Philosophy In The News, Weekly: January 14 – 21, 2019

The Parthenon, Athens, 1870s. Albumen silver print by Unknown. | The J. Paul Getty Museum

The best of the philosophical internet featuring Žižek on ‘toxic masculinity’; the fallout from the ‘grievance studies’ hoax; the ethics of bristly facial hair; and worst-case-scenario thinking.

News

Victoria Lambert gives her verdict on a seven-day online course by an organization called Modern Stoicism that attempts to ease the pain of modern life. | Daily Mail

“When we designate masculinity as ‘toxic,’ under the cover of medical expertise,” this “amounts to the imposition of a new normativity, a fresh figure of the enemy.” Slavoj Žižek questions the toxicity of males, political correctness and the new high moralism of academia’s ruthless careerists. | RT

“Far too many academic positions have been taken up by nihilists who no longer believe in truth as a concept, let alone seek it. This alone makes them unfit to teach others.” Peter Boghossian, a philosophy professor at Portland State University who took part in the “grievance studies hoax, is now being threatened with official sanction by the university. | Daily Citizen

“At their best, the humanities ­allow us to live examined lives and to confront the realities of our common life. But the sort of gibberish that is routinely celebrated by the academic establishment today removes the examined life further from students’ grasp.” More on Boghossian and the “grievance studies” affair. | New York Post

Rather than hear unpalatable, and almost certainly incorrect, views on homosexuality which can be countered with reason and debate, close to 600 Oxford students are instead demanding an end to moral philosopher John Finnis’ teaching career. | Quartz

“He had something of a genius in him. He could see farther than the rest of us. He tried to mobilise the nation.” Fifty years ago, Jan Palach, a Czech philosophy student, set himself on fire in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet-led occupation of then Czechoslovakia. | Pulse GH

Ideas

“The bristly facial hair of men is, in fact, the physical embodiment of deep ethical and aesthetic considerations.” At least that’s the conclusion of a recent paper by Henry Pratt titled “To Beard or Not to Beard.” | Quartz

“In recent years, we have started to recognise the limits of being relentlessly upbeat. There is a growing movement of people prompting us to harness the power of pessimism.” On ditching your positive fantasies and considering the worst-case scenario. | The Guardian

“Supervised, enriching playtime. Frequent conversations about thoughts and feelings. Patient, well-reasoned explanations of household rules. And extracurriculars. Lots and lots of extracurriculars.” An “intensive” child-rearing philosophy is now the norm in the U.S. | The Atlantic

“Our mortality doesn’t give us a theory of how we should live. It gives us an urgency to think about what we want the shape of our lives to be.” Todd May, the philosopher behind the popular TV series The Good Place, explains how to raise good kids. | Fatherly

“There’s something undercoating all the humour right? There’s a thing that grounds it. Something that we’re actually trying to do which is improve as people and also save our mortal souls.” Actor William Jackson Harper talks about his role as Chidi Anagonye on The Good Place. | Vice

“Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice.” Clinical psychologist Mary Pipher finds joy, beauty, friendship and love in old age. | The New York Times

“Today, Iranian politicians refer to Avicenna almost on a regular basis in order to highlight the philosophical heritage and scientific prowess of the country.” On the influence of Avicennism in today’s Iran. | The New Arab

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” Lofty quotes on nature from Walt Whitman and others throughout the ages.  | Big Think

Books

A counterculture mystic and a spiritual entertainer with an eye on the divine, it’s no surprise that Watt’s philosophy and wisdom filled a number of books.” The seven best Alan Watts books on philosophy and life. | Big Think

Podcasts & Video

In her new documentary, Canadian director Astra Taylor explores the philosophical underpinnings of democracy and visits present-day sites of Plato’s Academy and the Agora in Athens. | The New York Times