Notes on Yuval Noah Harari’s Attack on Free Will

Yuval Harari Noah has an article in The Guardian about the way new technology and its impact on democracy. Actually, Harari’s conception of free will is the most intriguing parts of the article. In this thread, I want to ponder (out loud) and analyze the ideas he presents in this article. As always, others are welcomed to join. Continue reading “Notes on Yuval Noah Harari’s Attack on Free Will”

Alternative to College for High School Graduates

I think I wrote about this idea on the old v-i, but I can’t remember. Because of the high cost of college, I recently had a conversation about an alternative to going to college, something I wouldn’t mind for my children. My concept is based on the St. Johns College’s approach:

Through close engagement with the works of some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers—from Homer, Plato, and Euclid to Nietzsche, Einstein, and Woolf—students at St. John’s College grapple with fundamental questions that confront us as human beings. As they participate in lively discussions and throw themselves into the activity of translating, writing, demonstrating, conducting experiments, and analyzing musical compositions, St. John’s students learn to speak articulately, read attentively, reason effectively, and think creatively.

My understanding is that St. John’s College students basically read the Great Books and discuss them in small groups. For the math and science books, they will sometimes replicate older experiments or solve mathematical problems posed in these classic works. Essentially, the approach comes down to reading really good books and then being able to write and discuss them. Now imagine if a St. John’s College graduate (or some well-read person that was a good teacher) started a “school,” where about ten students would read the Great Books, meet to discuss them, write about them, and do occasional project (replicate experiments, solve math problems, etc.). That’s basically my alternative to sending my kids to college. If I was confident in my teaching ability, particularly of these books, I would consider doing this for my kids. Besides this obstacle, here are some other potential problems that come to mind: Continue reading “Alternative to College for High School Graduates”

The Fate of Our Nation May Rest on Our Ability to Talk About White Grievance (Draft)

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln said that, and I agree with him. I’ve talked a lot about the Russian threat, but, really, I’m confident the threat would be relatively small–that we could deal with it effectively–if we were more unified, instead of polarized. If I had to name the biggest threat to our country, I might choose polarization–specifically, polarization revolving around race. I’m no historian, but my sense is that race has been an existential threat from the founding, and the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement or Barack Obama’s election hasn’t extinguished this threat. At the same time, my sense is that racism, especially the belief that whites are superior to non-whites, may not necessarily be the major threat now. Instead, what I would like to suggest is that
white grievance–the sense of anxiety and resentment white Americans have towards losing their majority status to non-whites–might be the greater threat, especially if far more white Americans feel this grievance, to some degree, instead of believing whites are superiority or white nationalism. In this thread, I’d like to do two things. First, I want to explain the reasons I think racial tensions pose an existential threat to our country. Second, I want to explain the difference between white grievance and white supremacy and the reasons I think understanding and expressing these differences when we talk about race is vital to extinguishing the threat. Continue reading “The Fate of Our Nation May Rest on Our Ability to Talk About White Grievance (Draft)”