Philosophy In The News, Weekly: February 4 – February 10, 2019

Interior of a factory with workers at Orange, Massachusetts. Albumen silver print by C.H. Wells (about 1870) | The J. Paul Getty Museum

The best of the philosophical internet featuring a hammer attack on Marx’s grave (taking ‘philosophizing with a hammer’ too literally); questions at an ‘Ask a Philosopher’ booth in NYC; Zizek on nomadic proletarians; hanging out in Plato’s Academy; and detachable penises – or learning about sex from our animal cousins.

News

“The tomb of German philosopher Karl Marx, a grave visited by tens of thousands each year, will allegedly ‘never be the same again,’ after it was vandalized in a suspected hammer attack.” A story about ‘philosophizing with a hammer’. | RT

“In some Leftist circles, the exploding growth of homeless refugees gave rise to the notion of ‘nomadic proletariat.'” This non-Marxian concept starts Slavoj Zizek off on a rambling theoretical journey of his own into the literary lives of the less-than-nothings. | The Philosophical Salon

“A nation whose citizens have no knowledge of history is asking to be led by quacks, charlatans, and jingos. As he has proved ever since he rode to political prominence on the lie of Barack Obama’s birthplace, Trump is all three. And, without more history majors, we are doomed to repeat him.” On the decline of history majors at many universities, except the most prestigious ones. | The New Yorker

Ideas

On the best lifestyle philosophies from around the world. | Condé Nast

“It was interesting to see how you start a conversation talking about bulgur wheat or stock or how to poach a chicken or a piece of lamb and immediately it turns into family and history and daily hardships. And I love these connections, I love seeing how food is a gateway to a bigger conversation.” On master chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking philosophy. | ABC News

“I peered through some trees into the open, green area of the ruins. There was a solitary man standing, very reflectively, smoking a huge joint with what appeared to be a bottle of water at his feet. In fact, the only people I saw around the various ruins were doing exactly the same thing as this man: quietly getting wasted on a Saturday lunchtime.” On hanging out at the site of Plato’s Academy in Athens. | The New York Times

Ludwig Wittgenstein kicks Rudolf Carnap in the philosophical nuts to prove humor isn’t just a play on the ambiguities of natural language. | Existential Comics

Philippa Foot on the ease of deriving an “ought” from an “is.” | Philosophy Now

“It’s possible for philosophy to reclaim the social, cultural, and political position it enjoyed for most of history. The return of the popular essay as a central form of philosophical writing would allow philosophy to re-engage with the public conversation. Once again, philosophers might play the role of public provocateurs and critics, creators and commentators, speculators and synthesizers. Once again, philosophers might be opinion-makers and have the ears of parliaments and prime ministers, as well as of the educated citizen on the street. ” Dr. Daniel A. Kaufan spits optimism into the careerist wind of academic philosophy. | Philosophy Now

“[Sven] Birkerts feared that qualities long safeguarded and elevated by print were in danger of erosion: among them privacy, the valuation of individual consciousness, and an awareness of history—not merely the facts of it, but a sense of its continuity, of our place among the centuries and cosmos.” On the fate of reading in our technological age of distraction. | The Paris Review

Books

“To both his progressivist heirs and his conservative critics, John Stuart Mill is a secular saint, a priest of the triumphant modern moral order.” On a new biography that details the religious life of the not-so-secular liberal icon. | Los Angeles Review of Books

“There is no period in American history when thinkers have not wrestled with the appropriate balance of power between self-interest and social obligation.” On The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen. | The Washington Post

“Can Stoicism teach us how to live? A lot of people seem to think so. They identify as ‘modern Stoics,’ a movement that has gained traction over the past two decades, with thousands of members now congregating online and off to practice a self-help version of the philosophical life.” On philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci’s How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life. | The Nation

“It’s hard to preach the virtue of free-range parenting to Americans or convince Swedish parents that they should be more pushy—it’s not going to work, because it’s not the response that works best in those societies, economically.” A new book looks at the wide variety of parenting styles around the world through the lens of economics. | The Atlantic

Podcasts

“What would a purely therapeutic philosophy consist of? Does philosophy as pursuit of pleasure mean that you eschew political action or other substantial goals? Mark, Wes, and Dylan try to figure out which of our desires are vain and whether society is compatible with human happiness.” Part two of Epicurus on seeking pleasure. | The Partially Examined Life

“We humans are not the most interesting lovers on the planet. For sheer sexual variety, ingenuity, not to mention equipment, we’ve got nothing on the animal kingdom. Consider the nautilus which has an immensely long, detachable swimming penis. Or the tapir whose male member is so long and dexterous that it can scratch its own back.” Learning a thing or two about sex from our animal cousins. | Wisconsin Public Radio