The Folly of Betterment
"For all his swashbuckling assaults on what he called the 'booboisie', Mencken was the first important writer to probe and relish middle-class American life."
"Our public and private life still embrace improvement... Mencken was brave enough to turn his face from all that, with a mixture of ironic dismay and scorn...to grasp that the purpose of literature is not to expose, instruct, explicate ideas, or advance causes; to apprehend that Lardner’s achievement was 'to take familiar personages, usually regarded with tolerant smiles, and to show the viciousness under their superficial imbecility'; and to embrace a view of public affairs without uplift, without virtue, without purpose... (Mencken) knew all efforts at betterment are ultimately shabby, inane, narcissistic, or brutal — and that knowledge renders his satiric force nearly tragic."
The Russian-built FEDOR was launched on a mission to help ISS astronauts.
Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.
- A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
- The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
- The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.
- "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
- "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"