First Words

Why Only Us: Language and Evolutionby robert c. berwick and noam chomskymit press, 224 pages, $22.95Perhaps the most sensitive point of contact between religion and science is the issue of human distinctiveness. Christian teaching affirms that there is an “ontological discontinuity” between . . . . Continue Reading »

Embodying Mysticism

Jonathan Robinson has written a book that interlaces a biography of St. Philip Neri with classical teachings of Catholic spiritual life. What emerges is a well-informed history of sixteenth century Florence and Rome, a lucid theological biography of Neri, and a study of mysticism in its Catholic context. Continue Reading »

An Open Mind?

Examining the complex functioning of a human brain as it lay exposed on an operating table can be a heady experience. Wonder, however, can easily lead to a kind of philosophical vertigo. This was evident in a recent essay in the New York Times written by Karl Ove Knausgaard. The famous Norwegian . . . . Continue Reading »

Reason’s Faith

I learned in these pages not long ago that it is perilous to express doubts regarding the persuasive power of most natural-law theory in today’s world. Not that I would dream of rehearsing the controversy again; but I will note that, at the time, I took my general point to be not that . . . . Continue Reading »

The Animal with Logos

In Genesis the goodness of creation requires what I have called a logic of otherness , in which dualities that could become divisions or antagonisms are united for the good. The basic structure of this logic is: (1) first one, then the other, (2) the one for the good of the other, and (3) the one . . . . Continue Reading »

“The Unsustainable Autonomy of Reason”

When was the last time you heard a transhumanist say something like this? . . . the Enlightenment project of Reason to which many transhumanists are committed is self-erosive and requires nonrational validation. Transhumanist advocates for Bayesianism and transcending cognitive biases need to . . . . Continue Reading »

Which is more annoying?

Which is more annoying: Leftists who in the wake of Climategate have suddenly discovered a love for public choice theory or libertarians who in the wake of Climategate have studiously ignored public choice theory? Whatever your answer to that question, I hope it suggests that public choice theory . . . . Continue Reading »

Unity through Beauty

Longtime readers know of my obsession with mathematical beauty, so it should come as no surprise to find me hopping up and down most eagerly and pointing you towards Matthew Milliner’s very immodest proposal in Public Discourse. My only quibble with the article is that the proportion of . . . . Continue Reading »

Sayonara, Weber!

Via Tyler Cowen, a paper by Davide Cantoni  casts some doubt on the efficacy of the Protestant Ethic: Many theories, most famously Max Weber’s essay on the ‘Protestant ethic,’ have hypothesized that Protestantism should have favored economic development. With their . . . . Continue Reading »