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Foucault’s Principalities & Powers

In the late 1960s, a sociologist described French theorist ­Michel Foucault (1926–1984) as “a sort of frail, gnarled samurai who was dry and hieratic, who had the eyebrows of an albino and a somewhat sulfurous charm, and whose avid and affable curiosity intrigued everyone.” Claude Mauriac, . . . . Continue Reading »

Keep It Simple

How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, . . . . Continue Reading »

Epicurus Today

Oenoanda was an ancient town of modest size and middling prosperity, perched on the rugged hills above the River Xanthus in Lycia, now southwestern Turkey. It was here, sometime around the reign of Hadrian (a.d. 117–38), that a citizen named Diogenes erected a portico destined to bear one of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Loving to Know

In many spheres, the question not just of what we know but of how we know is urgent and vital. I have tried to develop the notion of love as the ultimate form of knowledge and to explore its wider relevance. My history with this question begins in the 1980s, when I was growing concerned by profound . . . . Continue Reading »

Nietzsche’s Pilate

In one of his most irreverent moments, in the wild little book The Anti-Christ, composed not long before he completely lost his mind, Nietzsche states that there is only one admirable figure in the entire New Testament, one character alone who deserves our respect: Pontius Pilate. It’s an . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond Subsistence and Superfluity

The utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham defines the good as the greatest happiness of the greatest number. More than two hundred years after Bentham, it remains, with myriad modifications, a highly influential theory of the good life among academics and policy makers. One great advantage of . . . . Continue Reading »

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