Reading Ourselves To Death

Why are we so addicted to our phones? Perhaps it’s due to the ocean of text available at our fingertips. Text has a way of making us look at the world in an abstract way, where we see the world as if we weren’t part of it, just looking down from above. It’s hypothesised that, as humans have been surrounded by text for centuries, we’ve become increasingly detached from the “real” world, which might be why it feels weird when we’re not reading anything at all. Read full article here

Why We Need A New Kind Of Education: Imagination Studies

Can creativity and knowledge coexist? It is put forth that creative products, like songs, stories, sculptures, and other art, are some of the most powerful forms of knowledge. They describe a part of our crazy, unpredictable world in a way that inspires us. We immediately feel emotions—sadness, anger, joy, among others—and we feel an urge to act. An example of this can be found in first-person gaming and virtual reality. When we game, we can feel emotions that carry on to the real world. Read full article here

How To Circus

“People like to say that the trapeze is a metaphor for overcoming your fears. But this is wrong. A metaphor is just a symbol. The trapeze actually works.” Circus acts, especially the flying trapeze, are examples of transformative experiences — experiences that dramatically change us both in personality and worldview. This happens because you are thrust into a situation that you think you can’t do, but you manage to do it anyway; your whole perspective of what’s possible completely shifts after experiencing the flying trapeze. Read full article here

If There Were A Vaccine Against Love, You Should Take It

Could romantic love be bad for us? It can be argued that it’s a disruptive force—a “cognitive distortion field”—that can potentially upend our lives. When “hijacked” by romantic love, the brain redirects your energy onto another person and refocuses your goals to revolve around them, even if they’re not a good person. If you look at love in this way, it causes you to be inauthentic, can make you disregard your previous life trajectory, and potentially puts you in harm’s way. Read full article here

A Short History Of Envy

Although envy is largely viewed as negative, the Ancient Greeks had a form of envy that was seen in a good light. This envy was toward bad people with undeserved good fortune. However, this form of envy was rare. The Ancient Greeks thought that only the gods could hold this sort of envy, especially towards mortals. Aristotle denied that this envy existed and tried to call it a different name: “to nemesan”. “To nemesan” was justifiable indignation—a painful feeling much like envy, felt after seeing people who are unfairly fortunate. Read full article here

Are Insects Conscious?

“Consciousness is a sense of yourself in the world. It’s suffering. It’s bliss.” Insects have long been thought to not possess consciousness, owing partly to their less-developed brain structure. But experts have argued that consciousness is a more primitive, deeper phenomenon that differs in each species. The experts posited that consciousness is the ability to feel pain and pleasure, and by using this logic, they have concluded that insects are, in fact, conscious beings. Read full article here

The Altruistic Killer

Suppose there was a serial killer that targeted homeless people without friends and family, but donated enormous amounts of money to charities to offset the harm. This thought experiment, dubbed “The Altruistic Killer” by Sam Atis, is an example of the harm-benefit asymmetry (HBA) at work. HBA is a philosophical point of view that supposes that the harm an action brings about heavily outweighs the benefits that may come from doing the action, even if the number of people harmed and benefitted remain equal. Read full article here

Up And Down (And Up Again)

You might say that failing may disqualify one from achieving the Stoic perspective, but Piotr Stankiewicz posits that getting back up after failing is more important to Stoic beliefs. Although it pursues perfection of virtue, Stoicism emphasises the importance of self-improvement and repetition, along with a healthy acknowledgement that perfection may be unattainable. This is precisely why Stankiewicz thinks that failing matches up to the Stoic perspective, and that Stoicism is not for those who have never failed, instead it is for those who wish to get back up again. Read full article here

When Philosophizing In Public, Remember How Strange We May Seem

Philosophers have a knack for making distinctions, especially “in principle” distinctions, where they’re able to separate things or circumstances often experienced together. Justin Weinberg gives the example of the naked man, where people are asked to explain why a naked man sitting in front of them on the bus is offensive. He explains a philosopher may focus merely on the nudity of the subject and disregard the associations most people have with surprising and unwanted nudity — sexual assault and danger — a concept alien to most non-philosophers. Read full article here

In Search Of Foucault’s Last Words

Confessions of the Flesh was Michel Foucault’s last manuscript, left unfinished after he died of AIDS and unpublished until 2018, against his wishes. The book reads rather differently compared to his older works, especially its companion books in the collection “History of Sexuality.” Confessions was straightforward, canonical, and historical. The other Sexuality books, in comparison, refused to submit to historiography; instead of laying down a social history of sexual rules, they danced around the “history of ideas” of sex. Read full article here


The occasional email full of conversation-worthy content