Philosophy

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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The Future of War

A.C. Grayling— The history of drones is surprisingly long, as a special form of ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ (UAV) long since developed to undertake tasks considered ‘too dull, dirty or dangerous’ for human beings. UAVs were in rudimentary use before the First World War for target practice, they served as flying

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Workers of the World

Niall Kishtainy—  A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.’ This is the first line of The Communist Manifesto, which was written in the middle of the nineteenth century and is perhaps the most famous political pamphlet ever. The spectre – something scary and menacing – was the threat to

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Leaving Gracefully

Mark C. Taylor— Far too many people today have forgotten how to leave, and so stay on, and on, and on until they become a burden to others.  Though leaving can occur at any time, it is most consequential near the end – the end of a relationship, a career,

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Inside Our Awakening Universe

John F. Haught— Scientists now know that the universe is a story still unfolding. Geology, biology, cosmology, and other sciences have demonstrated that our Big Bang universe is almost 14 billion years old.  Very recently, as the story goes, on planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy a new species

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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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Jenny Diski: On Babyface

Jenny Diski— The great advantage over real live creatures that my Three Bears had in common with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, aside from not needing to be fed or produce droppings, was neoteny. Mickey and my ursine family looked only glancingly like a mouse or brown bears, and much more like babies.

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Writing and Self-Hatred

Devorah Baum— In his amazingly pleasurable new book, In Writing, psychoanalyst and writer Adam Phillips describes writing, in his experience, as an “amazing pleasure.” Lucky him. He sits down to write, he says, and the writing just happens—he’s never “trying” to write and meeting some sort of internal resistance or

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Reconciling Deism and Puritanism in Benjamin Franklin

Thomas S. Kidd— Americans incessantly debate the role of religion in our nation’s origins. Was America founded as a Christian nation? Or was the American Revolution mostly championed by Enlightenment skeptics? Some of the Founders, such as George Washington, spoke highly of religion, but their personal beliefs were unclear. The

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What the Soviet Story Teaches Us about Sincerity

Ellen Rutten— Concerns about sincere expression matter hard today. Social media and e-services are transforming the meaning of trust – in both bad ways (online frauds, hacker interventions) and good (when that cut-rate Airbnb apartment turns out to be as homely and lovely as you expected). Spin doctors and fake news makers

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