America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny

As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty… Source: America Has Never Been ... Read More »

Who really benefits from freedom of speech?

We’re seeing a new trend in Australia: retracting visas from figures whose controversial views a segment of the community find objectionable. As a result of petitioning, Australians have successfully seen figures like Jeff Allen, Troy Newman, and Julien Blanc removed from our… Source: Who really benefits from freedom of speech? Read More »

What Made Ancient Athens a City of Genius?

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The tiny, dirty Greek city-state produced more brilliant minds—from Socrates to Aristotle—than any other place the world before or since. Why? The Atlantic – Eric Weiner If you’ve ever voted, served on a jury, watched a movie, read a novel, spoken English, had a rational thought, or gazed at the night sky in silent wonder, then you can thank the Ancient Greeks. They brought us democracy, science, philosophy, written contracts, taxes, writing, and schools. But the apex of their civilization, sandwiched ... Read More »

Martin Luther King Jr. in dialogue with the ancient Greeks

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In “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” the soaring and chilling speech he delivered the day before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. ponders the thought of life in other places and times. The Conversation Author: Timothy Joseph, Associate Professor of Classics, College of the Holy Cross Disclosure statement: Timothy Joseph does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the ... Read More »

Moral Dispute or Cultural Difference?

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The Stone The word “relativism” tends to generate strong reactions. This is odd, given that the word is not generally used with a clear and agreed upon meaning. ””” The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless.””” The New York Times – By Carol Rovane  I want to offer a specific proposal about what it means, with a view to navigating the following “real-world” problem, discussed by Alex Rosenberg here at ... Read More »

We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s the proof

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Stories of greed and ego bombard us. But a new study shows that humans are inherently good The Guardian – George Monbiot, @GeorgeMonbiot Do you find yourself thrashing against the tide of human indifference and selfishness? Are you oppressed by the sense that while you care, others don’t? That, because of humankind’s callousness, civilisation and the rest of life on Earth are basically stuffed? If so, you are not alone. But neither are you right. A study by the Common Cause ... Read More »

Greece could sure use a philosopher-king right about now

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Plato’s paradox As Greece approaches yet another election—its fifth in six years—the country’s philosophical forefathers can only be smirking. QUARTZ – Written by Mark Y. Rosenberg Plato and his teacher Socrates famously warned about the pitfalls of democracy: social disorder, economic turmoil and, eventually, a disillusioned turn towards tyranny. As governments based on the will of the masses lurch from one shortsighted policy to another, representatives fall prey to avarice. Democracy, in short, is inherently vulnerable to populism—which inevitably leads ... Read More »

Antigone, a Greek tragedy plays out in Paris and Melbourne – review

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ABC – A war-time incident that pitted the authority of the state against a community’s need to mourn their dead is the real life backdrop for two updated versions of the Greek tragedy Antigone. One is slightly sentimental, the other is great, unforgiving theatre, writes Alison Croggon. Last month, a grim drama played out on the Habur border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. Amid simmering tensions between Ankara and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a truck carrying the bodies of 13 ... Read More »

Antigone now: Greek tragedy is the debate we have to have

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When you hear the words Greek tragedy, you might think of white masks, or even the ongoing economic crisis – ancient drama and modern depravity in its most enticing form. These first impressions may seem simple, but within them lays a theatrical form that refuses to die. The Conversation – Christine Lambrianidis, Playwright and theatre researcher at Monash University Maybe we have never truly progressed beyond this classical period; maybe we just have no other way to express ourselves; but ... Read More »

Buddhists and Catholics travel to the Vatican to talk about the ‘mystery of life’

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Representatives from the Buddhist and Catholic communities in the US are holding an interreligious dialogue this week near Rome and will meet with Pope Francis today. The five-day meeting, which began on Tuesday is on the subject of ‘Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity’. Christian Today – Lucinda Borkett-Jones The 46 American representatives have gathered at the headquarters of the Focolare movement near Rome, a predominantly Catholic movement which does also have members from other faiths, including Buddhism. The delegates have come ... Read More »

Three Reasons to read Classical Muslim Philosophers

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Recovering the basic insights of the Islamic philosophical tradition can bring much blessing and benefits to our confused world. Daily Sabah İBRAHIM KALIN@ikalin1 Why read philosophy when it appears to be largely irrelevant outside academia? Why bother with quaint, now largely unintelligible metaphysical arguments formulated centuries ago? Against all odds, there are good reasons to read the classical Muslim philosophers today. The ancient Greeks defined philosophy as “the love of wisdom” and there was a special reason for this peculiar definition. ... Read More »

Yanis Varoufakis: No Time for Games in Europe


ATHENS — I am writing this piece on the margins of a crucial negotiation with my country’s creditors — a negotiation the result of which may mark a generation, and even prove a turning point for Europe’s unfolding experiment with monetary union. The New York Times – Yanis Varoufakis Game theorists analyze negotiations as if they were split-a-pie games involving selfish players. Because I spent many years during my previous life as an academic researching game theory, some commentators rushed to presume ... Read More »

Inside the Notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre


Susan wrings her hands and twitches as she speaks, jerking her head from side to side. She is clearly not well. “I ate washing powder to try and kill myself,” says the nervous woman in her fifties. Her eyes flash wild. “It was all I could find. I wanted to die. I would rather die than go back.” Susan, whose name has been changed, as have those of all the residents quoted in this article, at their own request, says ... Read More »

China Weighing More Emphasis on Traditional Culture in Textbooks


Education officials in China are considering changes to elementary and middle school textbooks that would  expand the study of Chinese philosophy and literature, a shift that some education experts say is connected to recent efforts by the government to emphasize China’s cultural heritage. At an annual education conference this past weekend in the southwestern city of Chengdu, Wang Xuming, president of the state-owned Language and Culture Press, told reporters that his publishing house had revised its Chinese language and literature ... Read More »

How to Kill a Culture in 3 Easy Steps


Over the past few years I’ve been filming interviews with random people I’ve met from the streets of New York, to Prague and from the farms of Eastern Europe to the Midwest and Western United States. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people from farmers, artist, workers, professors and even celebrities and pop stars, and in nearly all cases most people especially in the United States, haven’t a clue about what culture is. I’ve gotten responses from, “Its some fifty-dollar word that ... Read More »

Is math discovered or invented? – Jeff Dekofsky


Published on 27 Oct 2014 View full lesson:… Would mathematics exist if people didn’t? Did we create mathematical concepts to help us understand the world around us, or is math the native language of the universe itself? Jeff Dekofsky traces some famous arguments in this ancient and hotly debated question. Lesson by Jeff Dekofsky, animation by The Tremendousness Collective. Read More »