Letter to an Aspiring Intellectual

You’ve asked me how to become an intellectual. You’re young, it seems (only young people ask questions of that kind), and you think you might have an intellectual vocation, but you can’t see what to do about it. What should you do in order to become the kind of person an intellectual is? What . . . . Continue Reading »

A Moderate Proposal

Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremesby aurelian craiutupenn, 304 pages, $59.95 Everyone is orthodox to himself.” This famous phrase from Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration might aptly be rewritten as “Everyone is moderate to himself.” For who really thinks himself . . . . Continue Reading »

Virtuous Evildoers

At the end of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Brutus and ­Cassius, the conspirators who had assassinated Caesar, are themselves dead. Brutus has, in fact, fallen upon his sword rather than face capture by the armies of Octavius and Mark Antony. Brutus was bad enough to betray and murder a . . . . Continue Reading »

The First Sexual Revolution

Epictetus was the sort of figure that only the Roman Empire could have produced. He was born in the Phrygian hills of Anatolia in the middle of the first century. Enslaved and brought to the capital, he served in the household of the freedman Epaphroditos. Epaphroditos, in turn, was in the direct . . . . Continue Reading »

The Splendor of Truth in 2017

There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.” Those are strong words, written by the Czech activist Václav Havel in his essay “The Power of the Powerless,” one of the . . . . Continue Reading »

MacIntyre Against Morality

Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity:An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrativeby alasdair macintyrecambridge, 332 pages, $49.99 I The dialogues of Plato provide the first sustained demonstration both of the depth and difficulty of philosophy, and of the fact that the beginnings of the . . . . Continue Reading »