Philosophy In The News, Weekly: December 8 to 14, 2018

Santa Claus. Photograph shows Santa Claus with a basket of presents on his back in front of the fireplace. (New York, N.Y. between 1861 and 1866) | Part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of stereographs and other early photographs at the Library of Congress

The best of the philosophical internet featuring breaking news from CNN (This just in… People are inherently good); imitating Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and living to write about it; being human in a thoroughly techie world; & destroying the stereotype of the ‘dumb jock.’


“Breaking news alert: People are inherently good, nonviolent.” CNN gets into breaking news on philosophical matters but then rather naively reports: “The vast majority of people, when faced with simple, clear ethical choices, choose good over bad and even good over neutral.” Ah… not so sure about that. | CNN

“[Poetry] has become a means of owning up to the complexity of our problems, of accepting the likelihood that even we the righteous might be implicated by or complicit in some facet of the very wrongs we decry.” U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith on why political poetry is hot in America. | The New York Times


“Evil has been fully and truly trivialized, and what really counts among the consequences is that we have been, or are rapidly being, made insensitive to its presence and manifestations.” An excerpt from a final conversation with Polish sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman. | The New York Review of Books

“Throughout history, writers have always paced around, philosophising…” Seán Williams ponders the connection between walking, writing and thinking. | The Public Domain Review

Marianna Hunt spends one day following the severe ascetic routines of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and lives to write about it. | The Guardian

“I have a rational argument for my position. But I want to hear yours.” Gary Gutting wants us – in the comments section mind you – to practice the art of rational public deliberation. | The New York Times

“Don’t expect the world to fit its needs to accommodate you; work your needs around the circumstances of the world.” One of 10 inspiring quotes on Buddhist philosophy to ponder. | Big Think

“Failure to observe what is in the mind of another has seldom made a man unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.” More quotes to chew on, this time from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.| Big Think


Anne Lamott on forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and the relationship between brokenness and joy. | Brain Pickings

On the Memorabilia and other works by Xenophon that the give voice to the Socratic way of life. | The Weekly Standard

“There is… something respectable about doing away with oneself, about taking control of time’s evanescence.” Another review of philosophy professor John Kaag’s Hiking with Nietzsche. | The Wall Street Journal

Videos & Podcasts

“To Jainism’s strictest adherents, even a walk through the grass or drinking tea with honey can be a morally perilous proposition.” A two-minute video on the importance of diet in the life of a Jain ascetic. | Aeon

“We are used to thinking of technologies as ‘them,’ as something other than what we are. What is happening now given the speed and intimacy of our relationship with our devices is that the division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is becoming more fluid, and we are beginning to think of ourselves as enhanced humans.” Philosophy professor Rosi Braidotti on what it means to be human in a thoroughly techie world. | ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

“One would have to give as much credit to the nervous system of an athlete as one would to a mathematician or musician.” Neuroscientist John Krakauer destroys the stereotype of the “dumb jock.” | To The Best Of Our Knowledge, Wisconsin Public Radio