Humanities

Sense of righteousness

Robert A. Burt— The judicial task is not mechanistic but properly and necessarily involves judgment. In particular, judges must understand themselves as ultimately promoting equal deliberation among conflicting parties rather than imposing their own calculus of equality on the parties. This understanding is not alien to the judicial function; it

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James Joyce Goes to Denmark

Morten Høi Jensen— One day in mid-August 1936, the Danish modernist writer Tom Kristensen, author of the great novel Havoc (1928), stood in line in Politiken’s bookshop in central Copenhagen next to a tall, gaunt man with thick, black eyeglasses inquiring about a book in fluent, if accented, Danish. The

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Memory and Time from Mark to Luke-Acts

Eve-Marie Becker— To remember the past and to reflect about time is considered to be a basic human attitude. Memorizing the past and reflecting about time gives orientation in present life: When we know where we come from, and how present life might be similar or different to how our

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The Monastery and the Microscope

James Doty— Over the past few days, you have heard my colleagues discuss evolution, neuroanatomy, empathy, compassion, affiliative behavior, and the impact of genetics and the environment, as well as the concept of in-group versus out-group. Research is wonderful. It’s a great intellectual exercise. We can learn a great deal

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Who is David?

David Wolpe— We wish our heroes to be attractively flawed: brave but heedless, good but confused, wise yet inexplicably sad. A minor crack in character makes the vessel seem that much more precious. Still, while acknowledging the complexity behind the clarity of Lincoln, or the darkness that lurked beneath Churchill’s

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What is Religion?

Richard Holloway— As with many useful words, symbol comes from Greek. It means to bring together things that had come apart, the way you might glue the bits of a broken plate together. Then a symbol became an object that stood for or represented something else. It still had the idea of

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The Historical Assault on the Language of the Deaf

Gerald Shea— Noam Chomsky, giving a lecture in Chicago in 1965, mistakenly defined language as “a specific sound-to-meaning correspondence.” When asked where this left the signed languages of the Deaf, Chomsky revised his definition on the spot, calling language a specific signal to meaning correspondence. The distinction was important, for it was

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ISIS, Christianity, and the Pact of Umar

David J. Wasserstein— When ISIS forces took the Iraqi city of Mosul in the summer of 2014, and later on when they took Raqqa in Syria, they did not kill all the Christians. Instead they made them sign on to a curious set of conditions. Christians were allowed to maintain

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The Limits of Tolerance

Emily Katz Anhalt— The ancient Greeks were open-minded without being tolerant. They didn’t devise the world’s first-ever democracy by tolerating everything. Their unprecedented transition from tribalism to civil society derived from their eagerness to ask questions and their determination to judge others and themselves critically. Open-mindedness and the desire to

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A Conversation Between Patrick Modiano Translators Mark Polizzotti and Damion Searls

On the heels of our publication of Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano’s Such Fine Boys and Sundays in August in English, two of his esteemed translators sat down to discuss Modiano’s idiosyncratic and impressive body of work and the distinct nuances of translating it. It is with great pleasure that we present

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