Category: Great Questions

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Engineers Need the Liberal Arts, Too

STEM has its roots in the humanities. If our intellectual foundations are uprooted, then, naturally, the natural sciences and their applications are in danger of withering away. This is a strong reason for the protests that followedPresident Trump’s beginning attempts to deforest our education, which might have had in mindthe prospect of recreating America in […]

From The New Yorker: Literature’s Arctic Obsession

Down in New York, Kathryn Schulz has penned a penetrating article exploring the literature’s obsession with the arctic regions. What is it about the North Pole besides Santa Clause and cute polar bears which could have induced writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle to take in it such interest?: Conan Doyle was twenty when he […]

From The TLS: Who was the first modern philosopher?

Like the enlightenment, modernity is an umbrella term that is useful for what it covers but also in danger of excluding thinkers or ideas that might deserve the label. A.C. Grayling’s new book, The Age of Genius, devotes itself in part to answer the question of what exactly we mean when speaking of modern philosophy. […]

From Inside Higher Ed: Democratizing the Great Books

John Dewey’s classic book on education, “Democracy and Education,” is one of the indispensable contributions to civics that we’d do well to be revisit in our present time. A timely reminder of this appears in Inside Higher Ed, in an article by three Professors who report some of the interesting points from a daylong conference […]

From The TLS: In Search of Excitement

A history of the novel, The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Volume 7, asks whether the novel is history. Another,The Value of the Novel, by Peter Boxall provides the theoretical foundation for the argument that the novel is not dead–it has only taken a novel form, one that will forecast cultural change as […]

From boingboing: “brain scans” of artificial intelligence processes

Graphcore is a start-up company that has recently secured $30m “to deliver massive acceleration for machine learning.” One of its latest findings has been posted by Mark Frauenfelder at boingboing: “brain scans” of Graphcore’s Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), which is likea rudimentary brain that can performbasic processes related to learning and memory. Here’s an image […]

From The Times Literary Supplement: Steve Bannon, heir to Plato

Steve Bannon (good name) believes in a cyclical theory of history. We do not have the evidence for it, which is just the point, sincethe argument then becomes circular. The nice thing about cycles is that it suggests revolution, something we like here; the bad thingis thatBannon feels perhaps that he is the spearhead of […]

From The TLS: How Should the Humanities Make The News?

Rightly, Mary Beard in a recent article for the TLS takes for granted the question about whether the humanities should make it in the news at all. In a sense, it would be derogating from one of the signal purposes of the humanities if they were to be made the subject of more headlines. For […]

From The Chicago Maroon: Read it and Weep

(“Read it and Weep” might not have been the best entry into one’s column). As all of you probably know, our world has experienced a tragedy recently, and some of us are still finding it difficult to recover from the sounding of the death-knell: Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature: Literature? […]

From Quartz: Women are horribly under-represented in the world’s top literary prizes

Aamna Mohdin at The Quartz has alerted her readers that female writers are not being treated fairly by the judges of the world’s top literary prizes. The apparently trite cliche that one should never judge a book by its cover seems due for renewal or revision especially now. But this itself is hardly news to […]