In the Moral Landscape, There Still Be Dragons

Sam Harris has announced the winning entry in his contest for critiques of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.  The winner (from a philosophy M.A. and blogger at Point of Controversy) is the obvious complaint, which seems just.  Here's an excerpt: First, your analogy between epistemic axioms and moral axioms fails. The former merely motivate scientific inquiry and frame its development, whereas the latter predetermine your science of morality’s most basic findings. Epis … [Read more...]

Books that Love Books

I finished two novels recently, neither of which I would urgently recommend to someone, but both of which were clearly written by people in love with language, and, as I expect that describes some of my commenters, I wanted to give you all a heads up, in case you'd like to check them out at your local library.  I'm glad I read both of these, but I read a lot faster than average, so the opportunity cost of a book is low for me.  I think what I want to do most is to have coffee with the a … [Read more...]

Asperger’s and the Arts

Hot on the heels of that excellent NYT piece on the autistic boy whose family learned to communicate with him through Disney, there's a really wonderful essay up on Medium by Rachel Edidin on storytelling, empathy, and the difficulty of communication.  There are a lot of passages I'd be inclined to blockquote, but I'll stick to just these two: My homework this week has been to look at the very few relationships in which I feel comfortable talking about my feelings—especially negative fee … [Read more...]

If Only Angels Would Prevail: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

The Pope Francis bookclub post will run on Wednesday, since the chapter seemed apropos for the beginning of Lent.In a time when Hollywood is producing gritty remakes of well nigh everything, it might be appropriate to look back at one of my favorite works on how to live in an irrevocable corrupt world.  Today, at Ethika Politika, I'm discussing the tragic love that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street still bears the Moral Law in Sweeney Todd. Bond’s Sweeney, when confronted by bloodshed, has a … [Read more...]

Coriolanus’s Lonely Love

I'd never read or seen Coriolanus before a group of friends and I went out to see Tom Hiddleston as the eponymous lead in an NT Live broadcast.  During intermission, one of my friends leaned across our block of seats to say, "I've guess this is the methadone to my House of Cards addiction."In Coriolanus, the title character is a great general, but flounders when his friends try to elevate him as a Roman Consul.  His apparent arrogance and disdain for the ordinary people of Rome, who he would … [Read more...]

Mercy is Not Intransitive

The release of Kerry Weber's Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job is well timed for Lent.  If you're of a mind to, you could finish this slim spiritual memoir before Ash Wednesday and let it inform your choices of sacrifices.Weber, a Mercy Associate and managing editor at America magazine, decides that for Lent, she'll try to practice the seven Corporal Works of Mercy:To feed the hungry. To give drink to the t … [Read more...]

House of Cards’ Restless Hearts

As required of all D.C. residents, my friends and I blitzed through House of Cards this weekend.  (As you can see above, I thought sweet, wholesome chocolate chip cookies would be a nice counterpoint to the bitterly cynical show).  Unfortunately, though I like politics, sneaky ploys, and villainous monologues, I'm still not a big fan of the show, and you can read why over at First Things.  (I was careful to keep my review thematic, so, I think you're safe, even if you're worried about spoil … [Read more...]