Pete Worley of The Philosophy Foundation asks, ‘How many things are there?’

Yesterday, I had a nice chat with Peter Worley who’s Co-founder, with his wife Emma, of The Philosophy Foundation. According to their website, their aim is to “bring philosophy to schools and the wider community.” Over the past 10 years, they’ve been training philosophers and teachers in leading schoolchildren in the art of philosophical inquiry. Their hope, with Petition 4R, is that philosophical training will be a “compulsory” part of public education.

Peter’s formative background, like mine, is in tutoring. As a peripatetic music instructor, he asked, some 10 years ago, how he could mimic music’s stunning “ensemble effect” in a philosophical setting. His hypothesis:

If philosophical teaching somehow or other were to resemble musical teaching, then how could might it look?

During our conversation, he explained that the idea is to create a “philosophical arena” in which children can “play with concepts.” Afterward, I listened to a recent philosophical conversation he had with 8-, 9-, and 10-year-old children in Blackheath, England, about the nature of reality. I thought I’d share with you a handful of my observations about his estimable model of instruction.

1. The Philosophical Setup. Pete introduces a “philosophical arena,” a hypothetical scenario in which the children can play. “Suppose that…” Or “Let’s…” In this recorded conversation, he directs the children’s attention to a stick figure consisting of 4 pencils, a block, and a ball. He then asks, “How many things are there?” The lesson is about metaphysics: about the nature of reality and about how (or, indeed, whether) it’s cut up. He then allows the children to talk with each other for a bit to see what answers they come up with.

2. Modes of Interaction. There are 4 possible philosophical utterances: i) The question (How many things are there? Why do you think that? What makes this so? Why not…?); ii) The answer (There are 6 things. There are a 1000 atoms. Etc.); iii) One child’s response to another’s answer. (I agree with John because… I disagree with Jane because…); and iv) The open-ended sorting things out with each other.

3. Guidance. Pete’s job is to educate his pupils in the art of philosophical inquiry. He does this in key part by showing them how a good inquiry is supposed to look. Over time and with guided practice, each student practices how to make this collective form of inquiry “his own.” (Montaigne speaks about “ingesting” and “digesting” ideas.) The art of philosophical teaching, then, is showing each pupil how to get on on her own.

4. The Virtues. Of particular importance is Pete’s manner. You can sense, first of all, that he is quite patient. He doesn’t push the children this way or that; he listens attentively to each child’s appropriate reply. And yet, he doesn’t let the inquiry get lost forever in cul-de-sacs or circles; he moves the inquiry along by allowing each child to speak, by letting them essay their answers, by dwelling in the silence.

Second of all, he has the right style. He is neither patronizing nor cloying, neither stern nor dewy. He thanks each child for her contribution, but you don’t get the sense that the goal of thanking is self-esteem. He thanks each child for giving something important: for thinking with him, for engaging in philosophical inquiry, for helping everyone continue along the path of understanding. The emphasis, in short, remains on the inquiry, not on this or that individual.

Lastly, he is properly attuned to what is “needful” in the inquiry. There were a few times when I thought, “Hang on, Pete. Why not introduce concept X? What about weighing better and worse accounts? How about better answers?,” and then I restrained myself. Truth will come with time. Moving from opinion to truth is farther along in the philosophical itinerary. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

5. Educating his Interlocutor. For me, the most intriguing part of the conversation comes about halfway through. There, Grant, the Assistant Editor at Philosophy Now, begins to inquire with the children, and we see how things can go awry. Grant’s approach resembles the agon. The children are asked challenging questions, the child who has “stepped forth” is then pulled aside, and Grant’s follow-up question pushes much too hard. He draws inferences; introduces new terms; expects pellucid accounts; makes distinctions; poses further challenges; moves on quickly to the next challenge. The children, it is clear, are not following him. 

Here, Pete intervenes by gently pulling Grant aside. Striking the right tone, he tells Grant that the agon is adult discourse, not children’s speech. He implies that Grant has been forcing their hand. And he shows us, even as he is showing Grant, what it means to be a nurturant guide. Absolutely fascinating moment in the recording.

6. The Spirit of Montaigne. The most important thing I learned from our conversation yesterday was that Pete and I are both in love with Montaigne.

