Friday links! Common ideas edition

I'm not saying I'm a genius continental philosopher, but I also have a mustache.

I’m not saying I’m a genius continental philosopher, but I also have a mustache.

Nietzsche wrote that a great idea in the hands of common people will become itself common. I’m paraphrasing, here. Thanks to the internet, the common people have access to more great ideas than ever before, or perhaps the same number of great ideas plus several hundred million shitty ones. It’s hard to tell, in this brave new world, which is which. Once an idea like umadbro? is embraced as clever by hundreds of thousands, who’s to say that it isn’t great? Anyone of discernment or even interiority, that’s who. Today is Friday, and the common people are full of ideas. Won’t you smugly disdain them with me?

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Friday links! Dumber than fiction edition

God bless you, Village Idiot Fail girl. Everything in this photograph—birthers, the slogan “Nobama,” nose rings, Dr. Pepper, college—is refuted by your endorsement. You are internet famous, even though your utkatasana is passable at best, and you could not have made a funnier picture if you did it on purpose. The truth is dumber than fiction. It’s Friday, and we have survived a week more mind-boggling than anything literature could invent—even Italo Calvino in his famous story, “A Village In Kenya is Missing There, Idiot.” Won’t you invert traditional distinctions between actual and artifice with me?

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On the ethics of keeping ethics to yourself

Nietzsche in a cowboy outfit for some wonderful reason

The people I know who do not believe in god tend to wind up with the same ethical systems as the people who do. Maybe it’s the beneficent influence of a traditionally religious society; maybe it’s biological, but people of all creeds enjoy consensus on basic altruism. You don’t need the Bible to tell you stealing is bad, for the same reason that you don’t need a referee to play backyard football. Ethical systems are based on actions, results and sometimes motives. Provided they agree on what’s right and what’s wrong, two ethical systems can be functionally congruent while totally disagreeing on why wrong is wrong and not right.

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Friday links! Visceral revulsion edition

The original cutline for this picture was "David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature."

We like to think of ourselves as clear-eyed realists around here, but as often as not, reason is the scaffolding that holds up raw instinct. You can’t use impartial logic for everything, after all. When you see a nest of scorpions or Newt Gingrich or whatever, you don’t start from first principles and follow reason until it brings you to your opinion; you throw bleach on it and get out of there. I’m speaking metaphorically, here—don’t get close enough to Newt Gingrich to throw bleach on him. The point is that our opinions may be enforced with logical reasoning, but the original dictate tends to come from our guts. That’s all well and good when our opinions our ours alone, but the system breaks down when we have to match opinions with one another. One man’s visceral revulsion is another man’s career. It’s Friday, and this week’s link roundup is all about the problem of things that are A) intuitively, obviously wrong and B) going to keep happening until we can find some airtight argument against them.

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