The Struggle Between the Public and the Private

The role of the private sphere of life has been drastically eroded and diminished over the last twenty-five years, by the exploitation of network technology in the form of social media -- and the public scrutiny of private life doesn't stop with Twitter or Facebook. Everywhere, network connected devices are collecting data about your activities, your choices, your relationships, your habits, and your preferences. Doorbells, televisions, stereo systems, building security systems, and of course, computers and now the ubiquitous smartphone, all have microphones, cameras, GPS trackers, 'call home' beacons, and various other means of generating and vomiting data about you, to massive commercial institutions that are more than willing to hand that information over to political institutions, or even to openly publicize it for no other reason than to increase the potential for revenue generation. All digital records are fair game for exploitation. Emails, purchase receipts, government documents, video recordings, audio recordings, private chats, even files stored on local hard disks -- if they're connected to the internet, they're "public" in some sense enough to skirt legal limits. If your mother notes your birthday on her Facebook page, your birthdate is public record. If your girlfriend breaks up with you and rants about it on Twitter, your relationship status is public record. If you add your friends to your snapchat address book, your friends contact information is public record. What's more, if it's public, the automatic assumption is that it is fodder for not just commercial, but *political* action. Where does this leave the status of the sphere of the private? When the only barrier left between public and private, is mere ignorance of your presence in this new ubiquitous public sphere, can it really be said that there is a private sphere anymore?

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Terror, Responsibility, and The Example Of God

Unlike the old testament god of "power and might", the Christian God is great, precisely because he can choose to refrain from exercising his power, for the sake of something greater. The defining example of this, of course, is Christ's last moments on the cross, in which the Romans are permitted to murder his Son, and in a brief moment of his human frailty, Christ begs to know why. Thus, the God of Christianity has free will, and Christ answers Socrates Euthyphro dilemma, by suggesting that yes, there is a moral order written into the universe itself, that even God himself looks to for guidance.

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Mill Versus Aristotle – The Summum Bonum That Wasn’t

In a previous post, I outlined some significant differences between Mill and Plato on the question of Pleasure, that I think are grounded in a misreading of Plato. Here, I present a few differences between Mill and Aristotle on the summum bonum, right and wrong action, and pleasure. When considering the arguments in Utilitarianism, and …

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A Forgery of Knowledge – Yet Another Academic Hoax

The authors of this hoax have engaged in precisely the kind of disingenuous scholarship that they claim to be exposing. That this is hypocritical is not the main problem, however. It is the fact that *even more disingenuous scholarship is getting published*. Polluting the journals doesn’t make them better. Adding even more pollution doesn’t make them better either. Getting rid of the pollution does.

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Plato, Parmenides, and the Theory of Forms – Part 3

Depending on the author, and the level of complexity of the analysis, some parse Parmenides’ case into four objections, some five, and some six. For the sake of limiting the difficulty of this post, I’ll be taking the four objection approach, clustering the minor ones in where they make sense. I’ll go through each of Parmenides’ objections as they occur in the course of the dialogue, and considering whether he’s sufficiently refuted Socrates.

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Plato, Parmenides, and the Theory of Forms – Part 2

In this installment of the series on Plato's Forms, we'll have a brief look at the major conceptions of the theory, some of the key differences, and dig deep into the one formulation Plato seems to have favored the most. For those of you looking for a thorough discussion of Parmenides' refutations, you'll have to wait until the last installment. In keeping with the principle of the first post, the idea here is to just try to understand the theory itself, and the problem it was trying to solve, before we make any move to object to it.

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