Further Reading

Andrew Taggart, “Childhood as Spiritual Exercise: Peter in The Snowy Day

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Gladwell’s 10,000 rule for success and Aristotle’s reply

So a wise guy goes up to Malcolm Gladwell and asks him, “Hey, bub, can you tell me how you get to Carnegie Hall?” Gladwell, seeing that the guy’s probably in his early 60s, doesn’t miss a beat: “Of course. From here, you just take the N/Q/R to 57th St. and then walk a block north. Big brick building on your left. You can’t miss it.”

*

The key to Malcolm Gladwell’s popular appeal has been his embrace of quintessentially American questions coupled with his schadenfreude accounts of  the right answers. “How does one become successful?” he asks. “How does one give birth to a new idea?” Like most Americans, he’s fascinated by the exceptional individual, be it the star athlete, the virtuoso pianist, the innovative entrepreneur, or the brilliant scientist. Also like most Americans, he’s riveted by novelty: by how new things are created, distributed, and adopted; by how they change our lives; by what conditions were ripe to make certain innovations possible. His accounts always have that just-right mix of the obvious and the less so, the pleasurable and the painful, the enviable and the venerable, the praiseworthy and the sour grapes. Could we also have been star athletes if only we’d…?

In his 2008 New York Times bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm intends to explain why a few people get invited to Carnegie Hall and why the rest of us have to pay.

*

Here comes the obvious: to be great at something, you have to practice, practice, practice. And now the less so: for 10,000 hours. According to Gladwell, the “10,000 hour rule” states that it takes about this long for any performer to become a virtuoso at any endeavor. This claim puts the lie to the Romantic belief that geniuses–math savants and Mozarts–are innately so. Gladwell begs to differ, and he references the Beatles in Hamburg to make his case.

The year is 1960 and the Beatles, a little known band based in Liverpool, is nothing special. A mediocre local curiosity perhaps. A precursor to the hipster Brooklyn night scene. What changed things, Gladwell notes, was the Beatle’s time in Hamburg, Germany. He quotes Lennon:

[During our trips to Hamburg,] We got better and got more confidence. We couldn’t help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over. In Liverpool, we’d only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at everyone. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing.

And then he cites Phillip Norman, a knowledgeable Beatles biographer:

“They were no good onstage when they went there and they were very good when they came back,” Norman went on. “They learned not only stamina. They had to learn an enormous amount of numbers – cover versions of everything you can think of, not just rock and roll, a bit of jazz too. They weren’t disciplined onstage at all before that. But when they came back, they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.”

“So practice a lot, practice until you reach the magical quota? That’s the recipe?” Not exactly, Gladwell notes. There’s a bit more to it than that.

*

Tell me then: “How much more?” Gladwell concedes that unless you possess the basic talents and capacities (as Lewis Hyde would say, “the gifts”) you can’t hope to become successful in your chosen activity. And this makes sense: no matter how much I play the piano, if I don’t have two hands (I almost said one but then thought of Wittgenstein’s brother…), practice won’t do me any good. Thus, recent criticisms of Gladwell that claim that he fails to account for differences in abilities are uncharitable caricatures of his fuller account. In reality, Gladwell’s starting point is: Given a group of individuals, all of whom possess the basic capacities in X, what explains the differences in outcomes with respect to X?

“So talent and practice?” Well, that’s not all, either. Gladwell again:

The other interesting thing about that ten thousand hours, of course, is that ten thousand hours is an enormous amount of time. It’s all but impossible to reach that number all by yourself by the time you’re a young adult. You have to have parents who encourage and support you. You can’t be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won’t be time left in the day to practice enough. In fact, most people can reach that number only if they get into some kind of special program-like a hockey all-star squad – or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours.

Throughout Outliers, Gladwell puts a great deal of emphasis on the concept of “extraordinary opportunity” or “unusual opportunities.” The term seems to include good social support, the requisite financial support, the right material/social conditions (Hamburg in the Beatles’ case; Greenwich Village, I’d venture, in the case of Jane Jacobs) as well as the right Zeitgeist. For Gladwell, success has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of this right place/right time judgment. The conditions were just right for a group like the Beatles to come along and take advantage of a Hamburg-like opportunity.

Let’s summarize Gladwell’s account so far. To be successful, you have to

  1. Have the basic talents and capacities;
  2. Be able to rely on the support of others;
  3. Manage to take advantage of your “unusual opportunities”;
  4. And practice your craft for at least 10,000 hours.

