Category: Great Ideas

From History: 6 Reasons the Dark Ages weren’t so Dark

It is wrongly supposed that the Dark Ages were a period of stunted growth for the arts and sciences, until civilization received another growth spurt starting the Renaissance, and came fully within the limelight during the Enlightenment. That some of our candidates’ candidly brusque remarks are often derogated as medieval is evidence that we may […]

From The Guardian: The Dream of Enlightenment

It’s too easily supposed, after having heard their names used so often in sources not their own, that the enlightenment thinkers, and philosophers generally, have bequeathed to us all they have to say. That philosophy is a done deal, whose original enterprise is now more seriously undertaken by the natural sciences, or theology- kidding about […]

From the Times Literary Supplement: Dylan’s voice, music, and words

A visionary trinity. ProfesSir Christopher Ricks is one of the most energetic octogenarians we have on the literary scene. Age has clearly not impaired his hearing, which has been and remains so keenly attune to the sounds and subtleties of (among others) Milton and Tennyson, that it has served as an aid for our own. […]

At The End, A Beginning: A playlist to accompany the books of Genesis and Exodus

In case you need any help resonating with the gravitas of these texts….. 1. Bob Marley’s “Exodus” Marley’s lyrics like “We’re the generation…trod through great tribulation” in this classic reggae hit lend millennial readers of the Hebrew Bible some additional encouragement in a time of much political upheaval in the United States.   2. Berliner […]

From Vox: Trumps grab ’em by the p***y line anticipated by 600 years

That “Canterbury” contains “Cant-“, and that “cant” shares a precarious assonance with another word, suggests that one of our most literate bards and bawds, Chaucer, might have anticipated Trump’s latest perversion. This possibility was recently illuminated by Constance Grady at Vox. Or, less likely, Trump might have been paying tribute in his comment to some […]

From The New York Times: Can You Read a Book the Wrong Way?

Some people are so religiously devoted to a method of reading that we may properly call them Methodists. Others feel the text should be all things to all men, which is good politics but bad for criticism. For if every interpretation is welcomed open-armed, then little room is left for pressing one reading against any […]

From New Republic: Does Karl Marx still matter?

In the opening line of Michael Kazin’s article Prophet and Loss, the author asks, “Does Karl Marx still matter?” He directs the question to those readers interested in Gareth Stedman Jones’ new book Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion, and addresses the question‌ in a book review-esque article. Both Kazin and Jones acknowledge Marx’s failures to […]

From The New Yorker: “Are we really so modern?”

Down in New York, reviewing the new book The Dream of Enlightenment by Anthony Gottlieb, critic and poet Adam Kirsch has penned a longand wide-ranging essay that considers our modern moment. Are we really as alienated from history in the year 2016, and as disrupted by technology from our cultural forebears, as it is sometimes […]

Tao in the Core

We had a brief Taoist chat in CAS 119 this morning. Where else but the Core office? A summer student had stopped by, asking for directions to the ISSO office. We directed him to his destination, and he thanked us, but as he turned to leave he noticed the framed calligraphy painting on the wall. […]

Honoring our first crop of Core Honors awardees

Join us in congratulating the first crop of Core Honors awardees, in this the first year eligible students applied to take advantage of the Honors opportunity. Work for Honors allows students who are willing to commit extra time and effort to achieving a higher level of command of the material and techniques addressed in Core […]