Nordic Ideology: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book Two (Metamodern Guides), by Hanzi Freinacht; Metamoderna ApS (May 29, 2019), 495 pages
I have written a very lengthy review of The Listening Society: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book One (Metamodern Guides), by Hanzi Freinacht. Because it is so lengthy, it will probably have very few people who read the entire thing. But an argument I made in my review of the final chapter is something interesting that I thought deserved some of its own consideration, and so this post is adapted from my review of the final two chapters in The Listening Society. Keep in mind that although it is not a necessary requirement to have read my review of all the prior chapters to understand this post, it would be helpful.
The Listening Society: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book One (Metamodern Guides), by Hanzi Freinacht; Metamoderna ApS (March 10, 2017), 414 pages
Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy by David J. Chalmers, W. W. Norton & Company (January 25, 2022), 544 pages
I have started a series of Youtube videos about rationality based on Steven Pinker’s book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters (see my review of the book here). The videos explain what rationality is, how to use it correctly, and how it goes wrong.
An important aspect of many religions, perhaps even the most important aspect, is worship. This is entailed by the facts that 1) the deity or deities are deserving or worthy of worship and 2) people have an obligation to worship the deity or deities. But why are either of these things true?
Most people have some intuitive notion of what freedom is. When I’m at work and have an obligation to dispatch my duties, I am not free, because I’m obligated to do one thing at the expense of any other things I might want to do – take a nap, watch a movie, read a book, etc. During my free time, though, I have the freedom to make those decisions if I wish. Someone in prison is not free because they are not allowed to go where they want; those of us not in prison have the freedom to go where we please. But are these intuitive notions of freedom a good definition for being free?
With Russia and Ukraine embroiled in a war that has caught the world’s attention, would it be a good idea for the United States to get involved to help Ukraine? A lot of talking heads seem to think so, hoping for anywhere between arming the Ukrainians to declaring a no fly zone and even up to boots-on-the-ground military involvement. Are these the wise words of our foreign policy intelligentsia or the saber rattling of demagogues and warmongers?
Possibly the guiding principle of modernity is that any problem can be solved if people just put their minds to it. Science and liberalism have been astonishing successes in raising the standard of living, in an objective sense, for more people than at any other time in history. People like Steven Pinker love to wax optimistic about how Enlightenment values and scientific progress have made the world an objectively better place to live than ever before, with the implication that things will only get better. But is this really true?
As most of you are probably aware, there has been mounting tension between Russia, Ukraine, the the west (the United States and much of Europe) that has, as of writing this, resulted in Russia invading the Donbas in eastern Ukraine. I call it an invasion, rather than the propaganda term “peacekeeping” because an invasion is what it is. But it’s a fraught situation with many competing interests.
John Oliver, on the season premier of his show Last Week Tonight, covered Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the moral panic over its teaching in schools. I’ve talked about this topic quite a few times on this blog. I’m by no means an expert on CRT, but I’m also not completely ignorant. So, is John Oliver’s examination accurate?
In the United States, abortion is one of the most contentious political and moral issues. The split is between the pro-life movement, which wants to restrict and even outlaw abortion as much as possible, and the pro-choice movement, which views abortion is a rights issue, both human rights and women’s rights, to maintain control over their own body and destiny. Yet sometimes it seems like the two sides are arguing past each other. Do either have a good case to make?
Scientists and science enthusiasts can get exasperated by the conflation of definitions between the scientific conception of a theory and the colloquial definition. In the latter, a theory is sometimes considered no better than a guess, and at best what a scientist would call a hypothesis (an educated formulation of a mechanism or explanation). People will say things like “evolution is just a theory” as if that attests to some shortcoming of evolution. In the scientific conception, a theory is the gold standard. It is a set of inferences, explanations, predictions, and interpretations that bring together (sometimes disparate) data, evidence, and observations into a cohesive whole. Theories are what scientists use to make predictions in order to formulate new hypotheses and design new experiments. But what is the nature of a theory? And what is the ontological status of a scientific theory? In what way is a theory true?
Joe Rogan, the comedian, podcaster, and UFC commentator, has been getting into hot water lately. It started with his views on COVID vaccines and other measures. Now he’s being accused of being racist. Here are some thoughts.
Picture your stereotypical incel, doomer, or shitpost internet commenter. This is probably a youngish white male who is a quiet, awkward nerd in real life. Maybe he dons a neckbeard and wiles away his time playing video games and listening to black metal. When deigning to interact with fellow human beings offline, he only manages to contribute the occasional cynical edgelord quip to the conversation only to bask in the discomfort he’s caused. Online this person becomes a know-it-all on reddit and comment sections, interjecting with snarky non-sequiturs and unsolicited contrarianism in order to cultivate a self-identity as some brand of “agent of chaos.” He declares his atheism and libertarianism at every opportunity all the while belittling others for their own sincerely held beliefs. Yet, these charming underachievers are baffled by their inevitable dearth of friends and potential romantic partners.
A few years ago I made a lengthy post on the philosophical arguments against the existence of God. I stated that it was the first in a series. This one is the second in that series. Here I will go through the scientific arguments for why I do not believe in the existence of God. Just like with my philosophical arguments, this will end up being a fairly long post and one which I will revise and add to periodically. As such, what you see may not be the final version of this post.
A common refrain in the news media during these COVID years has been to “trust the science.” This is also a popular mantra when it comes to climate science. Yet, in the United States at least, trust in experts and institutions is at an all time low. The political right is skeptical of climate science, COVID vaccines, and scientific institutions like the NIH and CDC, seeing them as a means for the government to take away rights and for liberals to impose their will. The political left views science as a white colonialist means of subjugating those with other “ways of knowing” and upholding white, male privilege. So the question is: should we trust the science?
Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters by Steven Pinker; Viking (September 28, 2021); 432 pages