Tuesday, June 29, 2021

How Rousseau showed Us To Be Prophetic: A Cheerleader's Supreme Court Win for Students' Free Speech

During the Cold War River period,  critics such as Berlin and Jacob Talmon presented Rousseau as a prophet of totalitarianism. Now, as large middle classes in the West stagnate and billions elsewhere move out of poverty while harboring unrealizable dreams of prosperity, Rousseau’s obsession with the psychic consequences of inequality seems even more prophetic and disturbing.

At the age of fifteen, he ran away and found his way to Savoy, where he quickly became the boy toy of a Swiss-French noblewoman. She turned out to be the great love of his life, introducing him to books and music. Rousseau, always seeking substitutes for his mother, called her Maman.

How Rousseau Predicted Trump The Enlightenment philosopher’s attack on cosmopolitan élites now seems prophetic.

EXPLAIN THIS: Here’s a fact about Paul the Apostle that is not often discussed. For decades during his four missionary trips around the ancient world, he was in constant danger, often impoverished, whipped several times, run out of town at least twice, sick, trapped and nearly killed by rioters, scorned by the intellectual and political elite of his day, and often hungry.

Despite it all, he never stopped claiming that he had seen and talked to the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, or that the encounter changed him from determined persecutor of Christians into their greatest missionary.

If he was a liar, he was one of the most determined in history. To dismiss him as deluded is speculative. What we cannot do is ignore him or his message because without him, it’s difficult to see the development of western civilization generally and the American constitutional perspective on government and individual liberty specifically.

    A Cheerleader's Supreme Court Win for Students' Free Speech

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Pro Publica, Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank:

Pro PublicaRoth IRAs were intended to help average working Americans save, but IRS records show Thiel and other ultrawealthy investors have used them to amass vast untaxed fortunes.

Billionaire Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, has publicly condemned “confiscatory taxes.” He’s been a major funder of one of the most prominent anti-tax political action committees in the country. And he’s bankrolled a group that promotes building floating nations that would impose no compulsory income taxes.

But Thiel doesn’t need a man-made island to avoid paying taxes. He has something just as effective: a Roth individual retirement account.

Over the last 20 years, Thiel has quietly turned his Roth IRA — a humdrum retirement vehicle intended to spur Americans to save for their golden years — into a gargantuan tax-exempt piggy bank, confidential Internal Revenue Service data shows. Using stock deals unavailable to most people, Thiel has taken a retirement account worth less than $2,000 in 1999 and spun it into a $5 billion windfall.

To put that into perspective, here’s how much the average Roth was worth at the end of 2018: $39,108.

And here’s how much $5 billion is: If every one of the 2.3 million people in Houston, Texas, were to deposit $2,000 into a bank today, those accounts still wouldn’t equal what Thiel has in his Roth IRA.

What’s more, as long as Thiel waits to withdraw his money until April 2027, when he is six months shy of his 60th birthday, he will never have to pay a penny of tax on those billions.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

    ICAC wants real regulation of lobbying with its unfairness and the inherent risks of corruption.

    ICAC tried 11 years ago to persuade the NSW Government to introduce a basic system to regulate lobbyists in the state, but only the bare bones of its proposals (essentially, just 5 out of 17 recommendations) were put into effect. It has now revisited the problem and determined a far more comprehensive scheme that would...

  1. “Engineers of the human soul would wish to deal with…evil by suppression; literature, real literature, deals with it through the power of imaginative sublimation” — also, says Justin E.H. Smith, “philosophy is not a fan club, and if you are treating it as one, this is because you do not really understand what philosophy is”
  2. “The philosophical picture of natural kinds… are not well-suited to the aims of medicine and disease classification” — an interview with Anya Plutynski (Wash. U. St. Louis) on the philosophy of cancer and other questions related to philosophy, science, and medicine
  3. “Whether we frame the relevant decision problems from the perspective of the individual or from an aggregate perspective can make a difference” — Johanna Thoma (LSE) on why the morality of artificial intelligences might rationally differ from the morality of humans
  4. “If speaking our minds is important to developing ourselves as rational creatures, and if such development is at least one important aspect of the good life, then we ought not to sacrifice it willy-nilly at the altar of social status” — Hrishikesh Joshi (Bowling Green) brings together Aristotle and an interactionist account of reason
  5. “There is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the bill. But! Lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster” — the filibuster variant of the trolley problem, from Alexandra Petri (via Kathleen Wallace)
  6. “Maybe in the end numbers will come to seem a little like the way logic as used in the Middle Ages might seem to us today: a framework for determining things that’s much less complete and powerful than what we now have” — have we been tricked by the limits of our epistemology into making mistakes about metaphysics in regards to numbers? (via MR)
  7. “Whatever I knew about masks and vaccines at an intellectual level, violating those expectations still felt wrong” — Evan Westra (York) on the weirdness of going maskless

  1. Neoliberalism, by Kevin Vallier
  2. Legal Probabilism, by Rafal Urbaniak (Gdansk) and Marcello Di Bello.


  1. Theory and Observation in Science, Nora Mills Boyd and James Bogen.
  2. Bohmian Mechanics, Sheldon Goldstein.
  3. Optimality-Theoretic and Game-Theoretic Approaches to Implicature, Robert van Rooij and Michael Franke.
  4. Thermodynamic Asymmetry in Time, Craig Callender.
  5. Business Ethics, Jeffrey Moriarty.

IEP   ∅

NDPR      ∅

1000-Word Philosophy      ∅

Project Vox     ∅

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media  

  1. Evan Selinger reviews The Power of Ethics: How to Make Good Decisions in a Complicated World, by Susan Liataud, at Los Angeles Review of Books. 
  2. Susan Pinker reviews The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, by Annie Murphy Paul, at The New York Times.