Stitching the Global Village

An 1880 ad for Singer Sewing machines offers a vision of humanity united by technology: “On every sea are floating the Singer Machines; along every road pressed by the foot of civilized man this tireless ally of the world’s great sisterhood is going upon its errand of helpfulness. Its . . . . Continue Reading »

Ancient Sacrifice

Why did the Greeks and Romans sacrifice? The TLS reviewer of two new books on the subject, Smoke Signals for the Gods: Ancient Greek Sacrifice from the Archaic through Roman Periods and Greek and Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers , summarizes the main theories, which come . . . . Continue Reading »

Telos, Mind and Cosmos

The debate over Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False continues apace. The TLS reviewer observes that Nagel’s “provocation” of a book doesn’t simply demand an explanation for how consciousness . . . . Continue Reading »

Tame sex

In Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation , Roger Scruton pinpoints the ethical and metaphysical issue in same-sex sexuality: “The heterosexual ventures towards an individual whose gender confines him within another world. The homosexual unites with an individual who does not lie beyond . . . . Continue Reading »

Writers on Writing and the World

Terry Eagleton is always fun to read, and his TLS review of the correspondence of Paul Auster and JM Coetzee ( Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011) ) is no exception. He begins: “”t is a Romantic delusion to suppose that writers are likely to have something of interest to say about race . . . . Continue Reading »

Hatred of the given

In his Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values: A New Attempt Toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism (Northwestern University Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) , Max Scheler describes the modern attitude that he finds at the heart of the Kantian system: . . . . Continue Reading »

Self-mastery, self-gift

Karol Wojtyla in full anti-Kantian mode ( Love and Responsibility , 125-6): Persons are essentially self-mastering, sui juris , “and cannot be ceded to another or supplanted by another in another in any context where it must exercise its will or make a commitment affecting its freedom.” . . . . Continue Reading »

What’s “fundamental”?

“That man is a ‘body’ belongs more deeply to the structure of the personal subject than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female.” So says John Paul II in Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body (157). How does he know? Because Adam . . . . Continue Reading »

Unlimited Inquiry

Given the recent history of American conservatism, it comes as something of a shock to realize that conservatives expressed dismay at 20th century developments in military technology. In an essay on “To Whom is the Poet Responsible?” (in The Man of Letters in the Modern World: Selected . . . . Continue Reading »