massimo: Quasi-foundationalist. Surely he’s not a foundationalist a la Descartes or Ayer.

    Liked by 1 person


    Speaking of Voltaire

    This thread does seem a bit on the ‘angel counting’ side.


  3. Of philosophers who wrote about politics, I still think Richard Rorty (I know, not particularly liked liked by some) should be noted, e.g. “Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America”). One commentary from this book’s Wikipedia page: “Several writers have cited this scenario in which Rorty predicts the rise of an authoritarian strongman who gains popularity among blue-collar workers, as prophetic of Donald Trump’s rise to political power.”


  4. Thomas, per “The Holy Grail,” I’m looking for an “autonomous social collective” to join!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Per Thomas’ flow chart, many people split “social democracy” and “democratic socialism” on the degree of emphasis on socialism, including corporate socialism not just the welfare state. In that, Bernie would be a social democrat, while Corbyn, and parties of the left in Scandinavia would be democratic socialists. (The SPD in German is social democrat, not democratic socialist, especially after Schroeder and successors put it through its own Third Wave spin.)


  6. Perhaps Rorty was thinking of someone like Huey Long? The populous ‘strong man’ is not a new phenomena. George Wallace?


  7. Cousin: Alexander Hamilton wanted a president for life, which is why I laugh when some Democrats who style themselves as part of #TheResistance think Hamilton has lessons to teach Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Felice Anno Nuovo, Massimo and everyone here! Good god, I’m glad to see 2017 end!

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Alexander Hamilton wanted a president for life

    Bad enough we have life tenure judges, but there might be other lessons from Hamilton that might be good. If there good ones, Trump won’t take ’em.


  10. synred: “In other words the liberals of the past were liberal on the issues of their time.
Some have clung to the same points of view making them conservatives.
    I.e., liberal means open to change.”

    It’s refreshing to see “liberal” used in its (presumably) original sense, as an adjective. Of course another early connotation was of immorality, as in “libertine.”

    saphsin: “I really could care less scrutinizing every nuance of the arguments by classical liberals and Right Libertarians about the relation between government intervention and private property.”

    “Private property” is a human construct. Animals of various kinds have pretty well-defined sense of territoriality, but nothing like the vast and ill-defined human conception of property, extending not only to personal effects, but embracing other humans, animals, land, water rights, air and subterranean rights, intellectual property, national and regional boundaries, inheritance, etc., etc., and requiring a complex legal system and sufficient police and military forces to maintain it. Given the permeation of every aspect of human life by issues of private property, it’s no wonder that the nuances of the arguments occupy an inordinate amount of our attention, not that this has resulted in any universally acceptable solution to any of its problems.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. synred: “Perhaps Rorty was thinking of someone like Huey Long? The populous ‘strong man’ is not a new phenomena. George Wallace?”

    cf. Sinclair Lewis, “It Can’t Happen Here,” Robert Penn Warren, “All the King’s Men,” etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. WTC: Yes. And, while capitalism didn’t start when the first field was planted and walking for tubers was eliminated, there’s still a connection.


  13. “Private property” is a human construct

    “Private property” is an invasive ‘meme’. Everywhere it’s come into contact with societies that don’t have this idea, it’s driven them to extinction (though bodies and genes may survive).


  14. Haven’t the last forty years proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the political system cannot stand up to a monetary system set up to drain wealth and power out of the rest of society?
    Money has to circulate, so the government facilitates this feedback loop by borrowing up excess capital. This keeps it in circulation and sustains the assumption that it is still private property.
    The fact is that we own money like we own the section of road we are on. Its functionality is in its fungibility.
    Then investors don’t have to worry about stable investments. It is government guaranteed.
    The government doesn’t really budget, if anyone thinks about how they structure the process.
    Budgeting is to prioritize and spend according to need. Instead they put together enormous bills, add enough pork barrel to get the votes and the president can only pass or veto it.
    If they wanted to budget, they could break them down, have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item, put it back together in order of preference, then the president draws the line.
    This would retain the legislative control over priorities and leave final authority to the president.
    Yet think what would happen to Capitalism if this rug was yanked out from under it.
    Until then, the political system is just a bunch of trained monkeys.


  15. I say Happy New Year, too. Enjoy some Bach lute music for a quiet, tranquil, meditative ending and beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. And, a thought for the new year. The Buddha said nobody can love you as much as yourself. Tis true. Nobody else can think for you as much as you can for yourself, either.


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