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Friendship in Truth

I have had many friends in the course of my life, but only since growing older have I given much thought to the nature of friendship. I have amassed a collection of quotations on this theme that have impressed me deeply. The English essayist William ­Hazlitt: “He will never have true friends who . . . . Continue Reading »

Mere Judaism

Seventy years ago, the European émigré Chaim Grade (pronounced “GRAH-deh”) published a short story that would secure his place in the pantheon of great Yiddish writers of the twentieth century. “Mayn krig mit hersh rasseyner,” usually rendered in English as “My Quarrel with Hersh . . . . Continue Reading »

Masters and Slaves

In the autumn of 1933, ­Alexandre Kojève announced to his class that history was over. He did not mean that the apocalypse was at hand, that wars and violence had ceased, that human beings would no longer love, mate, and play. Kojève called himself a god and made a radical reading of . . . . Continue Reading »

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 »

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