The declining authority of statistics – and the experts who analyze them – is at the heart of the crisis of liberal democracy. Welcome to the post-statistical society... more »

Truth takes shape in debate. It demands doubt, patience, self-critical inquiry — not qualities of the current moment, when truth functions as a commodity... more »

From Emerson and Carlyle to Lamarck and Darwin, thinkers have debated agency. But where does debating the free will of squirrels, rocks, and robots get us?... more »

Most novelists don’t make a living at it. "The entire fiction-writing profession resembles a pyramid scheme swathed in a dewy mist of romantic yearning"... more »

What's to blame for the death of the Western artistic tradition and the beginning of something entirely new? The dangerous idea of creative genius... more »

Because the study of logic ended with Aristotle, Kant believed, the field had run its course. But what was logic for in the first place?... more »

What literary categories define the Obama age? Christian Lorentzen unpacks autofiction, the new meritocracy novel, the retro novel, and the trauma novel... more »

We know Frantz Fanon for his advocacy of violence, but behind it was a radical humanism. At a psychiatric hospital he introduced theater and a teahouse... more »

Written with seen-it-all skepticism and pseudo-philosophical detachment, the feuilleton was part journalism, part prose poem. The reaction to the new form? Utter contempt... more »

The arriviste Montaigne’s ascent as mayor of Bordeaux was based on bribes and payoffs. But are the local politics of the father of modern liberalism beside the point?... more »

Success in parenthood is uncertain, and apparent only after a lifetime of battle and worry. Is this why so many fathers of philosophy remained childless?... more »

Science's biggest dilemma isn't funding, replicability, or lack of public respect. It's language. Science has an English problem, and that means a lot of lost knowledge... more »

What would Plato tweet? Social media feels like liberation because it seems to unburden us of our shame. But a man without shame, Plato warned, is a slave to desire ... more »

John Brockman's Edge question for 2017 asks scientists and other thinkers: What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?... more »

If Kepler, Darwin, and Einstein had not come along, would their theories have been discovered by others? Were they indispensable? An alternative history of great ideas... more »

Delmore Schwartz made his debut in 1937. Ten years later, he was the most widely anthologized poet of his generation. Twenty years later, he died alone in the hallway of a sleazy New York hotel... more »

We think of Beethoven as socially inept: fiercely individualistic, careless about hygiene, occasionally rude and abrupt. Yet he longed for companionship... more »

The Argentine novelist Antonio Di Benedetto was imprisoned and tortured by the military government in 1976. His coping mechanism: therapeutic forgetting... more »

The power of “yuck!” and “ew!”. Disgust, which comes from our evolutionary fear of germs, goes a surprisingly long way toward explaining our manners, morals, and religion... more »

Fielding vs. Richardson, McCarthy vs. Hellman, Nabokov vs. Wilson. Literary feuds, which once raged over serious intellectual disagreements, have been ruined by tweets and TV... more »

John Stuart Mill believed that nobody can be a good economist who is just an economist. Yet most study nothing but economics. "Economists are the idiot savants of our time"... more »

At college, things should get more complicated, not less. But students today are told not to think through complex issues themselves — that's been done for them... more »

The pursuit of productivity seems to exacerbate the anxieties it's meant to allay. What if the idea of efficiency is what makes us feel inefficient?... more »

Modern sounds in classical music. Innovation used to take place within the confines of the traditional musical grammar. Now there's a radical break in symphonic sound... more »

Patrick Modiano: novelist, Nobel laureate, compulsive fabricator. Consider the sinister prank calls, swindling of booksellers, and lies about his age. Are these aesthetic deceptions?... more »

(Page 1 of 40) next »