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Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem

“Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small” — attributed to Henry Kissinger. Eric Bennett’s scathing assessment of activism masquerading as inquiry. “The IYI [intellectual yet idiot] pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game. The…

Neuroscience Is Ruining the Humanities

This in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Is there a novelist today of whom we can we say, as someone said of Dostoevsky, he “felt thought”? To read Dostoevsky, as Michael Dirda pointed out, is to encounter “souls chafed and lacerated by theories.” Yes, Walker Percy Recent arguments about God or creationism are old hat, despite…

Walter Isaacson Lecture

2014 JEFFERSON LECTURER It is particularly meaningful for me to be giving this lecture on the 25th anniversary of the one by Walker Percy. I took the train from New York for that occasion, looking out of the window and thinking of his eerie essay about the malaise, “The Man on the Train.” If memory…

Dennett on Wieseltier vs. Pinker

This from Edge Postmodernism, the school of “thought” that proclaimed “There are no truths, only interpretations” has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for “conversations” in which…