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    1. Mine would definitely be the battle of Hodów based on the absurd disparity in numbers. It also includes the Tatars, which I had never even heard of before seeing this battle, and upon further...

      Mine would definitely be the battle of Hodów based on the absurd disparity in numbers. It also includes the Tatars, which I had never even heard of before seeing this battle, and upon further research I discovered the massive amount of land that they controlled. Here a map of Eurasia+Africa which made me confused as to why I had never even heard of Tartary/Tartaria.

      10 votes
    2. Hi! I've recently graduated as a BA of Italian philology. But I am interested in pursuing my further studies and academical career in linguistics, studying language contact and linguistic strata...

      Hi! I've recently graduated as a BA of Italian philology. But I am interested in pursuing my further studies and academical career in linguistics, studying language contact and linguistic strata in particular. I was wondering if anybody took a similar path and am interested in advice from such folks and also any other humanists here. I'm studying some online material and will try to partecipate in some local university's linguistics BA as a visiting student (I guess it's called a freemover in English) if I can find an affordable option. Also I have found out recommended reading material from local universities I'm interested in and some papers about my field. Do you know of any useful resources for making the transition smoother? What has been you experience if you've taken a similar path to your studies? Thanks in advance!

      6 votes
    3. Consider three examples: I am a farmer. I have a piece of land that can grow just enough potatoes to feed me. I work this land, I gather potatoes, ad nauseam. I am a farmer, but this time I have...

      Consider three examples:

      1. I am a farmer. I have a piece of land that can grow just enough potatoes to feed me. I work this land, I gather potatoes, ad nauseam.

      2. I am a farmer, but this time I have ten times the amount of land. I hire four workers and also work myself. Together we grow enough potatoes to feed all of us, and we also have a surplus. I sell this surplus potato for ¤5000. I am a greedy man, so I take ¤3000 for myself and give ¤500 to each of my workers.

      3. The situation is the same as in 2, but this time I am a just man. I share the money equally, so everyone including myself gets ¤1000.

      It seems to me that in the first case the land can be considered personal property, since there is no exploitation and no surplus is generated. In the second example the land is clearly a piece of private property, because I use it to exploit other people, taking most of the profit for myself.

      But what about the third example? On one hand, the profit is distributed equally, so there is technically no exploitation, right? On the other hand, I am alienated from the workers, because I still have the power to fire one of them (or all of them if I know I can replace them) or to distribute goods unfairly (even if I don't do that). What is the Marxist point of view here?

      12 votes
    4. If reality is a simulation, then why is evil allowed to exist, or why did our creators let evil exist? I know that the point of having a simulation is so that we can learn about life, but why is...

      If reality is a simulation, then why is evil allowed to exist, or why did our creators let evil exist?

      I know that the point of having a simulation is so that we can learn about life, but why is it more likely to be in a simulation with 'real' characteristics rather than one where everything is utter happiness? Why didn't our creators make infinitely more simulations where people are just happy all the time?

      Of course this brings us to the question of whether you can know happiness without pain. If reality is a simulation, couldn't it be possible to make people happiness with only the memory of pain (or just knowledge of pain) without actual pain? I would think so.

      What do you think?

      8 votes
    5. I'm interested in patterns and culture. I think it's a fascinating topic from many perspectives. Mathematically there are many tools for pattern analysis and formation, but at the same time...

      I'm interested in patterns and culture. I think it's a fascinating topic from many perspectives. Mathematically there are many tools for pattern analysis and formation, but at the same time philosophically our minds try to make things fit into patterns generally (maybe because it requires more energy to remember a whole thing than a set of rules that describe the thing). A mathematical example of cases where order arises from pure disorder (or maximum entropy) would be Ramsey theory.

      I'd like to discuss the cultural influence on our pattern analysis/synthesis, but also explore a bit what is a pattern, whether everything is a pattern or nothing is a pattern, whether patterns are interesting in themselves or not, etc.

      I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for readings in this area, or if anyone has an opinion on it. I know of many works regarding a single pattern (for example the different theories of linguistics, the different theories of music, the different theories of cooking... you get the idea) but I've never seen a meta-perspective on why are we so interested on patterns and whether our approach actually makes sense.

      Thanks!

      9 votes
    6. I read some things about the philosophy and I'd really like to go deeper into it, but the book is so hard for me to read! I can't make sense of much of what I'm reading, maybe it's the vocabulary...

