Philosophy, Gray, Trees, Amsterdam, Stalin


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Defining Philosophy

Colin McGinn | 21st August 2018

There is no generally accepted definition of philosophy — which is, or should be, something of an embarrassment to philosophers. So try this formulation: “Philosophy is about logical reality”. What is logical reality? Logical reality represents relations between things — relations of entailment, consistency, and inconsistency. “A philosopher is always concerned with what follows from what, and what does not follow. Problems arise when reflecting on our knowledge of the world — logical problems — and we strive to solve these problems by reasoning” (2,050 words)

Ode To Gray

Meghan Flaherty | Paris Review | 21st August 2018

“The color gray is no one’s color. It is the color of cubicles and winter camouflage, of sullage, of inscrutable complexity, of compromise. It is the perfect intermediate, an emissary for both black and white. It lingers, incognito, in this saturated world. It is the color of soldiers and battleships, despite its dullness. It is the color of the death of trees. The death of all life, when consumed by fire. The color of industry and uniformity. It brings bad weather, augurs bleakness. It is the color other colors fade to, once drained of themselves. It is the color of old age” (1,480 words)

The World Has More Trees

Rhett Butler | Pacific Standard | 17th August 2018

The world now has more trees, and less bare earth, than it did 35 years ago, according to a new study published in “Nature” — though the tree-cover still being lost in the tropics is more valuable ecologically than the tree-cover being added in temperate, boreal and polar regions. The “Nature” numbers contradict data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, historically the prime source of global forestry data. “Tree-cover gain is being driven by agricultural abandonment, warming temperatures, and China’s massive tree planting program” (1,260 words)

Amsterdam Tries To Save Itself

Fiona Ehlers | Der Spiegel | 21st August 2018

Amsterdam is “overwhelmed by the masses” — more than 18 million visitors arrive annually, against a resident population of 850,000. The municipal government has halted construction of new hotels in the city centre, and banned new commerce catering primarily to tourists. Drinking in the street will soon attract a spot fine of 90 euros, rowdyism a fine of 140 euros — measures aimed at the packs of young men from Britain and Germany who flock to the red-light district. “There is a lot of fear that the city will become an amusement park and the last residents will disappear” (1,500 words)

The Poet Who Survived Stalin’s Poems

Ilya Kutik & Reginald Gibbons | Literary Hub | 21st August 2018

One day in the late 1940s, the life of Arsenii Tarkovsky, renowned Russian poet and father of film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky, took a terrifying turn. “He was taken into a hall where the Politburo — except for Stalin himself — were eating and drinking, in a merry mood, enjoying red caviar, cognac, fine wines. He was invited to sit at the table with them. They asked a few friendly questions and then told him: ‘We brought you here to give you a supremely important task. You will translate the poems of Comrade Stalin, our great leader, from Georgian into Russian'” (1,590 words)

Video of the day Volumes

What to expect:

What might happen if you filled an art gallery with giant multi-coloured caviar (3’05”)

Thought for the day

It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious
Alfred North Whitehead

Podcast Ten Years After | New Yorker

George Packer looks back on the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis
(8m 55s)

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