Decades of policy, not misfortune, have put good housing out reach of millions. Given that access to decent housing is one of the most basic hallmarks of an advanced, civilised country, you might have thought this would be considered a scandal that would dominate political debate. In fact, there is only one aspect of the housing market that has any perceptible effect on elections: price crashes cause the government of the day to haemorrhage votes.
The political philosopher Erica Benner used to read Machiavelli like most of us allow others to read him for us, cherry-picking the outré quotes that identify him as an opportunist amoralist. But then she started to notice something strange: most of what he wrote was not very Machiavellian…
“I say to people in Québec: your kids are going to change you more than all these immigrants. I’m a grandfather now and I see what has happened over these two generations and it’s huge. We dropped the central religious identity of Québec in this time, nobody forced us from outside.”
Love is so last century. What the world needs now, the only thing that there’s just too little of, is empathy. Empathy is widely touted as the key to effective management, good government, better medical care, improved wellbeing, higher-achieving schools, excellent parenting, even world peace. It’s clearly time for a backlash…
The idea of philosophizing about food still strikes many as pretentious and absurd, despite a recent growth in the literature. It embarrasses practical, empirical Anglo-Saxons, who would rather leave such musings to our more phenomenological and literary-minded Continental cousins. Nicola Perullo is one such cousin, but now that his Taste as Experiencehas been translated into English, it is perhaps time to reconsider our cultural suspicion of combining intellect and ingestion…
A curious modern ritual of the festive season is to lament the excess and commercialisation of Christmas while simultaneously partaking in it. Perhaps it is not only at family gatherings that Christmas has a tendency to bring to a head simmering tensions. It also seems to be a time when the dissonance between our simultaneous loving and loathing of capitalism becomes almost unbearable.
To see the populists as hapless victims of Kremlin manipulation is to underestimate the genuine admiration they have for the qualities Putin represents. It may well end in tears, but this is no marriage of convenience: this is true love. If we want to know why so many voters have fallen for the populists, we need to understand why the populists have fallen for Putin.
It’s easy to condemn political lies and catalogue their awful consequences. It’s more difficult and important to examine the consequences of not lying. In a world where opponents are using every devious trick in the book to defeat you, can anyone afford to be so high-minded?
For the community of reason to thrive, we need to regain our respect for reason and also to bring it closer down to earth. And it is only by using our reason that as a society we can debate our differences and come to, if not agreement, then at least a respectful accommodation.
A scepticism persists that those who claim to see philosophical depth in The Simpsons are simply betraying our shallowness or having a laugh. But far from there being anything paradoxical about a cartoon having philosophical substance, cartoons are actually the ideal artistic vehicle for philosophy.