Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

RSS Feed

Foucault on man

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »

Curry

From Leithart

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

From Leithart

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 »

Theory

From Leithart

Postmodern theory, Mike Featherstone says, “argues for the abandonment of longstanding ambitions within modernity to develop foundations for knowledge: in effect the abandonment of the quest for unity, generality and synthesis.” Postmodern theory claims to find greater complexity than . . . . Continue Reading »