Already, the 10,000 hour rule is looking more like a piece of the puzzle than like a full-blooded explanation. Now does my reconstructed Gladwellian account have sufficient explanatory power? Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

*

Over the past 10 years, I’ve referred to Shaquille O’Neal’s free-throw shooting woes more times than I can count. (10,000 times?) Throughout his 19-year career in the NBA, O’Neal struggled mightily and consistently with his free-throw shooting–and this despite the years of practice, the “free-throw shooting gurus” he’d hired, the modifications to form and technique, and so on. No matter what he tried, his free-throw shooting percentage hovered around or below 50%. (For those non-basketball readers, that’s pretty sub-par.)

“So what?” you ask. Well, O’Neal is a virtuoso basketball player who also presents us with an explanatory puzzle. How can someone practice more and yet produce as much or, during some years, even less? The puzzle only gets more confusing when we grant that O’Neal seems to have the requisite talents (condition 1), the support of others (condition 2), the extraordinary opportunities (condition 3), and the number of hours (condition 4: probably well over 10,000 hours).

I don’t see how Gladwell can explain the O’Neal anomaly unless he claims that O’Neal lacks the capacities for making free-throws at around 70%. Gladwell might say that O’Neal’s size, body structure, and mechanics simply won’t allow for his making 3 out of 4 free-throws. But this reply seems to me somewhat counterintuitive and heavy-handed. My hunch would be that if we measured the mean free-throw shooting percentages of, say, NBA athletes over 7 feet tall (etc. etc.), we’d find that they were doing much better than O’Neal at putting the ball in the hole.

To explain O’Neal-like cases, we’ll have to turn elsewhere.

*

My suggestion will be that we modify Gladwell’s account to include 2 more conditions. The pupil requires the right guidance (condition 5), and the practice has to be done over and over again in the right way (condition 6). Both, I know, seem like no-brainers: to perform well, you need to do something over and over again with the aid of some teacher (real or imagined, alive or dead, present or absent) who sees to it that you’re doing the activity well and you’ve got to do the thing in the right way. I may spend 10,000 learning how to shoot piss poor free-throws by throwing the ball at the rim like a spear. My hypothesis would be that O’Neal’s guides weren’t that great and that, over the course of 10,000+ hours of practice, he was learning just as many bad habits as good ones.

“So manage to get yourself plopped down in the right setting, and then practice lots and also really well and also with someone in the know looking over your shoulder?” Yup, that’s about it. The funny thing is that there’s a much older, better, and less expensive account of human excellence. Only, it’s not Gladwell’s. It’s Aristotle’s.

Further Reading

Andrew Taggart, “On Spiritual Exercise”

On murmuring, alienation, and institutional failures

The philosopher David E. Cooper’s massive doorstop, World Religions: A Historical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), does have a leitmotiv. It is the “problem of ‘alienation’ or ‘estrangement.'”

By these terms, they [Hegel and Marx] meant the sense which many human beings–all of them, perhaps, at times–have of being ‘strangers’, of not being ‘at home’, in the world. Reading philosophers from all times and climes, I am struck by the accuracy of this perception of the central inspiration behind philosophical speculation, by the constant recurrences–from the earliest Indian thinkers recorded to twentieth-century existentialists–of the theme of alienation. We can ask of our primitive ancestors, ‘Staring at the sun, the sky, were they aware of their own being, and if so, what did they think?’, but without much hope of an answer. We might, though with rather more confidence, guess that when people did become ‘aware of their own being’, they became conscious, at the same time, of its strangeness, of respects in which, for all their affinity with the animal and wider natural world, they were also set apart from it. For with self-awareness, there would also have come the emergent appreciation of being a creature that can reason and deliberate, make free choices, enjoy beauty and feel resentment, care about the past and the long-term future, string meaningful noises together, depict the world of nature in coloured powders or movements of the limbs, and perhaps receive intimations of a purpose lying beyond the world: an appreciation, in short, of the many ways in which a human being belongs, or seems to belong, to a unique order of life. (5)

You, dear reader, have been patient, having listened to me speak aloud for over a week about St. Benedict’s concerns with murmuring. The reason that an individual murmurs, we can now see, is that he is alienated or estranged from that institution to which she belongs and not in spirit alone.

