Jan. 4, 2018 | Think of how readily we accept what a female writer is, or should be. Women are best at looking inward; men are truth-tellers. Women feel, men report... more »


Jan. 3, 2018 | Liberty Under the Soviets, published in 1928, is a remarkable book. How rare to witness the mind of a man doing his best to ignore that his faith is a lie... more »


Jan. 2, 2018 | We have inherited a lot from Martin Luther, but we misunderstand him. He was not a prophet of modernity but a fear-driven fanatic, a case study in how the reactionary mind-set evolves... more »


Jan. 1, 2018 | Family life wants consistency, repetition, routine, clear things. Eroticism is a different story. Can Esther Perel solve the predicament of contemporary sexuality?... more »


Dec. 30, 2017 | What, exactly, are thought experiments? Glimpses into Plato’s heavenly realm? Simple, ordinary argumentation? They may be something else entirely: mental modeling... more »


Dec. 29, 2017 | “Factuality” in fiction. For Mary McCarthy, novels had to do one thing above all else: communicate the truth, unpopular as it may be... more »


Dec. 28, 2017 | Knausgaard writes about doing housework, making tea, buttering sandwiches, the ordinariness of his daily existence. What makes his writing so compelling?... more »


Dec. 27, 2017 | Romain Gary was a clown prince of French literary life. Little of what he said was true, though he was essentially honest. He personifies the distinction between fabulist and fraud... more »


Dec. 26, 2017 | Derided by the public, attacked by politicians, a scapegoat and strawman for left and right alike, the humanities will nonetheless endure — even if there is no case to defend them... more »


Dec. 25, 2017 | Sexual liberation in fiction. Edith Wharton’s writing on sex was informed by Whitman, Nietzsche, and Wilde, and an affair with a journalist... more »


Dec. 23, 2017 | What does biology teach us about human nature? That there is no such thing as human nature. We have to make it up as we go... more »


Dec. 22, 2017 | A good education provides tools for understanding the world. Indoctrination offers just one lens. On many college campuses, that lens is power and privilege... more »


Dec. 20, 2017 | Even friends of Mary McCarthy could muster only backhanded praise for her work. What put them off? Her perverse honesty, for one thing... more »


Dec. 19, 2017 | The art of conducting. While you can demonstrate stick technique, you cannot teach a budding young conductor how to cultivate a magnetic personality... more »


Dec. 18, 2017 | It does not take long to sense something false in Andrew Wyeth. His art was his artifice, and his compelling images carry the stamp of inauthenticity. James Panero explains... more »


Dec. 16, 2017 | “I am almost sickened by my basic honesty,” wrote Clarice Lispector, who broke with superficial truths to expose deeper ones. She had a complex relationship with veracity... more »


Dec. 15, 2017 | Writers are told to fan out across genres, to expose themselves to everything. Bad advice. Don't read widely. Most work is middling and should be ignored... more »


Dec. 14, 2017 | As we rush to impose moral clarity on human desire, remember: Sex is not a solvable problem. Let's minimize the number of its victims... more »


Dec. 13, 2017 | Jerry Fodor was a skeptic, including in his own ideas about how cognition works. He was treated as a crank — a beloved crank... more »


Dec. 12, 2017 | Pseudoscience, by definition, should not appear in scientific publications. But peer review is a porous gatekeeper, and “predatory publishers” are shameless... more »


Dec. 11, 2017 | Freud’s theories don’t mesh well with modern science. Yet he represents something important for neuroscientists: the possibility that laws govern mental life... more »


Dec. 9, 2017 | Campaigns against "cultural appropriation" are bad for politics and bad for art. To put identity over aesthetics is to render art meaningless... more »


Dec. 8, 2017 | Writing and thinking are intimate activities. Does that suggest brilliant men pay an intellectual price for mistreating women? It's comforting — and certainly false — to think so... more »


Dec. 7, 2017 | “A writer must refuse to let himself be turned into an institution,” wrote Sartre, turning down the Nobel. Thus began the Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal... more »


Dec. 6, 2017 | Equality is a modern idea. Its detractors have included Plato and Aristotle; indeed, for most Western thinkers, humanity was marked by chasms of distinction... more »


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