A man went searching for the beginning of the road he was traveling. He traced his footsteps back the way he had come, until he came to where he started. But the beginning of the road was not a beginning. Something lay on the far side of the road’s beginning, a beginning before the beginning. . . . . Continue Reading »

Foucault on man

Another discarded fragment. Perhaps the best-known of the postmodern theories of the self is that of Michel Foucault. According to Foucault, “man” is an invention of the recent past, of the modern world. Contrary to popular opinion, “man” has not been the subject of . . . . Continue Reading »

Bultmannian irony

Bultmann says that we moderns who can flick on electric lights cannot believe in the dichotomous anthropology of the New Testament, which distinguishes absolutely between the spiritual core of the self and the physical body. Problem is, that’s not the New Testament anthropology. In fact, . . . . Continue Reading »

Structuralism’s nihilism

A discarded fragment from a larger paper. Structuralism arose from the linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure. He distinguished between the langue, the system of a language, and the parole, the particular utterances of a language. There is a circular relationship between them, since no parole . . . . Continue Reading »

Descartes’ city

Margaret Jacobs summarizes what she describes as “one of the most powerful metaphors in the Discourse : Descartes repudiates the wisdom of the ages, comparing it to those ‘old cities’ build on the foundations of ancient and medieval ruins. With a vision one imagines as shaped by . . . . Continue Reading »

Descartes’ Hermeticism

Some paragraphs from an illuminating paper by Michael Allen Gillespie concerning Descartes’ links with Rosicrucians: “The Rosicrucians were essentially a Hermetic society that sought to understand the hidden order of nature in order to gain power over and through it. Agrippa, for . . . . Continue Reading »

Two Cultures

Martin Peretz notes the differences among the Harvard faculties in their responses to Larry Summers’ attempts to reform the university: When Harvard hired Summers to “bring the university into modern times,” it was electrifying: “You could feel the walls of the faculty club . . . . Continue Reading »


In an intriguing article on multiculturalism, Amartya Sen briefly mentions the international formation of Indian cuisine: “India had no chili until the Portuguese brought it to India from America, but it is effectively used in a wide range of Indian food today and seems to be a dominant . . . . Continue Reading »

Postmodern Society

Krishan Kumar, From Post-Industrial to Post-Modern Society. Second Edition. London: Blackwell, 2005. 289 pp. Much has been written about postmodernity, but this book by Krishan Kumar, William R. Kennan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, is in a league of its own. First . . . . Continue Reading »