Oct. 24, 2017 | Who could be against empathy? Paul Bloom, or so he says. But is the Yale psychologist serious? Or is he just trying to sell books?... more »


Oct. 23, 2017 | The relationship between morality and neurology is complicated. Few people get it, fewer can explain it. Robert Sapolsky, one of those few, is a determinist, but not a simple one... more »


Oct. 21, 2017 | Thinking about thinking. We think, says Alan Jacobs, because we hope to become “more than we currently are.” Therein lies both the promise and peril of a life lived thoughtfully... more »


Oct. 20, 2017 | Elizabeth Bishop had astonishing control and poetic technique. But below the surface was a gushing emotional register. Was she the loneliest person who ever lived?... more »


Oct. 19, 2017 | The past should be studied only to expose its failings. Or so goes liberal logic. How disparaging the past become a mark of intellectual respectability... more »


Oct. 18, 2017 | Many of Alexander Calder's greatest works have their genesis in children’s toys. He was an overgrown man-child with a deep affinity for play
... more »


Oct. 17, 2017 | Hitler sought to construct an empire of both military and cultural dominance. So did Mussolini. Their method: attract artists who were not themselves fascists... more »


Oct. 16, 2017 | The midlife crisis, first described by psychologists in 1965, is a first-world problem, but it's a problem nonetheless. The first rule of crisis prevention: avoid self-absorption... more »


Oct. 14, 2017 | Giorgio Vasari was a second-rate artist and a first-rate gossip. Behold his catalog of piquant trivia about Renaissance Italy ... more »


Oct. 13, 2017 | Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was not just a historian but an "action-intellectual," driven by his commitments and a belief that politics is more a war of will than of ideas... more »


Oct. 12, 2017 | E. O. Wilson suggests that evolution can “make sense” of art. But the relationship between biology and creativity is more complicated — and less determinative — than that... more »


Oct. 11, 2017 | Did F. Scott Fitzgerald fancy himself a social critic, a foe of market capitalism? Well, he wouldn't be the first such critic to relish capitalism's fruits... more »


Oct. 10, 2017 | How to interpret experiences that resist interpretation? What's the point of sowing terror if the terrorized can't understand you? Translating in concentration camps... more »


Oct. 9, 2017 | In the early 1930s, Nazi jurists debated how best to create a racist regime. They found inspiration in American law... more »


Oct. 7, 2017 | Sylvia Plath at Smith. “I’m so happy here I could cry!” she wrote to her mother. In her journals, she struck a different note: “God, who am I? ... I’m lost.”... more »


Oct. 6, 2017 | James C. Scott faults civilization for destroying the freedom and equality of our ancestors. But civilization is why we value such ideals in the first place... more »


Oct. 5, 2017 | “As a child,” wrote Roland Barthes, “I was bored often ... and it has continued my whole life.” His boredom was powerful: the intensity of a lack of intensity... more »


Oct. 4, 2017 | The novelist as journalist is a rich tradition but an uneven one. In the case of Martin Amis, the problem isn't so much his performance as his subjects’ worth... more »


Oct. 3, 2017 | Here is the story of a privileged young adult. He suffers neither intellectual disappointment nor spiritual disillusion nor emotional setbacks. He is Adam Gopnik... more »


Oct. 2, 2017 | Isaac Newton is remembered for his work on gravity, cosmology, mathematics, and the color spectrum. But his writings on Christianity are among the most daring works of the early modern period... more »


Sept. 30, 2017 | Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essays have become major events. Is he a literary aberration, a Baldwin acolyte, or something else entirely?... more »


Sept. 29, 2017 | To see “how difference operates inside people’s heads,” said Stuart Hall, “you have to go to art, you have to go to culture — to where people imagine, where they fantasize, where they symbolize”... more »


Sept. 28, 2017 | Alain de Botton wants to teach you how love really works. So he wrote a novel full of insights too trite to be even superficial... more »


Sept. 27, 2017 | T. S. Eliot thought poets should be scholarly and offer justification for their work. Poets who followed this vision would embrace “the glamour of overwork”... more »


Sept. 26, 2017 | The “eerie, queery, sometimes weary” Edward Lear. A gay man in Victorian times, he lived a life full of sadness. Nonsense helped fill the void... more »


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