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A few recommendations by Figs in Winter for your reading pleasure
Spartans were losers. The Athenian historian Thucydides once remarked that Sparta was so lacking in impressive temples or monuments that future generations who found the place deserted would struggle to believe it had ever been a great power. But even without physical monuments, the memory of Sparta is very much alive in the modern United States. In popular culture, Spartans star in film and feature as the protagonists of several of the largest video game franchises. The Spartan brand is used to promote obstacle races, fitness equipment, and firearms. Sparta has also become a political rallying cry, including by members of the extreme right who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Sparta is gone, but the glorification of Sparta—Spartaganda, as it were—is alive and well. … (Foreign Policy)
Nodependency: how to fall out of love. How do you get out of a toxic relationship? Well, if we were smart, we’d ask some people who have already done it. If you do this, you’ll tend to find at least one common theme that stands out pretty clearly. They finally realized that the person in question was doing them more harm than good. There’s something odd about that, though. Many people who are still in ongoing toxic or abusive relationships will tell you they already know that it’s bad for them. They nevertheless feel as if they can’t leave. So we have a paradox. What’s going on? … (Stoicism by Donald Robertson)
Towards a Theory of Offense. I became interested in offense and offensiveness as philosophical and psychological topics after a conversation with a non-philosopher friend. He was concerned about some advertisements for atheism proposed for display on the side of local buses. He said that these offended him and that they shouldn’t be allowed. I said that they should be allowed because (good Millian liberal that I am) offense is not a harm. (The city eventually declined to allow them to be displayed, to their discredit.) At the time it seemed straightforward, but as I reflected I realized that I wasn’t sure about a lot of things in this territory. I couldn’t pin down just what a harm was; I wasn’t entirely sure that this sort of legal force should be restricted to harm prevention; and, centrally, I was unclear about the nature of offense experiences. The more I thought, the deeper the issues seemed. I eventually wrote a book about all this (Offense and Offensiveness: A Philosophical Account, Routledge 2021). My forthcoming paper, “Towards a Theory of Offense”, summarizes and extends some of the book’s arguments concerning offense. … (New Work in Philosophy)
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There's a UFO in my garage. In light of the July 26, 2023 Congressional hearings over UFOs and UAPs, and in honor of the late astronomer Carl Sagan—who legitimized and popularized the search for extraterrestrial intelligence more than anyone before or since—here is a thought experiment based on the one he presented in his magisterial 1996 book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, which I call Sagan’s Dragon (that begins “A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”). … (Skeptic by Michael Shermer)
Philosophy for everyday life. Philosophy, as you probably know, means ‘love of wisdom’. However, if you wish to learn how to become wise I highly recommend you don’t walk into a modern department of philosophy at a university. Ask for wisdom there and most people (and I’m one of them) would look at you as if you were a Martian and tell you to go to the psychology department, or better yet, look into the self-help section of the nearest bookstore. That has to change, and I’m writing this column for Philosophy Now with the intention to help such change along. It’s not that there is anything wrong with doing philosophy as a highly specialized academic discipline. (Well, there is something wrong about that, but that discussion is for another time.) I publish technical papers in philosophy of science, and teach courses in that discipline. That’s fine, and there is a long tradition of philosophers interested in equally esoteric matters, beginning at least with Thales of Miletus in the 6th century BCE. … (Philosophy Now)