For a time, the murmurer will perform like a zombie, going through the motions after having lost her faith. There are only 3 possible explanations for her zombie-like state: 1) she has been poorly educated; thus, the task of re-educating her with the view of overcoming her sense of alienation; 2) her superior has been mistreating her, so the superior must be dealt with in some reasonable fashion; or 3) “something is rotten in Denmark,” the result of which is that the institution must be reformed or pulled down.

Today I have my eye on the third case, the case in which something is, as a matter of fact, rotten in Denmark. More often than not, the murmurer becomes so alienated from the institution that he must leave it behind. On occasion, however, his murmuring rings loud enough to bring down the house.

The Failures of an Institution: A Synoptic View

In rough and ready terms, institutions can be alienating accordingly.

1. They can be either ‘too sticky’ or ‘too runny.’ Earlier this summer, I summarized Francis Fukuyama’s observations about the problem of “stickiness.” At that time, I wrote,

Institutions are conservative with respect to change. They are “sticky,” writes Fukuyama: i.e., risk-averse, change-resistant.

Changing external conditions can cause unadaptive institutions to decay or collapse. “[T]he fact that societies are so enormously conservative with regard to institutions means that when the original conditions leading to the creation or adoption of an institution change, the institution fails to adjust quickly to meet the new circumstances. The disjunction in rates of change between institutions and the external environment then accounts for political decay or deinstitutionalization.” (452)

Too-sticky institutions cannot meet head-on the challenges posed by changing social, economic, and material conditions. Conversatism with respect to change, which in the past had been an abiding virtue inasmuch as it had secured the institution’s vital link with the past, with its traditions and customs, can also be the cause of its downfall in the present. If the world is changing for the better and the institution can’t keep up with emerging life needs, then it is bound to fall apart.

On the other hand, an institution may be “too runny” in the sense that it lacks the “social glue” or “integrity” to maintain the institution as an institution. For any number of reasons (not least being insufficient funds), the entity may be here today, gone tomorrow. Perhaps we could dub the “runny” case the Tale of the Towheaded Start-up!

2. They can lack intrinsically worthwhile final ends.  Business terms such as  “mission statement” or “company vision” may not be suitable substitutes for teloi if only because they may neglect the question of whether the final end is of independent weight and importance. Poor final ends may be any number of things ranging from evil to trivial, from deceptive to deleterious. Given time and further reflection, the murmurer can account for his alienation. “I can’t see that what I’m doing makes any contribution to the common good. The reason is that this institution’s actions do not aim at satisfying basic human needs or higher desires. So far as I can tell, there is no way in which we can go on like this. I must leave, or the institution must change.”

3. They can fail to support good social practices. Good institutions are seed beds for good social practices. The institution of marriage is the soil in which particular marriages can grow and flourish. An institution such as marriage may have a fine and beautiful final end–call it love–and yet, in its current instantiation, it may neither permit nor encourage all the activities we associate with being a good couple, all the planting, observing, cultivating, and harvesting, all the practices that are necessary for the possibility of this marriage being a good marriage.

On first acquaintance, the conclusion may be puzzling: it is not the case that this marriage is rotten, but it is the case that the institution of marriage can lack the right spirit.

Summary of the Series

Day 1: “Why We Need Good Authority.” I describe the structure and quality of good authority and good obedience. As the title suggests, I also make the case that we can’t do without good authority if we want our lives to go well.

Day 2: On Murmuring as a Clue to the Problem of Authority.” I cue into murmuring as a primal urge of disaffection and alienation. I then lay out 3 possible explanations for someone’s murmuring.

Day 3: “On Murmuring, Education, and Love.” I examine the first case. A person’s murmuring stems from her improper education. What does good education look like?

Day 4: “On Murmuring, Bad Authority, and the Abdication of Responsibility.” I explore the second case. A person’s murmuring is a sign that the authority figure is not exercising legitimate authority.

Day 5: “On Murmuring, Alienation, and Institutional Failures.” I discuss the third case. A person’s murmuring implies that an institution isn’t working.

On good humor and good thinking

1

The story goes that Plato is giving a lecture in the Academy on the essence of man. “What is man?” he asks. His pupils listen intently. “Man,” he answers, “is a featherless biped.” It is these properties that, conjointly, distinguish us from the mere brutes.

