A few recommendations by Figs in Winter for your reading pleasure
The First Biographers. What springs to mind when we think about literature of the ancient world? Maybe it’s Homer’s Achilles dragging the corpse of Hector around Troy or Sophocles’ Oedipus stabbing out his polluted eyes. Perhaps it’s Plato’s Socrates holding forth or Herodotus’ Leonidas and his 300 Spartans. It even might be the dulcet tones of Sappho, the penetrating poems of Catullus, or the scathing superiority of Cicero. Whilst the above mentioned epic poetry, theatrical drama, philosophical dialogue, historiography, romantic poetry, and private correspondence are all represented as well as appreciated, we give less thought to an area of literature that has never been more prevalent than it is in modern times. It is the form of writing which is the savior for those wishing to buy lousy, last-minute Christmas presents; the biography. … (Classical Wisdom)
Is online moral outrage outrageous? Rethinking the indignation machine. Anger, disgust or frustration generated by the belief that a person threatens the core values and well-being of a community, has roots in the evolved capacity to be outraged by injustices, which is unique to humans. What social media did was to liberalize the market for moral outrage: we can choose multiple “causes” a day and then we can publicly manifest our outrage alongside like-minded others, in order to vilify transgressors. Moral outrage gained a bad reputation, but is it really justified? Sometimes, moral outrage can facilitate collective action and social change: for example, Russia's war against Ukraine was immediately met with backlash and condemnation from around the world, which helped mobilize people to offer support for refugees. At other times, people react with disproportionate violence against individuals who make foolish jokes or hold morally reprehensible positions. … (New Work in Philosophy)
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The key to debunking false beliefs is by addressing underlying belief systems. A new study suggests that to debunk false beliefs, it may be more effective to target a person’s system of beliefs rather than trying to change the false belief itself. The study found that people have a system of interrelated beliefs that depend on each other and may anchor their system, making it difficult to change beliefs even with evidence against them. … (Neuroscience News)
The final lecture. In the final minutes of the final lecture of my final semester at Chapman a student asked what practical lessons for life I might share with them. I offered as much as I could think of off the top of my head, but since I have researched and written a fair amount on this topic over the decades (and tried to apply these lessons to my own life) I thought I would deliver a final lecture here, not only for my students but for anyone who is interested in knowing what tools science and reason can provide for how to live a good life and how to deal with entropy, problems, setbacks and obstacles, aka normal life. I have kept this short and limited to ten lessons, but I plan to expand each of these into chapter-length lessons and add a number more (possibly for a book). … (Skeptic by Michael Shermer)
Dealbreakers and the work of immoral artists. For a few years around the turn of the millennium my social circle turned geeky about horror films. I was happy to go along for the ride. I’d always casually enjoyed horror, and the pressure to turn that affection into a deep dive won me glimpses of the dying days of the indie video store, taught me lessons in competently viewing films produced by and for cultures other than my own, and introduced me to a then-thriving internet ecosystem of horror blogs, message boards, and review archives. Back then, it was a point of etiquette on the horror boards that writers flagged films that include depictions of rape, or the deaths of animals, or the deaths of children. I appreciated these proto trigger warnings because one of the members of my slasher circle couldn’t handle rape scenes, and I could not then (and still cannot) handle animal killing scenes. … (New Work in Philosophy)