Philosophy

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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Material Theology and Christian Religion

Terry Eagleton— One of the greatest of all Christian theologians turns out to be in some respects a full-blooded materialist. This is not entirely surprising, since Christianity itself is in some sense a materialist creed. The doctrine of the Incarnation means that God is an animal. He is present in the

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“Irrational” Discourse and the Public Square

Julian Baggini— The quality of debate in the public square has reached a nadir. To be sure, there are plenty of corners of thoughtful, intelligent analysis and conversation. But when we look at society’s broadest discussions, be they presidential debates or referendum campaigns, reason is in short supply. In its

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The Pros and Cons of Globalization

Peter Singer— Consider two aspects of globalization: first, the ability of people living in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Yemen to bring sudden death and terror to New York, London, Madrid, Paris, and Sydney; and second, the emission of greenhouse gases from power stations, vehicles, and even cattle. The former leaves unforgettable

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A Different Kind of Paganism

Anthony Kronman— For more than a dozen years, I’ve been teaching in Directed Studies—a traditional, Great Books program for freshmen in Yale College. Programs of this kind are increasingly rare on America’s campuses. But I believe deeply in the spirit of liberal learning that they represent and in 2008 published

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Whatever Happened to the Enlightenment?

Steven B. Smith— No period of modern history has come under more intense scrutiny than has the Enlightenment. What is—or was—the Enlightenment?  We have not ceased asking this question and the answer or answers are far from settled.  The question was most famously stated by Immanuel Kant at the start

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“Earning to Give” Leads to Happiness

Peter Singer— In 2013 an article in the Washington Post featured Jason Trigg, an MIT computer science graduate working in finance and giving half of his salary to the Against Malaria Foundation. Trigg was described as part of “an emerging class of young professionals in America and Britain” for whom

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How to Love Your Enemy

Robert Miner— Beyond his status as a musical innovator—guitarist extraordinaire, master architect of King Crimson, collaborator with David Bowie and Brian Eno—Robert Fripp is a serious man. He dresses impeccably; he reads old books in his study. One perceptive reader of his online journal, noticing his apparent fondness for Anglican

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Are Hungarians Melancholic?

László F. Földényi— This past April, the American edition of my book Melancholy was presented at the Rubin Museum in New York. While spending a week in the city, meeting friends and acquaintances, I was often confronted with the question: “Are you Hungarians melancholic?” Initially, my answer was: “No, not

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