Consciousness, Max Weber, Soap, Growth, Albania, Richard Thaler


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When Consciousness Began

Veronique Greenwood | Nautilus | 9th November 2017

How to survive as an unworldly genius developing a theory that consciousness began five thousand years ago. “Julian Jaynes was living out of a couple of suitcases in a Princeton dorm in the early 1970s. He must have been an odd sight there among the undergraduates. He was in his early 50s, a fairly heavy drinker, untenured, and apparently uninterested in tenure. But among the youthful inhabitants of the dorm, Jaynes was working on his masterpiece, and had been for years” (3,920 words)

Max Weber Was Wrong

Deirdre McCloskey | Reason | 8th November 2017

A thinker can be great and yet wrong. Karl Marx was wrong in Das Kapital. Max Weber is wrong in The Protestant Ethic, if less so than Marx. Weber rightly saw capitalism as the product, not of old-fashioned greed, but of a relatively modern and creative spirit. He wrongly insisted that the capitalist spirit belonged uniquely to the protestant psychology. Jews proved him wrong in the 20th century. Africans, Asians and everybody else are proving him wrong in the 21st century (1,155 words)

Soap And Intimacy

Panashe Chigumadzi | New York Review Of Books | 9th November 2017

On soap as a proxy for bodily intimacy in apartheid-era South Africa. Whites imagined themselves to be intrinsically cleaner. “Even household goods were segregated, with companies marketing their products differentially. So some brands, like Lifebuoy, Palmolive, and Lux, were at first used predominantly by white consumers, while others, like Sunlight and ‘blue-mottled’ varieties, became a nearly universal presence in the everyday life of black people in Southern Africa” (1,535 words)

Celebrating The Tech Revolution

Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg | 10th November 2017

“The major tech companies are growing their platforms quickly, supporting low prices with scale, product diversity, data ownership and superior service. Hardly anyone today worries about the eventual disappearance of competition and monopoly prices from Amazon or the other major tech companies. The tech companies have shown that their radical model of low price, high market share, high quality rapid expansion will keep them profitable for a long time to come” (730 words)

Vendettas That Go On Forever

Amanda Petrusich | VQR | 9th November 2017

Investigating the Albanian tradition of gjakmarrja, or revenge killing, which travels down the generations and may never be extinguished. “When a man is murdered, his family avenges his death by similarly executing either the killer himself or a male member of his clan. Sometimes, after a killing has been successfully vindicated, the feud is settled. Other times, the head of the family that initiated the feud chooses to perpetuate the cycle by killing a second male from the avenging family” (7,800 words)

How To Change Minds And Influence People

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 10th November 2017

In praise of Richard Thaler, winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, for his advocacy of behavioural economics. “He persuaded a large group of successful people with a strongly held view of the world to change their minds. What was that view? To oversimplify, it was that all of us are rational optimisers, able to instantly trade off risk and reward, rebalance a spending plan in the face of a price change, and resist temptations such as chocolate brownies or payday loans” (836 words)

Video of the day Rhythm

What to expect:

A run through the Alps with Joe Grant. Freedom is when you stop thinking about what’s going on around you (1’54”)

Thought for the day

I doubt if one ever accepts a belief until one urgently needs it
Christopher Isherwood

Podcast of the day Things I Mean To Know | This American Life

David Kestenbaum talks to Diane Wu about the difference between presumption, knowledge, and certainty
(1 hour 18 seconds)

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