Weekly Learning: The Leftover Edition


Note: This is the last Weekly Learning piece. New series coming soon.

Democracy vs. Truth vs. Feeling

Democracy is sentimental argues that:

Reason and facts cannot be the basis of political debates and civic life. Love and laughter are the heart of the matter

But the author actually cares more about something else:

The political and social potency of humour and satire sheds light on the ways in which an emphasis on feelings instead of reasons still carries genuine ethical, political or social import.

And perhaps most importantly (highlights mine):

That there is no objective truth does not mean that anything goes, but that we must try even harder to communicate and collaborate with our fellow humans, because there is no predestined path to agreement. The truth will not save us because it was just an artefact we kept around to help us along for a particular period in our collective history, and in the coming political future we will have to learn to work together to save ourselves. What our post-truth political landscape needs is more love, imagination and laughter. Our political criticisms should emulate the form of a gentle tease from someone who loves us. A genuinely post-truth democratic society will be one that laughs at folly rather than punishes evil.

From a very different angle, Yuval Noah Harari, the author of the brilliant 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, also points out:

Referendums and elections are always about human feelings, not about human rationality. If democracy were a matter of rational decision-making, there would be absolutely no reason to give all people equal voting rights—or perhaps any voting rights at all.

[…]

Democracy assumes that human feelings reflect a mysterious and profound “free will,” that this “free will” is the ultimate source of authority, and that while some people are more intelligent than others, all humans are equally free.

Source: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Disagreement is Vital

A good scrap tries to tell you that:

Disagreements can be unpleasant, even offensive, but they are vital to human reason. Without them we remain in the dark

The author’s book is pretty neat.

Understanding Chinese People

Why do Chinese people love their government? asks:

Why do so many people feel that the Chinese can’t possibly be OK with their government or society? It seems that many in West deem the current Chinese government/society as wrong and that any “right-thinking” person would agree and join in the fight.

I always love comparative perspectives like this one, especially when it involves a broad range of knowledge and articulation.

It’s a rather personal perspective, and there are many debatable propositions and opinions.

And that’s exactly why it’s thought-provoking. Maybe you’ll learn from it.

From Good vs. Evil to Us vs. Them

The good guy/bad guy myth asks:

Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?

Firstly,

Stories from an oral tradition never have anything like a modern good guy or bad guy in them, despite their reputation for being moralising.

Secondly,

Less discussed is the historic shift that altered the nature of so many of our modern retellings of folklore, to wit: the idea that people on opposite sides of conflicts have different moral qualities, and fight over their values. That shift lies in the good guy/bad guy dichotomy, where people no longer fight over who gets dinner, or who gets Helen of Troy, but over who gets to change or improve society’s values.

Thirdly,

Once the idea of national values entered our storytelling, the peculiar moral physics underlying the phenomenon of good guys versus bad guys has been remarkably consistent.

And most importantly:

Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they /do/ promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values /feel/ like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.

Computational Landscapes

Computational Landscapes and the New Sublime points out:

As the boundary between the natural and the automated dissolves, the vast logistics infrastructures underpinning our economies point the way to new models of the sublime.

Whatever that means.

A Visual History of Philosophy

History of Philosophy – Summarized & Visualized is a fascinating “summary of the history of Western philosophy showing the positive/negative connections between some of the key ideas/arguments/statements of the philosophers.”

Confidence Intervals

Confidence Intervals, Margins of Error, and Confidence Levels in UX provides a neat and contextual explanation of the respective concepts.

Government as a Platform (GaaP)

Government as a Platform Playbook because why not.

The 139 Mixtape

The legendary 139 Mixtape is a pleasurable contribute to some musical nostalgia.

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