Aristotelian gratitude

Some excerpts from Aristotle’s discussion relevant to gratitude in Nicomachian Ethics. First, a treatment of the reasons for making return on a benefit received (from 9.1): “But who is to fix the worth of the service; he who makes the sacrifice or he who has got the advantage? At any . . . . Continue Reading »


Katherine Marsh writes in the March 13 TNR that parenthood is not what it was cracked up to be. Instead of bringing fulfillment and happiness, it turns out that parenthood is difficult, and a number of recent articles and studies have suggested that parents are more “sad, distracted or . . . . Continue Reading »

Aporia of responsibility

Derrida captures the aporia of responsibility very nicely in this passage: “Saying that a responsible decision must be taken on the basis of knowledge seems to define the condition of possibility of responsibility (one can’t make a responsible decision without science or conscience, . . . . Continue Reading »

Rome and responsibility

According to Jan Patocka, the Roman order represents a new stage in the history of responsibility because it represents a single entity toward which all are responsible: “the Roman principality presents the problem of a ne responsibility, founded upon transcendence in the social context as . . . . Continue Reading »

Derrida and self-possession

Derrida is perhaps best known for his assault on self-presence, but in The Gift of Death he is eager to find out some place where the self is in absolute possession of something. Following Heidegger, for instance, he insists that death is always my death and no one else. Even if I am murdered, my . . . . Continue Reading »


Jeremy Narby writes, “pigeons appear to be brighter than many people suspect. One recent experiment demonstrated that pigeons can tell the difference between paintings by Van Gogh and Chagall. The birds received training in which they were rewarded for pecking at paintings by Van Gogh but . . . . Continue Reading »

Charles Reznikoff

Seamus Cooney, ed. The Poems of Charles Reznikoff, 1918-1975 . Boston: David R. Godine, 2005. 445 p. I had not heard of Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976) when I picked up this volume, but his poetry is a find. Born to Russian Jews in New York City, Reznikoff wrote and published poetry, over many . . . . Continue Reading »

The Oddity of biblical narrative

Gabriel Josipovici summarizes the story of Palti in 1-2 Samuel, the man to whom Saul gives Michal after David is driven into outlawry, and who follows Michal weeping when David demands his first wife back. What is this guy doing here, introduced only to weep and disappear from the text? Josipovici . . . . Continue Reading »

Ocularity and the ancients

A TLS reviewer examines what sounds like a fascinating book on Plato and Aristotle’s appropriation of “theoria” (originally referring to spectators who watch the Olympics and other festivals in a kind of “sacralized spectating”). Along the way, the reviewer comments on . . . . Continue Reading »

Eucharistic meditation, first lent

2 Kings 14:25: Jeroboam restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-Hepher. Not too long ago, Israel was . . . . Continue Reading »