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).

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Pierre

From Leithart

Herman Melville’s Pierre (1852) was, to put it mildly, not warmly received by critics. One newspaper headlined its review with “HERMAN MELVILLE CRAZY” and another reviewer complained that Melville’s fancy was diseased. Critics are divided over whether it is a grand failure . . . . Continue Reading »

Schleiermacher

From Leithart

Bauman distinguishes between the “legislative” notion of reason found in Kant and other Enlightenment figures and the “interpretive” rationality that characterizes much postmodern thought. The shift from the former to the latter was not accomplished all at once. . . . . Continue Reading »

Foundations and Tribunals

From Leithart

The architectural model of building a structure of thought on “foundations” is among the metaphors employed by modern thinkers, and in this as in other areas there was a close alliance of philosophy and political action. Bauman notes that this was particularly evident in various utopian . . . . Continue Reading »

Speech

From Leithart

Franz Rosenzweig saw that philosophy proceeds only through humility, which means through speech and dialogue rather than abstract thought: “The ‘speaking thinker’ cannot anticipate anything: he must be able to wait because he depends on the word of the other: he requires time . . . . . . Continue Reading »

Shepherding spirit

From Leithart

Thanks to my friend Alex Trochez for stimulating the following line of thought. According to Jordan’s count (confirmed by my own), the phrase “shepherding wind” occurs twice in Ecclesiastes by itself (1:17; 4:6) and 7 times with the word “vapor” (1:14; 2:11, 17, 26; . . . . Continue Reading »

Solomonic epistemology

From Leithart

Solomon pursued knowledge and wisdom, and concluded that the pursuit was no more than vapor and shepherding wind, and besides the more he knew the more pain and grief he suffered (1:17-18). There is so much in this wispy world that we cannot know: Whether the result of our works will be universal . . . . Continue Reading »

Design

From Leithart

John Thackara ‘s In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World , a brief for more human, and more eco-friendly, technology and economy, is full of insights that challenge much of the conventional wisdom about the “information age.” A sampling: We do not live in “the . . . . Continue Reading »

Beginnings

From Leithart

Solomon captures the aporia of beginnings in Ecclesiastes 3:15: “That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” This not only restates “there is nothing new under the sun” but also suggests that the search for an . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, First Sunday After Epiphany

From Leithart

INTRODUCTION Solomon begins Ecclesiastes talking about the regularities of the natural world (1:3-11), and in chapter 3 turns to the regular rhythms of human life (3:1-8). THE TEXT “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a . . . . Continue Reading »