Philosophy In The News, Weekly: January 21 – 28, 2019

The best of the philosophical internet featuring the non-story that became the Covington brouhaha; a forgotten philosopher for our atomized age; ancient thinkers who tidied up well before Marie Kondo; and today’s performative workaholism.


“Film and photography purport to capture events as they really took place in the world, so it’s always tempting to take them at their word. But when multiple videos present multiple possible truths, which one is to be believed?” On the brouhaha over the confrontation between Nick Sandmann (one of the Covington Catholic High School boys who sported “Make America Great Again” hats) and Omaha tribal elder Nathan Phillips. | The Atlantic

“In an era defined by virality, is there any way to stop a non-story from becoming a real one?” More on the “Covington” episode. | The New Yorker


“For [Josiah] Royce the good life meant tightly binding yourself to others – giving yourself away with others for the sake of a noble cause.” New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks this early 20th-century philosopher is exactly the one our atomized age needs. | The New York Times

“To me, the meaning of life is to try to be a better person today than you were yesterday. And I don’t think you’ll succeed.” Michael Schur, producer of The Good Place, on trying – and usually failing – to be better each day. | IndieWire

“While Kondo focuses on individual desires and Xenophon on the well-being of society, they both think of tidying up as a way for a person to become someone greater and more powerful than their current self.” On ancient philosophers who anticipated Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up Craze. | The New York Times

“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news… journalism, as a field, is as addled as an addict, gaunt, wasted, and twitchy, its pockets as empty as its nights are sleepless.” On the future of journalism.| The New Yorker

Dark-sky tourism. Stare up at the stars in a dark sky preserve and, like Galileo, discover your place in the universe. | The New York Times

Hermann Hesse on solitude, the value of hardship, the courage to Be yourself, and how to find your destiny. | Brain Pickings

“What was New Atheism?” Jacob Hamburger connects the story of yesterday’s anti-religious polemics by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to today’s struggle between “classical liberals” and the “identitarian” Left over the soul of liberalism. | The Point

“For Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, much of philosophy was mere nonsense. Then came Frank Ramsey’s pragmatic alternative.” On Ramsey’s useful philosophical legacy. | Aeon

“I saw the greatest minds of my generation log 18-hour days – and then boast about #hustle on Instagram. When did performative workaholism become a lifestyle?” Erin Griffith views today’s hustle culture as a swindle. | The New York Times

John E. Joseph on Ferdinand de Saussure’s revolutionary approach to linguistics and its contribution to 1960s structuralism. | Times Literary Supplement


“Sometimes you need to step forward, with uncertainty, into a future you cannot rubber-stamp in advance.” Agnes Callard on why rational deliberation cannot help us escape the agony of learning by leaping in and doing. | Boston Review

“In our culture, virtuous moderation and prudence rarely sell but, taking her cues from Aristotle, Hall offers a set of reasons to explain why they should.” John Kaag reviews Edith Hall’s Aristotle’s Way. | The New York Times

“Ignoring evidence isn’t going to resuscitate dated notions of god or the soul or the self or human specialness, and it won’t make life meaningful. Instead, we have to transform our anxiety, individually and societally, because at this point … ‘naturalism is the only game in town.'” Ephrat Livni on the evolution from existentialism to neuroexistentialism. | Quartz

Podcasts & Video

Stoic Meditations are minutes-long nuggets of wisdom from Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius et al. designed to help you reflect on everything from friendship and preparedness to the reasons why the pursuit of fame and money are not Stoic values and how a little knowledge of philosophy is a dangerous thing.” On philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci’s weekly podcast.  | The Irish Times


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