What Philosophy Owes Society II: Anti-intellectualism

It is an axiom among intellectuals that America is an anti-intellectual culture. And among the so-called anti-intellectuals, the idea is part and parcel of the ‘coastal elitism’ or “cosmopolitan bias” that, as another axiom goes, so many people despise. We never think hard about whether it is in fact true that American culture is anti-intellectual.… Continue reading What Philosophy Owes Society II: Anti-intellectualism

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Disqualified: 12 Forgotten Trump Absurdities

The speed and spin of the news cycle makes it difficult to grasp the true absurdity of much that Trump and his administration does. Many commentators think this is intentional: as long as we are constantly off balance, egregious mind-breaking absurdities start to feel normal. Eventually people give up trying to track down facts and… Continue reading Disqualified: 12 Forgotten Trump Absurdities

What Philosophy Owes Society I

How should philosophers live in the political world (also known simply as the world)? In many respects, this question explicitly animates the Vim. The question is implicit in everything philosophers, as philosophers, do. So let’s do what philosophers do: make what is implicit explicit. I mean this in two ways. First, I want to prompt… Continue reading What Philosophy Owes Society I

The Socratic Method and Conversational Violence

In “A Guide for Talking to Trump Supporters,” beloved Vimmer Zach says that using the Socratic Method is a particularly useful strategy for engaging Trump supporters. The idea is that through critical questioning, we can bring Trump supporters to realize flaws in their reasons for supporting Trump. Sometimes, however, as these conversations practically play out,… Continue reading The Socratic Method and Conversational Violence

Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?

A version of this article first appeared on Quartz. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, in the section on propaganda, Hannah Arendt discusses a concept she calls “infallible prediction”: The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. The assumption of infallibility, moreover, is based… Continue reading Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?

The Myth of “Economic Anxiety”

Pundits have developed a repertoire of cliches surrounding Trump voters, in large part motivated by the desire not to stereotype them as racist ignorant hicks. Before recoiling from such weighty generalizations, it is worth noting how terms like ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ work. Two people can hold many diverging views and yet both be accurately described… Continue reading The Myth of “Economic Anxiety”