At which point, Diogenes of Sinope bursts into the room and plunks down a plucked chicken. “Man!” he blares and cackles hysterically. “There is man!”

The rest of the day Diogenes spends enveloping himself in philosophical contemplation: masturbating openly in the marketplace.

2

Theories of laughter propose to tell us what makes something funny. For example, the Superiority Theory, espoused most famously by Thomas Hobbes, holds that we laugh in order to demonstrate that we are superior to the object of derision. “Look here, my friends. What fools. What clowns!” Other theories advance different solutions. The Incongruity Theory, which gets top billing in The New Yorker, states that we laugh when there is some kind of incongruity between our expectations (a subway scene) and reality (alligators sitting and chatting leisurely). Yet none of these theories of humor seek to explain why we humans have a sense of humor at all.

Matthew Hurley, in his book Inside Jokes, claims to have an answer to this more fundamental philosophical question.  According to a recent book review that appeared in The Boston Globe,

Hurley and his coauthors begin from the idea that our brains make sense of our daily lives via a never ending series of assumptions, based on sparse, incomplete information. All these best guesses simplify our world, give us critical insights into the minds of others, and streamline our decisions. But mistakes are inevitable, and even a small faulty assumption can open the door to bigger and costlier mistakes.

Enter mirth, a little pulse of reward the brain gives itself for seeking out and correcting our mistaken assumptions. A sense of humor is the lure that keeps our brains alert for the gaps between our quick-fire assumptions and reality. As “Inside Jokes” argues, much of what we consider comedy takes advantage of this cognitive reflex, much as McDonald’s taps our evolved taste for high-energy food.

Laughter, Hurley thinks, is our reward for detecting errors in our reasoning. Every day we make assumptions about ourselves and others. Some of these assumptions are plausible; others less so; others not at all. When I laugh, I’m rewarding myself for identifying faulty reasoning (the cat, it turns out, is not in the hat), for making invalid inferences (Australia is not the capital of Luxembourg), and uncluttering my foggy thinking (my falling on the sidewalk reminds me that I’m not so graceful). Laughter mends and repairs. Laughter eases up our claims, “unexaggerating” them.

This theory would explain 3 key points about my life: one, why I take so much pleasure in not taking myself so seriously; two,  why Jane Austen’s novels contain such immense wisdom; and, three, why I laugh at, and make my fair share of, bad jokes.

3

Me: Wow, she’s got everything I’m looking for. Beauty, grace, style. Exquisite cheekbones, neck, jawline. We’re going out this Friday night. [Shows friend the picture]

Friend: Yes, she’s beautiful–striking profile she has–but you know that that’s Ingrid Bergman. And I might just add that dear Ingrid’s been dead now for 20 years.

Me: But she sounded so lively over the phone.

[Ba dum!]

On murmuring, bad authority, and the abdication of responsibility

Murmuring and the Articulation of a Grievance

Over the past week, I have been discussing the nature of good authority, the education of those expressing disquietude, and the challenges posed by individuals dissatisfied with the habitual exercise of institutional power. I suggested that, far from being byzantine or draconian, St. Benedict’s conception of murmuring was in reality a good, perhaps the best, approximation of the starting point of the governed’s discontent. Murmuring, recall, is the guttural reply to power when that power is deemed–rightly or wrongly–unjustified, excessive, harsh, or inapplicable. Murmuring implies that the person murmuring has been harmed and that she can no longer offer up her obedience freely and wholeheartedly. In short, murmuring is the nub, the first stirring, of disobedience.

In “On Murmuring as a Clue to the Problem of Authority,” I laid out 3 possible cases and then said that I would pick up the thread in future posts. In the first case, which I examined on Wednesday, the murmurer’s “claims” were without warrant. I argued that the murmurer needed to be re-educated. In the second case, I wrote,

Suppose the murmuring is justified and that it is “directed at” or “addressed to” a figure of authority. This “claim” reveals that the addressee lacks legitimate authority. Hence, the murmuring should lead to admonition, reform of conduct, or an inquiry into the possibility of finding a suitable replacement.

Notice the quote marks setting off “directed at” or “addressed to.” A murmur is not yet an articulation. As a result, the murmurer will have to learn how to transform the inarticulate murmur (or eye roll, snort, brow wrinkle, chest tightening, etc.) into an articulation of a grievance. “I have been wronged by X in such and such a way and on such and such a grounds.” The wronged is now pointing at the figure in question at the same time that he is making an appeal to some norm or standard.

