Humanities

The 50th Anniversary of Portnoy’s Complaint

Bernard Avishai— Irving Howe famously said that the cruelest thing one could do with Portnoy’s Complaint was “read it twice.” But why reread it when the first time was unforgettable? Back when the book was published, exactly 50 years ago, I knew people who sat around in coffee shops, student unions,

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Spirit of Zen

Sam van Schaik— Peace of mind The earliest Zen teachers talked about meditation in terms of peace of mind, a state free of the anxieties and irritations which afflict us all. They taught that this peace is not to be obtained through our usual preference of surrounding ourselves with what

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Who Was King Arthur?

Nicholas J. Higham— Chapter 56 of the History of the Britons, written in North Wales in 829-30, presented Arthur as a warrior who, with divine aid, led the Britons to victory against the Saxon (i.e. English) invaders.   ‘Then in those days Arthur fought with the kings of the Britons against

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Understanding Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” asked the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998, considering the case of Otto, a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Otto always carried with him a simple spiral notebook as a memory aid, in which

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The What and the Where of Color

David Scott Kastan & Stephen Farthing— Our lives are saturated by color. The sky above us is blue (or gray or pink or purple or nearly black). The grass we walk on is green, though sometimes it is brown. Our skin has color, though not exactly the color we normally

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Ep. 66 – Miyazaki and Anime

We’re talking about the legendary Hayao Miyazaki: his works, his legacy, and anime in general on the podcast this week.   Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Soundcloud

The Prosperous Brain

Kelly Lambert, Ph.D.— Although scholars have debated the exact meaning of Thomas Jefferson’s reference to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence, the phrase can be traced to seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty, and property” philosophical trinity and his declaration that the pursuit of happiness was our

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The Origin of Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— Is it possible to empathize with lines in an abstract design, with the expansive reach of a tree, the sweep of a bird’s flight, or the imposing rise of a range of mountains? Can we “feel into” forms and shapes? If today we know empathy as a way

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Desirable Body

Hubert Haddad; Translated by Alyson Waters— One autumn morning, Cédric awoke with a start and sat up in bed as daylight filtered through the blinds. He must have been dreaming about the woman he loved, but her name escaped him. Had they broken up? Even though he had difficulty imagining

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Standing Rock

Thomas Grillot— The mobilization against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in the winter of 2016-2017 has made headlines throughout the world. In the first days of September 2016, the challenge raised by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to the unbridled exploitation of natural resources in their region and

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