Philosophy Phriday: Ants and Women

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the tenth contribution in the series, submitted by Kathryn Pogin.


Ants and Women: A Reflection on Understanding

We live in an increasingly polarized society. According to survey data, between 2004 and 2014 ideological consistency in the American population seems to have doubled; that is, the share of the population who express uniformly liberal or conservative viewpoints regarding a range of issues shifted from about 10% of the population in 2004, to 21% in 2014. At the same time, hostility across ideological lines is increasing. In 2016, the Pew Research Center released a report containing this striking data point:

For the first time in surveys dating to 1992, majorities in both parties express not just unfavorable but very unfavorable views of the other party. And today, sizable shares of both Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but fear and anger. More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them “afraid,” while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party. Among those highly engaged in politics – those who say they vote regularly and either volunteer for or donate to campaigns – fully 70% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans say they are afraid of the other party.

Our sociological situation is epistemically concerning. In forming our beliefs, it can be difficult to be fair, to do one another justice — all the more so when you are not like me and in virtue of our dissimilarity it is more difficult for me to understand your needs, desires or interests. Fear, it seems, would compound these challenges. Our social context – including our political culture, our relationships to one another, our values, and our emotional attachments or hostilities – shapes our access to various epistemic resources.

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Philosophy Phriday: Plato’s Ants

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the ninth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Richard Polt.


On Formiciform Virtue: Plato’s Ants

As he imagines scenarios for the afterlife—which he’ll be entering within a few hours—Socrates speculates that if there’s reincarnation, those who have practiced “social virtue” should come back as members of “a social and orderly species” in their next life. Yes: they may be reborn as ants (Plato, Phaedo 82b).

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Style Saturday: Rom-ant-tic Myrmecology Wear

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly ant fashion series, Style Saturdays. This third installment is by our Fashion Correspondant Kathryn Pogin, who is also an Executive Producer of our popular Philosophy Phridays series. Enjoy!


I realize some folks might have expected me to write a Coachella-themed entry this week, but given that I’d like my work as the Daily Ant’s Fashion Correspondant to represent genuine myrmecological style, rather than Urban Outfitters with a side of Burning Man, this week we’re going to look at a rom-ant-ic ensemble that’s versatile enough to take you from brunch to the ballroom.

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Philosophy Phriday: Concerning Wittgenstein

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the eighth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Ben Roth.


Concerning Wittgenstein’s 284th Philosophical Investigation

“And now look at a wriggling [insect] and at once these difficulties vanish and pain seems able to get a foothold here, where before everything was, so to speak, too smooth for it.”

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Invasive Plants Push Around Native Ants

Have you ever been stung by a fire ant? Even if you haven’t, you probably know how (supposedly) bad and evil fire ants are. Yet fire ants, and a couple other well-known invasive ant species like Argentine ants, are only a few out of about 13,000 known species of ants, and they give all of these other species a bad rap. So today, let’s look at a new study by co-first authors Kevin Li and Yifan He and colleagues that properly flips the script: invasive plants push around friendly native ants.

Elaeagnus_umbellata

The big bad shrub, Elaeagnus umbellata

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Spiny Ants and Bacteria

As regular readers of The Daily Ant know already, ants harbor lots of bacteria. A growing number of studies are revealing that we should investigate these microbial communities, and their associations with their hosts, in order to fully understand the ecology and evolution of ants. In pursuit of this goal, Manuela Ramalho and colleagues just published an interesting study on the microbial composition of one of the coolest ant groups – Polyrhachis, the spiny ants.

Polyrhachis
Polyrhachis ant, with its microbial community. Photo: Melvyn Yeo

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Style Saturday: A Kushner Ant-ternative

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly ant fashion series, Style Saturdays. This second installment is by our Fashion Correspondant Kathryn Pogin, who is also an Executive Producer of our popular Philosophy Phridays series. Enjoy!


If you’ve ever found yourself tasked with responsibilities beyond your skill set because your wealth, your family, or your social standing have catapulted you to a position of power you didn’t earn on your own merits, you’re probably not an ant. You might, though, empathize with Jared Kushner. Kushner found himself the subject of some couture-controversy this week after sporting a look that, in the words of Drew Magary, says “I’d like to make a war, but I’d also like a mint julep.”

vest7n-1-web

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Philosophy Phriday: Ants in Your Pants

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the seventh contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Miriam Schoenfield.


Ants in your pants

Ants make great real estate decisions, and this is explained partially by the fact that their decisions are made by a group, rather than an individual. In some species of ants, when a move must occur, individual worker ants scout out a variety of nest sites, and when they find one that they like, they begin to recruit other ants to their chosen site. The more ants visit a site, the better for that site, and once a certain threshold of ant visitors is reached, the issue is settled and the new nest becomes home. This group decision-making process is very effective and explains why ants do so well at choosing new nests.

TurtleAnts

Turtle ants in their home. Photo: Alex Wild

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