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The five philosophers who shape global politics in 2018

The five philosophers who shape global politics in 2018 86

Philosophy skeptics have a tendency to sniffingly dismiss the field as useless. “What’s the point?” they ask, shrugging at the greatest ideas in human history. Well, besides the intellectual pursuit of the truth etc., one point of philosophy is that it shapes the world around us. Societal instincts and political beliefs are often a reflection of theories put forward in philosophy books.

This is not just some historical trend but a continuing, modern phenomenon. Global leaders and grassroots ideologues continue to refer to philosophers as the inspiration behind their political standpoint. France’s President Emmanuel Macron spent decades working with a philosopher, as well as the American white nationalist movement called the Alt Right has its own philosophical heroes.

For those hoping to make sense of politics in 2018, here are some of the philosophers worth knowing.

France: Paul Ricœur

Macron’s regular use of the expression “et en même temps” (“and at the same time”) is a reflection of the influence of Paul Ricœur. The philosopher, known as one of the biggest French thinkers of the 20th century, has been famous for his dialectic outlook. Rather than setting out one strident opinion, Ricœur (who perished 2005) tended to admit two contradictory perspectives and try to reconcile them.

Before Macron became a politician, he also spent two years working with Ricœur, and the philosopher’s thinking is evident in the way Macron conducts politics. The French president is pragmatic, and does not hold tight to any political ideology. Macron seems perfectly pleased to consider ideas from the left and right–making it difficult to predict how he will respond to unfolding events.

China: Confucius

Xi Jinping, the leader of China, is a vocal fan of the ancient philosopher Confucius. As China’s economical and international political clout grows, people hoping to understand Xi’s policies would do well to have a peek at the 2,500-year old Confucian school of philosophy.

Much of Xi’s curiosity about Confucianism is opportunistic, asserts Bryan W. Van Norden, a philosophy professor at Yale-NUS College. “He sometimes cites the Confucian classics the way some cynical US politicians quote the Bible,” writes Van Norden in an email to Quartz. “Because Confucianism is paternalistic, Xi promotes it in order to give the people of China a set of values to believe in that he hopes will encourage obedience.”

Most people in China are no longer beholden to Communist values, states Van Norden, and Xi utilizes Confucianism to encourage deference. This is a misreading, he notes as “Confucius stresses governing by persuasion” and consistently using “the happiness of the common people” as the supreme aim.

That stated, Xi will appear to genuinely share some Confucian ideals. As Van Norden explores in his book, Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto, Confucius ardently believed in the significance of public officials’ integrity.

Russia: Aleksandr Dugin

He may not be a good philosopher, but the man known as “Putin’s Brain” certainly considers himself a philosopher. Dugin draws on a dubious interpretation of Martin Heidegger to argue strongly against acceptance and use of technology.

A big fan of US president Donald Trump, whom he has called “the American Putin,” Dugin also believes there should be several world powers and that Russia should lead the block that once covered the Soviet Union.

Dugin’s writing is incoherent to the point of being deranged, and the extent of his influence is uncertain. But regardless of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin carefully reads Dugin’s work, the philosopher certainly has a high profile within Russia.

The European Union: Jürgen Habermas

The leaders of the European Union don’t have to read between the philosophical lines: One of the great thinkers of the 20th century is still alive, now aged 88, and writing on the European Union (among other topics).

Jürgen Habermas is a member of the Frankfurt School, a group of influential thinkers whose members include Herbert Marcuse (the intellectual guru of American hippies, recently featured in the Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar), Walter Benjamin (one of the most influential cultural theorists of time), and Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (whose joint work The Dialectic of Enlightenment, is the flagship text of the Frankfurt School).

Habermas considers that a properly working EU could be a potent form of democracy at its very best. He’s angry at the governmental elites and associations (including the European Council) that he considers are wielding unchecked power. Habermas is a cautious critic, who cares deeply about the ideals of the European Union. His work demonstrates just how far we’d lose, if the EU fail.

The Alt Right: Nick Land

The white nationalist group sometimes called the Alt Right isn’t an enlightened political movement, but it is nevertheless influenced by philosophy. Various threads of alt right ideology draw a 1990s neo-fascist philosophy made by British academic Nick Land and known as Dark Enlightenment.

The doctrine, also popular among some Silicon Valley leaders, has been described as “an acceleration of capitalism to a fascist point,” and its own thoughts center on technology, warfare, feudalism, corporate power, and racism. Throughout history, fascists have distorted ideas in philosophical works to serve their function, and Dark Enlightenment is the most recent case of such a happening.

Philosophy has a reputation for remaining inside its ivory tower, but its own notions shape and inform the views of people who wield power. Philosophers such as Confucius, Ricœur, and Habermas are well worth reading since they are fascinating. Today, it is worth studying them through the lens of their political philosophies they have inspired.

Source: Quartz


Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 99

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 100

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 101

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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