Martha Gellhorn, GDP, J.S. Mill, Morality, Bruno Latour


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Eleanor Roosevelt And Martha Gellhorn

Janet Somerville | Hazlitt | 12th February 2018

Compelling dual portrait of Martha Gellhorn as protegée and Eleanor Roosevelt as mentor. Gellhorn to Roosevelt: “If the madman Hitler really sends two divisions to Spain my bet is that the war is nearer than even the pessimists thought”. Roosevelt to Gellhorn: “I am glad you are going to write Spain out of your system. Writing is your best vehicle and you ought to do a good piece of work. No one can keep calm when they have seen the things you have seen and felt as you feel” (3,300 words)

The GDP Deception

David Pilling | Big Issue | 8th February 2018

Gross domestic product was devised as a shorthand way of measuring the American economy in the 1930s; but it is not much good at measuring modern economies; and it is downright misleading as a basis for government policy. GDP measures quantity and price. It does not measure the virtue, or value, or social utility of economic activity. Producing 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year is “good” for GDP, even though future generations will be fishing them out of the ocean for centuries (1,400 words)

Higher Happiness

Christopher Macleod | TLS | 13th February 2018

Introduction to the ideas of John Stuart Mill, “the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century”. Mill argued that there should be “no interference with the thought, speech, or action of any individual except on the grounds of the prevention of harm to others”. Mill’s liberalism was rooted in utilitarianism: He thought freedom good because it helped societies flourish, but he was sceptical of arguments for freedom as a universal human right (1,700 words)

Moralism And The Arts

Ian Buruma | Project Syndicate | 6th February 2018

Art transcends the artist. “Just as we should not condemn a work of art because of the artist’s private behavior, we should also be careful about applying norms of social respectability to artistic expression. If we limited artistic expression to subjects commonly regarded as socially respectable, we would soon be left with moralistic kitsch, just the kind of thing rulers of authoritarian states like to promote in public, while doing things that are far worse than most artists would like to imagine” (1,000 words)

For A Terrestrial Politics

Camille Riquier | Eurozine | 6th February 2018

Interview with French philosopher Bruno Latour, who argues that climate change is the dominant force shaping world politics, indirectly and subliminally, through migration and fear. “If we are going to have to experience a catastrophe, we might as well stay in the gated community we are familiar with, or keep ourselves safe behind a wall. Large and small adopt the same strategy: the wealthy flee to their offshore havens, the common people head for the nation-state of yesteryear” (2,914 words)

Video of the day Transworld Depravity

What to expect:

Animated explainer of Alvin Plantinga’s philosophical attempt to reconcile God and free will (3’30”)

Thought for the day

To be or not to be. That’s not really a question
Jean-Luc Godard

Podcast of the day What Hath God Wrought | Retropod

Mike Rosenwald traces the history of social media back to Samuel Morse’s first message in 1844
(4'08")

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