Philosophers, Forgetting, Neurons, MBA Disruption, Reputation

A weekly selection fine writing from Conked

BY RAND LEEB-DU TOIT – 20 NOV 2020

The Plot and Argument: Philosophy as a Narrative Affair

Costica Bradatan | Los Angeles Review of Books | 15 NOV 2020

One of the most important philosophical arguments of the 20th Century did not occur “in real life but in a work of fiction: in Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel The Magic Mountain.” This article outlines how many of the daring ideas of the 19th Century also did not exist in true life. The two fascinating debaters of Thomas Mann’s novel do not need to be real characters to be brilliant thinkers of their time. Such was the reception to this novel that a mere five years later a debate was organised, although on different topics between two real-life professional philosophers, Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945) and Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). (4,337 words)


We Are Built to Forget

Meredith Hall | The Paris Review | 16 Nov 2020

It turns out the human brain is wired to not only remember, but also to forget. Our brains, scientists discovered, have “special receptors that perfectly fit psychoactive chemicals” like cannabinoids. We humans, we need to forget some things, “to make room for remembering”. But why do some fragments of memory remain, while some are erased? And for those who are deemed to have ‘extreme memories’, how do they make order out of the jumble of recollections they store? The writer of this article explains how the brain works, in tandem with her memories, deeply buried and sometimes only uncovered by others. (4,594 words)


Key Neurons Judge Options During Decision

Tamara Bhandari | Futurity | 16 NOV 2020

When making a decision between options, a study of monkeys has discovered that brain cells above your eyes are stimulated as you contemplate your choice. Not only that, but the more appealing your choices are, the faster the neurons will fire. In these situations, monkey and human brains seem to be quite similar and understanding this further will potentially unlock how we make major life decisions like whom to marry or mundane decisions like what to eat in a restaurant. The same neural circuit is responsible for these decisions. It could also “lead to better understanding of conditions such as addiction and depression.” (816 words)


What’s On Deck for Business Schools - The Flywheel

Jake Singer | The Flywheel | 17 NOV 2020

Business school brings the benefit of networking, certification and almost assured employment. But it is an expensive and time-consuming way to arrive at those outcomes. In this article On Deck Writer Fellow Singer explains On Deck, which offers programs for Founders, Angels, Venture Capitalists, Writers, No-Code Creators, and more, with an upfront and attainable fee and no pre-set entry requirements. With three to four sessions a participant could attend daily, the emphasis is rather on finding and building a community that supports and is of use to each other. Without a degree or diploma outcome, On Deck’s true value is the transformational outcomes of mutual engagement and generosity exhibited by those in the Fellowship. (3,226 words)


Get Medieval On Your Haters: Lessons From Beowulf and Chaucer

Irina Dumitrescu | Psyche | 17 NOV 2020

In medieval times reputation was important and could change from good to bad, or in the other direction, very quickly. Mythic hero Beowulf manages to turn a situation where he appears to be shamed into an opportunity to share (and perhaps embellish) his fearless deeds. In the 15th Century, mystic Margery Kemp took criticisms by her religious leaders and peers as a source of pride as she believed she was following the directive of God and assured of entrance at Heaven’s gate. Writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer, “denounced for writing misogynistic poetry”, pretended “to appease his detractors even as he mocked them”. Even then, as now, reputation mattered. There is a lot we can learn from our ancestors. (1,493 words)


Afterthought:

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

Editorial comments and conk suggestions to the Conkerer: rand@exoscalr.com

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