Links added lately…

  1. “Our democracies are already gamified. Our goal should be to do it better” — we can go “beyond gamification’s traditionally thoughtless application of points and badges” and use “game design principles put the oft-dashed ideals of digital democracy into practice,” argues Adrian Hon
  2. “Agency appears to be an occasional, remarkable property of matter, and one we should feel comfortable invoking when offering causal explanations of what we’re observing” — an attempt to provide a scientifically respectable explanation of agency that doesn’t explain it away, from Philip Ball
  3. “The value of the humanities is, upon exposure to real humanistic practice, self-evident… a society that acts as if this were not true, that threatens artists and philosophers and poets with oblivion or obscurity if they cannot justify their existence, is a profoundly sick culture” — John Michael Colón on the confusions of the “canon wars”
  4. “Decades of research have revealed a deeper truth [about protons], one that’s too bizarre to fully capture with words or images” — but it doesn’t stop this writer and graphics editor from trying. One example of the weirdness: “the proton contains traces of particles… that are heavier than the proton itself”
  5. Now Open Access: 7 articles by Kripke and 12 articles and book chapters by others about Kripke’s work — “The Legacy of Saul Kripke” is a memorial collection put together by Wiley (via Eric Piper)
  6. “Ask your kids questions and question their answers. Really get them thinking about issues. Don’t be afraid of these conversations with your kids. You don’t know all the answers. But you don’t have to know the answers” — Scott Hershovitz (Michigan) interviewed about kids and philosophy
  7. “Instead of supposing that physics must be queen of all we survey, I recommend we construct our image of what an ultimate science might be like on the basis of what current science is like when it is most successful. Physics does not act as queen in these cases” — “Rather,” says Nancy Cartwright (Durham), “she does her bit as part of a motley assembly of scientific… and engineering disciplines”

Discussion welcome.

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, a collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers. The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap. Thanks!

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1 month ago

In response to the Colon piece:

While the basic claim being made here about the role of the humanities/liberal arts is no doubt acceptable to many, if a bit banal, the narrative of the “postmodern” “deconstruction” of the canon is both lazy and largely inaccurate.

The anxiety resulting in seemingly endless justifications of the humanities/liberal arts stems not from the loss of some shared yet imagined cultural knowledge, but rather from economic factors.

The humanists are fighting for their jobs and many are underpaid, lack research support, and do not have stable positions. Many, perhaps the wisest of this group, leave the work of education for exactly these reasons.

The students of the humanists, or at least those who might have been in another era, pay tremendous amounts for their educations, often accrue life-altering debt, and find an economy in which the undergraduate degree has more or less the same value a high school diploma did decades ago–expected but not really necessary to do the great majority of white collar jobs.

“Stop being defensive about the humanities” sounds like a rallying call at first, but in fact it’s simply a misunderstanding. The defensiveness results from real, material in the Marxian sense, circumstances. Of course political matters and cultural changes are reflected (or perhaps stem from) these circumstances, but they are more or less the surplus here, not the real issue.Report

Louis F. Cooper
1 month ago

Colon agrees with those who criticize “the Western canon” for its parochialism; what he faults them for is their failure, in his view, to construct “a truly global canon” to take its place.

I think he’d agree that the “defensiveness” about the humanities is mostly driven by economic forces/realities, but he seems to think, among other things, that the “instrumental” defenses are not really working. If they were, then people wouldn’t have to keep churning them out. He doesn’t say that explicitly, but I think it’s probably implicit in the piece.Report