The Source of Bad Authority

For the moment, let’s be agnostic about what is to be done with respect to a figure of bad authority. Reprimand her? Admonish him? Demote them? Throw the damned bums out? Let’s instead focus our attention on the source of bad authority. What makes a bad authority bad? In virtue of what can we say that this authority has not been exercising her authority prudently and wisely?

On this question, the writers of The Rule of Life of the Community of Jesus state,

For grave reason and for the welfare of the Community, it may be the judgment of the Council and the Board of Directors that the Superior be removed from office. Valid reasons include:

–repeated serious violations or disregard of the Rule of Life;

–mental or physical incapacity to perform his/her required duties;

–habitual neglect or dereliction of duty;

–malfeasance or grave scandal due to culpable behavior. (43)

The first is a procedural problem. The second is a health concern. The third is a question of moral obligations. The fourth is a question of character. The first problem is not philosophically interesting because it refers the matter to a code within a manual. If the manual has gained the consent of the governed, then the conflict should, in principle, be easily resolvable. The second problem is straightforward and, in most cases but not all, pre- or a-philosophical. The final problem is very severe–let’s say we’re reviewing a sex scandal–and yet not usually philosophically unclear.

This leaves us to examine the “habitual neglect or dereliction of duty.” The source of bad authority, on this conception, is the failure of the authority figure to fulfill duties and responsibilities for the good of the one into whose hands she has been entrusted. Which?

What Responsibilities Have not Been Fulfilled?

Earlier in The Rule of Life, we read that the Superior must fulfill 3 basic responsibilities. First, she must be a “shepherd” who “cares for the souls entrusted to his/her charge”–specifically, a protector of the “personal needs of others.” Second, she must be a “teacher” who helps the pupil to undergo “transformation” through spiritual exercise. And, third, she must be an “administrator” who ensures that the practical affairs of the organization are in order. In essence, she must be a good nurturer, philosopher, and businesswoman at once. What is especially beautiful about this ethical vision is that it presupposes that protecting the other is a necessary precondition for self-transformation to get under way. If the other is to test herself on the “first floor” and if she is to aspire to become a better, wiser, more humane person, then he must feel that the authority, as a “shepherd,” will also and always provide some “ground floor” shelter. Moreover, only if the organization is financially stable can protecting and educating continue on into the future.

Now, once it has been articulated as a grievance, the murmurer voices one of three charges.

  1. The Superior is not a shepherd. She has failed to help carry the pupil across the divide. She is not a protector. Hence, the pupil feels fear.
  2. The Superior is not a teacher. The pupil may feel safe with the Superior but does not feel as if she is making moral or spiritual progress in her inquiry into self and world. The pupil feels cheated because the Superior is not wise.
  3. The Superior is not an administrator. The pupil may feel safe and may be able to see that she is making moral or spiritual progress. The trouble is that the Superior seems incapable of meeting the requisite funding requirements such that the school cannot be put on solid ground. Without sufficient financial backing, moral or spiritual progress will doubtless be halted. The pupil’s charge is that the Superior lacks prudence.

I have now considered the case in which unwarranted murmuring requires better moral education (Case 1) and the case in which justified murmuring tells against the figure who embodies authority (Case 2). In the final case (Case 3), I wish to examine the philosophical problems that poison the lifeblood of an organization.

Summary

Day 1“Why We Need Good Authority.” I describe the structure and quality of good authority and good obedience. As the title suggests, I also make the case that we can’t do without good authority if we want our lives to go well.

Day 2: On Murmuring as a Clue to the Problem of Authority.” I cue into murmuring as a primal urge of dissafection and alienation. I then lay out 3 possible explanations for someone’s murmuring.

Day 3: “On Murmuring, Education, and Love.” I examine the first case. A person’s murmuring stems from her improper education. What does good education look like?

Day 4: “On Murmuring, Bad Authority, and the Abdication of Responsibility.” I explore the second case. A person’s murmuring is a sign that the authority figure is not exercising legitimate authority.

Day 5: “On Murmuring, Alienation, and Institutional Failures.” I discuss the third case. A person’s murmuring implies that an institution isn’t working.