      I read some things about the philosophy and I'd really like to go deeper into it, but the book is so hard for me to read! I can't make sense of much of what I'm reading, maybe it's the vocabulary I'm not sure... Is there a more accessible book about absurdism?

      7 votes
    7. The Ottoman Empire ended in 1922. The Roman Empire, 476, though it was survived by the Eastern Roman Empire which lasted until 1453 and the Holy Roman Empire which stuck around in some form until...

      The Ottoman Empire ended in 1922. The Roman Empire, 476, though it was survived by the Eastern Roman Empire which lasted until 1453 and the Holy Roman Empire which stuck around in some form until 1806.

      Obviously these dates are inexact, but it's a useful historical tool to pick two events and use them as bookends to describe the arc of a given empire or society.

      So with the benefit of sufficient hindsight, say 500 or 1000 years from now, what do you think will be the generally accepted date printed in history books for "here's the event that signals the end of this period of history"?

      Do you believe it will be some point in the past, or the future? If you think it's in the past, how far back? What event?

      If you think it's in the future, how far in the future? What do you predict will happen at that time to be the historical marker?

      p.s. don't say "all history will be forgotten because of nuclear war". I agree that's a distinct possibility, but the likelihood of it happening is best addressed as a separate topic from this one. for the purposes of this thread assume we haven't completely fucked ourselves as a species and at least some records of our current time period exist.

      26 votes
    8. I enjoy reading and in many books I see references to philosophers: Sartre, Schopenhauer, Marx, Thomas of Aquino, Socrates and so on. I recognise their names, and often know the "main points" of...

      I enjoy reading and in many books I see references to philosophers: Sartre, Schopenhauer, Marx, Thomas of Aquino, Socrates and so on. I recognise their names, and often know the "main points" of their philosophy, but I still feel like I'm missing a lot of references.

      What can I do to learn more about philosophy in general and famous philosopher's most known arguments in particular? I suspect reading their books without any pre-knowledge would be fruitless, or at least very boring. Is there a good recommended reading list where I can learn the basics of philosophy from the ground up?

      13 votes
    9. For example, 500 people working long hours in dangerous conditions for terrible pay, but they make it possible for 5000 others to live in a utopian society. What about 50 workers and 50,000...

      For example, 500 people working long hours in dangerous conditions for terrible pay, but they make it possible for 5000 others to live in a utopian society. What about 50 workers and 50,000 benefactors? I think everyone can agree that it's wrong for there to be less benefactors than workers, but what about 50/50? What if it's 500 blue skinned people and a million red skinned?

      I usually find myself internally preferring the species level ethical decisions, but I've never been brave enough to admit to it out loud because I know it makes me sound like a socio/psychopath.

      14 votes
    10. Not sure if anyone will remember by now, but a few months ago I made a philosophical discussion thread in ~talk since a group like ~humanities didn't exist yet. I was super excited by all of the...

      Not sure if anyone will remember by now, but a few months ago I made a philosophical discussion thread in ~talk since a group like ~humanities didn't exist yet. I was super excited by all of the great discussion that I was able to join in, and now that we have ~humanities (thanks @Deimos!), I'm wondering how people would feel about some threads for more general discussion of various questions as opposed to the mostly link-based discussion that's gone on here so far.

      Would anyone else be interested in that sort of thing? I'd be more than happy to start a few threads up over the next few days if people are interested.

      10 votes
    11. I like thinking about alternative history. There are people like Harry Turtledove who write extensive alternative histories based on whether the South's main general's war plans got to the...

      I like thinking about alternative history. There are people like Harry Turtledove who write extensive alternative histories based on whether the South's main general's war plans got to the Northern armies' general in time for the Battle of Antietam. For me there's something appealing about thinking back through complex events in world history and finding critical moments and critical decisions that might have gone another way. I'm also quite taken with the idea that some historical events end up in hindsight looking like perfect storms, where a number of complex variables make the world we now know, but where any one of those variables would have produced a massively different result.

      But I'm less interested in thinking about waving a magic wand to change the weather of some day or to change facts on the ground or morale or something like that. What I'm most interested in are situations where someone's individual decision might have dramatically altered the world. Can you identify one decision that happened in the past that you would have that person making it change? How might that set us up in a different reality?

      A small note on housekeeping before I let you go. I know this might be a type of topic that walks the fence between something designed for ~talk and something best suited in ~humanities. I think of this as kind of an experiment to see how best to handle topics that straddle two different tildes.

      18 votes