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Dec 4, 2022Liked by Massimo Pigliucci

That's what makes life worthwhile. Knowing that one has tried their best to make the world a better place.....Thanks again Massimo..

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Thank you Massimo. I wonder about the possibility of such changes given the the nature of those in power.

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David, good question. And I don't have an answer, unfortunately. But that's not a good reason not to try and push in those directions. After all, we can only do what is up to us...

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An interesting read...thank you....

"Arendt points out that the ideal target of totalitarian ideology are people for whom the distinction between true and false no longer exists."

Can you please elaborate?

Do people willingly ignore the truth for an alternative reality which might be more comfortable and convenient for them to embrace?

Or are they mislead to the point where they no longer believe the truth, even though it may be staring them in the face?

Are there any changes you would recommend to any system of education that might help prevent such circumstances from arising?

Thank you....

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David, a bit of both, really. People do willfully ignore reality and embrace alternative truths that are more comfortable or that better fit their ideology. And of course they are mislead by others whose interest it is to misinform.

As for changes in our education system, I have some ideas. First, get parents and politicians out of schools and let the teachers, who are the professionals, do their job. Second, more funding for public education, which has been systematically undermined for decades by certain political forces. Third, more philosophy and critical thinking, from very early on, like elementary school.

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Hello, just subscribed. It’s very telling that your essay equates totalitarian tendencies as rooted in isolation, loneliness, atomization, alienation. May I ask where you might find evidence of capable counter-trends to these conclusions? It has seemed to me that just on a basic level of day to day living that we have become more and more drawn to living within our “walls” without interaction or participation. And this has been going on for decades. Or that interaction is severely limited and prescribed along narrowing forms. Can you see reconciliation evidence that is healthy?

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Annie, welcome. I don't think this trend is healthy, and I don't see major counter-trends at the moment, unfortunately. I would suggest, however, that the revival of virtue ethics, in the form of modern versions of Greco-Roman philosophy, or Neo-Confucianism, is a reason to hope.

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Excellence article, thank you for writing and sharing this. The last administration was/is a kleptocracy protected by a cult of personality. There is no ideology, just egoism. The MAGA movement sans Trump may take on an eschatological character. I have family members who are planning for a civil war to come, and compare Trump to King David. Your essay has made me think anew about White Christian Nationalism as possibly a form of totalitarianism.

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Bob, exactly. The problem isn't (just) Trump, but Trumpism as an approach, especially if it gets mixed with White Christian Nationalism. As I suggested, I think Arendt missed theocracies as a third example (other than Nazism and Bolshevism) of totalitarianism.

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Doesn't totalitarianism require a technological level of surveillance to be practical that wasn't available in Plato's time?

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I'm not sure. Arendt argues that totalitarianism is a different kind of beast because the way it is conceived. But yes, possibly one reason why it appeared only recently is because it requires a higher degree of control than a run-of-the-mill dictatorship.

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by Massimo Pigliucci

Thank you Massimo. The Stoics and Arendt have been my most precious reads the last several years. Your essay is wonderful. And yes...religion...

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Read this to my husband in the car driving back into NYC. And a lively conversation ensued. I interrupted my reading to say, “Well, this is just like religion!” And then you said it! Is there no hope?

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Jane, glad the article stimulated a good discussion! As for hope, Cicero said that as long as there is life there’s hope…

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Thanks, for Cicero, Massimo! Will follow up. I wonder what you believe the perimeters of hope are. Vaclav Havel’s “Reflections on Hope” offers a nuanced version of what hope is. Wonder what your take on it might be. http://entersection.com/posts/761-vaclav-havel-on-hope-and-power

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Jane, yes, Havel's reflections are a good starting point. I might need to write an essay on hope...

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Yes Please! I HOPE you will. (Ba dum bump!)

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Oct 10, 2022Liked by Massimo Pigliucci

I fear, any dogmatism – if forcefully combined with egoism – leads to totalitarian thinking. See for example George Santayana’s *Egotism in German Philosophy* (written well before the rise of Nazism): https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Egotism_in_German_Philosophy

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founding

What a delight to read. Thank you for sharing. I like the way you have added Religion to Darwin & History. I will pass this on to my friends.

Naresh

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Thank you, much appreciated!

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Oct 10, 2022Liked by Massimo Pigliucci

American Young Earth creationism as many of these features. End times, The Rapture, Earth as a disposable planet (yes, really: https://theconversation.com/god-intended-it-as-a-disposable-planet-meet-the-us-pastor-preaching-climate-change-denial-147712), A single infallible source of wisdom (the Bible, as read with stultifying literalism), explicit admonitions against independent thinking (Answers in Genesis, of Creation Museum fame, goes on endlessly about why Man's Thought should never be chosen in preference to God's Word), the acceptance of utter absurdities such as Genesis Flood geology, and rejection as "secular" of almost the whole of science including - how conveniently for some - of "secular" climate science and the need to tackle global warming

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Exactly!

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