Philosophy In The News, Weekly: March 31 – April 7, 2019

Suspension Bridge. Anonymous Stereograph (1860 - 1880) | Rijksmuseum

The best of the philosophical internet featuring a preview of the upcoming intellectual showdown between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek; China’s vagrant philosopher who went viral; Podcaster Joe Rogan as today’s Socrates; and a teenager’s off-the-grid life in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

News

“It’s hard to deny the rubbernecking appeal of the spectacle. How often do two garrulous, ill-tempered, theory-spouting academics fill a venue usually reserved for musicians and comedians?” On the upcoming intellectual bout between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek over whether capitalism or Marxism leads to happiness. Rumor has it there are only a few seats left and they are going for $1,500 apiece. | The Chronicle Review

“This unlikely viral star was discovered by social media when clips of him quoting Aristotle, Confucius and Dante began to surface on Douyin, a short-video platform. To the surprise of many, this homeless man – with uncombed hair, soiled clothes and unwashed beard – turned out to be well versed in literature and philosophy.” On the scrawny 52-year-old man known as Shen Wei, who has become China’s vagrant philosopher of sorts. | The Washington Post

“The share of adults ages 18 to 34 reporting that they were ‘very happy’ in life fell to 25 percent – the lowest level that the General Social Survey, a key barometer of American social life, has ever recorded for that population.” On the reasons behind the happiness recession among young Americans. | The Atlantic

Ideas

“Although podcasting is new, it is ancient in essence. Podcasts, in the form that Joe’s takes, are closely in line with forum-style discussion used by philosophers in ancient Greece. The long format has no time limit, and the goal of each conversation is to understand as many sides of the topic as possible and to make clear the terms with which that is being done, all with a healthy dose of humor.” On how Joe Rogan’s popular podcasts continue the ancient philosophical enterprise. | Daily Comet

“I know quite a few well meaning folk who truly believe they can manifest global change through their ‘intentions’… The danger of this type of thinking is that it perpetuates an idea that we are actually doing tangible work that’s creating change.” On the toxicity of self-help spirituality that is unconcerned about others. | Thrive Global

“Ticket stubs join theater playbills, picture postcards, handwritten letters and framed photos as fading forms of preserving our memories. It raises the question, Is our view of the past, of our own personal history, somehow different without hard copies?” On what is lost when we give up collecting physical memorabilia. | The New York Times

“The whole cycle repeats, with its ritual variations, every day, with no vacations, no breaks and no Netflix bingeing, until your death. The cassock that the monks wear under their robes has a skull and crossbones at the bottom to remind them of mortality.” Philosophy professor Simon Critchley experiences the daily rhythms of monastic life on a remote Greek island. | The New York Times

Books

“Mohamed [Barud] credits Tolstoy and his perspective-shifting style with pulling him out of his mental prison.” A story about a 31-year-old sentenced to life in prison in Somalia who relied on the Russian classic Anna Karenina to save his life. | NPR

“Popova’s Figuring is a spectacular and combinatory collision of multiple biographical landscapes, which, joined, tell a revolving, multifaceted history – and future. The result is a philosophy of ‘existential ecology,’ a challenging of the idea of a static self and understanding that ‘throughout life, our habits, beliefs, and ideas evolve beyond recognition.'” Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova releases her debut book. | The Harvard Crimson

“Flowers didn’t ask to be flowers and I didn’t ask to be me. At the end of Slaughterhouse-Five, I had the feeling that I had produced this blossom. So I had a shutting-off feeling, you know, that I had done what I was supposed to do and everything was OK. And that was the end of it.” On the meaning of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece 50 years after its publication. | The Atlantic

Videos

“On a remote homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains, 17-year-old Maddie Roark spent her childhood learning how to camp, shoot and hunt. With college on the horizon, she’s returning to the wilderness to reset as she preps for a six-month solo hike on the Appalachian Trail.” On living closely in tune with the Earth. | Vice

Podcasts

“Previously, in the 1990s, you might have worked as a barista or something but you were still pretty confident that your degree would translate into upward mobility. But now people are starting to feel like these are less jobs and more their life. Even those among us lucky enough to have stable salaried jobs – we’re just one medical accident or bill away from being in debt.” Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder and editor of Jacobin magazine, explains why millennials are giving up on capitalism and turning to Socialism. | To The Best Of Our Knowledge, Wisconsin Public Radio