Game Theory- John Nash

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Explaining a Cornerstone of Game Theory: John Nash’s Equilibrium

John F. Nash Jr. was best known for advances in game theory, which is essentially the study of how to come up with a winning strategy in the game of life — especially when you do not know what your competitors are doing and the choices do not always look promising.

The film “A Beautiful Mind,” based on Dr. Nash’s life, tries to explain game theory in a scene in which Russell Crowe, playing Dr. Nash, is at a bar with three friends, and they are all enraptured by a beautiful blond woman who walks in with four brunette friends...

Dr. Nash did not invent game theory; the mathematician John von Neumann did the pioneering work to establish the field in the first half of the 20th century. But Dr. Nash extended the analysis beyond zero-sum, I-win-you-lose types of games to more complex situations in which all of the players could gain, or all could lose....

Classroom Management

How Not to Lose Control of a Class

What To Do When You Realize You’ve Lost Control Of Your Class

Political Typology Quiz

Dr. David Bradshaw, Professor of Philosophy at University of Kentucky

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dr. David Bradshaw, Professor of Philosophy at University of Kentucky specializes in the philosophical division between the Greek-speaking East and Latin-speaking West. Interviewed by Russian clergy, he talks about the relationship between theology and philosophy. Several of his articles can be found online at the link below...

The invisible moral disintegration of the American religious right

Saturday, May 23, 2015

public ethics articles

Public Ethics studies: political theology, justice, morality et al

and maybe register for Khan academy

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

... philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.

A misleading distinction between fact and opinion is embedded in the Common Core.
What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism... But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education.

Read the rest of the article here:

Comments by another philosophy professor...
This confirms my impression from decades ago when I first began teaching philosophy, as a graduate student at UNC. So many students come to college with their minds already made up about complex questions in the branch of ethics called “metaethics,” and they take it as common sense that, since people disagree about moral claims, they have no right to assert them as pertaining to others, or to other cultures. Read on here:

The self-disintegration of the Progressive "movement"

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A political Ouroboros...

Books I need to read

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy- Aristotle Papanikolaou, The first comprehensive treatment from an Orthodox theological perspective of the issue of the compatibility between Orthodoxy and liberal democracy, Papanikolaou’s is an affirmation that Orthodox support for liberal forms of democracy is justified within the framework of Orthodox understandings of God and the human person.  Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that a political theology grounded in the principle of divine-human communion must be one that unequivocally endorses a political community that is democratic in a way that structures itself around the modern liberal principles of freedom of religion, the protection of human rights, and church-state separation. His overtly theological approach shows that the basic principles of liberal democracy are not tied exclusively to the language and categories of Enlightenment philosophy and, so, are not inherently secular. Aristotle Papanikolaou is professor of theology at Fordham University.
Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (2014) Arthur M. Melzer- The first comprehensive, book-length study of the history and theoretical basis of philosophical esotericism, and it provides a crucial guide to how many major writings—philosophical, but also theological, political, and literary—were composed prior to the nineteenth century. Covering ancient (Plato) and modern (Machiavelli) works, Melzer explores esotericism and the various motives that led thinkers in different times and places to engage in that form of writing. By ignoring esotericism, we risk cutting ourselves off from a full understanding of Western philosophical thought. In the book’s final section, “A Beginner’s Guide to Esoteric Reading,” Melzer turns to how we might once again cultivate the long-forgotten art of reading esoteric works. - University of Chicago Press. A vindication of Leo Strauss.
Managing the Public Service: A Casebook in Ethics and Leadership- Sharpe, Brett, Grant Aguirre, and Kenneth Kickham. Boston: Pearson Higher Education (2009).  this unique casebook contains dozens of brief, engaging case studies for public administrators in public and nonprofit institutions. Inspired by real-life stories, these short cases cover a wide range of topics from affirmative action to human resources to sports management. 

Guide to Thomas Aquinas- Josef Pieper, Aquinas reconciled the pragmatic thought of Aristotle with the Church, proving that realistic knowledge need not preclude belief in the spiritual realities of religion. According to Pieper, the marriage of faith and reason proposed by Aquinas in his great synthesis of a "theologically founded worldliness" was not merely one solution among many, but the great principle expressing the essence of the Christian West.

The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories Of Biblical Injustice That Led To The Ten Commandments And Modern Law (2000) Alan Dershowitz- Dershowitz is persuaded that our entire modern system of morality grows out of genesis. He argues that the bible as contrasted with earlier legal codes is a law book explicitly rooted in the narrative of experience 6 that it is the very social injustices in genesis that provoke its readers to recognize the need for justice.

Anatomyzing Divinity: Studies in Science, Esotericism and Political Theology (2012) James Kelley- Kelley explores alchemy as an important aspect of inquiry in Western Civilization in "Anatomyzing Divinity: Studies in Science, Esotericism and Political Theology". The book is an attempt to afford the reader rare insights into the history and meaning of Western esotericism.

