2. What is Plato's mathematical explanation of the tides?
3. Why does Plato worry about having undue influence?
4. What does Plato consider one of the great paradoxes of pleasure?
5. What is the elenctic method?
6. What was Blaise Pascal's slogan?
7. How is a just person like a just polis?
8. Where must all explanations stop, for Plato?
9. Goldstein's Plato teaches us what?
- Why do rude, opinionated, uninformed, ideological, vainglorious, and intemperate media pundits get better ratings than polite, circumspect, courteous, humble, pragmatic, and thoughtful ones?
- Why do some people prefer to see natural phenomena as mysterious and inexplicable, when rational and naturalistic explanations are available?
- Do you think money, fame, and power are necessary for your happiness? What does Plato say about that?
- Who do you consider the most influential people in our society, and in your life? Are they suitably concerned about having a bad influence? Do you hope to be an influential person? What kinds of influence do you hope to have, in your lifetime?
- Is pleasure one of your life goals? Is it the same as happiness? Is a good life necessarily a pleasurable and happy life? If not, would you rather be pleased and/or happy, or good?
- Does it bother you to discover that your beliefs are inconsistent? Or do you think you have a right to hold inconsistent and contradictory beliefs? (Walt Whitman said "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contain multitudes." What do you think of that, or of Dostoevsky's Underground Man, who asserted his right to believe that 2+2=5?)
- Should reason respect feelings as much as (or more than) intellect? Is "emotional intelligence" a function of reason? Is it reasonable to follow your heart and not your head? What do you think of Pascal's Wager, and his slogan? 372
- Is there such a thing as "good possession"? 375
- Do you agree with Plato that objective reality is "out there, the same for each of us"? 375 Do you try to close the gap between your subjective thoughts and feelings and objective reality? How?
- Do you ever hear "the call of the kinky"? think Is William James's "Phaedrus frame of mind" right? Is it possible that neurotics and others considered mentally eccentric might have the inside track on objective reality? 377
- Are our society and government rationally structured? Do you agree with Churchill that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others? Does that view support or oppose Plato's plans for an ideal state?
- Is the universe a brute fact, or is it explainable (in principle)? Is it explained (on Plato's view, and on yours) by saying that it was created by an omnipotent being?
- How can we practically apply Plato's teaching in our lives?
|Plato On Book Tour (@platobooktour)|
Philosopphy lacks practical value? Irish president on disastrous fallout of philosophically challenged citizens bit.ly/2fbGewX
It’s worth rereading those tweeted paragraphs:
[M]embers of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. …
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
Mr. Rorty, an American pragmatist philosopher, died in 2007. Were he still alive, he’d likely be deluged with phone calls from strangers, begging him to pick their stocks.
When “Achieving Our Country” came out, it received a mixed critical reception. Writing for this newspaper, the critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called the book “philosophically rigorous” but took umbrage at Mr. Rorty’s warnings about the country’s vulnerability to the charms of a strongman, calling this prophesy “a form of intellectual bullying.”
Donald J. Drumpf enthusiasts might dispute the word strongman. But the essence of Mr. Rorty’s argument holds up surprisingly well. Where others saw positive trends — say, a full-throated dawn chorus praising the nation’s diversity — Mr. Rorty saw dead canaries in a coal mine.
His basic contention is that the left once upon a time believed that our country, for all its flaws, was both perfectible and worth perfecting. Hope was part of its core philosophy. But during the 1960s, shame — over Vietnam, over the serial humiliation of African-Americans — transformed a good portion of the left, at least the academic left, into a disaffected gang of spectators, rather than agitators for change. A formalized despair became its philosophy. The system was beyond reform. The best one could do was focus on its victims.
The result was disastrous. The alliance between the unions and intellectuals, so vital to passing legislation in the Progressive Era, broke down. In universities, cultural and identity politics replaced the politics of change and economic justice. By 1997, when Mr. Rorty gave three lectures that make up the spine of “Achieving Our Country,” few of his academic colleagues, he insisted, were talking about reducing poverty at all.
“Nobody is setting up a program in unemployed studies, homeless studies, or trailer-park studies,” he wrote, “because the unemployed, the homeless, and the residents of trailer parks are not ‘other’ in the relevant sense.”
The author Richard Rorty in 2004.
Does this overlooked category sound familiar?
Mr. Rorty did not deny that identity politics reduced the suffering of minorities. But it just so happened that at the very moment “socially accepted sadism” — good phrase, that — was diminishing, economic instability and inequality were increasing, thanks to globalization.
“This world economy will soon be owned by a cosmopolitan upper class which has no more sense of community with any workers anywhere than the great American capitalists of the year 1900.”
Again: Ring any bells?
This group included intellectuals, by the way, who, he wrote, are “ourselves quite well insulated, at least in the short run, from the effects of globalization.”
Which left the white working-class guy and gal up for grabs — open to right-wing populists, maybe even strongmen. In Mr. Rorty’s view, no one within academia was thinking creatively about how to relieve white working-class anxiety. This was a problem. “Outside the academy,” he wrote, “Americans still want to feel patriotic. They still want to feel part of a nation which can take control of its destiny and make itself a better place.”
Sounds an awful lot like Make Donald Drumpf Again.
At the time, Mr. Rorty was staring at a slightly different political landscape. But it wasn’t that different, ultimately. Today’s just has more mature trees.
In “Achieving Our Country,” he wrote about the perils of the North American Free Trade Agreement; today, he’d probably have cautioned against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In “Achieving Our Country,” Mr. Rorty railed against the “scurrilous demagogue” Pat Buchanan, who in 1991 talked about building a fence at the Mexican border; today Mr. Rorty would have railed against Mr. Drumpf and his proposed wall.
“Why could not the left,” he asked, “channel the mounting rage of the newly dispossessed?”
Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.
I’m a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I’ve never had a social media account.
At the moment, this makes me an outlier, but I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services. There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness, but the argument I want to make here is more pragmatic: You should quit social media because it can hurt your career.
This claim, of course, runs counter to our current understanding of social media’s role in the professional sphere. We’ve been told that it’s important to tend to your so-called social media brand, as this provides you access to opportunities you might otherwise miss and supports the diverse contact network you need to get ahead. Many people in my generation fear that without a social media presence, they would be invisible to the job market.
In a recent New York magazine essay, Andrew Sullivan recalled when he started to feel obligated to update his blog every half-hour or so. It seemed as if everyone with a Facebook account and a smartphone now felt pressured to run their own high-stress, one-person media operation, and “the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone,” he wrote.
I think this behavior is misguided. In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.
Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won’t tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate — the skill on which I make my living.
The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter.
Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that youmatter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.
Most social media is best described as a collection of somewhat trivial entertainment services that are currently having a good run. These networks are fun, but you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time.
If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.
-Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” (Grand Central).
...The new media ecosystem “means everything is true and nothing is true,” Obama told me later. “An explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll. And the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal—that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation.”
That marked a decisive change from previous political eras, he maintained. “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”