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 »


Dec. 5, 2017 | What is painting? With its increasing complexity, definitions are futile. At heart, though, painting is a means to find transcendence... more »


Dec. 4, 2017 | With Rousseau, it's never quite clear where clever contrarianism ends and brash delusion begins. His intellectual style has found new adherents on the left... more »


Dec. 2, 2017 | The speed of philosophy. Philippa Foot, a “dreadfully slow thinker,” wrote little. The challenge of the field, as she saw it, was to be slow enough... more »


Dec. 1, 2017 | Who was the audience for Mein Kampf? Scribblers and middlemen. Indeed, the disregard of academic readers was essential to Nazism from its inception... more »


Nov. 30, 2017 | To be French is to argue about what it means to be French. At the least, it means a fondness for adversarial politics and abstract notions... more »


Nov. 29, 2017 | Whiteness has replaced racism as the problem that bedevils the world. It's a profound and beguiling change in the intellectual terrain... more »


Nov. 28, 2017 | The Closing of the American Mind, today. As Allan Bloom had it, our society requires elites but demands that they justify their existence in democratic terms... more »


Nov. 27, 2017 | If the birth of states meant disease, famine, drudgery, and bondage for so many, why deplore their collapse? For James Scott, it’s complicated... more »


Nov. 25, 2017 | Whatever you think of Foucault and Rorty, they were genuine scholars with a distinctive vision of reality. Even so, they opened the way to fake ideas and fake emotions... more »


Nov. 24, 2017 | Among the New York Intellectuals, Elizabeth Hardwick was considered a gentile sophisticate. She was, in fact, a master of articulate contempt... more »


Nov. 23, 2017 | The Orwell cult. His lionization as a moral giant and a prophet is overdone. But one thing really grates: the idea that he's a monument to human decency... more »


Nov. 22, 2017 | Narrative-puncturing was a way of life for Joan Didion. Even the reputation of her great-great-great-grandfather, supposedly a snake-slaying pioneer, wasn’t safe... more »


Nov. 21, 2017 | About 95 million images are uploaded to Instagram every day. This behavior seems new. But it was prefigured by an earlier aesthetic movement: the picturesque... more »


Nov. 20, 2017 | What does it mean to be a jerk? It is to be ignorant of the value of others and the merit of their ideas. Maybe you know one. Maybe you are one... more »


Nov. 18, 2017 | We knowingly assert that civilization “collapsed” on Easter Island. The truth is more complicated. After all, history isn’t about conveying neat moral lessons... more »


Nov. 17, 2017 | From hippie fun to shell of its former self: Rolling Stone is a mirror of the baby-boom generation. The reflection isn't pretty... more »


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