Living with a Mind

I was brought up in a culture that made no special place for the “intellectual” as a distinct human type, and which regarded learning in the same way as any other hobby: harmless and excusable, so long as you kept quiet about it. The person who studied the classics at home, who wrote poetry . . . . Continue Reading »

Overlooked Philosophy

Peter Adamson’s Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds accepts a noble challenge announced in the book’s subtitle: A History of Philosophy without any gaps. It’s an impossible objective, of course. Adamson knows this, but admirably proceeds to outline three areas of philosophy that are often overlooked in the hustle of contemporary academic discourse: “Hellenistic philosophy” (the inheritance of Plato and Aristotle), “late antique philosophy among pagans, and ancient Christian philosophy.”

Putting the Soul in Tune

This is a book about how poetry can save you. More specifically, it is a book about how poetic rhythm can reset the harmony of your body and soul. In his powerful and original reading of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, Stephen Blackwood uncovers a sustained musical therapy during which the imprisoned poet moves from baffled despair at the world’s injustice to contemplative joy over providential order.

The Consolation of Philology

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities by james turner princeton, 576 pages, $35 She appeared to him in the darkest of times. In the early part of the sixth century, the sun had set on the western Roman Empire. Its greatest intellectual, a highborn official named Boethius—among . . . . Continue Reading »

False Enlightenment at the Court

In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy has penned a decision of historic hubris and stupidity­—as both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia argue in their dissents. The basis of the decision is a claim to special enlightenment (we shall not say “revelation”) about the meaning and . . . . Continue Reading »

Out of a Dark Wood

How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem
  by rod dreher 
 regan, 320 pages, $29.95 In 2011, Rod Dreher returns to his hometown in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, after years living elsewhere in pursuit of a (highly successful) journalistic . . . . Continue Reading »

Rethinking Theology and Matter with Ibn Gabirol

Solomon Ibn Gabirol (1021–1058) was the first Jewish philosopher in Spain, but medieval Christians knew him only by his Latinized name, Avicebron, and they assumed that he was either a Christian or a Muslim. Most scholastics also thought he was a deeply misguided thinker. Gabirol was identified with the doctrine of universal hylomorphism—the idea that everything God creates is composed of form and matter—and treated as a precursor of the nominalist emphasis on the absolute freedom (and thus inscrutability) of God’s will. Some of his poetry remains in liturgical use in Judaism to this day, but his philosophy was all but forgotten. Even experts in medieval theology typically treat him as little more than a footnote to scholastic debates about how angels can be individuated without being embodied. Continue Reading »