Philosophy

Espionage and the I Ching

Michael Harrington— The study of espionage has a long history in China. The classic known as The Art of War, dating from a period of strife between the states of pre-imperial China, contains an entire chapter devoted to the use of spies. One of the overall themes of this short

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Ghostcatching

Emily Coates and Sarah Demers — Physics and dance share the singular problem of our universe: time moves in one direction. Events that occur can never be repeated exactly. A detector captures the collision of two black holes as an abnormal frequency—a cosmic blip, like the notation for a billion-year-old

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David Garrick and the Club

Leo Damrosch— When I got the idea of telling the story of a famous eighteenth-century club that called itself simply “the Club,” I knew that there were incredibly rich resources in the writings of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, and the rest – as well as fascinating

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She Didn’t Start It: Jane Ellen Panton, a Victorian Marie Kondo

Sarah Bilston— Marie Kondo seems to be everywhere these days. Home-dwellers across the planet debate whether the objects in their home “spark joy” and throw out those that don’t — after thanking them for their service first, as per a key KonMari™ precept. Kondo’s website proudly asserts “She started it,”

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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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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 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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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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What Happened to Enlightenment?

Caroline Winterer— What happened to enlightened ideas after the long eighteenth century? As more scholars are placing ideals of enlightenment in their global contexts, we are learning that the conventional understandings of the fate of enlightenment no longer hold. Enlightenment did not end with the movement called Romanticism, its ideals

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