It can be an interesting exercise to try to find patterns, regularity, structure, commonality among the virtues. I like your insight here.
When I tried to do this, I ended up categorizing virtues as those involving Temperament (e.g. initiative, independence, frugality, spontaneity), Social Virtues (e.g. kindness, honesty, generosity, leadership, wit), Character (e.g. humility, honor, benevolence, integrity), Attitude (e.g. hope, serenity, temperance, patience), and Intellectual Virtues (e.g. imagination, rationality, know-how, curiosity). Looking back at this, I think the Social and Intellectual virtues make sense as categories, but it's harder to distinguish Temperament / Character / Attitude from each other, so I don't know if that's as helpful.
The best exercise program is one you actually do. Darebee is a site that has a bunch of exercise programs that you can do at home (no special equipment needed). It's free, and ad-free (donation-supported). It's useful particularly for those of us working from home who have good pandemic-related reasons to stay away from the gym.
drumming/tapping, received by ears or touch possibly faster than spoken language, because precise sounds can be very fast. I don’t know. This doesn’t really sound good.
That sounds like Morse Code. Telegraph operators had developed a set of codes and abbreviations and emoticon-like conventions during the heyday of the telegraph... give it enough time and internationalization and it might have developed its own grammar. There was a case of a POW who blinked in Morse code during a propaganda video he was forced to make:
I believe they did a follow-up study to try to adjust for this. In the follow-up they were able to surreptitiously note the results of the coin flip (without the flipper knowing). The people who flipped the coin but ignored the result because it didn't go the way they wanted still rated themselves more fair than those who did not flip the coin but just decided to make things go their way without going through a coin-flipping ritual first.
I found the cake-dividing and roommate algorithms promising. If I'm in situations in the future that seem isomorphic, I'll be sure to do some research to try and find a fair division method that's most likely to make everyone feel they got what's coming to them.
But as far as how to cultivate the virtue of fairness... I dunno. The best I came up with was to be much more cautious about my self-assessment of how fair I'm being if I have skin in the game. I should definitely assume that my brain is going to be feeding me some good reasons why fairness and my self interest happen to coincide again.
Some of the experiments suggest "hacks" that might help (e.g. sometimes people engaged in "fairer" dictator-style divisions if there was a mirror in the room with them when they made the division) but I don't have a good feel for how reliable those would be generally.
Don't bother to google how to become more fair unless you're in the market for skin cream.
Sometimes the passive voice is more graceful or effective. In those cases, you can avoid the trouble that passive voice usually causes if you explicitly add the grammatically-optional subject.
For instance: "Insider information was unwisely tweeted by Elon." By using the passive verb "was tweeted" you change the order, and therefore the relative emphasis, of "insider information" and "Elon" in a way that may be appropriate to what you're trying to communicate. But by explicitly adding "by Elon" you successfully resist the temptation to leave the subject unstated, and thereby save the day for clarity and precision.
I cover that in my advanced "technical writing in one easy lesson" class ;-)
I'm fond of the "A Very Short Introduction" book series from Oxford University Press. Some very good examples of those include Thomas Pink's on Free Will, Susan Blackmore's on Consciousness, Christopher Janaway's on Schopenhauer, David Weir's on Decadence, Stanley Wells on Shakespeare, and Brad Inwood's on Stoicism.
I'm not as familiar with Christian views on temperance (though I am very fond of After Virtue - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/16106951). I associate Christian temperance with "Thy will be done" -- trying to discern God's desires and aligning one's own with those -- but I haven't looked into it very closely beyond that superficial guesswork. Is there any resource you would suggest beyond After Virtue to get the Thomist viewpoint on temperance (without having to read the ginormous Thomist corpus)?
I'm a physics dilettante... a little undergrad 101 stuff and some exposure to pop sci. I was mulling over the explanation of gravity as being warped space rather than a force, such that an orbiting body for example is not being held in orbit by the gravitational force exerted between it and the object it's orbiting but is merely traveling inertially in a straight line in a space that has been warped by a big mass in the midst of it.
Okay, thought I, I can picture that.
But then I tried to apply it to another scenario: hole drilled through the middle of the earth (or some simpler, non-rotating, isolated mass... weight dropped into hole. I imagine the weight oscillating back and forth, speeding up as it approaches the center, slowing down as it approaches the surface, then repeating in the other direction. I can't seem to grok a curved space that's so curved that an object can go in what appears to be opposite directions along the same path within it without a force being applied to it to make it do so. Yet I understand that from the POV of the oscillating mass, no force is felt. What am I missing?
