When is a discipline not a discipline?

Disruptions to business as usual, such as we have been experiencing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, inevitably raise questions regarding which activities and institutions are essential or important for a good or fulfilling life, and which may be happily dispensed with. Answers to such questions are often very personal, of course. My focus … Continue reading When is a discipline not a discipline?

Art Berman’s bleak view of the future

Human civilization was built in part on the exploitation of stored energy. Post-World War 2 Western prosperity was built largely on oil, which is a remarkably concentrated energy source. The energy stored in one barrel of oil is said to represent 4.5 man-years of work. But strange things are happening in the oil market. And, … Continue reading Art Berman’s bleak view of the future

Jules Monnerot and the concept of “secular religion”

Jules Monnerot [1909–1995] was born and spent his early years in Martinique where his father (also Jules) was a lawyer and left-wing activist. Jules Monnerot, fils went from being a Marxist in his youth to being a cold warrior after World War 2, subsequently moving further to the right. Some see him as having been … Continue reading Jules Monnerot and the concept of “secular religion”

A few thoughts on intellectual history, abstraction and values.

Terms like “pragmatism” as it applies to philosophy and the history of ideas – most isms really – are intrinsically vague and useful only to the (necessarily limited) extent that they help to bring out persistent or more fleeting strands or commonalities in thinking within or across populations. Even the views of individuals are often … Continue reading A few thoughts on intellectual history, abstraction and values.