What is wrong with tolerance

Jewish Haim Addad posing with his Arabic neighbour near Djerba, Tunisia, May 2008. Photo by Patrick Zachmann/Magnum The ideal of religious tolerance has crippling flaws. It’s time to embrace a civic philosophy of reciprocity by Simon Rabinovitch is an assistant professor of history at Boston University. He is the author of Jewish Rites, National Rites: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia (2015) and the forthcoming Jewish Collective Rights: Religious Liberty and Modern States. Edited by Sam Haselby The purpose of religious tolerance has always been, and remains, to maintain the power and purity of the dominant religion in a given state. Most dominant … Continue reading What is wrong with tolerance

Marcus Aurelius on How Meeting Reality on Its Own Terms Helps Us Live Through Our Difficulties

“Accept everything which happens, even if it seem disagreeable, because it leads to this, the health of the universe.” BY MARIA POPOVA “At bottom the whole concern of both morality,” William James wrote in contemplating the human search for meaning, “is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only in part and grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? … If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission… or shall we do so with enthusiastic assent?” The pioneering psychologist and philosopher was reaching across time, space, and cultures to perch on the shoulders of … Continue reading Marcus Aurelius on How Meeting Reality on Its Own Terms Helps Us Live Through Our Difficulties

The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on Communication, Control, and the Morality of Our Machines

Man as Industrial Palace (1926) by infographics pioneer Fritz Kahn “We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves. A pattern is a message.” BY MARIA POPOVA “Information will never replace illumination,” Susan Sontag asserted in considering the conscience of words. “Words are events, they do things, change things,”Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in the same era in her exquisite meditation on the magic of real human communication. “They transform both speaker and hearer; they feed energy back and forth and amplify it. They feed understanding or emotion back and forth and amplify it.” But what happens when words are stripped of their humanity, fed into … Continue reading The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on Communication, Control, and the Morality of Our Machines

Did Jesus use cannabis oil to perform miracles?

Ear restored. Image credit: Herbert Ruben, 2012. Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/7020007877).  by PHILIP PERRY In the US over the last couple of decades or so, the outlook on marijuana has undergone a complete paradigm shift. According to the most recent Pew Research Center poll, 61% of Americans back legalizing cannabis on the federal level. This goes across generational and to some extent, party lines. Lots more Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, for serious, legitimate illnesses. This new outlook is even filtering down into some unexpected places, such as among a couple of fringe Christian groups. Consider Deb Button. She’s the founder of Stoner Jesus Bible Study. Button … Continue reading Did Jesus use cannabis oil to perform miracles?

Ethics on the battlefield

Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, 2007. Photo by Tim Hetherington/Magnum The soldier in battle is confronted with agonising, even impossible, ethical decisions. Could studying philosophy help? by Andy Owen is the author of All Soldier’s Run Away: Alano’s War, the Story of a British Deserter (2017). He lives in London. Edited by Nigel Warburton When I attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2002-3, the leadership training was excellent. It included discussion of the British Army’s values and the laws of armed conflict. However, I received no ethics training for the occasions when neither values nor laws would fully prepare me to make complex moral decisions in … Continue reading Ethics on the battlefield

What are we?

Detail from Paul Gauguin’s Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (1897). Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Wikipedia On Paul Gauguin, authenticity and the midlife crisis: how the philosopher Bernard Williams dramatised moral luck by Daniel Callcut is a freelance writer and philosopher. He is the editor of Reading Bernard Williams (2009). He lives in Stamford, United Kingdom. Edited by Nigel Warburton ‘If there’s one theme in all my work it’s about authenticity and self-expression,’ said the philosopher Bernard Williams in an interview with The Guardian in 2002. Authenticity was already an influential cultural ideal during Williams’s lifetime (he was born in 1929 and … Continue reading What are we?

Eugenics never went away

The Provincial Training School in Red Deer, Alberta, opened in October 1923 and was designated to be a residential institution for the training of people deemed ‘mentally defective’. Photo courtesy eugencisarchove.ca Thought eugenics died with the Nazis? Think again: the eugenic programme of sterilising the ‘unfit’ continues even today by Robert A Wilson is professor of philosophy at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and the founder of the network Philosophical Engagement in Public Life (PEiPL). His latest book is The Eugenic Mind Project (2018). Edited by Sam Dresser Eugenics was a mixture of science and social movement that aimed to improve the human race over generations. … Continue reading Eugenics never went away