This is perhaps tangential to your point or pedantic, but "want" was not always merely synonymous for "desire" in English. "Desire" implies something with conscious awareness of a lack wishing to have that lack redressed. "Want" can mean simply the lack without the consciousness of it: e.g. "this watch wants a seconds hand", or "as he wanted education, his wits were poor." This way of using the word seems to have been dropping off in recent decades, but may explain some of the examples you have seen.
In his book "Among the Dead Cities", A.C. Grayling looks at the Allied policy of aerial bombardment of Axis population centers, including the aims of the policy, how it was carried out, and its results. He concludes that it wasn't justified even in the conventional-weapons era; it was not militarily effective, particularly compared to other possible policies/targets, and it was a violation of even the bare minimum standards that the Allies later considered sufficiently self-evident to use as the basis for war crimes trials. The justification you mention ("to destroy the ability of the enemy states to continue to make war... because the factories have been destroyed or because there are no longer people to work in the factories") is something of a post-hoc search for a rationalization. If the Allies had wanted to attack factories, they could have concentrated on attacking factories. Instead they attacked population centers in order to kill and terrorize the people living there. This did not have the hoped-for negative effect on war-fighting morale (for the same reason 9/11 didn't discourage the U.S. from meddling in the Middle East), and can probably better be explained as a policy motivated by malice and vengeance than by coldly thought-through strategic planning. https://sniggle.net/TPL/index5.php?entry=18May11
This strikes me as a worthwhile exercise for people to undertake. It can give valuable perspective and suggest important avenues for self-improvement. For what it's worth, here's what I came up with the first time I tried it: https://sniggle.net/TPL/index5.php?entry=28Dec16
Nietzsche isn't a great example. His health was dreadful throughout his life, and it's really astonishing how good his mood and vigor were, given the crippling nature of his ailments (until his ultimate collapse). Philosophy in his case was probably a mood booster and a good coping mechanism.
There are lots of paths you can choose to wander down in philosophy. If you suffer from depression, one of the symptoms is that when you reach a crossroads in this wander, you'll choose the path that leads into the dark dismal swamp of nihilism and a dark uncaring universe with no meaning or point. That's not philosophy's fault, that's depression's fault.
But "dwelling on stuff" in general probably isn't a good strategy for dealing with depression, so if you're spending time philosophizing that you should be spending exercising, improving your diet, socializing, making doctor's/counselor's appointments, checking things off the basic-life-tasks to-do list so life doesn't get overwhelming, etc., then you might want to take a break.
There are three categories -- "meaningful," "meaningless," and "tautological" statements -- at least in Ayer's categorization. "Statements which are not testable are meaningless or tautological" would be an example of a tautology: just a definition of terms.
Because if you /could/ test the statement to see if it were true (not absolutely true, but, per Ayer, "probable"), you'd conduct an experiment where you took a sample of statements, tried to come up with tests (ways in which they refer to sense experiences that would serve to verify or disprove them), and then saw which ones were or were not meaningful. But in Ayer's framework, meaningfulness is defined as referring to sense experiences that would serve to verify or disprove, so it's circular, thus tautological, which isn't a term of abuse in Ayer's categorization the way meaninglessness is. He thinks that philosophers deal in tautologies all the time -- constructively! -- and that meaningful statements are more in the domain of science anyway.
I just finished reading Ayer's "Language, Truth & Logic" last night, and from my understanding of it, I think he'd think that your proposal about the appearance and vanishing of a chocolate cake was a meaningful proposal. He said, for instance, that it would be meaningful and reasonable to posit the appearance of wildflowers on a mountain peak nobody had climbed based on the fact that such wildflowers had been seen on similar mountain peaks nearby, or to propose that there were mountains on the dark side of the moon (before it was possible to empirically verify this). He seemed mostly interested in disqualifying propositions that were /in principle/ unverifiable. Now if you're asserting that this piece of cake came and went /and/ that it's not just going to be really difficult to come up with a single sense-impression that this fact would have some bearing on, but that it is /in principle/ impossible to do so, then he'd probably say you're talking rot.
Your example of a spaceship exiting the range at which you could possibly have any interaction with it is another issue. Ayer deals with the "does this tree continue to be when there's no one about on the quad" question, and says that (if I remember right) since the logical construction "this tree" is composed of both actual and hypothetical sense experiences, there's no reason why you have to imagine it vanishing when those sense experiences aren't immediately occurring. Even given this, though, I'm not sure if Ayer would call your spaceship meaningless or merely improbable, since its hypotheticals would all seem to be logical impossibilities.