A Few Thoughts on Romanticism

by Mark English The great Romantic writer and statesman François-René de Chateaubriand is virtually forgotten today. The steak or the sauce named after him is still well-known, however. I can’t help feeling that this tells us a lot about our cultural priorities. One of the things that Chateaubriand is known for (by the few who even recognize his name) is […]

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Platonism! (For Inspiration)

by CJ Uberroth As a high school math teacher, I have had my fair share of interesting conversations, ranging from my students’ favorite music to my addiction to American Spirit cigarettes. Sure, some may say that I shouldn’t speak with students about things like alcohol and nicotine but I can’t imagine a stupider objection. How else are they supposed to […]

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Shostakovich and the Stories We Tell Ourselves About Ourselves

by Margaret Rowley Ethnographers tend to like stories, as do many non-ethnographers. Much of the point of ethnography is simultaneously to hear people tell their stories (interview) and watch them live their stories (observation), and then try to critically analyze what’s happening (theoretical intervention). At least one ethnographer, Clifford Geertz, has suggested that the definition of culture is “stories we […]

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Lost World

by Mark English My old high-school Latin teacher had a very short temper. He exploded on a regular basis. More than once he became so agitated in class that he knocked off his own spectacles, sending them skidding across the floor. Corporal punishment was part of the culture at this strange institution, which seemed to have been trapped in a […]

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Some Problems with Incompatibalism

by E. John Winner Social determinism and compatibilism I gave up worrying about the “free will vs. determinism” debate back around 1990.  At that time, I was studying Pragmatism, especially (in the present context) that of Dewey [1], George Herbert Mead [2], and the little known but nonetheless important Explanation and Power: The Control of Human Behavior by Morse Peckham. […]

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Is the Free Will Debate a Verbal Dispute?

By Paul So I’ve noticed that academic philosophers, being fairly insulated from the wider public, have largely failed to engage educated laymen who are interested, and perplexed, about free will. In particular, most people think that there are really only two plausible positions — if determinism is true then there is no free will, and if determinism is not true […]

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Politics and Song

by E. John Winner Now, the whole business of Irish nationalism can get very serious if you’re not careful. – Liam Clancy [1] My father, Joseph Connelly, abandoned his family when I was two years of age.  I probably should have hated him and be done with it; but that’s not how children respond to their abandonment.  There’s a lot […]

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Nationalism and Mythical Thinking

by Mark English A lot of nonsense is talked about “destiny.” I’m referring here to the idea that individuals or groups can be seen to have some kind of pre-existing or pre-ordained path to fulfillment that they may discover and embrace. Certainly, given an individual, say, at a particular stage of life, there are choices he or she may make – […]

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