Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 123

Oscar Wilde and leisureHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

A really scary and thoughtful article on the rise of populism and the decline of liberal democracy.

Is it possible to train yourself to be a psychopath?

We should definitely talk about the future of leisure.

The multiworse is coming! The multiworse is coming!!

We should take seriously the move from the information age to the reputation age.


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!

100 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 123

  1. Massimo Post author


    Please don’t make me look like a censor. You full comment was already published, I only copied a snippet to remind you and others what I was responding to. C’mon, let’s try for a bit of constructiveness here.

    “Essentially you are saying that it is not possible to fill a life with a multitude of simple, worthwhile pleasures, like brief conversations with other human beings one encounters on walks. That seems to be the place on which we disagree. I think that I and many others could fill a life with simple, worthwhile pleasures like that. If not, then of course there are many ways to fill a life, it depends on the individual.”

    I made no claim about impossibility. But I do find it hard to believe people could fill day after day for decades with just walks and small chat. You certainly don’t, since you spend a significant amount of time reading, writing comments and engaging in clearly not small chat herd.


  2. Robin Herbert


    if you don’t understand the problem, then why are you discussing it this long?

    I am only reacting to you and Massimo’s comments by me. If you had only accepted that I couldn’t understand people who grew tired of sunshing and orangles and avocados and pears and said nothing about it then I would not have continued.

    Massimo suggested that the reason me and garth could enjoy my leisure was related to my privilege in terms of education, money and friends. We pointed out that we are at or below average on these measures.

    Massimo gave and example of people thrown into depression through not having the education to reinvent themselves in retirement, I gave examples in return of people who having little education or money did just fine in retirement.

    Massimo asked me if I thought one could fill a life with things like the first two items on my list and I clarified that I thought that one could fill a life with things like every item on my list.

    You said that it was not possible to get any sort of good education online, I gave an example of a good free educational resource online.

    You clearly see the connection with education especially arts and letters, I do not. That is fine. We can agree to disagree.

    So maybe I am a Philistine and maybe all the people I mention are also Philistines. So what? If so then I would rather be a happy Philistine who can find a worthwhile life in appreciating the fabulous beauty that is around me, hearing about the life and cares of a stranger at the park bench, dashing through landscapes on my bicycle, sharing experiences with other cyclists along the way, suddenly getting floored by a landscape revealing itself before me lit up with the morning sun or just sitting at the beachfront as the sun is going down and wind is buffeting the closed shops and the stars are just starting to appear.

    Maybe if the proper sort of education teaches me that there is no meaning in this, that all of this is not enough, then maybe I am better off without it. Because to me it seems that the Philistine is the one who would look down upon such things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. garthdaisy


    If you don’t want to look like a censor why did you censor my last comment? How was it different in tone from Dan’s?


  4. brodix

    This is an interesting and somewhat fraught debate, as both sides are essentially giving voice to what gives meaning to their lives. On the one side, Massimo and Dan argue for a social and civil structure, while Robin and presumably Garth, for a more organic being.
    It is a bit political, in that they are two sides of a larger equation; flow and structure. Neither of which life can do without, but difficult to see both sides at the same time.


  5. Robin Herbert

    With the small chat, well, you’d be surprised. None of it is really small. There is the guy whose wife has recently died, and he doesn’t know how he can go on. The guy who used to play jazz guitar but his hands are crippled by arthritis now, the girl who keeps a photograph of herself in the worst days of depression, to remind herself that any day that is not like that is a good day (and shows me the photo), the guy who is hopelessly lost in Sydney, his mind ruined by years of drugs, mental illness and coming in and out of jail, his face all scarred because every time he gets any money his “friends” bash him and steal the money and he doesn’t want any money from me, he just needs someone to show him the train back to Parramatta. There is the guy who tells me I am on his land, it is Garigal land and he doesn’t blame me or feel bitter towards me, but all the same I am on his land. The guy who just wants a damn smoke but there is no where he can go to have a damn smoke any more, the guy who is fighting the council to allow him to extend his house and there is no reason to disallow his application except that the neighbor doesn’t like it and the neighbor went to school with the Mayor. Or there is just the ordinary day-to-day things, the kids are going to do their HSC this year and it seems like yesterday they were toddlers soon they won’t need him any more, or that there are no jobs for oldies like us and if you want to get anywhere today you need a University degree. And so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Philip Thrift

    Like many (perhaps everyone) here I spent years in undergraduate|graduate school and the experience is perhaps irreplaceable. I just don’t know if in the future approximately equal education can be achieved with the edX-MOOC type experiences. But I don’t see why it’s necessarily ruled out.

    (In the movie, Superman threw the green crystal in the snow, and it created a crystal fortress, in which he received a holographic edX-MOOC type education.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Massimo Post author


    I filtered your last comment because you outdid Dan by a long shot. I tolerate some sarcasm and insults from everyone, including you, but only up to a point. And yes, I’m afraid that threshold is subjective.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Massimo Post author


    “On the one side, Massimo and Dan argue for a social and civil structure, while Robin and presumably Garth, for a more organic being.”

    Not exactly. I argue that education — broadly construed — makes it easier for people to find ways to structure their lives in the absence of a regular job. I don’t argue that’s the only way to do it, nor do I argue that such education has to be formal.

    Liked by 1 person

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