Optional Reading is a biweekly column inspired by the bottom ends of syllabi – the readings professors ask but don’t expect us to complete. Every other week, members of our board intend to share exciting and insightful articles ranging in length anywhere from twitter threads to full length books. These are of course optional because we did not publish them. Enjoy this week’s roundup!
We recommend “Capitalism Killed Intimacy and Replaced it With Pornhub,” a ten minute read that begins with an account of how performed intimacy has become an unanticipated online commodity and transitions to explaining how the social alienation of capitalism created the demand.
“How Facebook Screwed Us All,” a longer cover story from Mother Jones about social platforms and fake news and the death of the news media industry along with other dark conspiracies against democracy and information.
“Athens in Pieces: In Aristotle’s Garden,” a shorter read that contains a lot of interesting biographical information about Aristotle and his relationship to the Athenians, how he built the Lyceum, and coming into Jeff-Bezos-like wealth from his student Alexander the Great.
For those interested in what others think philosophers do and think about, and what, if they could, would ask them to think about, we recommend “We Set Up An ‘Ask a Philosopher’ Booth. Here’s What People Wanted to Know About Life.”
In the news, there’s been legal action on the part of one disgruntled anti-natalist against his parents for forcing him to have been born. Here is a summary of the philosophical position and how it is planned to be presented in court: “There’s a serious philosophical argument supporting the man suing his parents for giving birth to him.”
Though less philosophical, The Atlantic recently published a 15-minute read on elite-college stereotypes, “The Silly Stereotypes That Elite-College Students Have About Other Campuses,” stating that apparently University of Chicago students are too evangelically committed to Kant. I think we can all agree with that.
Finally, we recommend “The Decline of Historical Thinking,” a medium length article from the New Yorker examining the decline in students attending college who major in history.