Newsletter: Beautiful music in soggy Suffolk

Hello from Latitude, the rather soggy music festival in Suffolk. I gave a talk there yesterday afternoon, then spent a wonderful day listening to some really good live music. The highlight of yesterday for me was Janelle Monae, who was full of energy and  grandiosity. Song of the day was Clock Opera’s Belongings, played as the sun set. What an incredible song. Great to sing along to too!

Today, the heavens have opened and it looks likely to be very, very muddy. Why is it the wettest summer ever in the UK? Why is it so hot on the East Coast of the US? The Financial Timeslooks at how climate change is increasing the odds of freak weather.

BBC News asks, where are you on the global fat scale? Apparently I’m in Singapore.

The Wall Street Journal reviews an interesting-sounding book looking at six ‘philosophies for life’ from ancient Greece. Another example of the growing influence of Pierre Hadot, author of the wonderful ‘Philosophy as a Way of Life’, which was also a key influence on my book.

Over at the New York Times, the latest happiness research suggests that conservatives are happier than liberals, but extremists are happiest of all.

So do liberals need a more emotion-infused politics? Martha Nussbaum, the great philosopher of emotions, thinks we should explore the emotional side of liberalism.

Jon Cruddas MP, Ed Milliband’s head of policy, has also argued for a new ‘politics of emotion’. He sees this as fitting with a Aristotelian ‘politics of virtue’ – virtue ethics, after all, is about guiding our emotions to their highest fulfillment. Here, Cruddas reviews Robert and Ed Skidelsky’s new book, How Much Is Enough, which Cruddas rightly sees as part of a broader neo-Aristotelian revival. The Skidelskys are speaking at the London Philosophy Club in September, by the way.

My supervisor at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Thomas Dixon, has written an excellent digest of new books and articles on the history and philosophy of emotions.

I’ve received a few emails from people asking for advice on setting up philosophy groups. In response, I’ve written this piece in the Huffington Post, giving some tips – share it, and add your thoughts in the comments, if you feel so inclined.

Melvyn Bragg’s idea of the ‘mass intelligentsia’, which I have done a bit to propagate, seems to be catching on – here’s a piece in Marketing Week asking how brands can cash in on it. Marketing Week, you turn everything to shit!

In psychology, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle about how solid data is and to what extent journals are trying to replicate studies they publish. The latest psychologist to become embroiled is Lawrence Sanna, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, who published a study exploring the moral emotion of elevation, and how its connected to physical elevation (ie being on an escalator etc). The data from his study looked suspiciously affirmative to ‘data detective’ Uri Simonsohn, who started digging into it. Sanna has since resigned.

France is full of Rousseau-mania, apparently.

That’s it for this week. I’m off back into the rain for another day of music: on the bill today is Richard Hawley, whose album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’, is one of my favourites. Here’s one of the best tracks from that album, Open Up Your Door:

Next week, I’m speaking at the UK Faculty of Public Health conference on Thursday, then heading down to Port Eliot for more festival fun. Can’t wait!

Jules

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