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Building on last year's video interview, Is Honest Jornalism Dead?, I discuss 2 more (less obvious) reasons for journalistic malfeasance that many people don't know about.
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It has been far too long since I published a new post in the popular According to Cicero series. Life got complicated and other topics seemed more pressing.
Wait no longer my friends! This month's post focuses on Cicero’s rules for good conversation which are still quite helpful to us in our modern lives. In de Officiis (On Duty), written in 44 B.C. E., Cicero wrote “There are rules for oratory laid down by rhetoricians; there are none for conversation; and yet I do not know why there should not be.” To remedy this situation, Cicero elaborated on 7 rules that he believed should govern good conversation:
The 20th century witnessed both the rise of sophisticated psychological manipulation techniques and the technology necessary to disseminate them broadly, a trend which has continued into the 21st century. The French philosopher Jaques Ellul set out to study modern propaganda in the 1960s. What he found should be a warning to us all. Our inability to take propaganda and its effects seriously now seem to me like old chickens coming home to roost (perhaps another topic for another day).
In his book Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Ellul diverges from previous scholarship in that he considers propaganda to be a sociological phenomenon, one in fact that we cannot live without in modern technological society. Propaganda exists to adjust a normal person to an ever-changing social and technological environment which is profoundly abnormal given the vast majority of our evolutionary history. A modern individual must endure psychological alienation, dissolution of ancestral groups, enormous taxes, brutal wars, inescapable working life. Propaganda both integrates us into this milieu, and acts as an intermediary between us and the state.
Modern propaganda may be socially necessary, but it is not harmless. It exists everywhere, even in democracies, and its effects make us totalitarian in our mindset. We are easy victims because we lack the proper framework necessary to identify it, and because we underestimate its power. In Ellul’s words, "Propaganda is a direct attack against man. The question is to determine how great is the danger."
This post aims to condense and demystify Ellul's analysis, and to build on it by suggesting concrete ways in which we can avoid propaganda's detrimental effects.
Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were when my mother would read to me every night before bed. Imagine Forrest has a great post about the reasons why reading is so great for kids. Among them are that reading to kids improves their grammar and vocabulary, and lets them become more imaginative.
One reason which isn’t always mentioned though, is that reading can teach and reinforce to kids the importance of moral values. I particularly like to read wholesome books that will teach my kids about having a good character.
I am a children’s librarian, so I’m exposed to a lot of kid’s books at work. That’s a good thing, because now that I’m a parent, I’m really into finding the best books to read to my kids! I’m always on the lookout for books about positive values to checkout from the library, and if they are especially good, to add to our home collection.
There are so many children’s books to choose from, but I’ve done the work of unearthing these 5 character education gems for you. Some I own and love, and others I plan to get when my kids are old enough to benefit from them:
In June I participated in the Power To Care panel at Stoicon X Women: Practical Paths to Flourishing 2021. If you missed it, the whole event is available on YouTube. My panel begins at 1:28:13
During the conference, I mentioned that I use a virtues reward chart for my 6 year old son at home. Since there was a lot of interest in the chart, I created a free printable version for other parents to download, pictured above. You can download and print the virtues reward chart for kids PDF here:
I recently spoke on the Power To Care panel at Stoicon X Women: Practical Paths to Flourishing 2021. Along with Brittany Polat and Jennifer Baker, we discussed how to be a good parent, how to teach kids about virtue, what to do when we fail, and much more.
If you missed it, the whole event is available on YouTube. My panel begins at 1:28:13
During the conference, I was asked to create a printable version of the virtues reward chart that I use for my 6 year old son at home. That will be forthcoming next month and available to download for free. Stay tuned!
There is also a free parenting toolkit available for download on the new website Stoic Care. The site is geared towards practical philosophy for parents, medical professionals, teachers and other caregivers.
On a personal note, we recently moved to a new house, so I have been very busy as of late. I look to get back into writing and creating videos in the coming months.
Image credit: pathstoflourishing.org
Freedom enables individuals to flourish in different ways, allows for growth of opportunities, and supports personal development by enabling individuals to exercise wise and well-informed self-direction.
My guest, economist Winton Bates, argues in a new book that Western freedom was more or less a happy accident of history. Loose it, and we may not get it back again.
We discuss the future of freedom, progress, personal growth, and a lot more in his new book, Freedom, Progress, and Human Flourishing.*
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*Affiliate link, I may earn a small commission.
Brendan Malone, of Left Foot Media, a father of 5, gives wonderful tips on how to teach and model virtue to our children at home. One way to do this is to create an intentional family culture based on our specific moral values, that will act as a counterweight to the negative aspects of the culture that we find ourselves in.
How do we teach our children virtue? This issue was being discussed in a similar context back as far as the Enlightenment by thinkers like Locke and Rousseau. Rousseau thought that a parent's primary role is to be a buffer between their child and culture, rather than simply being an agent of the dominant culture. Rousseau described the insular and affectionate family that educated its own children as “the best counterpoison for bad morals.”
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Really you ask? Is it possible to tell right from wrong and to easily figure out how best to treat other people in every situation? Yes it is, and I'm about to show you how.
It turns out that there are 3 important rules we can always use to do right by others: the Silver Rule, the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule. These 3 rules are applicable regardless of our politics, religion or culture. These moral rules also have broad support across cultures and throughout history. Let's discuss the Silver, Golden, and Platinum Rules, and how they can easily be applied to tell right from wrong when it comes to our choices and actions.
I was recently interviewed by Brittany Polat about the core critical thinking skills necessary for independent thought on her website, Living In Agreement, and how Stoicism can help us to think more clearly about the world.
We discuss logic, being slow to form opinions, having standards of evidence, separating truth from falsehood, being able to accurately evaluate other people's arguments, being open-minded, not being afraid to be wrong, changing your mind in light of better information, thinking with a degree of detachment, (rather than from a dogmatic or emotionally driven mindset) and a knowledge of cognitive bias and group dynamics.
Is there any group in which you automatically agree with all the opinions of the group? Are you in any group which views the “opposing” groups as evil, stupid, or weak? If so, some examination of your beliefs is probably in order. I suggest several ways to dig deeper and to think more independently throughout the course of this interview.
Books and resources to learn more about critical thinking:
The Well-Trained Mind book I mention: https://amzn.to/3jLpAHq *affiliate link http://www.triviumeducation.com/study...
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Thank you for your interest in Common Sense Ethics! I'm Leah, a librarian, editor and freelance writer with a background in history and philosophy.
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