Dead White Guys at First Things

Today, I'll refer you to as essay that came out today at First Things: Dead White Guys.The essay is autobiographical, sharing some of the perils of the academy and the predicament of late modernity in the West. Here's an excerpt: I learned—primarily from white men—what a wretched thing my newly acquired Western canon was. And how disempowered I had been at the hands of Homer, Augustine, and Dante. Doing the very thing I once thought was the path to socio-political empowerment, I came to find ou … [Read more...]

Sep 18, 2012 2:12am

Much of the popularity of modern scientific medicine is due to the fact that sick people have nowhere else to go and that television, rumors, then technical circus of well equipped hospitals convince them that they could not possibly do better. Paul Feyerabend (Sent to me by another former student and present friend). … [Read more...]

Sep 14, 2012 11:53pm

Q: How many letters are in the alphabet? A: 11. From a splendid old book of riddles my son read to me a couple nights ago. It has inspired what I consider to be a philosophical breakthrough: a new and better description! … [Read more...]

Aug 4, 2012 7:08pm

…uno de los deberes del poeta, una de las ambiciones del poeta, es restituir la palabra a la magia primordial, hacer que la palabra sea un mito. Jorge Luis Borges, “Mi Prosa.”My translation: “…one of the duties of the poet, one of the ambitions of the poet, is to return the word to the primordial magic, to make that the word be a myth.” … [Read more...]

July 31, 2012 7:53am

From the bottom of my heart it is all the same to me what the professional philosophers of today think of me; for it is not for them that I am writing. Ludwig Wittgenstein, taken from The Duty of Genius (by Ray Monk). It is one of two epigraphs to A Primer for Philosophy and Education, a book I am piloting this fall at the University of North Dakota. … [Read more...]

July 28, 2012 5:15pm

Possessive individualism has thoroughly routed civic republicanism; hucksterism has vanquished virtue; a mindless commitment to economic growth has rendered the ideals of simplicity, balance, and voluntary renunciation all but unintelligible as guides to public policy rather than merely to individual salvation. It is too late for a happy ending. George Scialabba, “Plutocratic Vistas,” in the Los Angeles Review of Books. … [Read more...]

July 24, 2012 7:50pm

For me, the fantastic was perfectly natural; I had no doubts at all. That’s the way things were. When I gave those kinds of books to my friends, they’d say, “But no, we prefer to read cowboy stories.” Cowboys were especially popular at the time. I didn’t understand that. I preferred the world of the supernatural, of the fantastic. Julio Cortázar, interviewed in the Paris Review. … [Read more...]

July 21, 2012 11:43pm

For the love of gold is different than the love of money, which is loved for the use we make of it. Gold deserves to be loved for itself, as pearls and precious stones are loved for their beauty. Etienne Gilson, The Arts of the Beautiful … [Read more...]

July 19, 2012 at 3:33pm

If there is in this world a single man knowing all that is useful to know in order fully to understand the historical, philosophical and theological meaning of the Divine Comedy, that man is highly privileged indeed, but it is not impossible to imagine a man possessed of that thorough knowledge of the meaning of the poem and yet incapable of experiencing it as the thing of beauty that it is. Etienne Gilson, The Arts of the Beautiful … [Read more...]

July 12, 2012 4:28am

I’ll get as much energy as a hippo that runs through the night! I’m having more fun than turtles on Tuesday! Tomas Rocha, age 5, at Bunker Beach in Blaine, Minnesota. … [Read more...]