Jan. 2, 2018 | Foucault is best known as a philosopher of power. Yet he did not offer a philosophy of power, refusing to develop an overarching theory. How is this possible?... more »


Jan. 1, 2018 | Cass Sunstein on his time in Washington: "It’s my job to put ideas out there. If that comes with the risk that someone is gonna do something horrible with it, well, that’s life”... more »


Dec. 30, 2017 | Prophecies of paperless offices notwithstanding, business, ideas, and thought still get written down. Humans are, after all, material. You can’t blow your nose into an email... more »


Dec. 29, 2017 | Every scale, spike, and tentacle. Ernst Haeckel’s detailed documentation of marine creatures shaped the way modern science developed — but not always for the best... more »


Dec. 28, 2017 | Consider silent thinking: language amounting to a kind of behavior. But if words are mental objects, what characteristics do they have... more »


Dec. 27, 2017 | You have six hairy legs, five eyes, a tongue, but no taste buds. Red looks like black, and you see in pixels: You are a bee. What does that feel like?... more »


Dec. 26, 2017 | Philosophers, savants, sages, and intellectuals have always been attracted to power. But what are the delusional propensities that led so many to embrace dictators?... more »


Dec. 25, 2017 | Mark Lilla tried to save liberalism from itself. Instead he became a punching bag, the Harry Potter-style, glasses-wearing personification of smug bourgeois centrism... more »


Dec. 23, 2017 | Dickens mania. The author hated being treated like a rock star in America. He couldn’t so much as drink a glass of water without being mobbed... more »


Dec. 22, 2017 | Child prodigies fascinate because they are auguries. What do they reveal? All children flout both our best and our worst intentions... more »


Dec. 21, 2017 | Why was Brigid Hughes, who succeeded George Plimpton as editor of The Paris Review, omitted from the magazine's history?... more »


Dec. 20, 2017 | How culture shapes madness. The dominant mode of psychiatry is one of brains, genes, and drugs. But what if schizophrenia is less hard-wired and more variable than we think?... more »


Dec. 19, 2017 | Philosophy now comes to us in one form: the peer-reviewed article, published (preferably in English) in an academic journal. No wonder philosophy has become so irrelevant... more »


Dec. 18, 2017 | Storytelling is inextricable from power: The act of reading is an act of submission. At best, reading novels is salutary. At worst, it erodes our sense of self... more »


Dec. 16, 2017 | How did a Jewish libertarian from the Bronx, a self-professed anarchist whose life was dedicated to destroying the state, end up on the reading lists of so many would-be fascists?... more »


Dec. 15, 2017 | “I write because I hate,” said William Gass, who died last week. Anger at his bigoted father and alcoholic mother shaped a singular philosophical vision... more »


Dec. 14, 2017 | Read the acknowledgments. Amid the dreary enumeration — librarians, fact-checkers, mothers, therapists, divorce lawyers — truths seep out... more »


Dec. 13, 2017 | When French theorists invaded Baltimore. Drinks flowed, insults were hurled, Derrida triumphed, and Lacan ran up a up a $900 phone bill... more »


Dec. 12, 2017 | What do Ursula K. Le Guin, chronicler of imaginary lands, and James Salter, who wrote of soldiers and marriage, have in common? They're both moralists... more »


Dec. 11, 2017 | Adam Gopnik has been called a monster of privilege, a “pastry fetishist.” His response? We don’t dismiss Proust for depicting a well-off white man in Paris in the 1880s... more »


Dec. 9, 2017 | In her fiction, Jenny Diski preferred self-concealment to baring her soul. Yet her life was her material, and, in the end, she was her writing... more »


Dec. 8, 2017 | Is a full understanding of physical reality within humanity’s grasp? Probably not, says Martin Rees. Some insights will have to await a post-human intelligence... more »


Dec. 7, 2017 | "The Man Who Fascinated Women (Writers)." Clancy Sigal, a wounded figure and onetime lover of Doris Lessing, makes for an unusual guide through blacklist-era Hollywood... more »


Dec. 6, 2017 | In Vermeer's time, an artist had to be a chemist — weighing, grounding, burning, sifting, heating, cooling, filtering, all before applying a drop of paint... more »


Dec. 5, 2017 | In 1767, Carl Linnaeus was suffering from information overload. His solution: the index card, a turning point in the relationship between power and technology... more »


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