Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Socrates: Plato’s Shorter Ethical Works

SPINNING ‘ROUND ‘ROUND ‘ROUND:  LibMedia Spins Another Golden Globes Ratings Dip

The Liar Paradox, by Bradley Dowden 

At the center of Plato’s shorter ethical works is the Apology of Socrates, which consists of a speech purportedly given by Socrates at his trial, and is probably the closest of Plato’s works to the historical Socrates. The Apologyis closely linked to two other works. The first is the Euthyphro, which shows Socrates discussing reverence as he is about to report to court for his indictment, an indictment that includes by implication a charge of irreverence. The second is the Crito, which shows Socrates in prison on the day before his execution, defending his decision to accept the penalty rather than corrupt the law by bribing his way out of prison and away from Athens. The Crito argument depends on a principle that is the bedrock of Socratic ethics: that it is never right to do wrong, even in return for wrong (49ab). The bedrock principle rules out the view that one should do right by one’s friends and wrong by one’s enemies, a view that had roots in Greek tradition. 

Plato’s Shorter Ethical Works, by Paul Woodruff

American politics will return to the precedent of the 19th century. Then, there was lots of fake news; partisanship was extreme; the media was very biased; Americans reacted politically with extreme emotions and all debates seemed to be full of rancor and bitterness. So in some fundamental ways, this country has not changed. We had a break from that state of affairs in the 20th century because we had the major enemies of the Nazis and then the Soviets. But as those enemies disappeared, we’re fighting among ourselves more, and the nation will go back to an earlier version of its politics, which were highly dysfunctional. You had plenty of people becoming president who probably should not have been.
I don’t see any evidence that we’re headed toward anything like a civil war. Today is a more peaceful era. If you look at polls, you see a generalized loss of trust in many institutions, but the No. 1 clear winner by far is still the military. Police tactics have much improved over the past few decades. The riots of the 1960s are very, very far away. The fighting will stay on social media. The happy people will be those who turn off their smartphones or who don’t put Twitter on them and who just go about living their lives.
But I think the intellectual classes and people in the media will become less and less happy. They’ll be more stressed, and every day they’ll feel like they’re being put through the wringer. Social media has become a kind of opiate of the intellectual class. So, grandparents use social media to track what their grandkids are doing — that’s nice and wonderful. But people who keep on refreshing Twitter for the latest developments in the Mueller investigation — frankly, I think it’s a big waste of time. I think there has been great wrongdoing. I fully support what Mueller is up to. But, at the end of the day, following it moment-to-moment is a kind of trap.
Keep in mind that during a lot of the 19th century, America’s economy grew one and a half percent or 2 percent annually, which was okay. But it was not 4 or 5 percent growth. People felt resources were very scarce. Everything was argued over. A small amount of tariff revenue was a big deal. I think that, too, will be our immediate future. There will be a lot of scarcity. Budgets will be stretched, and, again, everything will be an emotional debate, precisely because there’s so much gridlock. We will look to symbolic politics — who deserves higher status, what kind of rhetoric is permissible. Right now, it’s the coastal elite in major cities versus many other parts of the country. But that will be in flux. Latinos — at what rate will they vote Democratic? Will Asian-Americans defect to the Republican Party?
Democrats still have a big problem: What are they going to run on? They could run on more preschool or no more paid maternity leave. They’re just not that big a deal — not major changes in how America works. I don’t think they’ll end up as the main things we’re debating. If you look at all the attention the “caravan” got — that was just a few thousand people. I think that kind of debate is our future.