Alcestis by Euripides

Last weekend I was looking for a relaxing reading and picked up this old classic.
I was lucky to find an old edition (Neri Pozza editore, 1968) with an introduction written by Carlo Diano and that was worth reading.
The story in itself is well-known and can be easily found online.
But the most interesting elements reside in the details of the dialogues of Adameto with his father and with Hercules and the actual reading is needed to fully appreciate them.

If you’re looking for a quick read (it took me only a couple of evenings) it’s a good alternative to recent instant books that it’s not difficult to read but still provides some food for thought

Democracy: the god that failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

When I started reading this book I was a bit shocked.
I was raised, as most people of my age in the western world, with a few clear ideas including that democracy is the best form of government.
For this reason i thought that the title of the book was intriguing, but I was not prepared to the full, systematic demolition of democracy that the author has carried over.
The first few chapters I was having a sort of cognitive dissonance because the reasoning was sound but clashing with my education about government forms.

Reading Tocqueville in the past has provided me with a good perceptions of the risks of democracy but only to the point of getting me to believe that much care was necessary to avoid them while keeping democracy in place.
Hoppe instead attacks democracy from the foundation: for him it’s not a problem of deviations from the right implementation that make democratic experiences bad, it’s the very nature of democracy that leads to the actual implementation problems that it’s easy to spot in most (if not all) countries of the western world.

While progressing with the reading I got more and more convinced by the reasoning.
There it is a major weakness that I perceive (and it’s not unique to this author’s reasoning): assuming people to be part of the “homo economicus” specie and hence to take rational decisions.
Behavioral finance was born because most people is unable to be rational even when dealing with money and numbers: I doubt that more rationality can be expected when other elements with no defined market value are added to the mix.

Overall it is a book worth reading and I recommend it.

The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life by Kenneth Minogue

In the recent past I’ve read an old book from the same author titled “the liberal mind” with great satisfaction so I had a strong incentive in reading the most recent one.

It’s a great reading that makes me feel frankly sad because I feel like there it is no escape from the negative impact that democracy is generating.
Parents with a strong ethic face a major challenge in educating the childrens.
While in the past the society used to help them face the natural rebellion of teenagers now all the external pressure (TV, peers, legislation) goes against a their attempt at raising responsible adults.
And a number of parents don’t even attempt at raising new responsible adults as a recent book edited in Italy testifies.

The more and more frequent request for “self motivated” people in the job postings is a strong indicator that Minogue is right when he describes the evolution of our society.
In the not so distant past most workers were characterized by the pride they felt in doing their job (even the most humble) well and there was really no need to express this as a desired tract of the candidate.
The standard now is that most of the workers, even in good positions and with nice jobs in most of the cases are focusing on what they are (or aren’t) getting instead of being dedicated to their duties.

The book is not really offering a procedural solution, but is providing the needed awareness to help the reader immunize himself and then his friends and relatives from the bad ethics generated by our society.

Contro i papa’ by Antonio Polito

The book is focused on the subject of how the modern fathers relate to their children and how this is impacting the development of the kids.
The author describes the situation as the parent behaving like the union of the kids.

Instead of providing a strong and structured reasoning about the problem the author decided to provide to the readers a set of facts from the news that demonstrate the relevance of the phenomenon and the consequences.
Given the fact the Antonio Polito is a journalist and not a philosopher this approach makes sense.

It is possible to considered the book as a vertical case study of the wider problem that authors like Kenneth Minogue, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Roger Scruton (and others) raise about the modern approach to life and the consequences in the long-term.

The book can be appreciated in any case even without a theoretical background but this is not a guarantee that the message will be accepted by the reader ad I’ve learned after lending it.

Ernest and Celestine by Daniel Pennac

When I can I try to read the books that are proposed to my son.

A two weeks trip to the USA was a good opportunity to do so.
Ernest et Celestine is a good reading for an age between 8 and 10 years: the subject may appear light at a first glimpse (the story of a mouse and a bear) but the message about against using prejudices as the guiding criteria of relations is very strong and clear.

While the construction of the phrases is simple a few words will likely be missing in the vocabulary of a kid: be prepared to answer questions or have a dictionary for kids readily available.


Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité ed adoption. Essay by Gilles Bernheim

This booklet was recently translated in italian and was recommended to me by a friend.

The purpose of the book was to put together a strong argument against the law on the subject that was being discussed at the time of publishing by the French Parliament.
The law was recently approved hence the book was not able to steer the vote away from the promised outcome of the election campaign.
Even if the political target was not reached still the book was a contribution to the ample discussion that happened in France after the general election and before the vote of the law.

It’s a very easy reading as anyone would hope for if a book has to make an impact on a wide audience and is without religious references.
The strongest arguments, in my opinion, are the ones that are centered about whether or not a baby can be considered an object (of someone’s right) instead of a subject (with his own rights).

This same caveat about object/subject can be applied (either implicitly or explicitly) in relation of abortion.
In a number of legislations there it is a limit to the time when an abortion is legal: at some point in time the fetus is considered a person (hence a subject) and before is considered only an object.
I think that either a foetus is a person from time 0 of no one is ever a person: putting an arbitrary term for the switch is subject to a strong attack with the logical paradox called sorite.
This problem is somewhat limited in practical application in the case of abortion: after the fact there it is no more evolution of the foetus from an object to a subject.

For an adoption and assisted procreation this is different.
Even assuming that at the time of the decision the baby is an object this will not remain true as the time moves on: at some point in time the baby will become a subject with rights and the law should really deal with this fact from day 1.

For this argument to be effective it’s clearly necessary to have an agreement on whether or not a person has the right to have a mother and a father and this is only slightly easier to agree upon than the other one: quite a few people disagrees with the idea that “natural for a human being” and “right” do match.
How could we get away from this problem?
In my opinion by taking into account the wider and more general question: a human being can be an object (or a mean to someone else’s end)? (1)
Here the number of persons that would say yes goes down: as it’s often the case it’s easier to be conservative when we have a direct interest.

The implication of (1) applies clearly not only to the specific scenario of the book but to the parenthood in general.

The liberal mind by Kenneth Minogue

I’ve really appreciated this book.
With a few exceptions tied to some of the specific examples used the reader could easily think that this book was written very recently and not 50 years ago.

The Author analyzes in detail the dynamics that starting from the Liberalism lead to the liberal thinking.
Today we’re so immersed in the liberal thinking (even if in some countries the Liberal party is right-wing party) that most people would consider it the same as the liberalism while this is not the case.

The description of the evolution of desires into needs and of needs into rights is one of the most interesting parts.
The distinction about freedom considered as a potential to do things vs. the actual doing is also a very significant subject.

I recommend the book as it helps understand how the liberal thinking is pushed to the general audience and how the language is manipulated to make everyone not adhering appear as old-fashioned and against the progress.

This book is useful both for liberals (as they better understand the way they think) and for non-liberals as this helps in both in discussing with liberals and in resisting the liberal pressure to homologate.