Philosophy In The News, Weekly: March 18 – April 1, 2019

View of Campidoglio with Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Rome. Attributed to Ferrier Père-Fils and Soulier (c. 1856 - c. 1860). | Rijksmuseum

The best of the philosophical internet featuring Stoicism for Silicon Valley techies; ‘The Matrix’ 20 years on; civic republicanism’s planet-saving potential; and Kierkegaard’s restless and ridiculed life.

News

“In their minds, in this clash of civilization, white men are in a weaker position because their women are not doing the work of reproducing.” A look at “replacement theory,” a sexist doctrine that is quickly spreading in far-right circles. | The New York Times

“The new popularity of Stoicism among the tech crowd is, in my view, strikingly similar to Stoicism’s popularity among the powerful elites of ancient Rome. As Rome took over, it surged in popularity because it was the one system of ethics that worked well for the rich and powerful.” On why Silicon Valley is obsessed with Stoic virtues. | The New York Times

Ideas

“The film’s chief villain, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), darkly notes that unlike other mammals, (western) humanity insatiably consumes natural resources. The matrix, he suggests, is a ‘cure’ for this human ‘contagion’… In raising this tension, The Matrix still strikes a nerve – especially after 20 further years of insatiable consumption. On how this deeply philosophical film, two decades after its release, continues to tackle the big questions. | The Conversation

“While the central question raised by The Matrix sounds like science fiction, it is now debated seriously by scientists, technologists and philosophers around the world. Elon Musk is among those; he thinks the odds that we are in a simulation are a billion to one (in favor of being inside a video-game world)!” Game developers ask if a simulation like that in the film could actually be built and if so, what would it take? | Tech Crunch

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.” Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Aurelius on mastering the mind in order to live well. | Thrive Global

“I must tell you that I am not at all interested in clothes.” The Guardian republishes French philosopher and novelist Simone de Beauvoir’s 1960 discussion of her attitude to fashion and how she chose her clothes. | The Guardian

A story about Walter Benjamin’s sojourn in Ibiza, an “island of  forgetfulness,” illustrated and narrated like a film noir by Frédéric Pajak, a Swiss-French writer and graphic artist. | The Paris Review

“The question facing us today is not only how to get along with those we disagree with, but also how to resist the egregious violations of decency without engaging in indecency oneself. In short: how do we preserve the norms of decency while resisting those for whom such norms are meaningless?” On why nonviolence ought to be a key form of resistance in our current political moment. | New Statesman

“The essence of civic virtue is the willingness, in matters of state, to put the interests of the community ahead of one’s personal interest—an impossible demand, as green and republican thinkers jointly concede, amid the conditions of acute wealth inequality in civically imperiled societies like today’s America.” On civic republicanism and how it might save the planet. | The New Republic

“Can God create a world in which evil does not exist? This does appear to be logically possible. Presumably God could have created such a world without contradiction. It evidently would be a world very different from the one we currently inhabit, but a possible world all the same. Indeed, if God is morally perfect, it is difficult to see why he wouldn’t have created such a world. So why didn’t He?” A philosopher examines if the Western idea of God as a morally perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing being makes logical sense. | The New York Times

Books

In his new book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, philosopher Martin Hägglund argues that the only way to change your life is to accept its end, your death. | Vice

“How did a man so often described as inane come to be regarded as a public intellectual?” On Bernard-Henri Lévy’s latest book, The Empire and the Five Kings, and what some regard as his equally pretentious and vacuous persona. | Quartz

“Kierkegaard’s life is exemplary… because it was organised around the fear of being ridiculed. He reveals to us what we might do, what might be made, out of our fear of humiliation.” A new biography on the restless life of the 19th-century Danish philosopher. | The Guardian