The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality- Gershom Scholem, series of essays exploring the crises caused by fits of messianism in Judaism, especially the Sabbatian crisis. Majority of the book discusses the rise and fall of messianism through the medieval period and how Sabbatianism and Hasidism influenced the messianic themes that are prevalent in today's Judiasm. Other essays discuss mystical symbolism and the mystical golems. 

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State- Friedrich Engels
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific- Frederick Engels
The Process of Production of Capital- Karl Marx

The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic- Stephen M. Krason. a thorough and objective account of American history from the Founding to the present day. Documenting the transformation of the American democratic republic from the perspective of constitutional law, political theory, and political sociology, he presents a compelling and provocative argument regarding the causes of the transformation and decline of American civic life.

The Conservative Intellectual Movement- George H. Nash. Since 1945 is the authoritative study on conservatism’s intellectual renaissance. In it, Nash outlines an American conservative movement that was forged, at times uneasily, from three intellectual groups: libertarians, anti-Communists, and traditionalists. In terms of organization, it seems sensible to consider each group in light of the literature it produced, for these are the works that gave birth to the political movement with which we are all familiar.

Socialism, Ludwig von Mises- challenged socialist economics as being not only inherently flawed because they are unable to allocate scarce resources efficiently, but contrary to the very nature of the individual as well. Collectivist economics does not recognize the central role played by the entrepreneur in ordinary economic and social organization. For Mises, socialism was far from being a humane alternative to the free market. Rather, at bottom, it was contrary to human nature itself. By denying the human aspect—the role each individual plays in communicating vital economic information—socialism, according to Mises, was doomed to fail.

The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek, The purpose of his book was to explain “why and how certain kinds of economic controls tend to paralyze the driving forces of a free society.” Economist Harry C. Veryser has observed that the unique feature of this book “was that at the very time governments and economies were centralizing, Hayek was arguing that increased government planning and control of the economy would by its very nature create the conditions that would lead to the kind of totalitarianism that shocked the world in Germany, Italy, and Russia.” For Hayek, the socialists, under the guise of equality, were setting us back on the road to serfdom—that is, back to a condition of political and economic servitude and away from the ideal of a free society.

The Conservative Mind- Russell Kirk. Kirk set out to prove that there is no conservative blueprint or “system”—that is, no conservative ideology. For him, conservatism is a disposition, a way of living and viewing life. He outlined six “canons of conservatism,” however, to suggest a coherent philosophical vision. But in the realm of political governance, Kirk believed that prudence, aided by right reason, is one’s surest guide, and that politics, as Burke had taught, was “the art of the possible.” The body of belief that we call ‘conservatism’ is an affirmation of normality in the concerns of society. There exist standards to which we may repair; man is not perfectible, but he may achieve a tolerable degree of order, justice, and freedom….

On the Democratic Idea in America- Irving Kristol, neoconservative, The subject of the book the tendency of democratic republics to depart from…their original, animating principles, and as a consequence precipitate grave crises in the moral and political order. The notion of the ‘hidden hand’ has its uses in the market place,” he also believed that “the results are disastrous when it is extended to the polity as a whole….” For Kristol, “[s]elf-government, the basic principle of the republic, is inexorably being eroded in favor of self-seeking, self-indulgence, and just plain aggressive selfishness.” Much of this book has been reprinted in Kristol’s Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.

The Quest For Community- Robert Nisbet, The emergence of the “centralized territorial State” in the wake of the Middle Ages decisively impacted Western social organization. Nisbet was particularly sensitive to the rise of the “national community,” the total political state, and he posited that the decline of the West was intimately connected to the decline through the centuries of intermediate associations between the individual and the state. The weakening or dissolution of such bonds as family, church, guild, and neighborhood had not, as many had hoped, liberated men. Instead, it produced alienation, isolation, spiritual desolation, and the growth of mass man.” Nisbet alerted post-war conservatives, many of whom were uncompromising individualists, that “the quest for community will not be denied, for it springs from some of the powerful needs of human nature—needs for a clear sense of cultural purpose, membership, status, and continuity.”

Ideas Have Consequences- Richard Weaver, the Unity of tradition and liberty. the denial of the existence of universals led directly to cultural deterioration and to the contemporary West’s primary malady: moral relativism. Weaver insisted that the “[d]enial of everything transcending experience means inevitably... the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of ‘man is the measure of all things.’”

(the above lifted with few edits from here)

I teach them all the good I can, and recommend them to others from whom I think they will get some moral benefit. And the treasures that the wise men of old have left us in their writings I open and explore with my friends. If we come on any good thing, we extract it, and we set much store on being useful to one another. - Socrates, Memorabilia


In The News...

What we maintain is that in none of the problems of life can men afford to lose sight of the storehouse bequeathed to them by the ancients. In the complexus of everything which differentiates man from the brute creation, the voice of antiquity must be heard...

-H. Browne, quoted in "Classics and Citizenship" The Classical Quarterly, 1920